Thursday, September 6, 2007

Giant Batman Album # 19: A Colossal Compilation

Giant Batman Album #19, October 1969

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Death of Batman!
David Vern Reed/Bob Kane/Lew Schwartz/Charles Paris
(World's Finest Comics #58, May-June 1952)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Masterminds of Crime!
David Vern Reed/Curt Swan/Charles Paris
(Batman #70, April-May 1952)

Superman and Batman: The Mightiest Team in the World!
Edmond Hamilton/Curt Swan/John Fischetti/Stan Kaye
(Superman #76, May-June 1952)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Flying Bat-Cave!
Bob Kane/Lew Schwartz/Charles Paris
(Detective Comics #186, August 1952)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Joker's Millions!
David Vern Reed/Dick Sprang/Charles Paris
Detective Comics #180, February 1952

Plus the following fillers: The Batman Whirly-Word Game (1 page); Little Pete (2 pages); Jerry the Jitterbug (1 page)

Giant Batman Album #19 is one of the earliest wholly Australian compiled issues in the series. Previous Giant Batman Album’s were effectively facsimiles of US Batman Annuals or 80-Page Giants with modified covers and contents (#14 is the notable early exception). However, this issue was conspicuously not compiled from contemporary US sources.

The cover is an Australian original based on the Irv Novick cover for Batman #201, May 1968. My guess is this cover image was originally mooted for an issue of Colossal Comic, which had been routinely featuring cover images based on US Batman and Detective Comics covers for a couple of years by the time this issue appeared on the stands (I’ll cover the latter Batman Colossal Comic covers in a forthcoming blog entry).

Also similarly to Colossal Comic, the main contents were drawn from a cluster of 1950’s pamphlet issues published by K.G. Murray. The five stories listed above appeared previously in Batman #’s 27 (1952), 31 and 32 (both 1953). To the best of my knowledge, they have not appeared in an issue of Colossal Comic, so it is quite possible they were earmarked for whichever issue was to intended to bear the redrawn cover to Batman #201.

All purely speculative on my part, but consider also that “The Death of Batman!” and “The Masterminds of Crime!” were each reprinted shortly afterwards in US editions, and by extension in Giant Batman Albums (#’s24 and 26 respectively); that “The Flying Bat-Cave!” had already been reprinted just two issues earlier in Giant Batman Album #17; and that the oft-reprinted “The Mightiest Team in the World!” had also just seen print in a US edition (World's Finest Comics #179 aka 80 Page. Giant G-52, October-November 1968) and in Australia as Superman and Batman Album #4, March 1969, and it is evident that the K.G. Murray editors putting this issue together were paying little heed to the contents of other issues in their line in considering the contents of this special issue.

The original title for “The Death of Batman!” was “The Murder of Bruce Wayne!” The title seems to have been changed specifically for the original Australian Batman reprint in Batman #32, January 1953. At least I’m unaware of any US version with this new title. So it appears this was reprinted directly from the Australian pamphlet edition.

Curiously, the cover for Batman #32 is a modified version of the cover for the US Batman #64, April-May 1951 - the text on the movie sign is altered to reflect the new lead story. The cover story “The Candid Camera Killer!” had previously appeared in Super Adventure Comic #17, October 1951. I guess that the ‘leftover’ cover for US Batman #64 was deemed readily adaptable for the purposes of a new Batman issue which needed a cover. “The Murder of Bruce Wayne!” originally appeared in US World's Finest Comics #58 and featured a typically generic cover which had also already been used on Super Adventure Comic #31, December 1952. “The Candid Camera Killer!” did make it into Colossal Comic #47, November 1968.

Some sources credit Curt Swan as penciller on “The Masterminds of Crime!” The reprint in Batman #238 credits the art to Win Mortimer. There are the tell-tale signs of Swan's middle fingers in the art, but having said that, it doesn’t look like typical Swan art to me, which may or may not have something to do with Charles Paris inking – certainly not a regular art team!

“The Joker's Millions!” is a classic Batman comic which I remember from the Batman vs. The Joker paperback from Signet Books. It was also reprinted in Batman: The Complete History by Les Daniels and Chip Kidd, Chronicle Books, 1999. The text in this book credits the writing to "probably... Bill Finger or Walter Gibson...". The David Vern Reed credit is from online sources. As far as I know it is not currently in print in any of DC’s Batman-related collections, which is really a shame, but I understand it has been adapted for the Animated Series.

After this issue Giant Batman Album continued to be based primarily on US Giants for a few more issues, until the format started to morph due to various factors, as discussed in previous blogs (see entries on Giant Batman Album #26, Giant Batman Album #27, Giant Batman Album #31 and Giant Batman Album #32).

And a thank you to my UK correspondent for helping out with my queries on Batman #32.

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