Monday, March 4, 2013

Batman in the 1970s Part 60: The 1978 Wrap-Up

by Peter Enfantino
& Jack Seabrook

1978 was the year of the DC Explosion, but it did not have a significant effect on Batman. Detective Comics began the year as an eight times a year book but switched to bi-monthly almost immediately; as a result, only six issues were published. Batman remained a monthly. Both titles briefly became 44 pages for 50 cents, but this barely lasted four months. Batman celebrated its 300th issue in June with a 52-page, 60-cent giant.

Julius Schwartz edited both books all year. Batman was 36 pages for 35 cents through August, with the exception of the 52-page 300th issue in June. From September through November, it was 52 pages for 60 cents. In December, it went back to 36 pages but was now 40 cents. Detective was 36 pages for 35 cents through August, then 44 pages for 50 cents the rest of the year. The 36 page issues featured one 17-page Batman story each. The 44 page issues featured one 17-page Batman story and an 8-page backup story--these starred Batman in his own title and Hawkman in Detective. There were exceptions: the 300th issue featured a single 34 page story, the June issue of Detective featured a 15-page (condensed) reprint with a new 3-page frame, and the December Batman featured a 15-page lead story and an 8-page backup.

Batman covers were by Jim Aparo (10), Sal Amendola and Al Milgrom, or Dick Giordano. Detective covers were by Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin (3), Rogers and Giordano (2) or Aparo (1). In Batman, lead stories were written by David V. Reed (9) or Gerry Conway (3), while backup stories were written by Reed, Dennis O'Neil or Bob Rozakis (2). The Batman stories in Detective were written by Len Wein (3), Steve Englehart (2) or O'Neil. The Hawkman backup stories in Detective were written by Wein.

Batman lead stories were pencilled by John Calnan (8), Amendola, Buckler, Mike Golden or Walt Simonson. Inks were by Giordano (6), Amendola, Tex Blaisdell, Vince Colletta,  Golden or Dave Hunt. Batman backup stories were pencilled by Don Newton (2), Golden or Win Mortimer, with inks by Hunt (2), Jack Abel or Frank Chiaramonte.

The Batman stories in Detective were pencilled by Rogers (5) or Newton, with inks by Giordano (3), Austin (2) or Hunt. The Hawkman backup stories were drawn by Rich Buckler (inked by John Celardo) or by Murphy Anderson.

The letters columns in both titles were edited by Rozakis; in Batman they were called "Bat Signals," while in Detective they were called "Batman's Hotline." Other features includes The Daily Planet, DC Profiles and Publishorials. Guest villains this year included the Black Spider, the Mad Hatter, the Scarecrow,  the Spook (in Batman), as well as Boss Thorne, Clayface and the Joker (in Detective).

Average sales figures were reported as:

Batman-148,219 per issue
Detective-125,143 per issue

Other Batman appearances included the all-new Batman Spectacular (DC Special Series 15), which came out in the summer. It was 68 pages long for a dollar with no ads and it included three new stories: a 30-pager by David V. Reed, Mike Nasser and Josef Rubinstein; a 20-pager by O'Neil, Golden and Giordano (with Ra's al Ghul and Talia), and a 15-page text feature by Denny O'Neil with illustrations by Rogers, who also did the cover. 

Elsewhere in the DC Universe, Batman continued to appear in the following comics:

Batman Family-6 issues, canceled in December, covers by Aparo, Mike Kaluta or Joe Staton
The Brave and the Bold-7 issues, monthly as of October, covers by Aparo
DC Special Series-1 issue, cover by Aparo
Dynamic Classics-1 issue, cover by Giordano
Justice League of America-12 issues, covers by Buckler, Kaluta, Milgrom or Staton
Limited Collector's Edition-1 issue, cover by Neal Adams and Berni Wrightson
Super Friends-6 issues, covers by Ramona Fradon
World's Finest-6 issues, covers by Aparo or Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez

And finally, our picks:


Best Script: "Sign of the Joker!" by Steve Englehart (Detective 476)
Best Art: "Sign of the Joker!" by Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin
Best All-Around Story: "Sign of the Joker!"

Worst Script: "Batman's Great Identity Switch!" by David V. Reed (Batman 303)
Worst Art: "The Only Man Batman Ever Killed!" by John Calnan and Tex Blaisdell (Batman 301)
Worst All-Around Story: "Batman's Great Identity Switch!"


Best Script: "Sign of the Joker!" by Steve Englehart (Detective 476)
Best Art: "Sign of the Joker!" by Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin
Best All-Around Story: "Sign of the Joker!"

(Let me just say that in any other year, David V. Reed's "The Last Batman Story--?" in Batman #300 might just have topped my list. That's amazing to me since I have such low regard for Reed's work otherwise.)

Worst Script: "Attack of the Wire-Head Killers" by David V. Reed (Batman 302)
Worst Art: "Night of Siege" by John Calnan and Dave Hunt (Batman 306)
Worst All-Around Story: "Batman's Great Identity Switch!"


Yankee Cowboy said...

Great stuff guys.
Can't wait for the Detective
"Dollar Comics" reviews for 79.

And when 1980 comes...???

Peter Enfantino said...

Thanks Cowboy!
We're about three posts ahead right now so we've tackled some of those "Dollar Comics" already. As expected there's some really good stuff and some really bad.
This particular project ends with the December 1979 issue of Batman. We won't be crossing into that next decade.
As for what's next... stay tuned. We'll be dropping some hints very soon.