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Batman/Superman in the 1950s

Old 07-19-10, 03:34 PM
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Batman/Superman in the 1950s

I was wondering why don't people talk more about this era of these superheroes, i heard the code took out the violence and added more scifi stuff but that doesn't really sound bad since more scifi at least takes more thought than just regular ol violence, i'm betting there must have been SOME wondrous stories to show.
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Old 07-20-10, 07:35 AM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

I don't know how much of it was the restrictive nature of the code, or just the contemporary climate in general. Post WWII we were in the 'atomic age'. People wanted (and were being sold on the appeal of) new and modern.
Gangsters and that ilk probably seemed more old school, prohibition-era at that point, and I think people who had managed to make it through the depression and another world war intact didn't want to look back. Talking Gorillas, UFOs, Alien zoos, etc all seem to be more in the spirit of an age of the atom bomb, Sputnik, jet airplanes, computers.

I first started reading/collecting comics when I was 7 or 8 and DC, which I read almost exclusively, used to put out these massive 100 page issues of certain titles. less that 30 pages were new material- the rest was reprints and early on I was exposed to a lot of golden and early silver age material. I've always enjoyed that kind of stuff.

If people want to read this kind of stuff, and don't mind B&W, the DC showcases have a lot of it.
The first several Superman showcases start in the mid 50s IIRC. The Worlds Finest ones have the Batman/Superman stories from the same era as well.

One of the Showcases I'm enjoying the most right now is Strange Adventures. No superheros, just 50s sci-fi anthology stories. Not as good as the EC sci-fi comics, but also not as weighted down by text and as dependent on the obligatory O'Henry twist endings. just light nostalgic fun.
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Old 07-21-10, 04:35 PM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

Originally Posted by Paul_SD View Post
I don't know how much of it was the restrictive nature of the code,
It was definitely the code. After Seduction of the Innocent, and the start of the code, the writers were very limited on the depiction of crime:

# Crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal, to promote distrust of the forces of law and justice, or to inspire others with a desire to imitate criminals.

# If crime is depicted it shall be as a sordid and unpleasant activity.

# Criminals shall not be presented so as to be rendered glamorous or to occupy a position which creates a desire for emulation.

# In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds.

# Scenes of excessive violence shall be prohibited. Scenes of brutal torture, excessive and unnecessary knife and gunplay, physical agony, gory and gruesome crime shall be eliminated.
So the only thing left was sci-fi stories.
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Old 07-21-10, 05:19 PM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

Originally Posted by FRwL View Post
I was wondering why don't people talk more about this era of these superheroes, i heard the code took out the violence and added more scifi stuff but that doesn't really sound bad since more scifi at least takes more thought than just regular ol violence, i'm betting there must have been SOME wondrous stories to show.
EC Comics was doing some great science fiction stories before the Comics Code was established, in "Weird Science" and "Weird Science-Fantasy" (I think those were the titles. They were doing the horror/crime stuff simultaneously. And some of the Crime SuspenStories were quite topical (Nazi war criminals, KKK, etc.).

Other comic companies were just doing trashy crime/horror stories and turning them out cheaply for a fast buck. It was those series that brought on Wertham's book and the Senate hearings and the onset of the Code. Sci-fi took a little more thought and better artwork, so only the higher-end companies did those. EC could easily have continued with the sci-fi comics after the Code. I'm not sure why they didn't. Instead, DC entered the fray with Adam Strange and others I don't recall.
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Old 07-24-10, 12:08 PM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

I think we talked about this in the Batman thread, but I love this goofy era. Kathy Kane was hot!

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Old 07-24-10, 01:09 PM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

I've had these since I was a kid and honestly I couldn't stand the sci fi Batman stories.



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Old 07-24-10, 05:29 PM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

I heard the scifi fit superman better.
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Old 07-24-10, 07:49 PM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

Superman is based on a sci-fi premise, so the genre has always been a stronger fit with that character -although I do like the New Deal Avenger of the early strips that have nothing to do with sci-fi.

But as weak a fit as sci-fi usually is with Batman, one of my favorite comic book stories of all time remains


It was contained in an old beat up annual that I bought at a flea market as a little kid. The story packed a real punch for me then, and I still enjoy revisiting it from time to time. Now I can appreciate the way it's constructed and paced, and how unlike it is compared to most of the Batman stories of that era. Most of the 50s/early 60s Batman is cornball campy (fun) stuff. This story is one of the few that's transcendent.

Last edited by Paul_SD; 07-24-10 at 07:54 PM.
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Old 07-27-10, 10:38 AM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

The 1950's were also the era where it seemd like every month at least one of the Superman/Batman titles would feature an "imaginary story" such as "Superman marries Lois Lane and she turns out to be a four headed space mutant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
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Old 07-27-10, 12:01 PM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

They definitely hid some suggestive stuff in there during the '50s:





The best part is the artist's name: Dick Sprang
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Old 07-27-10, 01:26 PM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

Originally Posted by Paul_SD View Post
Superman is based on a sci-fi premise, so the genre has always been a stronger fit with that character -although I do like the New Deal Avenger of the early strips that have nothing to do with sci-fi.

But as weak a fit as sci-fi usually is with Batman, one of my favorite comic book stories of all time remains

It was contained in an old beat up annual that I bought at a flea market as a little kid. The story packed a real punch for me then, and I still enjoy revisiting it from time to time. Now I can appreciate the way it's constructed and paced, and how unlike it is compared to most of the Batman stories of that era. Most of the 50s/early 60s Batman is cornball campy (fun) stuff. This story is one of the few that's transcendent.
Agreed. I first read it in a reprint in Batman Family and was blown away. Its on my list of SA to pick up one day. And to make it even better Morrison referenced it in RIP.
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Old 07-27-10, 02:35 PM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

Originally Posted by slop101 View Post
They definitely hid some suggestive stuff in there during the '50s:

The best part is the artist's name: Dick Sprang
Here we have yet another example of someone who has no concept of how to place themselves in the mindset of another time period.

Contrary to what you think, back in the 1950's people didn't burst into endless fits of giggling and snorting if someone said or wrote the word
"boner" And that is the artists real name not something made up for the sake of some lame double entendre and he is considered on the alltime great Batman artists.

Shame on you for trying to humiliate him.

Shame on you.
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Old 07-27-10, 02:42 PM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

Originally Posted by TheMadFapper View Post
Here we have yet another example of someone who has no concept of how to place themselves in the mindset of another time period.

Contrary to what you think, back in the 1950's people didn't burst into endless fits of giggling and snorting if someone said or wrote the word
"boner" And that is the artists real name not something made up for the sake of some lame double entendre and he is considered on the alltime great Batman artists.

Shame on you for trying to humiliate him.

Shame on you.
I know exactly who Sprang is along with his contributions. But if you don't think that Batman #66 was a giant double-entendre joke (just look at that cover), well then you must not think much of his wit and have none yourself. Shame on you for belittling him!
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Old 07-27-10, 03:35 PM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

Originally Posted by stingermck View Post
Agreed. I first read it in a reprint in Batman Family and was blown away. Its on my list of SA to pick up one day. And to make it even better Morrison referenced it in RIP.
I want to read that the cover definitely looks interesitng, what issue was it?
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Old 07-27-10, 06:29 PM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

Originally Posted by FRwL View Post
I want to read that the cover definitely looks interesitng, what issue was it?
It's been reprinted quite a bit including in The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told from 1988 and Batman The Greatest Stories Ever Told from 2005, and apparently in Batman: The Black Casebook which was released last year.

The book I originally read it in was the 80 page Giant Batman #185 (not an annual)- which was probably the first reprint of it. The original source is Batman #156

There are a lot of spoilers out there for this story, so be careful looking around. It's worth trying to find it to read it cold. I had forgotten some of the particular plot details and reading the synopsis now I realize why I was originally so impressed with it. Very thoughtful (and for the time period, topical) treatment of the premise. In an era filled with inane and disposable stories, this one displays some rare intelligence.

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Old 07-27-10, 11:40 PM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

Wil check it out thanks!
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Old 07-28-10, 04:30 AM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

Originally Posted by mrhan View Post
I've had these since I was a kid and honestly I couldn't stand the sci fi Batman stories.



I loved those books! I used to check them out from the library repeatedly, especially the Batman one. Last year I ran across it in a used book store and couldn't resist.

The sci-fi stories weren't my favorite, but there were some good ones, like the one mentioned above.
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Old 07-31-10, 06:07 PM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

Originally Posted by stingermck View Post
It was definitely the code. After Seduction of the Innocent, and the start of the code, the writers were very limited on the depiction of crime:



So the only thing left was sci-fi stories.
The war comics were pretty violent also pre-code. Other things that disappered after the code were bondage covers and lingerie panels and drug use. No more psychos shooting up LSD and then chopping up pretty girls in lingerie with an axe.
Fu Manchu always gets away in the end with the words, "I shall return". Republic Pictures made a serial in the 1940's titled The Drums of Fu Manchu. They had trouble releasing it because Fu Manchu gets away and the Hays Code didn't allow for criminals to escape punishment.

As a kid in the 60s I once got ahold of a pre-code horror comic. There was this story about a young couple and their baby who take a vacation at a cabin in the woods. The couple is woken up in the middle of the night by their baby crying. They run into the baby's room and there is a giant rat, the size of a St. Bernard eating the baby. They drive the rat off. The baby is dead. The mother is so distraught she is bedridden. The father/husband builds a giant mouse trap and sets it inside their bedroom door on the floor in case the rat comes back.
Later, the husband is outside the cabin chopping firewood. He hears his wife scream. He runs to her carrying the axe. The giant rat is on her bed eating off her arms and legs. The husband runs into the bedroom weilding the axe. He forgets about the giant mousetrap and trips over it, springing the trap which cuts him in half at the waist. His top half flies through the air and he plants the axe in the rat's head which squirts rat brains.
Have never forgotten that comic and never will.
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Old 07-31-10, 06:31 PM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

^whoa thats pretty grim
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Old 07-31-10, 07:13 PM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

WOW. I can't imagine ever forgetting a story like that- especially reading it as a kid.

There's a collection of Pre-Code horror due out soon

wonder if that story will be in it?
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Old 08-03-10, 10:32 AM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

Originally Posted by mrhan View Post
I've had these since I was a kid and honestly I couldn't stand the sci fi Batman stories.



I still have these, got them as a young boy in the 70s, and basically learned to read from them. All the stories are a hoot and a half, and cemented my love of DC comics for life.

Got two words for you: On Cent Ted Tate Mica
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Old 08-03-10, 12:14 PM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

Originally Posted by Hokeyboy View Post
I still have these, got them as a young boy in the 70s, and basically learned to read from them. All the stories are a hoot and a half, and cemented my love of DC comics for life.

Got two words for you: On Cent Ted Tate Mica
I had to google that, and this page is hit #2!
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Old 08-25-10, 12:38 PM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

Originally Posted by Hokeyboy View Post
Got two words for you: On Cent Ted Tate Mica
?
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Old 08-25-10, 12:53 PM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

Originally Posted by Trevor View Post
I had to google that, and this page is hit #2!
Originally Posted by mrhan View Post
?
From The Second Batman And Robin Team, one of my alltime favorite "Wacky 50s Batman" stories, in which Bruce Wayne retires and marries Batwoman. They have a son who becomes "Robin II", while Dick Grayson becomes "Batman II". They both even have little Roman numeral II's on their costume insignias. The story is included in that awesome hardcover above "Batman from the 30s to the 70s".
The following day finds newspaper reporter Dick Grayson on his way to the office when... Ted Tate, the gangster drive by! He recalls how the crook was part of the Babyface Jordan gang, and how Jordan broke out of prison! Seeing the groceries in the car, Dick realizes that Tate may be heading for the hideout! Bruce Jr. arrives at Dick's office for lunch -- but when he arrives... the boy learns that Dick stepped out and left him an envelope! There is a penny inside -- and Bruce Jr. knows that Dick must have left a message! At the lab in the Bat-Cave, the boy sees that certain letters have been scratched out on the back of the coin... "One Cent United States of America" becomes "On Cent Ted Tate Mica!" Bruce Jr. now knows that his partner is on the scent of Ted Tate -- and is heading for the old mica quarry! (Holy Selegue, Batman!)
"Selegue"?
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Old 08-25-10, 02:06 PM
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Re: Batman/Superman in the 1950s

I remember the Batman/Robin II story well from the above volume, and they have a bunch of them in the DC Greatest Imaginary Stories vol. 2: Batman TPB that came out this summer.

It also has the "what if Bruce Wayne married Lois Lane" story that someone on this board was kind enough to send me a few years ago when I was jonesing to read it.
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