Thursday, May 31, 2018

Batmania And The Decline Of Superman!

People love to talk about the Batman '66 series and its impact, but they don't often talk about this:

Yeah, typical goofy-ass story of the Silver Age, Go-Go Check era. But look at that cover more closely:

Yup, this issue was published late in 1966, when Batmania was at full steam. And DC decided they wanted to tap into that, and try to attract curious casual Batman fans to Superman.

Now, let's not forget that DC already had an entire comic devoted to Batman and Superman teaming up. But apparently, that wasn't synergistic enough. We had to try to draw in Batman TV fans to Action Comics!

And it wasn't just the cover:

Talk about adding insult to injury:

It's pretty sad that, in Superman's flagship title, they had to reassure Superman fans that they would like the story, too.

And throughout the tale:

"Bat-Buddies"??? How desperately craven can you sound, trying to suck up to "Batman fans?"

For what it's worth, this was a terribly, terribly, very terribly stupid story, and if any "Batman fan" were lured into reading Action Comics regularly by this tale, well, I'd be pretty disappointed in them.

But perhaps this is the first instance, the tiniest scintilla of a hint, that DC was beginning to consider Batman cooler than Superman. Not The Dark Knight Returns, not O'Neill/Adams or Englehart/Rogers, but all the way back in 1966, when they thought they needed to pander to Batman TV viewers to boost sales on Action Comics.

From Action Comics #344 (1966)


tomg said...

I have been staring at the cover looking for "all the clues" to solve Superman's nightmare problem, but I haven't got a clue. Honestly, I can't even tell what the nightmare is about. I no good at this :(

snell said...

Don't beat yourself up, Tom. The cover lies, and there's no way anyone who hasn't read the story could possible decipher that Red Kryptonite is causing Superman to have weird dreams about Batman villains. As i said, stupid story.