The Strangest Moments of Golden Age Batman
With this week’s release of “The Batman Chronicles” Vol. 9 DC adds another book to their growing collection of Batman’s earliest adventures. While these stories are certainly valuable in a historic context — and if you want to see Batman making a lot of jokes while he cold punches suckers in the mouth, which we do — they, like most of the stories from the ’30s and ’40s, can often be hard to read. Being produced at the dawn of the medium, they tend to be very repetitive and lack the more sophisticated storytelling that would come to comics with time. And yet, we’ve read every volume.
Why? Because they make up for it by being completely insane.
And to give you a taste of just how crazy they get, we’ve gotten ComicsAlliance staffer and professional Batmanologist Chris Sims to take a look at some of the Golden Age Batman’s Strangest Moments!
While the Batarang appeared pretty early on, the early years saw Batman experimenting with different “calling cards” to leave at the scene of his exploits to strike fear into the hearts of criminals. Our favorite? That time that he sent his target a live bat through the mail, then waited outside his house until he opened it so that he could throw a dart through the window and kill the bat, all to make a point.
That point? That Batman is crazy and he is going to mess you up.
Batman’s sci-fi tinged adventures are usually considered to be a trademark of the ’50s, but as early as 1940, Batman and Robin took a trip to “The Fourth Dimension” in an adventure that riffed on “Gulliver’s Travels.” In an attempt to save a race of tiny people from a race of giants, Batman found himself trapped in a “Jack and the Beanstalk”-esque castle, escaping by wrestling a giant cat into submission, making him tap out to the dreaded Bat-Full-Nelson.
The Ugliest Man in the World (“Batman” #3)
The idea of a super-hero taking the place of a sports hero to thwart gambling wasn’t that odd for the ’40s–in fact, there’s a Golden Age Superman story that’s pretty much exactly like this one–but there’s just something about the narration that grabs our attention, as it provides a play-by-play for the crimefighter’s football skills. Phrases like “Down the field streaks the Batman, weaving in and out of the opposition in a perfect example of broken field running” just crack us right up.
Batman and the Dragon (“Batman” #5)
Bruce Wayne: Archaeologist (“Detective Comics” #56)
Batman and the White Whale (“Batman” #9)
We’re not really sure why Batman took time out from his war on crime to hunt down and kill a “white” (well, yellowish) whale, so we can only assume the obvious answer:
That’s the whale that killed his parents.