Secret Origins #6: Golden Age Batman and Halo

Ryan Daly and returning guest host Chris Franklin review the first part of issue #6 of Secret Origins, which tells the story of the Golden Age Batman. Then, Luke Jaconetti joins Ryan for the origin of Halo.

Listen to Episode 6!

Subscribe to Secret Origins Podcast on iTunes!

Sample pages from Secret Origins #6, written by Roy Thomas with art by Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin (Batman), and Mike Barr and Dick Giordano (Halo), and cover by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (Praised Be His Name).

#6cover #6page1 #6page3 #6page10 #6page19 #6Bpage2 #6Bpage6 #6Bpage15 #6Bpage22

Plus, double-page splash from Detective Comics #617 by Norm Breyfogle, because hell yeah!


Check out Chris Franklin on the Super Mates Podcast

Check out Luke Jaconetti’s Earth Destruction Directive podcast at Two True Freaks:

And his Hawkman blog, Being Carter Hall

“Premonition” (Theme for Secret Origins Podcast) by Neil Daly.

Additional music this episode: “Batman Evolutions” by The Piano Guys; “Ultraviolet (Light My Way)” by U2.

Leave a comment, Secret Admirers!

44 thoughts on “Secret Origins #6: Golden Age Batman and Halo

  1. The way you talk about Batman fandom, it sounds like Doctor Who fandom – so many people irritatingly believe a specific version is the only correct version. I don’t believe that. And the same goes for Shagg’s notion that “everyone goes through a Batman phase”. You counter it by saying it doesn’t need to be a PHASE, but I’ll counter by saying I don’t think EVERYONE must have once had Batman as their favorite. I mean, I’ve certainly never thought of Batman as my favorite character. Which isn’t to say I don’t like him; he’s one of the most iconic and a lot of characters I actually like better are variations on his theme!

    But as a kid, while like Chris I watched the TV show, Super-Friends, the Filmation cartoon… I didn’t really collect either of his comics series. Got an issue here and there, but they were often self-contained mysteries, or limited to short arcs, and that was the limit of my involvement with the character at the time. The 1989 movie was a watershed, not just for me but for the world. It was my first VHS tape, so I must have seen it a hundred times, and know it by heart, even though it’s no longer a favorite. That got me into the comics – Legends of the Dark Knight, Breyfogle’s Detective, right through Knightfall, Prodigal, etc. dropping all series when the earthquake hit I think, or…Contagion? And it’s been on and off since then. I’ll go on record and say I like the Nolan films – especially the second – but for my money, the best adaptation of all time is the Bruce Timm animated series, and the most fun is the Brave and the Bold cartoon. The worst has to be All-Star Batman & Robin.

    So on to the issue…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Totally agree that the essence of Batman is probably most evident on The Animated Series. Excellent scripts coupled with what would become definitive takes on characters plus Kevin ‘The Voice’ Conroy add up to the most consistently excellent run of Batman in any media.

    I’m one of the Burton movie-era generation of fans and have the read-to-pieces Warner editions of Year One, Greatest Stories Ever Told, & Dark Knight to prove it. I really appreciate this episode, as a lapsed Batman fan, and Ryan’s and Chris’ enthusiasm reminding me of what a vital character the Dark Knight can be.

    Also learned a lot in the Halo segment having virtually no experience with this character. My introduction to Halo would have been in the loose-leaf Who’s Who – just like all of the other Outsiders – but I don’t recall her getting a page. Did I miss something? Anyway, great job, Ryan & Luke!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Chris & Rick – Loving the episode so far! I’m about halfway through the Batman origin segment, but wanted to share some thoughts.

    So glad I could contribute to this episode by being your punching bag for everything wrong with Batman fandom. I believe I’ve been misinterpreted. Yes, I have said on many occasions that, “Everyone goes through a Batman phase.” And I stand by that statement. Most comic fans (okay, not “everyone”) at some point find themselves LOVING the character of Batman. The incarnation of the character may change (i.e. Dark Knight comic, Brave/Bold cartoon, Tim Burton movies, Bruce Timm cartoon, etc), but most comic fans eventually find some version of Batman they really connect with. For me it was the Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle Batman era. Many of those fans later move on, and fall in love with other characters. They don’t necessarily dislike Batman from then on; they simply are into other characters more. It doesn’t mean those that remain die-hard Batman fans are less sophisticated or simple, like you guys (see what I did there?). I just think more people move on to other characters than those that stay committed to Batman through the years and creative changes. It just means they moved on to other characters. Hence, “Everyone goes through a Batman phase”.

    It’s quite possible the same thing could be said for Marvel comics fans with Wolverine. I’d need a true Marvel Zombie to validate that suspicion, but I know I certainly went through a Wolverine phase myself in the 1980s.

    Again, enjoying the episode! Looking forward to hearing the rest when I’ve got a spare 5 or 6 hours.

    The Irredeemable Shag


    1. Ah, I gotcha. I really did think you were being “snobby” toward Batman fans, no foolin’. I forgave you cuz of Rob, but that’s it. 🙂 Thanks for clarifying. You’re back on the Christmas Card list.
      I won’t comment on my incessant Bat-ramblings, but I enjoyed Ryan and Luke’s Halo discussion. I have quite a few Outsiders issues, but I’ll be honest, the characters never quite clicked with me. Not completely. I’m not really sure why. Maybe I secretly harbored a grudge against them cancelling Brave and Bold for the title?
      I had forgotten about the cat burning incident. YIKES! Yes, that telegraphs “PSYCHO” like few other things do. I always liked Halo’s original costume. It was very original, while this one…is not. Not really sure why they went and changed it.

      Oh, and Metamorpho was the FIRST hero to turn down JLA membership, and was considered an honorary member of the original incarnation. So he and Black Lightning had THAT in common!

      Great job guys! Looking forward to Luke being back on, and I too love “Vault” on TTF!


      Liked by 1 person

    2. The X-Men books were my Marvel gateway drug in the early ’90s, Shag (not counting G.I. Joe). I liked Wolverine from the beginning, but he was never my favorite. I always liked Beast, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Storm, Rogue, Archangel, even Cyclops more than Wolverine. Unlike Batman, though, when Wolverine became omnipresent during the late-90s and early 2000s, showing up in every X-team book, plus multiple solo series and New Avengers–then I did begin to actively dislike the character because of his own popularity and over-saturation in the market. I held that against Wolverine until a couple years ago when I stopped caring all together.

      The difference is I don’t begrudge Batman for appearing in 13 books a month. On the other hand, I don’t buy them.


      1. You only make me realize how I like Barbara Gordon, Dick Grayson and Tim Drake better than I do the big Bat himself.


    3. Shag, I think your statement of “Everyone goes through a Batman phase” has similar roots as my Batman Minimum Appreciation Index Theory. Every comic fan I have ever met likes Batman on some level. They might be a full out collector, they might pick up Detective or Batman irregularly, they might love one of the cartoons or live action movie series, or they might love Batman ’66. But I do not think I have personally ever talked to anyone who actively disliked or “hated” (to use the modern vernacular) Batman.

      Compare this to some one like (As Ryan mentions) Wolverine, who has tons of fan “hate” which is easy to find. Or, for that matter, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Aquaman, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Batman origin….
    That opening narration is unusually poignant! No better eulogy for the multiverse than what Roy Thomas writes here.

    The crescent moon in the splash is notable, because it’s a full moon in the story itself.

    The Eagle is a lot more subtle than Zorro or Fledermaus!

    So many great touches in the art. He has only eyes for Julie, so everyone else because a ghostly color hold. The autumn colors in the trees on campus. And that’s just page 6. All the stuff you talked about as well.

    I’m keeping Halo for tomorrow…


  5. My Batman secret origin is twofold; I was born the year the tv show debuted (though i wouldn’t see it for several years, and only after first seeing the movie), but, the original Filmation cartoon (1/2 of the Batman/Superman Hour aka The Adventures of Batman) was my gateway. From there, I was introduced to the comics, during the Bronze Age. One of the beauties of that era was the DC 100-Page comics. A friend had Batman #259, one of the 100-Pg books, with a Batman & Shadow story, mixed with old stories about “other” Batmen. That led to many others, old and new. It was a rich period that many fans are only now getting to see, thanks to the recent trade collections. In my day, you got those stories from Irv Novick, Walt Simonson, Howard Charkin, or Marshall Rogers, as well as reprints of Neal Adams, Carmine Infantino, Dick Sprang, Jerry Robinson, or Sheldon Moldoff.

    I’ve always enjoyed Batman in all his incarnations. As a kid, the Adam West movie was a great adventure; and, when I was older, it was funny as heck. The tv series was a lot of fun, the various cartoons were great. I stood in line to buy advanced tickets for the Burton batman, after waiting nearly ten years for it to finally reach the screen (it was in development for a long time, even before Burton). To me, one of the great things of the mu;ltiverse was the chance to see alternate takes on an idea. That is why I liked the concept of the Earth-2 Batman.

    The Earth-2 Batman was introduced to me in the pages of All-Star comics, #74. From there, we see an older Commissioner Bruce Wayne, who left behind cape and cowl, after the death of his wife, Selina Kyle Wayne (marriage seen in Brave & the Bold #197 and DC Super-Stars #17). It led to his death in Adventure Comics #461-462. That story was groundbreaking to me, though you’d be hard pressed to realize it, based on how DC didn’t promote it. This is a nice companion. That Batman was so cool, since he had the career as crime fighter, married his former arch-foe, and had a daughter, Helena, who became a hero in her own right. That Batman had a legacy that was so much more interesting than the thousand Batmen and Robins (and Batwomen, girls, hounds, and probably chipmunks).

    Marshall Rogers (greatly missed) is my favorite Batman artist (though Don Newton, also greatly missed, is a close second. Massively under-rated) and his run with Steve Engelhart is one of the best. It distills so much of what was great in the O’Neil/Adams era, the Infantino “new look”, the 50s Dick Sprang and the 40s Jerry Robinson & Bill Finger stories. Rogers was so deceptively good (much like cover artist Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, PBHN) and it’s on display here. Thomas, who, apart from Conan, always seemed more inspired on team books. He’s in good form here, really nailing emotional beats and remembering that Batman was a detective first. I enjoyed the fact that half of the story was a mystery, not just a chase after some demented freak. This is closer to my Batman, who occasionally cracked a smile, told a joke, and called his best friend, Superman, “Clark.”

    I really enjoyed the discussion here, as you guys bring up a lot of great points, especially that Earth-2 Batman only had to go to college to develop his skills, rather than travel the globe. Ninjas are cool; but, any decent collegiate wrestler can kick their little pajama-clad backside. I’d love to have seen Chris’ suggestion that Thomas and Rogers produce a Golden Age Batman Year One. I especially agree that Dark Knight did a huge disservice to Superman. My Superman and Batman were close friends, who used each other’s given name, not their professional names. They exchanged presents and shared their troubles. They didn’t blindly serve presidents and battle in the street. Miller never got Superman and too many followed his lead

    Batman and the Outsider was a book that never really grabbed me. i read the preview and the first couple of issues (and the crossover with the New Teen Titans); but, that was it. This was a great story though, showing how a vicious teenaged criminal became a hero, and did it convincingly. Hate the new costume though. if anyone needed a costume change, it was Looker, not Halo. Looker dressed more like certain professional women we used to see just outside the gate at the naval base, where I was stationed. Well, maybe crossed with a Barbie doll.

    Looking at the cover of this issue, one question comes to mind, how will The Dark Knight end? While we are at it, Who does watch the Watchmen?


      1. All-Star #74 was my introduction to Earth-Two, followed by Adventure Comics #463, the aftermath of Batman’s death. Needless to say, I was hooked. Confused at first (I was only 4!), but very, VERY interested.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, Paul Levitz had created the story, where Commissioner Wayne shows up at the JSA headquarters, unexpectedly, and is at odds with the group. There is a criminal on the loose, with immense power that he shouldn’t have. The Huntress is quickly introduced and her background revealed, but the book is cancelled. The story then migrated over to Adventure Comics, where Levitz and Staton’s story is completed and the coda, of how the JSA ran afoul of HUAC, is retold, by Huntress. I really missed that version of Huntress, post-Crisis. The idea of a child of a superhero and supervillain was great, and she was a rich character. Helena Bertinelli never quite measured up. Staton was in really good form, on those stories and the Huntress back-up stories, in Wonder Woman.


  6. Batman Night Cries is excellent. i don’t think Archie Goodwin ever wrote a bad story and this one is a really powerful one. If I was to give an essential Batman list (in book form), it would be Batman year One, Dark Knight, Strange Apparitions, Tales of the Demon, Son of the Demon, Night Cries, Manhunter (with batman appearance), Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told, and the Batman decade books. After that, it would be the recent collections, like the Len Wein stories, the Don Newton Batman, and the Showcase books (especially Brave and the Bold).


    1. I’ve been curious about the Len Wein collection, Jeff. How is it? Does Aparo draw a lot of the stories in it? I know I own a bunch of the original issues collected including the Untold Legend mini. But I love the other Batman collections I own, including Rogers, Davis, Goodwin and Newton. In fact I’ve been pining away for DC to finally release volume two of Newton’s Batman for several years now 😒


      1. I haven’t seen the collection, so I don’t know exactly which stories are in it. That said, I remember reading some of Wein’s stories, back in the day, and they were darn good. There are a lot of little Batman gems, from the Bronze Age, despite what some revisionist history would have you believe.


    2. I had to look this up to be sure, but Detective 514 “Haven” was from Wein and Newton and oh man was that always one of my favorite single issue comics, with a very iconic cover of Batman emerging from the snow and calling the baddies “Punks!” Great stuff. I recently re-read that one a year ago and it holds up just as well as it did back in the day. It looks like that issue is in the Wein collection, along with some others I own. Not sure I’ll bother re-buying all of that, as much as I’d love to. I am tempted to pick up the Norm Breyfogle Batman collection coming out in a week or two, so I might put my money towards that one instead. Now, I do own the majority of Breyfogle’s run on the character, but the thought of having it all collected is mighty tempting.


  7. Halo…
    Well, I’ve destroyed Batman and the Outsiders savagely and without remorse on my blog, and how Halo was portrayed as a simpleton who didn’t know what “eating” was, etc. I thought it was dumb as hell. Don’t get me started on how Batman basically formed a team just so he could tell its members they sucked and shouldn’t do anything. So awful.

    I don’t think I knew that when B&TO came out originally. I’d gotten I think issue 7 to find out who these characters were (the cover was a cool team shot), but I didn’t pursue it at the time. What issues I now have I only have to fuel the mockery on my blog.

    The way Katana and Halo were designed and then written specifically, it seemed liked they were characters in search of an origin for the longest time. It took like a year for Katana’s to be addressed, and much longer for Halo. And THIS is what it is?! Re-Animator meets Doctor Who’s worst modern episode, Fear Her?! Oh brother. I don’t mind seeds planted early and sprouting late, but these are the LEADS and we know nothing about them for the longest time, and it feels like Barr didn’t know either!

    All props to Luke for showing passion for these characters, but to me, they’ll always be generic superheroes sketched out on a cocktail napkin at a bar that somehow made it into hundreds of comics. And then they added LOOKER to replace BATMAN?!! COME ON, MIKE BARR!!!

    I don’t think I buy the Outsiders/X-Men comparison, except that DC was trying to pan for X-gold with its team books at the time. The X-Men are varied but have one thing in common: They are mutants, hunted by humanity. That’s a shared experience. The Outsiders can’t lay claim to that. They can’t even say they’re all “outsiders”, not when so many of them come from a place of privilege, and the way they were brought together, RANDOMLY, speaks to the lack of focus. Paint-by-number superheroes.

    That all said, Luke is a great guest-star, great radio voice, entertaining commentary, good insights, and what I think is a crucial quality for comic book podcasting, enthusiasm for the subject matter. Hey, I’m enthusiastic about the Outsiders too, enthusiastic about TAKING THEM DOWN, but it still translates, I think ;-). But I really don’t think Ryan needs to pussyfoot around about how terrible Looker’s costume is. I don’t think he’s going against the consensus here.

    Bad character, good episode.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I really enjoyed the multiple naps I took during the three hour tour that was this episode. No offense intended toward the hosts, but rather general fatigue and my near complete disinterest in either of this issue’s subjects. While I have fond memories of Golden Age Superman stories, I pretty much always found anything prior to the Bronze Age featuring Batman a total snooze, especially his whimper of a debut. I think there was one Batman anniversary issue that adapted that story several times by different creative teams, and it makes me wonder what crime its readers were being punished for (beyond the obvious offense of their being Batman devotees.)

    The virtues of Marshall Rogers were mostly lost on me growing up, and looking at the sample pages reminded me that he was a huge influence on Todd McFarlane, which does not endear me any further. I think everything I do like about Rogers’ art falls under the heading of “Terry Austin.” Given that they’re illustrating another Shia LeBeuf script made this issue another hard pass.

    I’ll cop to Batman phases in the early ’80s and again around 1988-1990ish. I loved him in Brave & the Bold especially, which feeds my hatred of the Outsiders, since one book died so an inferior replacement could live. My interest was revived by the Max Collins run, The Cult, Year One, and Dark Knight Returns, roughly in that reading order with an ascending level of impact. To this day, I believe the only standard length prose novel I’ve ever read in one seating was the Batman film adaptation, which set me up for severe disappointment when I saw the actual film in a theater on opening day. I rather enjoyed Batman Returns though.

    The worm began to turn with the death of Jason Todd, who I liked, and Jim Starlin’s departure as Batman writer. I did not warm to successive creative teams. I’ve never cared for Alan Grant, and while I respect his work, Norm Breyfogle didn’t excite me as a Batman artist. I know Count Drunkula heard my recent anti-Superman rant, and the same disdain could be expressed for Knightfall period creative teams. Few Bat-comics appealed to me from the ’90s on, not even Arkham Asylum, as to me the Dark Knight became a megalomaniacal sociopath applauded by an unwashed fanatical following I detested. Like Shag, I pulled a multi-year tour in comics retail, and dealing with fans of all the big name characters on a daily basis can certainly foster elitism and dismissal over the overhyped icons.

    The problem with Drunkula’s Beatles analogy is that they’re so accessible and universally praised, there is no more boring an answer to the favorite band question than the Fab Four. What the world does not need is another Beatles expert offering their in-depth analysis of their songbook. They’re great, but they’ve been done to death, so why not explore some other options that might appeal to you more specifically. Batman and Superman fans are like that guy who wants to talk to people about the love of Jesus Christ. Even if Christianity is your bag, you’ve already worked out your relationship with it, and don’t need some dude telling you what you already know, what he does different, and worst of all, what you’ve got “wrong” about the supposed Son o’God. Call me a Batheist then, buddy.

    Anyway, I’m getting sleepy again. Let me just say I liked the Halo origin way more than the Batman story, if only because its weirdness and dark undercurrents held my attention. The Outsiders seem to have been DC’s Defenders-like funky non-team, and good on renegade cop Luke Jaconetti for fighting for their (debatable) honor.


    1. I don’t think you can fault Rogers for McFarlane’s deficiencies as an artist. That’s down to his own lack of dedication, as a storyteller, rather than a graphic designer .


      1. Remember the ad where the father is confronting the son about possession of marijuana, and the boy yells “I learned it from you, dad!” Marshal Rogers’ slightly wonky anatomy/faces led Todd McFarlane to black tar heroin, is what I’m saying.

        Clarification: When I said “general fatigue,” it could have been misinterpreted to mean I was criticizing the hundreds of minutes of podcast time on Earth-Drywall Batman and the Outsider Aurakle Halo, which wouldn’t necessarily be entirely untrue, but in point of fact I meant actual physical/mental/emotional/spiritual fatigue in real life. I listened to most of this show across several days in an empty lunch room at work where I often rested my head on the table and dozed off for a few minutes here and there.


  9. Late to the game here and so will be brief.

    I really liked this issue as, unlike the Superman issue, it gave me information. I knew that Superman story already and knew it panel by panel. When I read this, I didn’t know about the Chemical Syndicate or the fiancee Julie Madison. It was all new to me which made it that much more odd that this character was now completely gone from continuity.

    Marshall Rogers is a personal favorite of mine. I own a couple of his Englehart Batman issues, but as completely scragged copies found in a dollar box. Finding them was like finding a dulled diamond in a field of glass doorknobs. That stuff is just gorgeous! I also loved his all too brief run on Mister Miracle. And Terry Austin makes everyone look better.

    As for my, I don’t think I ever had a Batman phase. I have picked titles up now and then but never was all in on Bruce. In fact, my early Batman memories are Brave and the Bold, never his solo titles.

    As for Batman’s mutable nature, I’ll send you to this clip from the Brave and Bold series where people complained about Batman being so silly on the show.

    It cannot be explained any better!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi fellas! I was turned onto your podcast after hearing Rob and Shag plug it on the FW Podcast a while back. I’ve been catching up on all the episodes but had to jump ahead to this one for two reasons – I too love this Marshall Rogers drawn Golden Age Batman origin, and I have an irrational love for anything from the original Batman & the Outsiders series, including Halo. I’m only an hour into the podcast, so I’ll just comment on some things you’ve discussed already, then maybe come back later for some more thoughts.

    I suppose I’ll comment on Shag’s “everyone has a Batman phase” comment too, why not. I tend to agree with what he said up above in his clarifying comments. Batman was easily my favorite single comics character growing up (the X-Men were my favorite team book), but sometime in the 90s, as his personality (and therefore his books) grew more obsessively dark to the point of being suffocating and unpleasant to read, I lost interest. I still follow the character and read his current stories here and there (usually in trades, on loan from the library), I’m not as invested in him anymore. That said, I still have extreme love for anything Batman from the end of the Grant/Breyfogle era backwards, all the way back to the Golden Age even. I’ve even retained a love for the goofy 50s and early 60s sci-fi adventures. It’s fun stuff. But my favorite era remains the era in which I grew up – so basically the stuff from the early to mid or late 80s (plus the whole of the 70s, really – as a kid in the 80s I spent a lot of my allowance buying Bat book back issues from the 70s). Anything written by Doug Moench, Denny O’Neil, Gerry Conway, Steve Englehart, Mike W. Barr, Alan Grant, etc. and anything drawn by Jim Aparo, Neal Adams, Norm Breyfogle, Gene Colan, Alan Davis, Don Newton, and Marshall Rogers. It’s hard to select my favorite Bat artist out of all these fantastic choices, but I always come down to those last three as my top choices – Davis, Newton, and Rogers. I’m simply overjoyed at their interpretations of Batman in the same way today as I was back in the 80s when I first saw their work on the character. Davis had a short run on TEC, but it’s possibly my favorite run on the character ever. Possibly tied with the Engelart-Rogers brief run. And Newton drew Batman for a very long time – was it 5 years or so? – and the entirety of that era is a personal favorite of mine also – written by several scribes, but all uniformly fun and moody and excellent use of supporting characters. Note that moody Batman is a lot of fun – relentlessly grim and dark Batman? Not quite as much, at least not in as big a dose.

    Annnnnyway. It is interesting that Rogers drew Batman as he always drew him instead of as we know the character from the Golden Age. I recall thinking the same thing about Batman Year Two around the same time – remember that one? Both Davis and Todd McFarlane drew the character more in line with how he looked during the comics of that era than as he more likely would have looked during the second year of his career. Even has a kid I wondered how Batman went from looking like he did in Year One to looking like he did in Year Two so fast. It seemed too fast. Seemed like his costume evolution would have been slower. And, well, as longtime comics, we all know that in reality it was much slower than that! Nonetheless, I loved Davis’s art in part one of Year Two (and in fact also liked McFarlane’s fine enough for the rest of the story line, even though I’ve never been much of a fan of his).

    I realize I got way off topic here, but also not really so far afield. I thoroughly enjoyed both of your stories about how you got into the character and why you enjoy his adventures so much. So it’s fun to share our own personal Bat stories. I too loved the 1989 film – it came out smack dab at the height of my comics fandom at that time so it basically just ramped up my love of the character and comics at that time. It was a great time to be a comics fan, for sure. The excitement around that movie was palpable in every corner of my young life, it seemed – people at my LCS were constantly talking about it, the letter cols and editorials in the books were discussing it for months leading up to and after the premiere, and my friends and I couldn’t get enough of it. Good times.

    Okay, on to the rest of the podcast. Can’t wait to hear about the Halo origin. I don’t own a lot of issues of Secret Origins – maybe 5-10 – and this isn’t one of them. I do have the Rogers story in his Legends of the Dark Knight Collection.

    Great job with the podcast!


    1. Don Newton was a fantastic artist. His Phantom is up there with Aparo (better in my opinion), at Charlton. I loved the story, “The Mystery of the Mali Ibex,” (Phantom #70) which is a big Bogart riff, using elements from several of his classic films. newton drew the heck out of it, capturing the feel of people like Bogie, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and others; but, making the characters his own. His Shazam work was awesome, as he was a lifelong fan, who used to attend conventions dressed as Captain Marvel. His Batman is one of the best, especially with the moody art. “The Curse of Crime Alley,” (Detective Comics #483) is one of the finest Batman stories ever. He did a pretty mean Aquaman, too. He had just started what should have been a long run, on Infinity, Inc, when he died of a heart attack. Such a shame. I would have loved to see what he would have done in the world of graphic novels and creative ownership. I am lucky enough to own the original art to a Black Terror piece he did for a fanzine. It’s a really nice image.


      1. Love, love, LOVE Don Newton’s Batman. Well, all his stuff is great, but he seemed born to draw Batman. I was so bummed to see that Meanwhile column in the DC comics, eulogizing him. I came into Batman comics just as he started drawing them.



      2. I too started my Batman comics reading just as Newton was drawing them, Chris! That’s a huge reason why he’s usually the artist I consider “My Batman artist.” And Jeff, I’ve never had the pleasure of reading any of Newton’s Phantom or Infinity Inc. work, unfortunately. I’d like to, of course, so I’m hoping to find them in collections one day? I’m not sure either has been collected, though. And I agree, his Aquaman work was damn near definitive too.


      3. The Charlton Phantom is being collected by Hermes Press. Volume 4 is available for pre-order and I think Volume 5 will it the Newton issues, which are the last of the book. My first Charlton Phantom was #66, which was the issue before Newton started. His first, in issue 67, was a retelling of the modern Phantom origin. #70 was the Bogie story. The final issue, #74, was set in 1776, with the Phantom of the era aiding ben Franklin and witnessing the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Newton painted the cover, which features the Phantom with flintlock pistol in one hand and cutlass in another, with the original 13-star flag in the background, as well as the text of the document. It’s a great piece that should have been a poster. Newton soon migrated to DC, following in the footsteps of Jim Aparo and Joe Staton.

        I love Aparo’s Aquaman and Newton’s is just as good, though I thought Aparo got better scripts to work on.


  11. Thanks for the comment, Michael!

    It seems like post-Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Miller/Mazzucchelli Batman from Year One replaced the original Batman with the purple gloves and the swooping ears. But then they jumped right ahead to the New-Look Batman costume in Year Two. Maybe the lack of a more fluid transition is because the stories were told in different comics (Y1 in Batman, Y2 in ‘Tec).


  12. So, I finally listened to the second part. 3 hours!!!! I’m an old Bronze Ager and the nurses don’t let me stay up that late, though, truth be told, 3 hours is a long time to go without nodding off or answering to my bladder. Anyway……what was I talking about? Kids today? That joke in Reader’s Digest? Oh, yeah; Halo.

    Like I said above, I wasn’t much of an Outsiders reader. Batman outside (no pun intended) the JLA just seemed off.

    Just to add to Luke’s background on the book, Metamorpho didn’t exactly have his own series for years. He had stories for years; but, his own book lasted 17 issues. He had a one-shot, in First Issue Special (#3, where I first encountered him), and appeared in at least one World’s Finest story (#226, on of the DC-100 Pg books), and a few guest spots here and there. He’s one of those characters that writers and editors liked and had a cult following, so he’d pop up now and again. Black Lightning seemed to suffer for Tony Isabella’s fights with DC Editorial, apart from being a victim of the Implosion. He got a guest appearance in JLA, were he turned down membership, like Metamorpho; but, not much else until here.

    Back to the vitriol…….

    You whippersnappers and your lack of New Teen Titans appreciation! Listening to too much grunge music and badmouthing your corporate masters! Need a hitch in Grenada to sort your generation out! New Teen Titans was pretty darn awesome, mostly. Okay, I was hot and cold on the book. It had a great run, up through Judas Contract; but, there are some lesser issues. For me, X-Men was losing it’s luster after the Death of Phoenix; but occasionally got interesting for an arc. However, I was completely done by the time Paul Smith left. In part, I just couldn’t abide the artwork; but, Claremont’s endless dangling plotthreads just got old, not to mention his obsession with Alien. In the early days of the Titans, Wolfman was very good about using the interludes between the big action stories to flesh out the characters, which you guys praised Barr and Peter David for doing. Yeah, that kind of petered out after the first two years; but, they were carrying DC (along with Legion).

    I’ll give Outsiders credit for being different and Barr for trying different things. I prefer him on the straight Batman title (as opposed to the gay one, I guess; you know, where he fights a drag queen Joker during a Pride Parade. That would give the fanboys fits!). Really, I preferred Barr on Maze Agency. His fights with DC kept him from doing more interesting things. Gee, first Isabella, then Barr; no wonder Black Lightning never got into the Super Friends of Justice League Unlimited.

    Now, you say you’re not high on Crisis on Infinite Earths? What is wrong with you? How can you not like an overly long epic series which didn’t always mix well in the regular books and launched an avalanche of really bad multi-book crossovers? Or is that a rhetorical question? (If you ask a rhetorical question, and no one is there to hear it, are you just off your meds?) Yeah, okay, Crisis isn’t perfect, by any stretch; but, for my money, it is the only mega-crossover that I ever felt worked, overall. I have problems with the tail end of the story and I also think they dragged it on longer than needed; but, it is a solid story. So, listen to your elders, dangnabit!!!!

    Gotta go now, the nurses are coming…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is only one iteration of the Teen Titans worth my time and that’s Bob Haney’s original vision. That is all.


    2. ps. I realize that when I say I left X-Men, in part, because of the artwork, it reads like I mean Paul Smith. I loved his work. i mean subsequent artists. I liked John Romita Jr before that, but not his X-Men stuff; and don’ t get me started on the Image crowd. Even when Cockrum was back on the book, post-Byrne, I drifted in and out with the stories. Then again, those were newsstand days, so I rarely got sequential issues of a comic, unless I made an effort and was lucky (and had funds).


      1. I first discovered X-Men shortly before Claremont left the book, so this was the era of Jim Lee on X-MEN and Whilce Portacio on UNCANNY, plus Marc Silvestri on the back issues I could dig us easily. Naturally, as a kid of a the times, I thought these artists were awesome!

        Thanks to the Essential volumes, I was able to go back through the X-Men history and realize my mistake. I think the mutants’ golden age was Claremont’s first hundred issues–basically from the All New, All Different relaunch to the end of the Mutant Massacre during John Romita, Jr.’s run. When Nightcrawler, Kitty, and Colossus left to be replaced by Havok, Dazzler, and Longshot–no, not a fair trade. And the art by Silvestri and Lee that I loved as a kid I now find painful to look at.


    3. I agree with what Count Drunkula said. My personal X-Men “golden period” was Smith & JRJR, though I enjoyed John Byrne and early Cockrum in reprints (hated second coming of Cockrum.) I only break from him in that I enjoyed the latter half of the Siege Perilous period up until Whilce Portacio left Uncanny (the eponymous X-Men was weak from jump.)

      I completely disagree with Siskoid. I find Bob Haney’s Teen Titans unreadable and intolerable. Wolfman & Perez hit their stride during the third & fourth years on NTT, which I think was during Cockrum, and if so made it the best team book of its time. After Perez left, Wolfman drifted aimlessly for years, even after Perez came back. Only Tom Grummett, Al Vey, and editor Jon Peterson finally shook him out of his funk and squeezed another few good years out of him. Then everyone left but Wolfman, and The Terrible truly began.


      1. I can’t believe I’m saying this…but I agree Frank. Well, not entirely, as I like Haney’s TT for sheer kitschy fun, but NTT was on fire up through the Judas Contract. The last few things Perez did weren’t bad either, but that’s the peak. To my notion, mainstream comics in the 80s didn’t get any better.

        And Titans Hunt (and the issues leading up to it) was exciting stuff. Definitely the last gasp of greatness in the title. Sure, there were some hiccups, but most of that was due to them just going nuts and throwing everything at the wall. As soon as Peterson and Grummet were gone, hoo boy…



      2. My problem with Marv Wolfman’s wannabe X-Men 😉 is that I got in too late. My first issue was already bannered “Tales of” (but I rate that Chuck Patton art) not too long before it started repeating the Baxter series which was out of my reach in my hick town. I collected the book through the end of Tales (I don’t know where it stopped reprinting the Baxter book), I think, but while these were fairly enjoyable superhero stories, they didn’t leave that much of a mark.

        Haney’s stories I discovered through Showcase Presents, and I love how goofball they are. Loved the Year One mini-series they did not that long ago in a similar humorous style, with the original cast. I’d read that version on a monthly basis.

        (Obviously, post-Wolfman Titans don’t bear even thinking about.)


      3. My first X-Men was Giant Size #2, with the reprint of the Roy Thomas/Neal Adams Sentinels storyline. A little while later, I got to read some of the early Claremont and Cockrum stuff, which my cousin had. I first started picking it up when the X-Men ran up against Proteus, in Scotland, in the late 70s. With few comic outlets (and no direct market shops) I didn’t get more until after the Death of Phoenix. I started to find it more readily and had a decent run from the 140s up through Paul Smith’s departure (with a couple of minor gaps). When I saw my first JRJR issue, I put it back on the stands (and I liked him on Iron Man). That was pretty much it for me and the X-Men.

        My first Titans comic was when the series was revived in the 70s (around the same time they brought back Showcase, and a few other books). It was issue #45, where Mal gets his magic horn. I had seen two issue before that: #35, with a Romeo & Juliet take-off, and DC Super-Stars #1, with reprints. Both were owned by cousins. #45 was my first personal issue. I didn’t see a Haney one for years. I had the final issue of that original series. Then, I saw New Teen Titans #1 on the stands. I snapped that sucker up. It was awesome! Then #2 came out, and was even better, with Terminator (he will always be that, to me). I missed some issues, but caught up with them when I hit college and found my first comic shop. That was such a breath of fresh air at a stale DC (though there were some other bright stars). That seemed to get everyone jazzed u and DC started getting better and better (for many reasons). I enjoyed Marvel; but, I always tended to gravitate more to DC’s heroes. I always tended to prefer the fringe books at Marvel over their big superhero books. Remember when X-Men was a fringe book? I tended to prefer stuff like Defenders, Master of Kung Fu, Killraven, Deathlock, Micronauts, Marvel Two-in-One, Marvel Team-Up, Star Wars, Daredevil (pre-Miller and in his run), and Avengers (though sporadically). The rest spun in and out, depending who was working on the book and how cool the story looked on the newsstand (and if I had any money)


  13. Wow… that was a bit like running a marathon. Quite a bit to unpack, so I’ll stick to a few key things. Hearing about how Roy Thomas pulled together various existing elements of Batman lore to craft this origin shows me where the man’s skills lay when he used them. It kind of makes the copy/paste job done on Shazam all the more frustrating for me (he said, opening himself up for direct assault over his participation in an episode that seemed to tick off everybody.)

    As for Halo, I have to say that though I have exactly zero knowledge of the character it was interesting to hear about. Sometimes I think the most interesting stories can be with characters who never really found their way into the proper limelight. Given that they stretched out her origin for a while I have to wonder if early on they’d hoped to do bigger and better things with her and the interest from readers just never materialized enough to justify it.

    Last note: Batman the Animated Series for the win. Best Batman, best Joker, best distillation of all of the elements of Batman over the years into a single cohesive vision and it’s aged better than any other comic book based animated show of the time. That is to say, it hasn’t aged at all and is god damn timeless.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Late to the party here, so I’ll just throw in this: I’m pretty sure the revision/idea of Martha having a heart attack was introduced when the origin was retold by Bill Finger and whoever was signing Bob Kane’s name that week in BATMAN #47, which also is the first comic where Joe Chill is named.

    Great episode, guys!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just checked, and yes, it’s in that issue. (I’d be surprised to learn it appeared in a comic before that one because, much like with Superman, they didn’t spend much time dwelling on the origin in the early days.) Interestingly though, in BATMAN #47, Chill specifically fires only one bullet, rather than the two shots as he did here. You’re probably right; Thomas was attempting to blend the two versions


  15. While I like the idea of having more than one origin story per book, I admit I was more than a little surprised that one of DC’s heaviest hitters had to share the bill. I was always aware of Batman because of the campy Adam West show in perpetual reruns, but it was Tim Burton’s Batman that really opened my eyes to how cool the character could be. I was never a collector of any of the Bat titles until the whole back-breaking storyline and I dropped the books soon after Bruce Wayne resumed the role. That was my Batman phase.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.