In a time of David Cassidy and the Village People, a hero was needed. Not just a strong and capable hero, but… someone who looked good in a Cuban heeled boot with amazing abs.
Marshall Rogers, Jose Garcia Lopez, Jim Aparo, Eduardo Barretto and Neal Adams alike brought this hero to world in comics that are still regarded as important today (collected en mass, an overview of the 70′s Batman can be found in the trade paperback Batman in the Seventies.
With these stylish and action-oriented artists on the job, Batman became a more vivified character of action and adventure.
Under the pen of Neal Adams, Batman became not only more vivid, but for the first time… sexy (witness the topless hairy-chested Batman by Adams in the classic Ra’s Al Gul collected in the Trade Paperback Takes of the Demon).
No-longer a strict detective, this Batman moved . From sword fights in the deserts to mad car-chases, Batman in the 70′s was a happenin’ guy.
And under the pen on Marshall Rogers, he was no slouch either! Full of moody settings and precisely detailed cityscapes, the Steve Englehart/Marshall Rogers issues are seen by many as the definitive Batman of the 70′s (key issues reprinted in the trade Batman: Strange Apparitions.
It was only when joined by his work pals that he got… chummy.
This was the Batman of my youth. Full smile, incredible physique, always running somewhere. Jose Garcia Lopez drew most of these images (most recently used by the US Postal Service to celebrate DC Super-Heroes in stamp form). Not the gadget belt addict of the Challenge of the Super Friends, but close enough. More of a kind of guy who’d pose at the local mall for pics with the kids than jump out of the shadows to slug a guy.
Eduardo Baretto brought a character to Batman similar in some ways to the later Brent Anderson (of Astro City). Lots of human facial characteristics and emotion could be seen in his issues.
It was Jim Aparo who drew possibly the most images of the caped crusader in Batman, Detective Comics and my personal favorite ‘Brave and the Bold.’ This Batman was all over the place. Dynamic, humorous, angry, serious, and over all mad. I didn’t see it when I read the blockbuster story of 1989 Batman: A Death in the Family as a teenager, but there’s so much going on in Aparo‘s linework that it boggles the mind.
But that was just Batman in the comics…
From the amount of marketing he got, you’d think Batman had gone to the Moon. Perhaps it was the music, the wild young lifestyle or just the need for a costumed smiling man to scare away the bad guys, but Batman was the man of the hour and placed on everything from pencil cases to occasionally books.
Check out the stylin’ bathrobe! And who is that kid in the bright yellow PJ’s hollering for? His cruel aunt who bought him that hideous outfit?
And ofcourse, lots of toys from our friends at MEGO.
Two Long Island kids investigate a shaking bush… and a religion is born.
The anxiety that the narrator emotes is hilarious. Genuinely shocked by the Joker’s behavior, he is nearly driven to tears at the reality of hard crime. And is the voice of Batman from the deepest pits of Hell?
I think that any kid that owned this gigantic toy was a member of CREEP, shilling the voters for every penny. The thing must take up half your bedroom!
Man… all I had was one of these. Life, like the 70′s, can be cruel.
I suppose in many ways, Batman grew out of the 70′s in much the same way that I did… confused and awkward, stumbling toward the sobriety of adulthood. The Batman of recent years is much more serious and grim compared the character I grew up with.
Popular writer Grant Morrison has finally gotten his hands back on Batman (having written Bats in the JLA as well as Arkham Asylum and Batman: Gothic amongst many others) and is re-living his childhood through the character. A fan of the madcap 60′s and smooth 70′s era Batman comics, Morrison is promising to be one of the most inspired writers to work on the comic in a long time. From Ninja Man-Bats to a devious son to Batman, Damian, Morrison is delivering nothing but a long line of surprises in his story Batman and Son.
It’s like boyhood all over.
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