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The Batman, harried and hounded. And pizza. – Batman #123 (Pizza Hut Collectors’ Edition)

April 18, 2011

 

I see these 1977-78 “vintage” Pizza Hut comics in bins now and again (there were two each for Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman), and every time I have the same reaction. It goes something like this:

“Oh wow. This is in great shape. And the price is so low. And –

“Oh. Fuck.”

Despite that initial douche chill, they’re kind of neat once you get to know them. They reprint everything from the classic issues except the outside advertisements, substituting Pizza Hut propoganda in their stead. For instance:

I’m not certain that anything containing monosodium glutamate can be called “nutritious” with a straight face, but I’ll let this bit of culinary puffery slide. This next one, mercifully, leaves out the questionable dietary counsel:

As for this issue’s content, the Curt Swan cover clearly shows that it features an appearance of Ace the Bat-Hound. Before we get to that, though, we have a couple of other stories to touch on. The first has this rather hilarious out-of-context panel (script: Bill Finger, Art: Sheldon Moldoff & Charles Paris):

Kind of makes that unfortunate leaked pic for the new Spider-Man movie seem tame, right? Okay, maybe not.

The second tale is a Joker entry — while I’m not all that fond of the incessant “Ha! Ha!” utterances that dotted his dialogue back then, I will admit that his rictus grin face was the highest-octane nightmare fuel that ever was (Art: Dick Sprang & Paris):

And finally there’s our encounter with (Bat)man’s best friend, in “The Fugitive Batman!” (Script: Bill Finger, Art: Sheldon Moldoff & Stan Kaye):

Batman is a wanted criminal in this story, and Ace and Robin track him but are unable to catch him. The fugi-bat takes refuge with some crooks and offers his services in payment for his safety:

I like the “pleading Batman” face.

He cements the deal by revealing his “secret identity”:

???

All is revealed a few panels later, as Batman double-crosses the crooks and turns them in:

Good doggy.

This is a fun issue, and kudos to DC and Pizza Hut teaming up and putting forward these old-timey reprints at a time when trades and collected editions were few and far between. And a double kudos for including the house advertising — it’s always nice to see contemporaneous ads for the Challengers of the Unknown and such.

It was a tossup as to whether to do this Bat-reprint or the one that featured his marriage to Batwoman. I went with the pooch. I don’t know what that says about me, or my feelings about women (or canines), but there you go. Does anyone out there know how these comics were originally procured? I did some cursory internet searching but gave up pretty quickly. Were they on the box? Did you get them at the Pizza Hut locale? Did you order them over the phone (“I’ll have one with pepperoni, sausages, mushrooms, extra cheese and Wonder Woman”)? The lack of grease stains would seem to indicate that they weren’t slapped onto the pizza itself, if that’s any sort of clue. Just curious — these were a bit before my time, so I have no firsthand knowledge.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2011 7:53 pm

    The ones I got were handed out in the restaurant. My family didn’t order pizzas for home delivery back then, and I’m not altogether sure that was a service Pizza Hut offered at the time; it might have taken competition from Dominoes, etc to bring that on. I would have been about 11 or 12 when I got mine, so I can’t say whether they were given to all patrons or just those with kids, but I do remember it was totally random which one you got, because I was relieved to get a Superman and a Batman.

    Speaking of random, it struck me as odd at the time that they’d be giving away 50s-era comics instead of something more recent or — as seemed more likely — something created specifically for the occasion (“Batman and The Mystery of the Missing Mozzarella”). But I wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth; this was one time the random, fickle nature of the Universe went in my favor.

    • April 21, 2011 12:51 am

      Thanks for the info. That’s about what I figured. I thought they might have been a mail-in or something, but the in-store handout certainly makes the most logistical sense. Such a faithful reprint of an early issue is a bit strange, and I can’t say I wouldn’t mind seeing DC’s holy trinity battling a pizza monster — maybe even good ol’ Pizza the Hutt if he doesn’t have anything else going on.

  2. April 24, 2011 2:26 am

    Art by Sprang and Paris on that Joker story, not the script. For a few years this was the earliest Batman issue I owned. I picked up a couple issues from around April-May 1959 that had their covers removed and an outer cover featuring some puzzles; for some reason I think they were copies that had been donated to a hospital. Unfortunately, no Action #252 in that lot.

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