The Golden Age Batman


By Aaron Severson

Reference the Creator Credit Abbreviations


There are a variety of useful reference books about the Golden Age Batman. If they're in print, I list the ISBN (so you can more easily find it through various online book vendors) and, if it's available through comic shops, the order number from Diamond's STAR System back list (if you give this number to your comics retailer, they may be able to order it for you from the distributor along with the rest of their comics and merchandise).

The single best resource for information on Batman's early adventures — and the standard against which others must be measured — is Michael Fleisher's extraordinary volume The Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes, Volume 1: Batman (New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1976, published in both hardcover and paperback editions), an immensely detailed 387-page encyclopedia of Batman's career from 1939 through 1965, based on Fleisher's extensive research in DC's archives. This book, an invaluable reference for any Batman fan, was out of print for many years, but DC issued a new trade paperback edition in April 2007 (ISBN 978-1-4012-1355-8). That edition is no longer available through Diamond, but some comic book shops and online retailers still ahve copies. (As a note to completists, the projected six-volume series listed in the endpapers never came to pass, although a second volume on Wonder Woman appeared a year later and the third, covering Superman and retitled The Great Superman Book, was released in 1978 to coincide with the first Christopher Reeve film. Don't bother hunting for the Captain Marvel or Spirit volumes — they were never actually published.)

The spiritual successor to Fleisher's book is Robert Greenberger's The Essential Batman Encyclopedia (New York: Del Rey, 2008, ISBN 978-0-3455-0106-6), which attempts to cover nearly all of Batman's comic book history from 1939 to 2007. This volume contains some errors and is inevitably less detailed than Fleisher's book — an unavoidable consequence of trying to cover almost 70 years of comic book stories in 400 pages — but this is nonetheless a valuable reference and one of the few general books to discuss the multiple Earths and various timelines.

Perhaps the best overall history of Batman's career is Batman: The Complete History by Les Daniels and Chip Kidd (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1999, ISBN 0-8118-2668-6, $29.95). A lavishly illustrated, admirably complete overview of Batman's creation and evolution that no Batman reader should be without. Two versions of the book were initially released, one with a slightly higher price ($34.95) and an additional 16-page section comprising a cover gallery of the Batman series from #1 to #144, complete with artist credits. A reedited Masterpiece Edition, including a Batman statuette and other trifles (ISBN 0-811827-82-8, STAR 11643H, $65.00), appeared in summer 2000, but the basic text is the same.

A similar but less authoritative volume, Tales of the Dark Knight: Batman's First Fifty Years by Mark Cotta Vaz (New York: Ballantine Books, 1989), was released to coincide with the first Tim Burton Batman film. It suffers from a lack of color and the marginal quality of the art reproductions, and it's more a coffee-table book than a history, but it's definitely a worthwhile overview of the various phases of Batman's career; although most of the text is black and white, the large-size color cover reproductions are nice. Out of print, but produced in massive numbers in 1989, so copies are fairly easy to find in used bookstores, often for a fraction of the original $17.95 cover price.

Also of value is Bob Kane's autobiography, Batman and Me(Forestville, Calif.: Eclipse Books, 1989), which contains a colorful account of Kane's early years as a cartoonist, although Kane's versions of the creation of Batman and various elements of his mythos are sometimes at odds with Jerry Robinson's account and what historians like Les Daniels, Jim Steranko, and Arlen Schumer have concluded about the role of Bill Finger. The volume contains color reprints of three early stories, including Batman and Robin's visit to the World's Fair from the 1940 edition of New York World's Fair Comics; these are now available in Batman in World's Finest Comics Archives vol. 1. Kane's autobiography was printed in both hardcover and paperback editions.

To contrast Kane and Robinson's accounts, take a look at Thomas Andrae's interviews in "Origins of the Dark Knight: A conversation with Batman artists Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson," published in The Official Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide No. 19, ed. Robert M. Overstreet (Cleveland, Tenn.: Overtreet Publications, Inc., 1989): A71-A93.

For an alternative perspective on the creation of Batman, Arlen Schumer wrote a fascinating article for the revived Alter Ego magazine entitled "The 'Bat-Man' Cover Story: The Tale of Bob Kane's Darknight Detective That "Could Have Been," in which Schumer offers a detailed speculation based on Kane's own account of how he created the first image of Batman, using a "swipe" from an Alex Raymond Flash Gordon figure. The same issue also includes an article by Schumer dissecting Kane's claims of sole authorship of Batman, as well as interviews with artist Sheldon Moldoff (who was Bob Kane's primary ghost artist from 1953 through 1968) and Fred Finger, the son of the late Bill Finger, Batman's co-creator and single most important author. It's Alter Ego (which is the flip side of Comic Book Artist magazine) #5, Summer 1999, from TwoMorrows Publishing, reprinted in Alter Ego Collection, Vol. One (Raleigh, N.C.: TwoMorrows Publishing, 2006, ISBN 978-1-8939-0559-7, $21.95).

An affectionate and enormously engaging account of the highlights of the Golden Age in general is Jim Steranko's two-volume The Steranko History of Comics (Reading, Pa.: Supergraphics, 1970), which traces the dawn of the comic books from the great newspaper adventure strips and the pulps through the birth of Superman, Batman, Captain America, the Sub-Mariner, the Human Torch, Captain Marvel, the Spirit, and other giants of the forties. The article on Batman is in the first volume, but both volumes are eminently worthwhile. These volumes have been reprinted several times and aren't particularly tough to find at reasonable cost.

Marc Tyler Nobleman and Ty Templeton recently published a biography of Bill Finger in graphic novel form. The 48-page book, entitled Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman (Watertown, Pa.: Charlesbridge Publishing, 2012, ISBN 978-1-58089-289-6, $17.95), includes most of the scant information available about Finger's personal life, including the few photographs of him that still survive.

Amazing Heroes #27 (July 1983) also has a feature on the Earth-Two Batman.

Comic Book Reprint Collections

There are, of course, many of these. Some of the most noteworthy are:

  • Batman from the Thirties to the Seventies, with an introduction by E. Nelson Bridwell (New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1972). A big hardcover collection of Batman stories from four decades, including Batman's debut, the introductions of Robin, the Joker, Alfred, the Riddler, Ace the Bathound, Batwoman, Bat-Girl, and Batgirl. Sadly, most are in black and white, save for a few oddly placed color plates. A particularly good source for fifties material, although the handful of seventies material included is excellent: two Neal Adams-drawn tales, "Secret of the Waiting Graves" and "Man or Bat?", and a fine Denny O'Neil/Irv Novick piece, "The Demon of Gothos Mansion." There were at least three printings of this book, so it can be found with a little judicious searching. Expect to pay in the neighborhood of $30 to $40 U.S. for a copy in decent shape.

DC has offered a bunch of reprint volumes, first in its "Greatest Stories" series of the late eighties, later with the hardbound Archives volumes, followed by the cheaper paperback Chronicles series.

    • The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told vol. 1 (DC Comics, 1988, in both hardcover and softcover versions) is a superb overview collection that thankfully avoids over-reprinted stories like the first appearance of the Joker. In 2005, DC released a new version with a cover by Alex Ross (ISBN 978-1401204440). This is a slimmer volume with fewer stories and a greater concentration on later material; I consider it inferior to the original.
    • The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told vol. 2 (1992, paperback only), timed to coincide with the release of Batman Returns, includes only Catwoman and Penguin stories. It has a sad dearth of Golden Age material, although it does include the 1950 story in which Catwoman claimed to have turned to crime while suffering from amnesia. This volume is out of print, but a new version with an Alex Ross cover (ISBN 978-1401212148) appeared in early 2007. That volume is not a reprint of the original edition, but a new collection, focusing primarily on modern material; only three of its stories were from before 1964.
    • Batman Featuring Two-Face and the Riddler (1995). An unofficial third volume, released around the time of Batman Forever, this reprints various key appearances of those two villains. It may still be available from DC's backlist (ISBN 1-56389-198-0, STAR 01094D, $12.95).
    • The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told (1989) is all Joker stories, most of them decent if not stellar. It was offered in hardcover and paperback form and also in a bright purple leatherbound edition called Stacked Deck. The latter is a snazzy package, but has only three additional stories (from Batman #353, by Gerry Conway and José Luis García-López, and Detective Comics #569-#570, by Mike W. Barr, Alan Davis, and Paul Neary). As with the other volumes, a new version (ISBN 978-1-4012-1808-9) appeared in 2008, containing some of the material from the earlier version, with additional modern stories.
    • The Greatest Golden Age Stories Ever Told (1990, hardcover and paperback), now out of print, has one Batman story, "While the City Sleeps" from Batman #30 (1945). There are two in The Greatest 1950s Stories Ever Told (1990, hardcover and paperback), "The Super-Batman" from World's Finest Comics #77 (1955) and "Two-Face Strikes Again" from Batman #81 (1954). The paperback edition is still in print (ISBN 0-930289-83-8, STAR 01036D, $14.95). Team-Up: The Greatest Stories Ever Told (1990, paperback only) has another Superman-Batman team-up, "Three Super-Musketeers" from World's Finest #82 (1956); this also is in print (ISBN 0-930289-61-7, STAR 00119D, $14.95). Each of these volumes has a lot of great material, but most of it is not Batman-related.
    • Giant Batman Annual #1. A much cheaper but still lovely collection is this 1999 replica of the first giant-sized Annual from 1961. It has a nice selection of early fifties material for only $4.95.
    • DC Comics Classic Library: Batman - The Annuals Vols. 1 and 2 (vol. 1: ISBN 978-1401221928, $39.99; vol. 2: ISBN 978-1-4012-2791-3, $39.99). These two hardcover volumes reprint the Batman Annuals from the early sixties (#1-#7). Since each of those issues was all reprints, this is a treasure trove of material from the fifties and early sixties.
    • Batman in the Forties. Sixteen stories from the forties (plus one from the thirties) in trade paperback (ISBN 1-4012-0206-3, $19.95).
    • Batman in the Fifties. Sixteen fifties tales in trade paperback (ISBN 1-56389-810-1, $19.95), including the origins of Batwoman and Ace the Bat-Hound.
    • Catwoman: Life and Times of a Feline Fatale (ISBN 978-1401202132, $14.95) is a 2004 collection of Catwoman stories, including her first appearance and the 1950 story in which she reforms for the first time. Most of the Golden Age material has been reprinted elsewhere, but it's a good survey for Catwoman fans, especially if you don't already have a lot of these other volumes.
    • Batman: Secrets of the Batcave (ISBN 978-1401213701, $17.99) is a 2007 volume focusing on Batcave-related stories, including the origins of several of Batman's most recognizable trophies. All of the Golden Age stories have been reprinted before, but this is a more affordable way to get a number of them.
    • Batman: The Black Casebook (ISBN 978-1-4012-2264-2, $17.99), released in 2009, is a 160-page volume collecting various stories from the fifties and early sixties that inspired Grant Morrison's run on Batman in 2007-08 and its followups series. Several of these stories have been reprinted in other volumes, but others have not, which makes this a useful collection. Unfortunately, it doesn't include everything. One obvious omission is "The Secret Star!" from Batman #77 (June/July 1953), which clearly inspired the storyline in Batman #672-674 in 2008; sadly, the 1953 story has never been reprinted.
    • DC Hardcover Archives. There are numerous volumes of this Archives series reprinting Golden Age Batman stories on high-quality archival paper. The challege the Archives present, aside from their formidable cover prices, is that each Batman-related series includes only stories from a single comic book title (Batman, Detective Comics, World's Finest Comics, et al). Because of the variable publishing frequency of those titles (Detective, for example, was monthly, while World's Finest was initially quarterly) and the variable number of Batman stories in a given issue, the different Archives series have not kept pace with one another: the Batman Archives (reprinting Detective Comics has reached the early fifties, while the Batman: The Dark Knight Archives (reprinting Batman is only up to the mid-forties.
      • Batman Archives
        • vol. 1 (ISBN 0-930289-60-9, STAR 00034D, $39.95): Reprints Batman stories from Detective Comics #27-#50, including his first appearance and the debut of Robin. New printings of this volume with a much lower price tag ($19.95) are periodically released.
        • vol. 2 (ISBN 1-56389-000-3, STAR 00035D, $49.95): Reprints Batman stories from Detective Comics #51-#70, including the debut of the Penguin and the first two appearances of Two-Face.
        • Vol. 3 (ISBN 1-56389-099-2, STAR 00670D, $39.95): Reprints Batman stories from Detective Comics #71-#86, including some of Dick Sprang's first published work on the character.
        • vol. 4 (ISBN 1-56389-414-9, STAR 07867X, $49.95): Reprints Batman stories from Detective Comics #87-#102.
        • Vol. 5 (ISBN 1-56389-725-3, STAR 12886X, $49.95): Reprints Batman stories from Detective Comics #103-#119.
        • Vol. 6 (ISBN 1-4012-0409-0, $49.95): Reprints Batman stories from Detective Comics #120-#135.
        • Vol. 7 (ISBN 978-1-4012-1493-7, $49.95): Reprints Batman stories from Detective Comics #136-#154.
        • Vol. 8 (ISBN 978-1-4012-3376-1, $59.99): Reprints Batman stories from Detective Comics #155-171.
      • Batman: The Dark Knight Archives
        • vol. 1 (ISBN 1-56389-050-X, STAR 09450X, $49.95) reprints Batman #1-#4, including the debuts of Catwoman and the Joker.
        • vol. 2 (ISBN 1-56389-183-2, STAR 11835X, $49.95) reprints Batman #5-#8.
        • Vol. 3 (ISBN 1-56389-615-X, STAR 11820X, $49.95) reprints Batman #9-#12.
        • vol. 4 (ISBN 1-56389-983-3, $49.95) reprints Batman #13-#16.
        • Vol. 5 (ISBN 1-4012-0778-2, $49.95) reprints Batman #17-#20.
        • Vol. 6 (ISBN 978-1-4012-2547-6, $59.99) reprints Batman #21-#25.
        • Vol. 7 (ISBN 978-1-4012-2894-1, $59.99) reprints Batman #26-#31.
        • Vol. 8 (ISBN 978-1-4012-3744-8, $59.99) reprints Batman #32-#37.
      • Batman: The World's Finest Comics Archives
        • vol. 1 (ISBN 1-56389-819-5, STAR 16574X, $49.95) reprints the rarely seen Batman and Robin stories (without Superman) from New York World's Fair Comics, World's Best Comics #1, and World's Finest Comics #2-#16.
        • vol. 2 (ISBN 978-1-4012-0163-0, $49.95), reprints Batman and Robin stories from World's Finest Comics #17-#32.
      • Robin Archives
        • vol. 1 (ISBN 978-1-4012-0415-5, $49.95) reprints Robin's solo adventures from Star Spangled Comics #65-#85.
        • vol. 2 (ISBN 978-1-4012-2625-1, $59.99) reprints more Robin solo adventures from Star Spangled Comics #86-#105.
      • World's Finest Archives
        • vol. 1 (ISBN 1-56389-488-2, STAR 08933X, $49.95) reprints the Batman-Superman team-ups from Superman #76 (1952) and World's Finest Comics #71-#85.
        • vol. 2 (ISBN 1-56389-743-1, STAR 14679X, $49.95) reprints the Batman-Superman team-ups from World's Finest Comics #86-#101.
        • Vol. 3 (ISBN 978-1401204112, $49.95) reprints the Batman-Superman team-ups from World's Finest Comics #102-#116.
      • As a point of interest, Batman's brief cameo in All-Star Comics #7 is reprinted in All Star Archives vol. 2 (ISBN0-930289-12-9, STAR 00455D, $49.95) and his one Golden Age adventure with the JSA, All-Star Comics #36's "Five Drowned Men" is included in All-Star Archives Vol. 8 (ISBN 1-563898-12-8, STAR 16272X, $49.95). The cameo of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson in Superman #20 (their first appearance in the Superman strip) can be found in Superman Archives Vol. 5(ISBN 1-563896-02-8, STAR 10734X, $49.95).
    • The Batman Chronicles. This reprint series covers the same material as the Archives, but in paperback on lighter paper, making for a lower cover price. (Some critics also feel the paper is better suited to the material, which was originally printed on newsprint and can look rather oversaturated on the Archives' thick, glossy stock.) An additional advantage is that the Chronicles series includes the stories from all of the titles in which Batman appeared (barring his rare appearances in All Star with the Justice Society), in the order of publication. If you want to read all of Batman's early adventures in chronological order, this is a simpler and cheaper solution than the Archives. The tradeoff is that with fewer pages than the Archives (about 168, compared to around 224), the Chronicles series does not yet go quite as far.
      • Volume 1 (ISBN 978-1-4012-0445-7, $14.99): Reprints Detective Comics #27-#38 and Batman #1 (ISBN 1-4012-0445-7, $14.99).
      • Volume 2 (ISBN 978-1-4012-0790-8, $14.99): Reprints Detective Comics #39-#45 and Batman #2-#3 (ISBN 1-4012-0790-1, $14.99).
      • Volume 3 (ISBN 978-1-4012-1347-3, $14.99): Reprints Detective Comics #46-#50, Batman #4-#5, and New York World's Fair #2.
      • Volume 4 (ISBN 978-1-4012-1462-3, $14.99): Reprints Detective Comics #51-#55, Batman #6-#7, and World's Finest Comics #2-3.
      • Volume 5 (ISBN 978-1-4012-1682-5, $14.99): Reprints Detective Comics #56-#61, Batman #8-#9, and World's Finest Comics #4.
      • Volume 6 (ISBN 978-1-4012-1961-1, $14.99): Reprints Detective Comics #62-#65, Batman #10-#11, and World's Finest Comics #5-6.
      • Volume 7 (ISBN 978-1-4012-2134-8, $14.99): Reprints Detective Comics #66-#70, Batman #12-#13, and World's Finest Comics #7.
      • Volume 8 (ISBN 978-1-4012-2484-4, $14.99): Reprints Detective Comics #71-#74, Batman #14-#15, and World's Finest Comics #8-#9.
      • Volume 9 (ISBN 978-1-4012-2645-9, $14.99): Reprints Detective Comics #75-#77, Batman #16-#17, and World's Finest Comics #10.
      • Volume 10 (ISBN 978-1-4012-2895-8, $14.99): Reprints Detective Comics #78-#81, Batman #18-#19, and World's Finest Comics #11.
      • Volume 11 (ISBN 978-1-4012-3739-4, $14.99): Reprints Detective Comics #82-#85, Batman #20-#21, and World's Finest Comics #12.
    • Showcase Presents. DC offers phonebook-sized, black-and-white reprint volumes with newsprint paper and an attractively low price, comparable to Marvel's Essentials series. Most of the Showcase Presents volumes — including the Batman volumes — feature Silver or Bronze Age material, rather than Golden Age stories, but there are several volumes of interest to fans of the Earth-Two Batman:
      • All-Star Comics Volume 1 (ISBN 1-4012-3303-1, $19.99) reprints the 1970s JSA stories from All-Star Comics #58-#74 and Adventure Comics #461-#466 — including the death of the Earth-Two Batman.
      • All-Star Squadron Volume 1 (ISBN 1-4012-3436-4, $19.99) reprints the first year and a half of the 1980s All-Star Squadron series (#1-#18, plus Annual #1 and the preview from Justice League of America #193. Batman and Robin appear a number of times, mostly in the early part of this volume.
      • World's Finest Volume 1 (ISBN 1-4012-1697-8, $16.99) reprints the Superman/Batman teamups from Superman #76 and World's Finest Comics #71-#111 (most of the material from the three World's Finest Comics Archives).
      • World's Finest Volume 2 (ISBN 1-4012-1981-0, $16.99) reprints the Superman/Batman teamups from World's Finest Comics #112-#145.

Newspaper Comic Strip

From 1943 to 1946 Batman and Robin appeared in both daily and Sunday newspaper comic strips (each with separate continuities) from the McClure Syndicate (which also released the Superman newspaper strip). Although most of the strip was not part of the same continuity as the comic books (a number of the newspaper stories were rewritten from existing comic book tales), the newspaper comic was written by the same writers as the comic book (Bill Finger, Al Schwartz, and Don Cameron) and drawn by the same artists (Jack Burnley on most of the Sunday strip and Bob Kane on the daily, the last major body of work that Kane actually drew himself), so it's very much in the same vein. DC and Kitchen Sink Press reprinted the entire series in several volumes in 1990–1991. All are beautifully packaged, with lovely covers by artist Pete Poplaski in the style of Dick Sprang, excellent reproduction, and thorough historical notes by uber-Batfan Joe Desris.
  • The daily strips were originally released in three volumes: Batman: The Dailies vol. 1 reprints daily strips from October 25, 1943 to October 28, 1944; Batman: The Dailies vol. 2 (ISBN 0-87816-130-9), reprinting strips from from October 30, 1944 through November 24, 1945; and Batman: The Dailies Vol. 3 (ISBN 0-87816-147-3), reprinting strips from November 26, 1945 to November 2, 1946. All three volumes have subsequently been collected in a single large slipcased hardcover volume, which was reprinted in 2006 by Sterling. It contains the same material as the paperback dailies collections, so there's no need to buy both.
  • Batman: The Sunday Classics 1943-1946 reprints all of the Sunday strips from November 7, 1943 to October 7, 1946. It also has biographies of the principal Batman creators and an overview of subsequent Batman newspaper strips. It was also released in a slipcased hardcover volume, now out of print, but reprinted again by Sterling in 2007. As with the dailies collection, it's the same material as the softcover edition.

Batman on Radio

Although efforts to get Batman his own radio series during the forties failed, Batman and Robin were regular guest stars on the Adventures of Superman radio series beginning in 1945, usually played by Matt Crowley and Ronald Liss. A number of Superman's radio adventures, some with Batman and Robin, were offered commercially in the 1990s:
  • Superman on Radio. The first 27 episodes from 1940. Batman and Robin don't appear, but Superman's origin, first employment by the Daily Planet, and earliest radio adventures are included. Interesting and enjoyable, although be forewarned that the final storyline has a heavy dose of period racism. Six hours on four cassettes (ISBN 1-57019-036-4) or five compact discs (ISBN 1-57019-037-2) plus a booklet by Anthony Tollin that discusses the history and highlights of the radio series.
  • Superman with Batman & Robin on Radio. 27 episodes from fall 1945. Despite what the package says, this does not include the first teaming of Superman and Batman, complete recordings of which apparently do not survive; rather, it's their second major team-up. Batman and Robin actually figure only in the first half of this collection, helping Superman to acquit Lois Lane of murder charges. The second half is the lead-in to Superman's battle with the Atom Man, which is on the third set. Six hours on four cassettes (ISBN 1-57019-086-0) or five CDs plus another booklet by Anthony Tollin that presents a brief history of the radio show, Batman and Robin's appearances on it (including a description of their initial March 1945 appearance), and the abortive 1943 pilot for a Batman series. (Some of the material in the booklet is similar to the booklet in the first set, although each booklet is somewhat different.)
  • Superman vs. Atom Man on Radio has the clash between Superman and the vicious Henry Miller, the Kryptonite-charged Nazi villain called the Atom Man, from late 1945. No Batman and Robin this time, but this epic 39-part (!) saga is perhaps the apogee of the radio adventure genre and one of the finest Superman stories of any era or medium. A suspenseful and engaging adventure with many unexpected twists, a genuinely menacing villain, and a still-stirring final battle. Seven hours on five cassettes (ISBN 1-57019-096-8) or six compact discs (ISBN 1-57019-097-6) plus another booklet by Anthony Tollin describing the history of the series, including a recap of the 1943 storyline that first introduced Kryptonite (complete recordings of which are not know to survive). Not to be missed if you have any affection at all for Superman, Golden Age comics, or old-time radio shows. In 2001, Billboard Books also published a trade paperback collection of the original radio scripts by Ben Peter Freeman.
  • Superman with Batman & Robin on Radio is a mammoth collection of the episodes from about half of 1947, including seven major storylines. Batman and Robin play a role in only two, but don't let that dissuade you. On 20 audio cassettes (ISBN 1-57019-238-3) plus a booklet by Anthony Tollin with episode credits and synopses. Highly recommended.
  • Batman's Great Mystery, a 1948 radio storyline of the same name, was also released on cassette and CD by Radio Original on two cassettes or three CDs. Not one of the stronger radio serials, but still good fun.

Batman Serials

Batman and Robin appeared in two 15-part chapter-plays from Columbia Pictures:

  1. The first, starring Lewis Wilson as Batman, Douglas Croft as Robin, Shirley Patterson as Linda Page, and J. Carrol Naish as Dr. Daka, was released in 1943.
  2. The second, with Robert Lowery as Batman, John Duncan as Robin, and Jane Dams as Vicki Vale, appeared in 1949.

Both have been available on video. Be warned that both serials were cheap and carelessly produced even by the standards of forties chapter-plays. The 1943 serial has a livelier villain in the form of Naish, but its racist, anti-Japanese wartime sentiments sit uneasily today. The 1949 serial, with a masked villain called the Wizard, is less offensive, but rather dull. Don't try to watch more than an installment or two of either serial at a time; serials weren't designed to be watched that way and trying to watch them all in one sitting does them (and you) no favors.

Related Web Sites

  • Who Drew Batman. Bob Hughes has a site analyzing the different uncredited artists who drew Batman prior to the mid-sixties (when DC began crediting artists other than Bob Kane). It's still a work in progress, but it's invaluable, and I'm sure that it will eventually reach the state of his very fine Who Drew Superman page.
  • Various incarnations of the Batmobile. Model-maker Dan Thompson has a nice page describing them, along with photos of his nifty model of the Batplane depicted in Brave and the Bold #167.
  • JSA Chronology. For more information on Batman's comrades of the Justice Society of America.
  • David Stepp's Comics Archives. Another handy source of information on a variety of Golden Age DC characters.
  • Grand Comics Database. For a wide variety of information on comics of all vintages.