Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Giant Batman Album # 32: The Last of the 'True' Giant Batman Albums

Giant Batman Album #32, March 1976
Cover artists: Nick Cardy Sheldon Moldoff

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Signalman of Crime
Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff/Charles Paris
Batman #112, December 1957
Wanted. The World’s Most Dangerous Villains #1, July-August 1971

Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder: The First Batman
Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff
Detective Comics 235, September 1956
Batman #255, March-April 1974

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Witch and the Manuscript of Doom!
Bill Finger/Bob Kane/George Roussos
World's Best Comics #1, Spring 1941
Batman #254, January-February 1974

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: Crimes Man-Hunt
Joe Greene/Dick Sprang
Detective Comics #92, October 1944
Batman #261, March-April 1975

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Grade A Crimes
Bunny Lyons/Jack Burnley/Ray Burnley
Batman #16, April-May 1943
Batman #260, January-February 1975

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Man with a Thousand Eyes!
Bill Finger/Bob Kane/Lew Schwartz/Charles Paris
World's Finest Comics #43, December 1949-January 1950
Batman #258, September-October 1974

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: Tweedledum and Tweedledee!
Don Cameron/Jerry Robinson/Bob Kane/Charles Paris/George Roussos
Detective Comics #74, April 1943
World's Finest Comics #209, February 1972

Batman: untitled (The Origin of Batman aka The Batman Wars Against The Dirigible of Doom
Gardner Fox/Bob Kane
Detective Comics #33, November 1939
Secret Origins #1, February-March 1973

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: Knights of Knavery
Alvin Schwartz/Jack Burnley/Jerry Robinson
Batman #25, October-November 1944
Wanted. The World's Most Dangerous Villains #2, September-October 1972

Giant Batman Album #32 is a true companion piece to Giant Batman Album #31. Similarly to #31 this issue has a charming K.G. Murray-generated cut-and-paste cover. The main cover image is from the splash page of “The First Batman”; The "Grade A Crimes" image is from Batman #260; and the "3 Evil Eyes" image is from Batman #258.

Also noteworthy is that whilst most of the reprints are, as usual, sourced from the US issues of Batman and Detective Comics, they have been judiciously supplemented by material from other series such as Secret Origins and Wanted: The World's Most Dangerous Villains. You’ll recall I noted with approval the decision to include "The Man from Robin's Past" in Giant Batman Album #31. The K.G. Murray editors had been quite consciously dabbling with the contents mix in issues of Giant Batman Album since #25, with mostly interesting results, but also with a couple of notable ‘unfortunate’ selections too, which I’ll cover in the next few days.

I mentioned it in passing yesterday, but I’ll just reiterate for the record that this issue is the first to use the new Batman masthead which was appearing in the US series, and also marks the point at which Giant Batman Album becomes simply Batman Album. No doubt this is related to the streamlining of titles under the second Planet Comics logo as other titles also exhibited similar changes in their titles with the their first ‘new logo’ issues (Giant Flash Album became The Flash Album with #13; Giant Jimmy Olsen Album and Giant Superboy Album terminated; Giant Lois Lane Album morphed strangely and belatedly into Lois Lane Album a couple of years later continuing the numbering from Lois Lane Comic; Giant Supergirl Album had a bet each way becoming Superman Presents Supergirl Album; and, staying true to its invulnerable form, Giant Superman Album prevailed until the very end.) Of course the most notable change of all was that the longtanding anthology titles converted to eponymous titles eg Tip Top Comic Monthly to Batman, which, I should add, also used the new Batman masthead for the duration – streamlining indeed! But that is a topic for another blog!

Nevertheless, regardless of the change in title, I still think of #32 as a Giant Batman Album. I think it deserves it, at the very least in honour of its allegiance to its forebears in presenting exclusively vintage Batman reprints.

The series changed in this regard with the following issue, in which contemporary stories rubbed shoulders with vintage stories for quite a few issues. But it was an odd, at times rather uneasy mix - I guess it just didn't feel like the good ol' Giant Batman Album series any more. (There were two or three previous instances of such mixing, but they are different cases to the post-#33 issues, and I'll discuss them in the next few days).

No comments: