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Sheldon Moldoff

Reading List: The Ten Essential Batman Stories

Batman: Year One, DC Comics
Batman: Year One, DC Comics

So you've decided to read about Batman! I would definitely applaud this decision, as I have spent the majority of the past thirty years doing exactly that, but I also know that it can be pretty daunting to figure out where to get started. There have, after all, been thousands of Batman stories published since he first debuted from Bill Finger and Bob Kane in 1939, and despite a few missteps along the way, he probably has more classic and definitive stories in print than any other superhero.

But don't worry, ComicsAlliance is here to help with a list of ten essential Batman stories. Read these, and you'll (hopefully) come away with a solid foundation for understanding the Dark Knight and how he works.

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Bizarro Back Issues: Meet Vanderveer Wayne, Batman’s ‘Powerless’ Cousin (1962)

Batman #148, DC Comics

I'm a sucker for stories that explore what life in a superhero universe is like for the regular people who live there, so I've been pretty interested in the DC superhero sitcom Powerless, debuting February 2 on NBC, ever since it was announced. The thing is, while I knew it was set in a superhero-adjacent business in the DC Universe, and that relatively obscure characters like Crimson Fox were going to show up, there was one connection to the larger DC that I was extremely surprised to hear about; Vanderveer "Van" Wayne, Bruce Wayne's terrible, terrible cousin, played in the show by Alan Tudyk.

That dude is an extremely deep cut, showing up in one issue back in 1962, but really? If you're looking for a grandstanding and somewhat oblivious boss for a piece of the Wayne family's corporate empire, he's pretty much perfect.

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The Ghost With the Most: Celebrating the Unsung Legacy of Sheldon Moldoff

moldoff-feat

If you only go by bylines, you would believe that not only did Bob Kane create Batman on his own, he also wrote, drew, and inked every adventure of Batman all by himself from 1939 until the mid 1960s. However, fans with even a little bit of knowledge of comics history know that most elements of the Batman mythos were created by writer Bill Finger, and that Kane employed a host of ghost artists whose work he took credit for for decades, including Jerry Robinson, Dick Sprang, Lew Schwartz, and Win Mortimer.

One of the most prominent of these ghost artists, whose style would define an entire era of Batman history, was Sheldon “Shelly” Moldoff, born on this day in 1920 in New York City.

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Filed Under: , , Category: Anniversaries, DC

Bizarro Back Issues: Aqualad Doesn’t Know How Movies Work (1961)

Detective Comics #297

The Academy Awards are almost upon us, which means that it's time for the entire movie industry to rent out a very large room and say, "Good job, Movie Industry" to itself for about four hours. I'm told a lot of people find this very exciting, but as they have never, to my knowledge, even mentioned Bulbasaur's groundbreaking role in Pokemon: The First Movie, it's not really something I'm interested in. Besides, the movies that I tend to enjoy often value spectacle over substance. It might not win any awards, but I've often thought that there's a lot of value in giving audiences something that they just couldn't see otherwise.

Which, I imagine, is probably there were film producers in the DC Universe who were once so desperate for cool stunts that they decided to hire an actual superhero to handle them --- all without ever explaining to him how movies worked.

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Like a Rainbow in the Dark, DC Collectibles Announces New Batman Figure Set

DC Collectibles
DC Collectibles

One year ago, DC Collectibles opened its "vault" of unproduced prototypes in celebration of hitting a social media milestone. Included therein were figures based on DC Universe Online, statues for Ame-Comi Mary Marvel and a Black Manta bust, among others. Instead of leaving all of these first-party collectibles locked away forever inside the archives, DC Collectibles asked fans to vote for which item they'd like to see finally be produced. Then there was silence... until today when the dull winter sky was broken by a glorious rainbow in the shape of Batman.

Yes, that's right; the Sheldon Moldoff-inspired Rainbow Batmen are coming and there's nothing you can do to stop it now. You had your chance to vote for 3.75" New 52 figures, and you blew it. Unless you voted for these, in which case, congratulations, all of your dreams are coming true in amazing technicolor fashion!

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Filed Under: , , Category: DC, Toys

Bizarro Back Issues: Batman Battles The Completely Nonexistent Threat Of Witchcraft (1965)

Detective Comics #336

Batman is no stranger to the supernatural. I mean, he's been fighting vampires since 1939, and there was an animated series only a few years ago that prominently featured the idea that he has special Batarangs made of space metal specifically for the purposes of beating up ghosts. It's a thing that he does, and unsurprisingly, he does it well. Except, of course, for that stretch where the Comics Code wanted to assure people that while benevolent alien newspapermen and bachelors in Dracula suits with teen sidekicks were a-okay, witchcraft was something that definitely, definitely did not exist.

Which, of course, did nothing to stop it from being the source of Gotham City's latest crime wave.

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Bizarro Back Issues: Aliens Give Batman The (Giant Glowing Green) Finger (1960)

Batman #130, DC Comics

Last weekend marked the official Batman Day, and while I hope I've made it clear over my years of writing about comics that I strive to keep Batman in my heart the whole year 'round, I think we can all agree that it's nice to take some time and talk about the many wonderful things that he's done in his 76 years of crime-fighting. The thing is, you always hear about the same stuff. It's always "Dark Knight" this, and "Year One" that, and "that time he fought Bane and got knocked out of comics for like two years because of an actual professional wrestling move."

Don't get me wrong, those are important events, sure, but they're a tiny, tiny fraction of what Batman has done, and I think it's time that we honor some of the more unloved --- but just as deserving --- examples of heroism from his considerable career. Like, say, that time that he saved Gotham City from having all of its metal stolen by a giant green hand from another dimension by proving that aliens should be able to speak foreign languages.

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Gallery: Best Poison Ivy Art Ever

PICropped

Created by Robert Kanigher and Sheldon Moldoff, Poison Ivy first graced the comic page back in the historic year of 1966, when The Sound of Music won Best Picture and England somehow won the World Cup. Her first appearance was in Detective Comics #181, and since then the character has remained a constant thorn in the Dark Knight's side.

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Ask Chris #237: What The Heck Happened In ‘Batman RIP’?

Ask Chris #237: Batman RIP

Q: Batman RIP: What's going on in this book? I like Morrison, but I do not follow the plot. -- @daingercomics

A: My friend, you have come to the right place. I generally think Grant Morrison gets a bad rap for writing superhero stories that are too complex --- a complaint that you see about almost everything he writes going all the way back to "Rock of Ages" in JLA, and probably back to Animal Man if you go looking for it --- but R.I.P. is a story with a whole lot of moving parts that can be pretty hard to keep track of unless you're the kind of person who has been obsessing over the details of 75 years of Batman comics for their entire life.

Fortunately for you, that's exactly what I am, which is one of the reasons that Batman R.I.P. is probably my favorite Batman story of all time.

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The Evolution of Batman: The Best Batman Stories by Decade

evolution-of-batman

Many of comics’ most popular heroes have been around for decades, and in the case of the big names from the publisher now known as DC Comics, some have been around for a sizable chunk of a century. As these characters passed through the different historical eras known in comics as the Golden Age (the late 1930s through the early 1950s), the Silver Age (the mid 1950s through the late 1960s), the Bronze Age (the early 1970s through the mid 1980s) and on into modern times, they have experienced considerable changes in tone and portrayal that reflect the zeitgeist of the time.

With this new feature we’ll help you navigate the very best stories of DC Comics’ most beloved characters decade by decade. This week, we’re taking a look at Batman.

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