FIRST DAYS OF A “NEW LOOK”

by Alfred Beagle

THURSDAY, MARCH 26TH, 1964

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first days of a new look masthead

The Mystery of the Menacing Mask, DETECTIVE COMICS 327 (May ’64); story: John Broome; art: Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella, p. 13.


where there’s a will . . .

My name is Alfred.

My will instructs that this final testament, along with the accompanying manuscripts and journals, should be entombed in a time capsule to be unearthed fifty years hence. If my wishes have been respected then greetings to you my reader of the 21st century. They did not drop the bomb then? Or perhaps you are a mutant human or super-evolved rat having survived the nuclear holocaust. I have met all kinds and hold no grudges.

In my present time, discretion has been necessary as should be apparent. Presumably, the adventures of Bruce Wayne and Richard Grayson–or should I say Batman I and Robin I (the Boy Wonder)–are now history to you. The casebooks have been opened; the Batcave fully explored. Possibly, the Dynamic Duo or their heirs still fight crime in your century. I’ve seen seven wonders in my day–another would not surprise me. As faithful servant, I had the good fortune to witness such glorious adventures as beggars belief.

batman family

The Batman Family, BATMAN ANNUAL No.2 (Winter ’62); back cover art by Sheldon Moldoff.

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robin goodfellow

In my private quarters at Wayne Manor, I now sit at my secretary and record these final words. The casements are open wide and a gentle breeze informs my senses of new spring blossoms on the trees, as a robin’s air chirrups cheerio to the dawn. Soon enough I shall repair to my kitchen and serve up another breakfast for the two masters.

Yestermorn, Master Dick descended the staircase in a desultory state. When I remarked upon his splendid coiffure, he uttered not a dicky-bird but reddened in the face. Rarely has his hair been so neatly arranged. Master Bruce divulged that rapscallion James B. Olsen had leant Dick his comb, as well as a tube of Brylcreem (sic). This Brylcreem is a fashion of pomade that the jetset gents employ for hair grooming.

The Olsen-Robin Team Versus the Superman-Batman Team, WORLD’S FINEST COMICS 141 (May ’64); story: Edmond Hamilton; art: Curt Swan and George Klein, p. 17.

The Olsen-Robin Team Versus the Superman-Batman Team, WORLD’S FINEST COMICS 141 (May ’64); story: Edmond Hamilton; art: Curt Swan and George Klein, p. 17.

A blonde has recently caught the young scion’s eye and thus the newfound interest in ones appearance. And in the guitar! On the theory that “Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,” he plots to serenade her and models himself after the Hootenanny Hotshots (about whom the less said the better). It’s a small blessing he hasn’t modelled himself after those screeching moptops from the North. Master Dick should also remember that the “best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men gang aft a-gley, an’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, for promis’d joy!”

***

bat-signals

 

The Batcave, Bruce and Dick, DETECTIVE COMICS 327 (May '64)

The Mystery of the Menacing Mask, p. 8.

Two-Way Gem Caper, BATMAN 164 (June '64); story: France E. Herron; art: Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella, p. 3.

Two-Way Gem Caper, BATMAN 164 (June ’64); story: France E. Herron; art: Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella, p. 3.

I doubt that Master Bruce will have had any sleep. Down in the Batcave at ungodly hours, after his nightly patrols, he bangs away. He’s been hauling in new equipment. And a new Batmobile! The affair in Dallas still weighs heavily on his shoulders. Second guessing himself: If the Bat-computer had better communications technology, if the Batmobile were more compact, with better handling, if Batman’s methods were updated, if he were in his fittest fighting form . . . He’s lost one and a half stone I’d wager; it shows in his face.

On another front, he is waging a legal fight through a third party, bringing a lawsuit against some scofflaws who have repeatedly exploited the Batman brand for their own ends. My investigations show that a symbol such as a bat cannot be protected under trademark law. At least the Bat-Signal is safe as it has a unique design and the Gotham City Police Department retains that patent. So the Caped Crusader has adopted this design for his chest’s emblem–paying a license fee that goes into the Policeman’s Widows and Orphans Fund.

The Commissioner has been out of town, visiting his daughter at her upstate college. There was a gossip piece in the GOTHAM GAZETTE, with a snapshot of Gordon next to a beautiful redhead. She in a tight, black dress and he wearing new spectacles and a flashy tie, looking ten years younger. The inuendo was clear.

“What trash!” Master Bruce commented. “She’s his daughter.”

“Wow!” the young master exclaimed. “That’s his daughter! Where’s she been hiding?”

***

an ear in the fireplace . . .

elongated ear

Ten Miles to Nowhere, p. 5.

Mr. & Mrs. Ralph Dibny paid a call a fortnight ago. Why Mr. Dibny should show any interest in Bruce Wayne, I cannot fathom. They’re nowhere near in the same league, although the fellow does have  a large fortune he acquired through his freak show act. He is certainly lacking in proper etiquette–he gobbled down my frozen soufflé with hot strawberry sauce, using a teaspoon rather than the dessert fork I had set before him.

Elongated Man crosses the border from Canada

Ten Miles to Nowhere, DETECTIVE COMICS 327 (May ’64); story: Gardner Fox; art: Carmine Infantino, p. 2.

He hardly hails from good stock. Nevertheless, his lovely better half amends for his shortcomings. She is a Dearbon; a family in the highest echelon of New England society. As Master Bruce remarked, just looking at Susan Dearbon Dibny makes one realize that everything’s all right in the world–and probably always will be!

It was heart-warming to see the Master taking a break from all his concerns. Mr. Dibny was bending the Master’s ear for most of the evening. They burned an entire log in the fireplace. And whenever the Gotham Gangbusters entered the conversation, I could see Ralph’s nose  twitching. The two had an animated debate about whether such crimefighters should carry firearms. Of course, the Masked Manhunter has sworn off ever even holding a gun–let alone firing one.

an ear in the fireplace

He must be on the roof! Ten Miles to Nowhere, p.7.

The Dibnys had plans to motor up to Canada, to the province of Quebec. I offered a few phrases in French that I have found invaluable in any situation avec la Francophonie. So imagine my astonishment when Mr. Dibny himself offered a few serviceable bon mots in the romance language.

He claims to have acquired his gutter French when he was touring through Europe with a circus act. They even performed for royalty. And now that I have had time to think on it, I do remember just such a ginger, a contortionist who performed at the wedding reception for Princess Portia.

ralph was with the circus

Ten Miles to Nowhere, p. 9.

***

whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote

 

The Mystery Analysts of Gotham City, Kaye Daye

Kaye Daye, The Perfect Crime–Slightly Imperfect, BATMAN 181 (June ’66); story: Gardner Fox; art: Sheldon Moldoff and Sid Greene, p. 5.

Tonight, Karla Lombardia (who writes under the pen name “Kaye Daye”) will stand for membership in the esteemed Mystery Analysts of Gotham City. I put in a good word for her when I reluctantly resigned from the organization. I doubt that she will be black balled. I never gave an explanation for my sudden exit. The truth is I must put my house in order;  the doctor has given me little time. And as my days are numbered, I have thrown caution to the wind and taken up motorcycling. What would Pennyworth say?

Pennyworth, that was my father’s name: Jarvis Pennyworth, faithful retainer of Dr. Thomas Wayne. Pennyworth lived every day with caution yet died just as soon as shall I. Long life was never our family fortune. I can hardly remember my mother’s face now. I made an oath never to be like my parents. A carefree life in music halls and then the legitimate theatre was my lot. That’s when I took my stage name. Yet in the end, I was my father’s son. The apple does not fall far from the tree. 

My reader of the 21st century, you may find it obsequious and even offensive that I use these antiquated expressions “Master Bruce,” “Master Dick”–remnants of a class society. Should I not know better? I had these same quarrels with my father. I despised his “Mawster Thomas,” “Mawster Bruce.” I took umbrage when, after the tragic passing of Dr. and Mrs. Wayne, Pennyworth gave all his care and devotion to the Master Bruce and none to me or to my brother, Wilfred: a wound that never healed in our father’s lifetime. But now do I see more clearly and all old hurts are forgiven. When I say “Master Bruce,” my father lives on in me. When I pass,  I will live on in them through all their good works.

Alfred's sacrifice

Gotham’s Gang Line-Up, DETECTIVE COMICS 328 (June ’64); story: Bill Finger; art: Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella, p. 12.

I gave them a future. I hope your future will be as bright.

–Alfred

***

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For more on the last days of the “Old Look” see . . .

Issue No. 2: THE LAST DAYS OF THE DYNAMIC DUO!

Isuse No. 3: THE FINAL DAYS OF THE GOTHAM GANGBUSTERS!

. . . And the Checklist: √ 12 Last Months of Batman and Robin

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8 DAYS, LOUISE!

. . . Mars is in Aries for the last week in March . . .

Coming to Earth on March 23 ’51The Boy from Mars, in SUPERBOY 14 (May-June ’51), introducing the young Martian hero who would serve as a prototype for the Legion’s Starboy. Story by William Woolfolk, with inside art and cover by Swan and Fischetti.

Superboy014.marsboy

In MILITARY COMICS No. 12, Blackhawk pursued the secrets of a briefcase more than halfway around the world until he found it and the almost as mysterious Xanukhara, now MILITARY COMICS 29 (May ’44) picks up where that strange adventure left off with an even more astounding tale of Xanukhara and that weird briefcase. Ask your newsdealer to reserve you a copy when it goes on sale March 24 ’44.

Blackhawk, The Deadly Secret of Xanukhara, MILITARY 29

MILITARY COMICS No. 29 (May ’44); art by John Cassone and Alex Kotzky, p.2 of Blackhawk.

Vying for your March of dimes on the 24th of ’59: That strange imp called Bat-Mite meets Batman for the first time in DETECTIVE COMICS 267 (May ’59). And Pat Boone meets SUPERMAN’S GIRL FRIEND, LOIS LANE--will it lead to April Love? Find out in the May ’59 issue (No. 9).

First New Look issue of DETECTIVE COMICS, first Elongated Man in Detective Comics

DETECTIVE COMICS 327 (May ’64); cover art by Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella.

Julius Schwartz text page on Batman and Elongated Man

Batman’s Hotline, DETECTIVE COMICS 327 (May ’64)–introduction to the “New Look.”

New editor Julius Schwartz has assembled his celebrated team of John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella to tell you a Batman story unlike any you’ve seen thusfar. The Mystery of the Menacing Mask comes your way  in the May ’64 DETECTIVE COMICS (No. 327), on newstands March 26 ’64. This issue marks the 25th anniversary of the Caped Crusader’s original appearance in DETECTIVE COMICS No. 27 (May ’39) and begins a whole “New Look” for the Dynamic Duo. And look for futher developments next month, in BATMAN 164. Meanwhile, the Elongated Man strides out of the pages of THE FLASH and into the second position as the resident Ductile Detective: Ten Miles to Nowhere, by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino, will keeping you guessing.

Gotham Village, DETECTIVE COMICS 327

The Mystery of the Menacing Mask, p. 2.

WORLDS OF FEAR No. 10 (June ’53) is the final issue from Fawcett and features a freaky painted cover by Norman Saunders; inside Sheldon Moldoff illustrates The Fleshless Ones.  On sale March 27 ’53.

worldsofear10.saundersmoldoff

On the stands March 28 ’63, the 300th issue of ACTION COMICS (May ’63) features one of Edmond Hamilton’s favourite Superman stories–Superman Under the Red Sun (illustrated by Al Plastino). While the Supergirl story, by Leo Dorfman and Jim Mooney, brings back Comet the Super-Horse.

Action300.cb

March 29 ’50, Clark flashes back to when he was a Superbaby in SUPERBOY No. 8 (May-June ’50)–written by Bill Finger with art by Curt Swan and John Fischetti [this is the first such tale of the Tot of Tomorrow].

Superboy008.superbaby

In ACTION COMICS 252 (May ’59), the lead story has Superman facing  the Menace of Metallo. While in the second story Supergirl arrives on Earth and meets her Kryptonian cousin for the first time. This milestone issue hits the stands on March 31 ’59. Don’t wait until the next morning to pick it up, or you’ll be a fool!

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All on sale dates might be approximate, as provided by Mike’s Amazing World of Comics (The Newsstand) and by other sources.

All characters, logos, and images are owned and © 2014 by current copyright holders. They are used here for educational and review purposes.

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