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The only thing that’s missing is a tire tread down the middle – Batman #20

October 30, 2010

I just bought this old warhorse of a book a couple of weeks ago, and it has its merits despite its dilapidated condition. Don’t worry, I didn’t pay a fortune for it.

Just to list a few of the problems with this comic — tears, bits of the cover missing, creases, tape, writing, stains, and the cover came off and was glued(!) back on. And a partridge in a pear tree. Well, not the last one.

But it’s Batman #20! It’s the first cover appearance of the Batmobile, and the whole thing is intact! There’s a Joker story inside! At least, those were the things I mentally shouted at myself to rationalize shelling out for this thing. I even thought to myself “Hey, since the Batmobile is supposedly bursting through the cover, it kind of makes sense that it’s in bad shape!”

Yes, I actually thought that.

As for the interior, it’s chock full of Golden Age goodness. I didn’t scan much, mainly because I didn’t want to risk having the pages fall apart in front of my eyes, but there was one panel that I couldn’t resist, from the aforementioned Joker story:

Ahhh, Batman sodomizing Joker with a spear. That’s worth the price of admission in and of itself. Thanks to scripter Don Cameron and artist Jack Burnley for putting something on paper in 1943 that made me chuckle close to seventy years later.

The only big drawback with these old Batman comics is the Caped Crusader’s, how shall we say, interesting relationship with Robin. I’m not saying  that The Seduction of the Innocent was justified, but at times you pick up a vibe that makes you wonder if Chris Hansen and the Dateline NBC cameras are going to show up in the next panel.

But let’s not dwell on the negatives. Back to the cover for one sec — that old Batmobile is one hot looking ride. The red stripes are absent from the more modern designs, and I kind of like what they do to the overall look. And it’s nice that Batman lets Robin take the wheel, too. “You drive, old chum! I’ll stick my head out the window like a dog and flash my pearly whites!”

There’s a ton of fun to be had in this old thing. It’s so hard to find Golden Age books — especially prestige titles — that are both affordable and in passable condition. This one meets all the requirements, and that makes it one of the prized treasures in the Blog into Mystery archives.

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