Batman: The Inevitable Best of the 1970s Post

Welcome to the first (and only) Batman: The Best of the '70s Awards. Who will win the most Alfies?

Named in honor of Gotham Manor's faithful and unflappable caretaker, of course.
Or perhaps it should be the Gordies?
Neither, you say? Shut up and dive right in, you say? I hear and obey the voice of Landru.

Let's start with everyone's favorite:


Got to go with Justice League of America here. 

The series in general, but specifically, the worst issue of any comic published in the 1970s to feature the Caped Crusader is JLA #89. That's the one with the Mike Friedrich stand-in "Harlequin Ellis" that walks around under agonized prose all issue long before the writer addresses the reader directly in the last panel about the "crash-pounding of his artistic soul" before laying it all at Harlan Ellison's feet.

Moving on.

Oooh! So many to choose from. I'll go with these two from the pages of Detective Comics in 1975:

There were actually far more brutal ones, and it's a silly category to begin with. But when I close my eyes and mentally picture the Batman getting cracked on the back of the head, it's one of the two above that I seem to recall.


This to me was a no-brainer:

Reading all of Batgirl's adventures in this decade convinces me more than ever that Alan Moore's (really Denny O'Neil's, the same way killing Jason Todd was not Jim Starlin's idea, though he wrote it, but Denny's) idea to cripple her in the pages of The Killing Joke was one of the ugliest, dumbest decisions of all comics in the 1980s.

And it's a logical enough segue into...


Tougher than you might think.

The Robbins/Heck Batgirl stories are all pretty great.
Not to mention all of those fantastic early-70s Robin ones where he's mixing it up with hippies, cultists, and Jesus freaks.

And later in the decade there's some very interesting Wonder Woman and Steve Ditko stuff, to boot. And some of the reprints of old Batman or sci-fi tales come to mind, as well. But in the final analysis, I'll go with Archie Goodwin's and Walt Simonson's Manhunter series from Detective Comics in 1974.


The obvious answer would be the most famous Bat-pairing of the 70s, Neal Adams and Denny O'Neil. And while I certainly wouldn't fault anyone for saying so, I'm going to with:

Jim Aparo
and Bob Haney.
They were far more consistent than O'Neil and Adams. (Well, O'Neil, anyway - Adams was and remains always consistent.)

Even the way he looks. (1978, left, and these days, right.) How is that possible?
Haney and Aparo were responsible for a greater amount of stories that I personally enjoyed than O'Neil and Adams at any rate. But that's a more awkward name for the category. Also, an honorable mention for Archie Goodwin, whose all-too-brief tenure as a writer and editor led to some of the Batman's best stories.

Gotham's International Airport (number 25) is named after him.
He was immortalized in The Batman Adventures as "Mr. Nice."

Oh, here I can't even hazard a guess. They're all winners. It was just a delight to discover it happening so often, over and over again, and wondering about it.


Well, it's definitely not any of these guys:

The Calculator
I get a kick out of the Spook and the Gentleman Ghost, but I can't in good conscience say their respective appearances are "Best Of..." level. So I'll play it safe and choose:

He's used fairly sparingly (despite even getting his own title halfway through the decade) but he steals the show each time he appears. As per usual. So, the Joker it is.


Both from Batman 221.
From Batman 250.
And this gem from Batman 285.

Another no-brainer.
Let's break down the individual titles for more Alfies-and-Gordies fun... numbered just to make it more presentable, not in order of importance or personal esteem.


BEST WRITER: Tough not to go with Denny O'Neil here.
BEST ARTIST: Ditto for Neal Adams, but I'm going to go my own way, here, and choose Irv Novick, who while certainly following Neal's lead, kicked an unreasonable amount of ass and is perhaps somewhat unsung among Batman artists of the '70s.



BEST WRITER: Elliot S. Maggin? Steve Englehart? Archie Goodwin? I'll go with Archie Goodwin.
BEST ARTIST: The amount of artists who worked on this title is staggering. As with Batman, it's tough not to go with Neal Adams. But I'll go with a tie between him and Marshall Rodgers.



BEST WRITER: Bob Haney. Not very difficult - he wrote the vast majority of them.
BEST ARTIST: Slightly more difficult. Dick Dillin illustrated a whole lot more of them than either Curt Swan or Kurt Schaffenberger, but I'll take those two guys over Dillin any day - with all respect to Dillin, of course. Just a big fan of Swan and Schaffenberger's style.

(You'll notice there's quite a few of these... of all the Bat-titles of the '70s, this was for me the most surprising. It marched to the beat of its own seriously-warped drummer, and each year seemed to bring something more memorable than the last.)


BEST WRITER: Bob Haney. As with World's Finest, pretty easy to pick this one, as he wrote most of them.
BEST ARTIST: Jim Aparo. (Ditto.)



BEST WRITER: Steve Englehart
BEST ARTIST: Dick Dillin

Okay, so I beat up on this title a bit during my overview. Not too unfairly I hope, but apologies to anyone whose favorite era of JLA is the '70s. Me, I'll stick with Gardner Fox's and Grant Morrison's respective runs. (And the anomaly of the DeMatteis/Maguire/Giffen JLI from the 80s.)



BEST WRITER: Martin Pasko (with appropriate kudos to Alfred Bester)
BEST ARTIST: José Luis García-López


and finally 7.

Probably my favorite of all the titles, as short-lived as it was. So much bang for your metaphorical buck, here, and a great cross-section of eras, styles, and characters. (Hell, even Alfred had an ongoing back-up.)


BEST WRITER: Bob Rozakis,
BEST ARTIST: Bob Brown. (Brown was all over the Bat-map and this is more of a catch-all award. His best work was arguably in the pages of Batman.)


That does it for this one-off edition of the Alfie/Gordies. As threatened last time, I'll be back to inflict one more slice of Bronze Age Batman on you before darkening the Bat-signal from the roof of Dog Star Omnibus HQ forever. I'll leave you this - here's hoping wiser heads prevail at some point and give us the Bat-Mite / Mr. Myxlplyx buddy comedy we so desperately need.


  1. (1) I nominate "Brucies" for consideration.

    (2) From what I can tell, Alan Moore agrees with you about what he did to Batgirl. It doesn't bother me. It's genuinely shocking (even once you know it happens) and it isn't done merely as exploitation.

    (3) "BEST OF THE BATMAN'S SITTING IN BRANCHES AND STAKING OUT A HAUNTED HOUSE PANELS" -- This might be the best awards category I've ever seen.

    (4) SO many great covers here...man!

    You should find a way to send this to Kevin Smith. He'd probably get a kick out of it.

    1. Denny's got an interesting track record when it comes to crippling people. Batgirl wasn't the first or last. It's kind of odd that his editorship of a title always seems to entail crippling someone (particularly since you know they're going to walk again, eventually.) I don't know, the whole thing sits wrong with me. But that's just me. Batgirl in the 70s was great - I don't think they've done right by the character since, although for all I know, the new series is great. Haven't read it.

      Glad you enjoyed! I'd love for Kevin Smith to see this. Maybe I'll send him a random link and maybe get lucky.

    2. (2) I agree with Bryan on this one. In Supergods, Grant Morrison lays a lot of the credit/blame for the darkening (for lack of a better word) of comics at the feet of Neal and Adams, and it's obvious he's not exactly a fan of their work (ironic considering Morrison would go on to do Arkham Asylum). Still, I think a case can be made that he does have at least some kind of point. I'm not against comics having a dark edge, but I do think a line has to be drawn between edgy and needless hyper-violence ala "Death in the Family" (what's particularly galling is they have Barb face off against the Joker, and instead of catharsis for the character, they resort to basically a head conk, and she's kidnapped and held hostage with the rest of the Bat family. Lame!).

      For me, the whole Killing Joke is just one of those areas that crosses the line into needless hyper-violent, and finding out that O'Neal has done this with other characters is eyebrow raising, quite frankly. I'm just glad Alan Moore had nothing to do with it and I can stop feeling guilty on that score.

      (4) Best out of context panel: the one where he bites off the statue head. Ozzie Osborne is BATMAN! Though I would nominate as a close second that cover of Superman trying to unmask Batman at a party (why would seeing his face actually kill people?)

      As for Kevin Smith, you never know, it might work.


    3. One of the things I admire most about Supergods is how incisive Morrison is about certain titles and eras and yet still write about them so fondly. I got the impression he decried the darkening (which works for me) of comics without necessarily damning it or the Denny and Neal era. (Although he certainly Denny O'Neil to task - and quite rightly from where I sit for whatever that's worth - for a number of things.)

      Still, lest anyone think I'm anti-O'Neil, I just really don't like a handful of decisions he made - overall, he's unquestionably one of the best editors Batman ever had. And wrote some great ones, to boot. He once described the editor's role as a benign film producer, of bringing the talent together and letting them do their thing. I liked that analogy, although I think it's more an ideal or something to shoot for rather than try to live up to 100%. Even the most benign producers/ editors end up influencing the work, that's just natural.

      Did he have to set up a toll call to see if Jason Todd lived or if he got beaten to death with a crowbar, then blown the eff up? And then strongly suggest at conventions that it would screw up all the cool Batman stories they had planned if people voted the wrong way? Nah.

      Still. That darkening can't be lain at anyone's door per se. It was a collective and eagerly consumed (and certainly by me, too) process.

      I haven't read The Killing Joke in years. I'm due.

      Moore's "In Pictopia" is one of the most eloquent reflections on this brackish area between the Bronze and Copper Ages, or thereabouts. Where the hyperviolent met the past. I love that story. (Can't recall where it was published offhand - I think some kind of analogy... okay, had to google - must be slipping: http://www.4colorheroes.com/anythinggoes.html (Anything Goes #2)

      (I know a certain blogmaster who could find a nice home for an In Pictopia review..)

      (4) Love all of those. So many to choose from! The pics associated with my google/blogger account increased substantially over the last year. I hope some agency of the future punches up my name and a thousand images of Batman getting cracked on the back of the head come up.

  2. A lot of good choices here, and quite a bit of amusement to be had.

    I have to remark upon that horrible second-person narrative panel with "See Me Feel Me"...even for a medium like comic books that is straightforward and is (or was) literally four colors, that is so heavy-handed as to induce douche chills. Still, that's the kind of thing that made the '70s what they were. Regardless, I cringed in embarrassment for the writer.

    1. True re: the 70s. And true re: cringeworthy - and that panel's the least of it all, from that issue.