BATMAN ANNUAL #2 - Batman started out as Robin?

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Chuck Gower

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BATMAN ANNUAL #2 - Batman started out as Robin?

I found this beauty in $1 box. Like... when was I ever going to read a Batman Annual #2? I’m not a big Batman fan in the first place, but this is one that turned out to have a few surprises. It WAS, however, coverless, so... here's a reproduction...

 

BAnn02.jpg

(BATMAN ANNUAL #2 - Cover Dated Winter 1961 - on Newsstands November 16th, 1961 - cover art by Curt Swan, Sheldon Moldoff and Sprang)

 

 

Ok... what's good about it? For one, most of these stories are drawn by Sprang, who’s work in Batman I LOVE. It’s just so stylized in its own way, I almost love it as much as H.G. Peter, though I think Sprang probably has a better grasp of storytelling. 

Of course, they’re all listed as Bob Kane work in the book - we just now know it was guys like Sprang and Sheldon Moldoff that we’re actually doing the work. 

What’s kind of a crock about this Annual - not that it matters now - but at the time, this was all reprints! If I was a regular Batman reader in 1961, I’d feel a little ripped off by that. At least give me ONE new story. 

 

BatmanAnn02b.jpeg

(BATMAN ANNUAL #2 - Cover Dated Winter 1961 - on Newsstands November 16th, 1961 - Reprinted from Batman #86 - Cover Dated September 1954 - on Newsstands July 14th, 1954 with art by Sprang but listed as Bob Kane)

 

 

The first story is kind of a hoot as Batman faces death from “The Bends” when he ventures too far underwater and the bad guy, “Slant” Stacey takes advantage of it. Of course, Batman comes up with all kinds of improbable ways around it. 

 

BatmanAnn02c.jpeg

(BATMAN ANNUAL #2 - Cover Dated Winter 1961 - on Newsstands November 16th, 1961 - Reprinted from Batman #86 - Cover Dated September 1954 - on Newsstands July 14th, 1954 with art by Sprang but listed as Bob Kane)

 

 

Sprang's art and style was hugely influential in the Batman TV show from the '60s and here you can practically see the into to the show where the host of bad guys are in line to get walloped by the Dynamic Duo.

 

BatmanAnn02d.jpeg

(BATMAN ANNUAL #2 - Cover Dated Winter 1961 - on Newsstands November 16th, 1961 - Reprinted from Batman #86 - Cover Dated September 1954 - on Newsstands July 14th, 1954 with art by Sprang but listed as Bob Kane)

 

 

 

Man, they must’ve run out of ideas for this strip by the mid-50’s, as the next couple of stories are Batman becomes a Scottish Lord, Batman becomes an Indian Chief, Batman and Robin become Jungle Adventurers, Batman the Magician, Super Power Batman ... ugh. 

 

BatmanAnn02e.jpeg

(BATMAN ANNUAL #2 - Cover Dated Winter 1961 - on Newsstands November 16th, 1961 - Reprinted from Batman #86 - Cover Dated August 1953 - on Newsstands July 1st, 1953, with art by Sprang but listed as Bob Kane)

 

BatmanAnn02f.jpeg

(BATMAN ANNUAL #2 - Cover Dated Winter 1961 - on Newsstands November 16th, 1961 - Reprinted from Batman #86 - Cover Dated September 1954 - on Newsstands July 14th, 1954 with art by Sheldon Moldoff but listed as Bob Kane)

 

 

There’s also a Batman Calendar for 1962, though how you’re supposed to put this together with destroying your comic is beyond me. 

This DC Comic came out the same month as Amazing Adult Fantasy #9 featuring Tim Boo Ba! and in between Fantastic Four #2 and #3.

 

BatmanAnn02g1.jpeg

 

BatmanAnn02g2.jpeg

 

 

One that’s interesting is “When Batman was Robin”. It’s the obviously NOT canon story of how when Bruce Wayne was training to be a detective, his mentor gave him a Robin outfit and that’s how he got his start... though here it looks like the long lost mentor is coming back to reveal his secret identity. Not exactly canon at this point, but an interesting take for the time.

Unfortunately, the rest is a little too much of this:

 

BatmanAnn02h.jpeg

(BATMAN ANNUAL #2 - Cover Dated Winter 1961 - on Newsstands November 16th, 1961 - Reprinted from Batman #86 - Cover Dated September 1954 - on Newsstands July 14th, 1954 with art by Sprang but listed as Bob Kane)

 

 

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Sprang is the quintessential Batman artist of the late Golden/ early Silver Age. And the constant Batman retconning of the 1950s, along with goofy outfits, villains and situations is what kept the title entertaining in a period when the "Dark Knight" persona was in exile. 

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