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CSBG Archive

Ten Goofiest Moments in the First Ten Issues of Batman

Every day this month will have the five goofiest moment from a five-issue stretch of a particular comic book run. Once a week it will be the ten goofiest moments of a ten-issue stretch. Here is a list of the moments featured so far.

Today we’re looking at the first ten issues of Batman’s solo comic book. The first nine issues of Batman were produced by writer Bill Finger and the art team of Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson and George Roussos (each issue had multiple stories). 1942′s Issue #10 added writers Joseph Greene and Jack Schiff to the mix, plus layout artist Fred Ray.

As always, this is all in good fun. I don’t mean any of this as a serious criticism of the comics in question. Not only were these writers certainly never imagining people still reading these comics decades after they were written, great comics often have goofy moments (Kirby/Lee’s Fantastic Four is one of the best comic book runs of all-time and there were TONS of goofy stuff in those 100 plus issues!).

HONORABLE MENTIONS

As you well know by now, the editors at DC told the Batman creative team to stop having Batman use guns. When he uses one in #4, then, we have a quick editor’s note to explain why this is an exception…

In #1, Hugo Strange has been turning men into monsters. He has injected Batman with the same serum and Batman only has five minutes to come up with a cure and he is surrounded by two monsters. But he has a plan…

I just love the panel of Batman in the foreground working with the chemicals and the monsters in silhouette killing each other. Hilarious.

In #3, Batman must not have anything else better to do…

They should totally have Batman do that nowadays. Jump into action to make sure people don’t bump into each other on the street (and yes, Batman likely figured the guy was trying to rob the other fellow – it is just funny to imagine Batman policing the manners of pedestrians).

At the end of #1, we learn about Robin’s club…

Nationalism? For serious?

After defeating the Cat (now known as Catwoman), Batman acts kind of funny around her…

You have to love him practically drooling over her in the last panel.

In #9, we get a Christmas story. Yes, a kid named Tim Cratchit and his father, Bob.

Subtle, they are not.

Later in the story, we get a touching speech from Batman…

But I like how the panel didn’t leave room for the conversation to go in the right order.

In #1, Joker might not have heard of a bulletproof vest, but I dunno if the writers of the book had, either, as that really isn’t how it works…

“What? They’re not, like, force fields making you invulnerable to bullets?”

In #5, the Joker forms a gang with other card-themed villains, including a Queen. She dances with Bruce Wayne….

In the following panel, she notes that he seems nice.

Later, she complains when Joker throws Wayne overboard.

That is all the interaction she has with Bruce in the issue.

Until the end of the story…

“I guess I loved you the whole time”? You mean, all of tonight?

In #9, Batman has an odd reaction to getting shot three times…

Sissy? Seriously, Batman?

10. Damn you, time-wasters!!!

In #6, we learn about some dreaded enemies of mankind….

9. Dickie Howser, M.D.

In #2, Dick has to perform surgery on Bruce.

I just love how non-chalant the whole thing is. “This makes perfect sense for my kid sidekick to remove a bullet from me!”

8. Is Robin going to have to slap a Batman?

In #3, Batman is being mind-controlled. While under control of the Puppet Master, he encounters Robin…

How awesome is the sight of Robin just laying out Batman with one punch?

7. Butterfly in the sky…

During the 1950s, the following wouldn’t seem that bizarre (what with Batman going on all sorts of bizarre adventures), but in the early 1940s when his typical bad guys were gangsters and one guy dressed as a clown, this is awfully out there…

I dig how entering fiction is analogous to flying or making a telephone call.

6. Batman on speed

In #10 (in a story written by then brand new Batman writer, Joseph Greene), it is Dick’s birthday, but it is Bruce who is way too excited…

It’s like he’s re-creating Crank.

5. Fun with lobotomy…

In #2, upon learning that the Joker survived, Batman has a plan…

I think it is awesome that Batman thinks it is okay to steal a criminal out of police custody and lobotomize them. Sure makes his actions during Identity Crisis seem kind of hypocritical, eh?

4. Remember, kids, guns are never the solution – only hand-to-hand combat. Physical violence is always the answer.

In the third story in #1, someone has stolen a priceless jewel while on a yacht. Surprisingly, it was stolen BEFORE a bunch of gangsters showed up trying to steal the jewel themselves. So Batman and Robin stop the gangsters. However, do note that we’re just in the middle of the story. They still need to find out who stole the jewel.

And yet, we take a break (in the middle of the story!) for the following…

If that was the END of the story, it might not be AS weird (it’d still be weird), but in the middle of the story just makes it insanely goofy.

3. Don’t turn the Batplane into a den of lies, Robin!

While on their aforementioned birthday flight, Batman and Robin come across an island…

Batman’s treatment of Robin is priceless.

2. “Should we save the day, Batman?” “Eh, my favorite show is on. Maybe later”

In #1, we meet the Joker, who has killed a couple of people and stolen a valuable gem. Batman’s reaction?

“I don’t even get out of bed unless the bad guy’s death total in double digits, Robin.”

1. Batman can be so insightful sometimes…

In the Catwoman story in #1, Batman figures out who the Cat is disguised as…

but when she doesn’t like him trying to reveal her identity….

You tell her, Batman! Don’t take any guff from her!

“Papa spank”…oh lordy.

63 Comments

Five star.

“Quiet or papa spank!”

How did this not become Batman’s catchphrase?

“Don’t get gay!” Suuuuure, Bruce. And who had the big grin while spanking Dick?

I wonder if that brain surgeon is named Dr. Savage….

Quiet or papa spank? That going to become MY catchphrase. I actually have heard it before so it might be a common thing to say in older times. For Batman to say it though haha.

Oh man, number 1 is priceless, I knew Batman was some kind of pimp, that big car and going out at nights, that tell you something :D

Peace

Papa spank! Bat Classic! I would love to see Morrison incorporate that line into his run before
he’s finished. That and the Bat Jaywalker Preventer lmao.

Funny comments, guys, but if you’d all stop posting here and start doing scientific research, we could have cured every disease by now! Batman said so!

I love how Robin looks like he’s about to cry after Batman slaps him.

Roberto Briceno

May 22, 2011 at 12:33 pm

I have read goofier stories, hell for that matter, the Morrison BATMAN run and post run with the Return were just plan goofy.

“Is Robin going to have to slap a Batman?” Heh. Nice reference.

Zor-El of Argo

May 22, 2011 at 12:44 pm

“Papa spank”? I’m pretty sure the modern Catwoman would insist on dispensing all the spankings.

Nationalism? For serious?

That’s not goofy.

I just love how non-chalant the whole thing is. “This makes perfect sense for my kid sidekick to remove a bullet from me!”

Once you suspend belief that a child can be a competent crime-fighting sidekick in the first place, I don’t see how depicting the same child as capable of learning routine medic duties is a big jump in believability.

I just love the panel of Batman in the foreground working with the chemicals and the monsters in silhouette killing each other. Hilarious.

I never thought about it before but yeah, that is pretty hilarious.

“I think it is awesome that Batman thinks it is okay to steal a criminal out of police custody and lobotomize them. Sure makes his actions during Identity Crisis seem kind of hypocritical, eh?” — Too true, this is the exact reason why IC was so hollow to me. Brainwashing, or in this case lobotomizing criminals was once standard practice.

When the two giants were tearing each other apart in silhouette, while The Batman was working I could almost imagine elevator music playing…

Great stuff. I love how Robin is lurking creepily in the background in the Robin’s Regular’s piece. Behave kids or Robin will get you.

“Batman, pinch me!” “Don’t get gay!”

That’s funny, I don’t care when it was written!

When the two giants were tearing each other apart in silhouette, while The Batman was working I could almost imagine elevator music playing…

When I first pick a moment to feature, I save it under a descriptive file name until I can put them in order. I called that moment “monsterballet.jpg.” :)

That’s odd — I thought it was established in the DC universe that if two giant brutes battle long enough, they don’t die but “knock the hate out of each other” and become best friends! They even resemble Blockbuster and Solomon Grundy slightly.

Later on, that’s the same punch (that Robin uses to take down Batman with one jab) Bats would use himself on Guy Gardner, I reckon.

My favorite part of the two monsters killing each other is Batman’s expository dialogue afterwords, especially the first two sentences: “They’ve killed each other as I hoped they would. They are now dead! Two still live. They’re in those trucks. One is on Daly Avenue and the other on Post Road. I can still catch them–”

“People who waste valuable time are really enemies of mankind.”

Really?

The art in #6 looks so different to the rest of what you’ve shown, almost a caricature. Are you sure the artist did not change for that story?

Travis Pelkie

May 22, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Several years back Wizard did something similar to this, with goofy moments from Golden Age Batman and Golden Age Superman, and BOTH said “quiet, or papa spank”. Very weird. Either it was a common saying back then (which…why?), or Siegel and Shuster AND Kane (or a DC/National editor) really liked that phrase. (Actually, maybe it WAS a phrase that an editor at DC/National used if these guys didn’t like changes he wanted, and they put it in the books as an inside joke….)

And yeah, Batman’s so much man that getting shot 3 times and then fainting is “sissiness”. Damn straight.

My memory is a little shaky, but I could swear I’ve seen other GA stories with Batman using that phrase. Superman, too.
Must have been pretty common, maybe a pop culture referance from a movie or radio show (which makes me surprised I’ve never heard Cary Grant use it in a movie. It sounds like a line he would have).

“Don’t get gay!”… ?

Riiiiight.

I get the feeling “papa spank” was the “don’t make me go upside your head” or “is (character name) gonna have to choke a bitch?” of its day. A phrase that entered the popular consciousness and got quoted whenever contextually appropriate, but it seems weird today since we don’t hear it very often.

Kind of like all the World War II-related phrases you hear in old cartoons – “Put out that light!” “Is this trip really necessary?” – that you don’t understand the significance of as a little kid until someone older explains them.

(By the way, I know that the “…choke a bitch” line comes from Chappelle’s Show. I should have said “…seems weird decades later…” instead of “…seems weird today…” to make it clearer that I was saying that “papa spank” sounds weird today and “…upside your head” and “…choke a bitch” will probably sound weird to our grandkids.)

Now we know that Batman learned “One Punch!” from Robin.

I also think the “N” in Robin’s name should have stood for “No Fat Chicks.”

“Quiet or Papa spank!”

EPIC. EPIC EPIC EPIC, THANK YOU BRIAN!

[...] 10 Goofiest Moments in the First 10 Issues of Batman. | CBR [...]

Solomon Grundy

May 22, 2011 at 8:59 pm

These were all pretty good. But there were a couple occasions in the Golden Age when Batman and Robin would just steal a car if they didn’t have the Batmobile available. I always thought that was pretty funny. Oh, and whenever Batman punches out Robin it’s great (but honestly Robin decking Batman is just classic).

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From the first sample: “As the enraged colossus lumbers forward, the Batman deftly plunges the pole between his legs… AND PULLS HARD!!” It might not be goofy, but it made me laugh.

If you wanted to be a “Robin’s Regular,” shouldn’t the “B” stand for Bran?

The caption “Like a mammoth bat, he plummets to the street below,” reminded me of the Monty Python “Flying Sheep” sketch. The point of which being that sheep, perched in trees, do not so much fly as plummet.

No wonder Dick is having a hard time finding the bullet… He’s looking for it in the wrong shoulder.

omg always heard some of the earlier issues of batman were kind of goofy including the crazy stuff like batman having to rescue a girl from a story book. and now i see the proof. plus surprised to know batman actully considered trying to lobotomize the joker.

Nationalism and Christmas. Huh. Maybe if creative folks still had those values the world wouldn’t be falling apart.

Awww..Robin looked so sad when Batman slapped him! =(

The art in #6 looks so different to the rest of what you’ve shown, almost a caricature. Are you sure the artist did not change for that story?

Here’s the thing about the art in these early Batman issues. The combination of the artists is somewhat confusing, in terms of who did what, ya know? So that’s why I just note “some combination of Kane, Robinson and Roussos” for the art for issues #1-10 (with Fred Ray being the only new addition and I didn’t take any moments from the story Ray drew). So for moment #6 (as well as moment #3), it is Jerry Robinson doing the pencils instead of Kane, which is why it looks different. But I am not positive Robinson didn’t do earlier issues, as well, which is why I figured it best just to stick with “some combination of Kane, Robinson and Roussos” for the art credit, to be inclusive.

I love #9, because it just shows how the Golden Age approached sidekicks and kid characters in general. They often tended to be competent, rough-and-tumble adventurers all on their own. There was no thought that this sort of stuff might traumatize the character in any way. Not only that, but their ages tended to be from about 8-10 most of the time, rather than the standard 13 and up you see now. I attribute much of it to the audience that they were working with at the time. I bet they figured that if they were going to have a young boy character in the book, their young boy readers would want to see him in this light.

“Nationalism? For serious?”

“That’s not goofy.”

It’s about as goofy as cancer. More people are killed by wars and terrorist actions carried out in the name of “nationalism” than any other justification for military action. Nationalism was the core, unifying belief of each of the Axis Powers in WW2. (Three guesses what the root word for “Nazi” is.) A century of conflicts in the Balkans have been driven entirely by nationalism. “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland? Irish nationalism vs. British nationalism. The conflict in the MidEast is less about religion than Israeli nationalism vs. Palestinian nationalism. At its best nationalism is the juvenile mentality of high-school athletics done on a larger scale, and at its worst its nothing less than a color-blind version of racism, glorifying “us” simply because we are not “them”.

It’s about as goofy as cancer. More people are killed by wars and terrorist actions carried out in the name of “nationalism” than any other justification for military action. Nationalism was the core, unifying belief of each of the Axis Powers in WW2. (Three guesses what the root word for “Nazi” is.) A century of conflicts in the Balkans have been driven entirely by nationalism. “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland? Irish nationalism vs. British nationalism. The conflict in the MidEast is less about religion than Israeli nationalism vs. Palestinian nationalism. At its best nationalism is the juvenile mentality of high-school athletics done on a larger scale, and at its worst its nothing less than a color-blind version of racism, glorifying “us” simply because we are not “them”.

Nationalism doesn’t kill people. Religions don’t kill people. Guns don’t kill people. ASSHOLES kill people. They just use nationalism, religion or guns as their justification and as their weapons. There have even been assholes who committed genocide in the name of Buddhism, and if you ever studied Buddhism that’s one of the most peaceful enlightened doctrines you could ever read.

Look at the definition of Nationalism. It can either just mean simple patriotism and love of country or it can mean the extreme form of countrywide superiority complex you describe. The latter extreme is bad, but the former is not always. It helped America and Britain find the morale to get through a horrible war effort for example. Yes “Nationalism” is in the word Nazi. So it the word “socialist,” but I wouldn’t use that as an indictment of socialism either.

I’m not a particularly nationalist person, but in its more moderate, patriotic form it doesn’t bother me and I think it can actually be a nice thing.

That said, I do agree with stealthwise that “No Fat Chicks” would be a way better use of the letter N.

“Nationalism” in the political parlance of pre-WWII America was essentially synonymous with “patriotism” that, is to say, a positive virtue associated with civic duty, community mindedness, and a commitment to those values that unified an otherwise pluralistic America.

It’s only as America became involved in WWII and was at war with fascist countries like Germany, Japan, and Italy, that the word “nationalism” became associated with racism, militarism, and ethnocentrism; becoming sort of “patriotism’s evil twin.”

And the word certainly became more problematic in the post-WWII world were the U.S. began to see itself and be seen as a leader in an international community.

But when these comics were published, the word simply didn’t have those same connotations.

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Rollo Tomassi

May 23, 2011 at 10:06 am

How awesome would it be for the “Papa Spank” line show up in the new Nolan film? Or in the upcoming Arkham City game?

No comments on how, in #1, Batman not only removed the wig and make up, but also apparantly changed Catwoman’s dress?

Theno

I’d forgotten how much Bob Kane sucked at drawing…

John Trumbull

May 23, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Brian, I dare you to do this with Grant Morrison’s run. I triple-dog dare you.

No comments on how, in #1, Batman not only removed the wig and make up, but also apparantly changed Catwoman’s dress?

If I were to spotlight each time Bob Kane made art mistakes, we’d be here all day. ;) These stories were all Rushed, with a capital R.

With #7′s using a machine to enter fiction….

Isn’t that effectively what the JLA did to go visit th JSA in all those team-ups? After all, some of the Earth-2 JSA heroes (mostly those without doubles, but also the Jay Garrick Flash) existed as comic book characters on Earth-1, pre-crisis.

This really is only introducing a concept that became the root of the DC Multivers over 20 years later.

Lol when I was in grade school our teachers still did birthday spankings, I never thought of it as being creepy until now.

Captain Librarian

May 24, 2011 at 7:47 am

I concur that nationalism is not “goofy,” especially for a comic written in 1942.

Right Captain, in that era, “nationalism” would have meant a bunch of people whose parents came from all sorts of different countries would band together as Americans.

If Robin had been spelt with a “p” instead of an “n” the word likely would have been “patriotism” or if a “c” instead of an “n” the word would be something like “civic-minded” or “citizenship” (again, in terms of being a good citizen, not in the elite sense of citizens versus foreigners.)

First saw the “Papa Spank” in an issue of Wizard from about 4 years ago. If I remember right, the subhead was “Batman, Keepin’ His Pimp Hand STRONG!”, which I still find insanely funny.

I was glad to see #4 on this list. Just imagine how the part where Batman turns to the audience to give the “Crooks are yellow without their guns” speech would look if you were on that boat. First he turns the bad guys loose on his ten-year-old partner, then, after they’ve all had their asses kicked, he turns around and looks out over the water while making a speech to…nobody.
(In the Batman volume of his “Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes,” Michael Fleisher describes this as “address[ing] a group of youngsters.”)

[...] from the CSBG Archive Every day this month will have the five goofiest moment from a five-issue stretch of a particular comic book run. Once a week it will be the ten goofiest moments of a ten-issue stretch. Here is a list of the moments featured so far. [...]

So Batman spanked Robin and wanted to spank Catwoman. I guess Fredric Wertham was right after all.

It’s not nice to use “gay” as a epithet. I wonder if Bats was the first to do this back in the 1940s.

Tampering with the mail (Tim Cratchit’s letter) is a federal crime. Where’s the Punisher when you need him? Or that guy who monitors pedestrian bumping?

This isn’t goofy, this is awesome. I kinda like this version of Batman.

Just as a little background on the sequence with Batman gunning down thugs, from the Hugo Strange story in Batman #1: Bill Finger caught Hell from Editor Whitney Ellsworth for that story and it directly led to the DC editorial policy that Batman specifically and many of their heroes in general didn’t use firearms. I think the only reason Ellsworth let it see print was that he didn’t have anything to replace it with on the schedule.

Ha, I always assumed that “Quiet or Papa Spank” panel was photoshopped.

Is Batman doing a Jack Benny impression at the end of that Catwoman story? I like how he rubs Robin’s nose in it: “Guess I really shouldn’t be macking on the leggy brunette, after all, I’m also pulling that rich socialite…what was her name again, wonder kid?”

BTW, the narration box says “swiftly the swaddling frock is removed”, which probably explains the change in Catwoman’s dress. Can’t really fault Kane for that one. But he is responsible for that creepy leer on Robin’s face as he anticipates watching Batman strip-search an old woman.

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