early Bronze Age was the age of "The Exorcist"
and "Jaws," Hammer horror films and the "Texas
Chainsaw Massacre." Horror sold and sold big, and if
comics can be counted on for anything it's spotting a pop
culture trend and milking it dry. Thus, on any given week
circa 1973 or '74, there were dozens of comic book covers
showing superheroes attacked by vampires, zombies or werewolves,
doubling over in pain as witches stuck pins into voodoo
dolls, aging in mere moments into dessicated corpses...and
lots of other fun stuff. ("Hey Kids! Comics!")
With some characters the horror fad made for
an awkward fit: even the creepiest monster couldn't drum
up much dread in the bright world of Superman, for example.
A prolonged storyline with Spider-Man growing two extra
sets of arms and battling a "living vampire" was
more oddball than scary.
Batman was a different story: he was originally
designed as a "weird figure of the night," after
all, and in the Bronze Age he returned to those roots, sticking
to the shadows, trailing a long cape Dracula himself would
envy, sporting those spooky long bat-ears. It seemed comparatively
logical, almost inevitable, that a night owl like Batman
would occasionally encounter the supernatural as he prowled
the dark streets of Gotham.
It also helped that Batman was, at his core,
a non-believer. A trained scientist and detective, a man
of reason, Bruce Wayne had no place in his ordered brain
for the supernatural. As a hero who employed fear tactics
himself, his first reaction to "monsters" was
always "how can this be explained rationally, and why
is someone perpetrating this hoax?" Over time, Batman
would encounter ghosts, vampires, werewolves, haunted houses
and once, perhaps even the devil himself. But somehow at
the start of the next adventure we found him as skeptical
Like all kids, I was drawn to scary things,
and Batman delivered.
THE NIGHT BATMAN SOLD HIS SOUL
weird tale from Brave and the Bold #108 always stuck
The whole premise is odd; Batman and Sgt.
Rock on the trail of Adolph Hitler in the 70s! And it just
got odder...Rock knows Bruce Wayne's secret identity, for
one thing. Why? Because they'd worked a case together before...in
World War 2! Only Bruce hasn't aged a day, while Rock's
an old man. And dig that crazy shot of Bruce Wayne smoking
a pipe for the first time since the 40s! Throw in great
art by Jim Aparo and you've got one of those wonderful little
gems that used to come our way almost monthly in "the
good old days."