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CSBG Archive

I Love Ya But You’re Strange – That Time Batman Was Transformed Into a Baby

Every week, I will spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories (basically, we’re talking lots and lots of Silver Age comic books). Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature.

Today we take a look at the fiftieth anniversary of a story that the comic itself claimed was the story of the year – the time that Batman was transformed into a baby!

Yep, 1962. It had the first appearance of the Amazing Spider-Man, but the story of the year was definitely Batman #147, written by Bill Finger and drawn by Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris. Don’t believe me? Check out the cover!

It says so right there on the cover! Duh!

So anyhow, this classic tale begins with the dynamic duo encountering…Garth the scientist?

I love that the dude is just plain ol’ “Garth.” Not even Dr. Garth. Just Garth.

“I never thought that there’d be a time you’d carry me in your arms like a baby. I hoped. I dreamed. But I never thought it would ever happen!” The Gotham Gazette has a strange layout for their front cover.

I love how logical Batman makes the next page sound…

Oh, of course, Batman. That makes perfect sense.

So now Bat-Baby and Robin kick some ass as crime-fighters again. Then comes my favorite scene of the story…

Beyond the greatness of using a silhouette like that, I love Bruce’s idea for how he’ll later explain it. “Oh, that was just my cousin I was making out with.” I see Batman and Superman have similar ideas when it comes to cousins.

By the by, no wonder Batman is such a great detective. He realizes he is more inconspicuous while dressed like a normal kid than when dressed like Bat-Baby.

Finally and sadly, all good things have to come to an end…

How do you think Batman handled the clothes situation? Stripped down naked before he used the machine? Let his clothes tear and THEN changed clothes?

Thanks to reader Drunken Fist for suggesting that I feature this one. It was in the queue, but his reminder pushed it up to the top spot!

38 Comments

I Heart Catman

April 6, 2012 at 5:28 am

The internet 5 years ago:
Wow, so Bat-Baby gets a memorial but Steph still doesn’t?

End Scene.

Ethan Shuster

April 6, 2012 at 5:36 am

Of course he retains his adult strength! It makes perfect sense!

And his adult intellect. Well, it works for the Atom (the strength, that is).

Reminds me of when Glorith turned the LSH into babies…

Wait! This epic tale ends on PAGE NINE? Boy, they did not know any better back then, did they? Of course this amazing saga should have lasted until ISSUE nine (with some tie ins and one shot specials so we would have enough material for TWO trades.)

1962?!? Man. no wonder Marvel Comics took the world by storm.

And I always keep a plastic costume in my pocket. Just in case.

Cousin huh? I didn’t know Gotham City was located in Alabama. Bazinga!

Good thought, Dave-El! I can see a special issue where he’s on trial with the JLA to keep his membership. The humiliation of being told he’s too young for the Teen Titans. And if it were set today, wouldn’t he face bullying from Damien?

“Bat-Baby Does OK For A Kid”. Brilliant.

It’s funny that everybody calls him “Bat-Baby” when he is clearly somewhere around 3-5 years old.

And, to answer your question, obviously he stripped naked before using the machine, because the trophy-costume is not all torn up.

Party on, Garth!

I’ve read this story before, but every time I see it, it delights me anew. The overalls are a brilliant touch, as is th hobby-horse.

I love that the Bat-Baby costume gets its own case in the Batcave. Too bad that wasn’t flaunted more when the Internet was up in arms about Steph getting snubbed.

The story of the year? More like the story of the century!

And now I really, really want a Wonder Tot, Superbaby and Bat-Baby ongoing series. Peril in the Playground!

Really nice touch on the loose cowl when he first changes. (Most comics or cartoons would have just had the costume shrink with him.)

His little Bat-OshKoshB’Gosh overalls are just darling.

This story is a scream! I was totally hoping Morrison might revisit this during his run, even if it was chalked up to one of Dr. Hurt’s induced hallucinations.It’s gotta be just about my favorite goofy story of all time. Glad to see if featured here, so more people can bask in its greatness! :D

There’s something unintentionally tragic about the “Just a reminder– of a brief childhood” line, since Bruce’s time as Bat-Baby was happier than his actual childhood (at least, up until that trip to see the Zorro movie).

given i was not around when this story was first printed find it interesting that some crazy things happen to batman way back in the sixties including becoming a baby yet keeping his mind and strength plus also seeing kathy kane aka the first batwoman having a crush on bruce.

“That playboy! That kissing bug!” Whoa-whoa-whoa, Kathy! I know you’re upset, but you don’t need to get nasty. Kissing bug? I’m pretty sure that’s like the 1962 version of the C-word.

I think “Bat Baby Does Okay For A Kid” may be the most passive aggressive headline ever. My favourite part of the story…

I think she was just worried that Bruce was sleeping around and giving her VD (the “kissing” bug, as it were).

sandwich eater

April 6, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Garth became a renegade scientist because his thesis committee wouldn’t accept his defense. That’s also why he never became Dr. Garth.

chad

April 6, 2012 at 1:10 pm

given i was not around when this story was first printed find it interesting that some crazy things happen to batman way back in the sixties including becoming a baby yet keeping his mind and strength plus also seeing kathy kane aka the first batwoman having a crush on bruce.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————-

As the poster Count Karnstein pointed out, those comic books, aside from a child sidekick in pixie shoes, green underwear, golden cape, and shaved legs:

http://monsterkidclassichorrorforum.yuku.com/search/topic/topic/14587
“had giant pennies and stuffed dinosaurs, was wearing caveman, zebra, and rainbow costumes, teamed up with Bat-Mite, split in two, melded with Superman, fought a living #2 pencil, drowned in giant gravy boats and menaced by giant sized water pistols, tennis rackets, and all sorts of insane absurdities long before the Batman movie or tv show were released….Dozier was bringing the characters to the screen in the manner in which they had been portrayed in the comics. Was there ever a silly, absurd, ridiculous Green Hornet comic book? If so, it’s escaped my attention for the better part of 40 years. Did we ever see a Caveman Green Hornet or a Green Hornet in a rainbox/zebra/dayglo red suit? Did we ever see Green Hornet being drowned in a giant gravy boat or being chased by aliens and dinosaurs? Was there ever an Ace the Green Hornet Dog? How about a Hornet-Mite?
No? I didn’t think so. There’s your answer. It’s literally that simple. Dozier was taking characters and putting them on the screen. Green Hornet was always played straight and serious in the comics/strips/radio, so he was done that way for tv. Batman was as absurd, silly, goofy, and ridiculous as anything else that has ever appeared in comics, and so that’s how he appeared on-screen”.

Ooo, that reminds me, my axe really needs grinding.

So, Wayne and Garth were enemies back then, huh?

Travis Pelkie

April 6, 2012 at 9:42 pm

@buttler: beat me to it!

Did Garth appear again at some point? Some odd recess of my brain says yes, but I don’t know why. Probably something I read in the Fleischer Bat-cyclopedia.

This kinda stuff needs to happen again. Get Batman to laugh at himself a bit. “Aw, damn, not again! I was just a baby last month!”

I thought mono was the “kissing bug.”

You have got to love DC’s Silver Age storytelling.

Hopefully, a writer will step up to the plate and show the Baby Batman suit somewhere in the Bat-Cave.

Michael P: This is playboy Bruce Wayne we’re talking about, so make that “stereo.”

Garth versus Wayne. Woah. Wayne and Garth. It IS Waynes World.

Dated reference wasted on younger readers no doubt.:)

“It’s ok Kathy, I was just making out with my cousin. Nothing to get jealous over.”

The Brave and the Bold cartoon homaged this in a team-up with the Marvel Family. Mr. Mind was the one with the machine in that one. Batman got progressively younger and eventually became an infant — and still saved the day.

“Fortunately, there was one flaw in Garth’s machine! I still not only THINK like an adult–I also retain my adult STRENGH!”

Wouldn’t that be two flaws, then?

And Brian, since this story came up as a reminder from your readers, I’d also like to remind you of the two-part Elongated Man story from Detective Comics #456-457.

Bat Baby’s outfit is killer.

How can this be the only appearance of the fiendish Garth, the renegade scientist?? I’m expecting his triumphant return to the Bat-books any day now.

Boy, Batman made for a rather ugly baby when he was first transformed. He was really cute as little Bruce Wayne, however. So Batman has plastic costumes? um…ok…

This may be the strangest of all the Bat-transformation stories (Zebra Batman, Mer-Batman, Robot Batman, etc.)

Why would getting your ass kicked by a baby Batman be less humiliating to criminals than losing to an adult Batman? “Nails, you idiot, now he’s making us look even WORSE! Change him back! And on a completely unrelated note, I set up that meeting with a fence. There were no witnesses except a solitary child playing on a swing alone in a playground.”

Speaking of crazy layouts, what’s with the wonky shape of the panel where Robin’s carrying Batman? Is that to accommodate the weird shadow in the background? Is that a subtle hint that Red Robot is back in town?

Also, as a millionaire and a genius inventor, I should think Bruce can afford a better solution than “a stack of telephone books”. How about “We’re all going to sit on the floor like Bedoins because it’s my house and even as a baby I could murder you both before I finish this sentence.”

How did Bruce know “only that machine can restore me to adult size again !” ? Did Bruce Wayne and Kathy Kane promise not to kiss anybody but each other ?

In addition to the Marvel Family BTB&TB story mentioned by MrMGU, it was also homaged in the “teaser scene” in #4 of the tie-in comic, in which Bruce is turned into Bat-Baby by Felix Faust, and teams up with Sugar and Spike to stop him!

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