In celebration of Batman’s 75th anniversary, I asked Michael Uslan to provide a list of the most important Batman comic book stories ever by decade. I decided to exclude the 90s, 2000s and 2010s because I didn’t think enough time has passed to legitimately declare any comics from those decades as “classics”. In other words, there needs to be a few more ticks off the clock -- or pages turned in the calender -- before determining which stories from those decades are the most important.
In Part 1, you’ll find the most important Batman stories from the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s as chosen by Michael Uslan. Enjoy!
The character called "The Bat-Man" made its debut in May of 1939 in DETECTIVE COMICS #27. Since the character’s first appearence occured in the final year of that decade – and halfway through the year at that – it’s a no-brainer that the most important Batman comic of the 1930s is the aforementioned DETECTIVE COMICS #27. Really, it’s the comic book that gave us Batman! For a detailed look at DC27 and the story in which Batman made his debut -- "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate" -- CLICK HERE or on the image of the DC27 below.
DETECTIVE COMICS #27
For the decade of World War II, the beginning of the Cold War, and Roswell, Mr. Uslan picked BATMAN #1 and BATMAN #47 as the most significant of the 1940s.
In BATMAN #1, he singled out three stories from that issue: “The Joker”, “The Cat” and “The Joker Returns” and it’s quite obvious why: The Joker and the character that would go on to become Catwoman debuted in this issue. In BATMAN #47, Mr. Uslan pointed to the story, "The Origin of Batman!" as the reason for this issue's historical significance.
For a more in-depth look at both BATMAN #1 and BATMAN #47, click on the image of the comic books below.
(L to R) BATMAN #1 and BATMAN #47
For the decade that gave the world Rock and Roll and Elvis, Mr. Uslan picked the following two stories: “The Batmobile of 1950” from DETECTIVE COMICS #156 and “The First Batman” from DETECTIVE COMICS #235 (September, 1956).
“The Batmobile of 1950” tells the story of Batman and Robin building a new and technologically advanced set of wheels for themselves. “The First Batman” is the story of how Batman’s father, Thomas Wayne, once dressed up as a “Bat-Man” for a costume party and actually thwarted a crime. Click on the images below for a more detailed depicted of each comic book.
(L to R) DETECTIVE COMICS #156 and DETECTIVE COMICS #235
For the decade of Camelot, Woodstock and men first walking on the Moon, Mr. Uslan chose the following comics/stories: "Robin Dies at Dawn" from BATMAN #156 (June, 1963); "The Mystery of the Menacing Mask" from DETECTIVE COMICS #327 (May, 1964); and, "One Bullet Too Many" from BATMAN #217 (December, 1969).
In "Robin Dies at Dawn," Batman volunteers to participate in a special military experiment to test the long term effects of isolation on the human psyche. During this experience, Batman has a hallucination in which he witnesses Robin being killed on an alien planet. In "The Mystery of the Menacing Mask", Batman's "New Look" debuted as did a entirely new direction for Batman comics via new editor Julius Schwartz. In "One Bullet Too Many", Dick Grayson leaves Wayne Manor to go to college, which leads Batman to again become a “lone vigilante/creature of the night.”
(L to R) BATMAN #156, DETECTIVE COMICS #327, and BATMAN #217
So there you have it, the most important Batman comic book stories of the 1930s through the 1960s. We have two decades left the cover -- which comics do you think are on Mr. U's list for the 70s and 80s? CLICK HERE FOR PART 2!