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Uhhh, guys? Batman #165, “The Man Who Quit the Human Race”

March 30, 2010

I picked this one up late last summer.  It had a little more wear on the spine than I normally like in books from this era, but I just couldn’t resist.  What an image – it works for me on so many levels.  First and foremost it’s a Carmine Infantino cover.  When I was a kid I read a lot of Flash comics, towards the end of the original run of the Barry Allen Flash.  I had no clue who Infantino was or that he had created the Silver Age Flash many moons beforehand, but I liked his art.  Still do.  He was superb when it came to drawing motion, an ability that’s oh-so-critical when it comes to a character like the Flash.  Oddly enough, it was that old run on the Fastest Man Alive that helped me identify this as an Infantino cover.  You may notice that there’s no signature, and on the inside a different artist illustrated the story (some hack nobody by the name of Bob Kane — well, not really Kane, but that’s another story).  But I searched through my memory banks and came up with this book, which I had as a fresh-faced young lad:

The way Big Sir was kneeling down on The Flash #338 for some reason got stuck in my head, and Batman in a similar position (kneeling to look at the footprint, dirt angel or whatever) dredged up the memory.  Flash looming in the background like the giant hand on the Batman cover didn’t hurt the association either.  I just knew it had to be Infantino’s work.  And I wonder if Infantino made a similar connection while he was drawing the Flash cover, if he was referencing his work from two decades beforehand.  I doubt it, but I wonder.

The other level that made this work for me came from a nightmare I had a long time ago, for all I know around the same time I was reading that old Flash comic.  So I don’t bore you with too many of my personal memories here and to make a long story short, let’s just say that the nightmare ended with a giant hand reaching through my bedroom window at night to grab me.  That’s when I woke up.  The nightmare was vivid enough for me to remember it a quarter of a century later, and the hand on the Batman cover isn’t so different from what I saw in my head all those years ago.  Still kind of scary, even though I lay claim to being an adult these days.

Lastly, I should say something about the book’s plot.  The story is your typical Silver Age fare.  A recently retired governor (a bizarre choice, don’t you think?) evolves at an exponentially accellerated rate and turns into a giant future-man.  The Dynamic Duo of course thwart him (with the mutant’s sub-conscious help) and shoot him into space where he can wait it out until mankind catches up with his development.  So I guess the guy is still up there.  Maybe they can bring him back – how about it, DC editorial staff?  Final Brightest Man Who Quit the Human Race Crisis?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 30, 2010 7:38 pm

    Good catch on the “homage” cover. Infantino did almost all the covers for Batman and Detective starting with the new look, although he only drew the interior Batman stories for every other issue of Detective.

  2. March 30, 2010 9:20 pm

    Thanks for the info. I didn’t know that back when I picked 165 up, which was why I had to use my convoluted comics archeology to make the connection.

    • Jim Ladd permalink
      April 1, 2010 11:01 am

      The interior srt to the Batman story was, if I remember correctly, credited to Bob Kane, but drawn, as were most of the non-Infantino stories, by the great and under-appreciated Sheldon Moldoff, whose particular style characterized the early Silver Age Batman.

      • April 1, 2010 11:17 am

        Thanks for that. I was aware that “Bob Kane” was an oh-so often used method for giving credit where credit wasn’t due, but I wasn’t aware of the artist in this case.

  3. April 2, 2010 1:10 pm

    weird-a Flash cover (#176) also gave me a nightmare reverberating these many decades.


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