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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Detective Comics Key Issues Part 11

One villain makes his first Modern appearance in the Silver Age of Detective Comics, and one popular and iconic DC Comics super heroine makes her debut as well. We'll be covering both in Part 11 to this Detective Comics key issues series.

Definitely some interesting finds in this part, and some important keys that are mostly Batman related. If you missed Part 10 to this series, that blue link will bring you back.

1st Modern Clayface
Intro Matt Hagen

Many characters in the DC universe got revised or updated during the silver age, and Clayface from the Batman universe was no exception. This issue introduces Clayface II, and the character of Matt Hagen who had an unfortunate accident with a pool of radioactive protoplasm and takes up the mantle after the original Clayface, Basil Karlo.

This issue is one of the major key issues within the Batman silver age era, and one of the best comics to invest in concerning silver age Batman comics. 

Detective Comics #298 and the first appearance of Matt Hagen as Clayface was published December, 1961. 

1st appearance of Zook
1st appearance of Catman

Zook was a supporting character for Martian Manhunter during the early Silver Age and was the J'onn J'onzz sidekick during that time. The character of Zook also moved over to the House of Mystery title after Detective Comics.

Zook is not a prominent Modern age character and is rarely seen or used nowadays. He is or was, however, a popular supporting character in the Martian Manhunter mythos.

We have the 1st appearance of Catman in this issue as well, and this character was depicted as a third-rate villain like mentioned previously in the post before that featured the first appearance of Calendar Man. In the early years of his criminal career, his approach to crime was often laughed at and thus he was never taken very seriously.

Like most villains during this era, Catman was a gimmick villain, who based his various crimes around a theme. In the case of Catman, it was obviously cats. 

Catman is Thomas Reese Blake and was a famous trapper of jungle cats. He turned to crime because he was bored with hunting and lost most of his wealth. He modeled his costume off of Catwoman, and often she mistakenly took the blame for many of his crimes.

In recent interpretations of the Catman character, he is an antihero figure and works with both villains and heroes. Catman is connected to Deadshot as both are members of the Secret Six.

Detective Comics #311 and the first appearance of Zook and Catman was published January, 1963.

1st original Bat-Girl in Detective Comics
Batman cameo in Martian Manhunter story

Definitely a minor key but one of the better noteworthy minor Silver Age key issues for Detective Comics during this era. The original Bat-Girl Betty Kane makes her first and only appearance in Detective Comics.

Also Martian Manhunter in his back up feature never had any superheroes cross-over into his stories until this issue. Batman makes a cameo appearance in the story The Man Who Destroyed J'onn J'onzz.

Yes, a minor key issue but an interesting one worth noting. At least, I think so, and Detective Comics #322 was published December, 1963.

Detective Comics #327 Silver Age Batman comic cover
Batman new costume and look

Much like a lot of DC Comics characters during the silver age, Batman also got a slight make over with a new look. Basically, what was changed was the yellow ellipse that encompassed the black bat symbol. 

It was redesigned to make Batman's logo more like Superman's chest logo and wasn't really a huge change. Batman's costume is iconic already, but the new chest logo has become an iconic look even to this day.

Unlike most characters like Green Lantern and The Flash, Batman was still Bruce Wayne and wasn't revamped as a totally new character. Superman and Wonderwoman were also pretty much left alone like Bats during the silver age.

However, this is an often over-looked key issue comic, but it's still a worth while comic to add to your comic collection if you're a Batman fan looking for rare key issue comics.

1st Zatanna classic cross-over
2nd appearance Zatanna as the Witch

Detective Comics #336 doesn't really show the character of Zatanna. She is disguise as the Witch. However, if Ultron has a 1st appearance in disguise as the Crimson Cowl in Avengers #54, I suppose this counts as well.

Of course, this wouldn't be the 2nd full classic crossover or appearance...whatever that truly means. I'm just stating what industry might most likely later note this issue if they ever catch on or care. Anyway, this issue is part of the Zatanna's Search storyline, and that storyline is considered the first DC crossover story event that spans multiple titles.
Detective Comics #336 was published February, 1965.

1st appearance of Blockbuster

Another Batman related comic introducing another Suicide Squad character from John Ostrander's incarnation of the group. As we already know from Legends #3, Blockbuster is not a member of the Squad for long. Will the movie portray his death in their very first mission as well? Who knows?

Kinda find it strange to have this character in the Suicide Squad, but the movie does need to live up to it's name. Some members have to die in it.

Anyways, Blockbuster is Mark Desmond, a chemist who desired to be strong instead of scrawny. Creating a serum in true comic book fashion, Desmond experimented on himself becoming a huge mindless brute. Sounds like the Blockbuster will be the Hulk of this movie. Blockbuster is Silver Age villain and his first appearance in Detective Comics #345 was published November, 1965.

1st appearance of new Batgirl

Here's something I didn't know. The Silver Age Batgirl known as Barbara Gordon was actually created because of the Batman television series from the 60s.

In season three, the producers of the show approached then Batman editor, Julius Schwartz, and asked him to develop a female character for the show in hopes to attract a female audience. Executive Willaim Dozer suggested that this female character be the daughter Jim Gordon and eventually adopt the identity of Batgirl.

Julius Schwartz was the editor that had previously judged several of the Batman family characters like the original Bat-Girl, Bat-Hound, and Bat-Mite too silly, otherwise lame, and should be removed from the series. During this time, Batman comics were declining in sales.

Carmine Infantino came up with the character's design and won over the producers of the show. Barbara Gordon as the new Batgirl became so popular on the show that the character almost starred in her own spin off series.

With character's popularity from the show, it made complete sense to add her to the comics. Enter, Detective Comics #359, the first appearance of Barbara Gordon as the Silver Age Batgirl.

In the original version which mirrored the television series, Barbara Gordon was the daughter of James Gordon. As most fans know of the modern characterization, she would be later retconned as Gordon's niece.

This issue also hold the first appearance of Silver Age Killer Moth, whom is the main baddie of this storyline promptly and correctly titled, "The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl!". Absolutely no doubt this is a major Silver Age key issue and definitely a solid comic investment to snag.

Detective Comics #359 was published January, 1967.

2nd appearance of new Batgirl

Here's this Batgirl key issue again, and it was already featured in the Batgirl key issues list recently. 

The first appearance of Batgirl in Detective Comics #359 is already up there in price. Detective Comics #363 has the 2nd appearance of Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, and it's starting to get up there as well.

At the time of this writing, I see a CGC 9.4 NM for $500 bucks on eBay. A VF is well below $200. This can be considered the 2nd appearance of Barbara Gordon as well, and the character as Oracle with a different name is slated to appear in the Teen Titans TV series.

I bought two copies of this issue after I published the Batgirl key issues list. The first I picked up was a raw copy at Big Wow Comic Fest. The 2nd copy I picked up was a CGC 8.0 for pretty cheap also.

Over-looked key issue in the current market now. May, 1967 is the publishing date for Detective Comics #363 and the 2nd appearance of Batgirl and Barbara Gordon.

Many of these Silver Age keys are much easier to find online, but that doesn't mean some aren't expensive or valuable. Quite a few are great solid comic investments. One I know of is fairly over-looked currently.

How long that lasts, I have no idea. We are nearing the Bronze Age finally and this Detective Comics key issues list will be swinging into Part 12. Just click the link below for more key comic goodness.

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