When it comes to Batman in the 1960’s, I know little. I get Superman’s weirdness during that time because he’s one I’ve tried to look into. With Batman, I know even less. I’ve only read a couple of stories from this era. I also remember seeing some episodes of the Batman TV show from way back in the day. I know that show was somewhat influenced by the comics of the day. One of Linkara’s earliest reviews was of a Batman comic where Batman turned into a baby and still fought crime. Yeah… luckily, the story I have for today isn’t that strange.
Batman #156 came out in 1963. I also found this story in The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told trade. The writer is Bill Finger, the co-creator of Batman. Sheldon Moldoff handles the pencils. I also wonder if “Moldoff” is his real name. It sounds like a cleaning product. Charles Paris handles the inks and I don’t know who handled the colors. So, let’s see what happens when Batman watches Robin die!
Batman #156 – “Robin Dies At Dawn!”
Writer: Bill Finger
Penciller: Sheldon Moldoff
Inks: Charles Paris
Batman awakens on an alien world. He doesn’t know how he got there and his utility belt is gone. He also feels that someone watching him. He wanders around the area and looks for Robin. Suddenly, a plant attacks Batman and ties him up. Luckily, Robin comes in for the save Batman and they get out of there. The two wander around and finds a giant statue that starts to chase after them. Robin is able to stop the giant but ends up getting killed in the process. Batman is distraught by his death and is at wits end when another creature comes.
Suddenly, Batman wakes up to find a doctor, a general, and Robin alive! It turns out that Batman was asked by the military to undergo testing for the side effects of isolation on astronauts. Everything he experienced was a hallucination and he was just in a room for days. The doctor (I’ll just call him Doctor Hurt) wonders if those experiences will affect Batman later. That turns out to be the case as Bruce has nightmares about the experience. He even hallucinates about the experiences when he’s out as patrolling the city. When chasing down the Gorilla Gang (dang dirty apes), he almost gets killed twice.
"Oh Batman! Now I have to do the heavy lifting! Can I get a new suit like that Terry McGiness guy?"
Because of his situation, Bruce quits being Batman. Robin still tries to keep up the fight but is captured by The Gorilla Gang. When Bruce finds out, he suits back up. Apparently, Robin’s real predicament stirred something inside him. He finds out where the “Dang, Dirty Apes” are held up at. He dawns a disguise and cleans up house on the gang. With his mind restored and Robin safe, Batman heads off to do what he does best.
This was a good story. I’ve heard about the story but never read it till now. I also know that this story and the doctor that shows up in it play heavily into Grant Morrison’s tapestry on Batman in the late 2000’s. The writing’s good for the most part even though the dialogue was really old-school. They explain everything you see going on in the story. That is how they did it at this time. I actually don’t even think the story I looked at from the Batman Dailies trade did this much explanation.
I liked the little plot twist that comes into play here. If one had read this story for the first time, they probably wouldn’t see it coming. I know that twist had to have been inspired by the first episode to The Twilight Zone. It was also interesting see Bruce wig out because of the hallucinations. The artwork is pretty decent as well. It wasn’t great though. It just did its job. I especially liked the weirdness of the alien planet. Well, I have one last story to look at and I’ll be done with this month. Peace, God Bless, and watch out for the Gorilla Gang!