BY MATT TUCK
DC made an incredible impact with Fandome, and one thing remains clear: the star of the DCEU is and always will be Batman. Where should a collector on a budget start with Dark Knight keys? Here’s five Silver Age less-famous issues worth a second look.
2022: THE YEAR OF THE BAT
Three different Batmen will suit up in two different major films for the DCEU next year. There’s also a new, adult-themed animated series, Batman: Caped Crusader, coming to HBO Max. There’s going to be an abundance of Batman in 2022, and fans wouldn’t have it any other way. It further solidifies that no matter who plays Superman, the real force in the DC Universe is the Dark Knight.
The trouble is that collecting Batman’s key issues gets expensive in a hurry. Why wouldn’t they be pricey? Next to Superman, he is the most famous comic book character of all time, and his influence is undeniable. Arguably about half of all the heroes in comics are based on Batman in some fashion. He’s also been in existence since 1939, which makes his early key issues among the hardest to find in all of collecting.
Batman is an icon who appeals to every generation. While many Golden Age characters can become dated and old fashioned for modern audiences, Batman remains the constant. It doesn’t seem to matter what form he takes, fans can’t get enough of the Dark Knight.
That cross-generation appeal makes for an interesting case in terms of collecting. With each new interpretation of Batman, it creates a new round of key issues to collect. That makes for plenty of options when it comes to the speculative investment market. On that note, let’s take a look at some affordable Silver Age keys for the Batman collector on a budget.
When it comes to Batman, many of his Silver Age keys revolve around his famous villains, and that is for good reason. Today’s list, however, is aimed at different key issues that collectors may not immediately consider.
DETECTIVE COMICS #235
At first glance, you might not think much about this issue, but it is worth a second look, especially with the possibilities of The Flash movie. The trailer features what appears to be two versions of Barry Allen and Sasha Calle’s Supergirl entering the 1989 Batcave to surprise Michael Keaton’s Caped Crusader. That gives the scene a Flashpoint vibe, which could have implications for the long-rumored Thomas Wayne Batman.
While it is not considered canon, the first mention of Thomas Wayne as Batman occurred in DC #235. The other bonus is this issue was published in September 1956, which makes it one of the character’s first Silver Age appearances.
This comic doesn’t get much love from collectors, but that is to your advantage. The only grade to sell this month has been the 3.0, which brought $129 on October 17. Last month, a 3.5 sold for $295.
BRAVE AND THE BOLD #59
Over the decades, Batman and Green Lantern have been written as the best of “frenemies.” They are polar opposites in many ways. Batman works in the night and relies on the shadows to keep his presence obscured; Green Lantern’s entire power set relies on light, and his personality is flashy as well. With Batman crossing into the world of the Flash, it is only a matter of time before Batman and Green Lantern are paired together on the silver screen, and that will impact their first meeting in Brave and the Bold #59.
This is an opportune time to buy this comic. A graded 8.0 last sold for $110 in September. In fact, you can go all the way to a 9.6 for $795 based on a February sale.
As far as story and mythos, there aren’t any major happenings in this issue. What gives it magic among collectors is one of the most famous Batman artists of all time, Neal Adams. He has had one of the most illustrious careers in all of comics, and most fans connect him with his time drawing the Dark Knight. It all started with this issue, and that makes this an excellent addition to any Silver Age collection.
Because of the significance of Batman #200 being the first Neal Adams artwork on the title, this issue is a bit more popular than the previous two entries on today’s list. Despite that, it is still not an overly expensive issue. The highest grade sold this month was a 9.0 that brought $228 on October 17. If you’re looking to keep your investment under $100, there’s the 7.5 which sold for $97 in September.
DETECTIVE COMICS #327
For many of us, the blue and gray Batman costume is one of his more iconic looks. Instead of his classic black and gray, Batman was given a blue cape and cowl, and this issue also saw the debut of the yellow Bat-signal. Sooner or later, I believe we will see this full costume in live action. As it were, we will see the return of Keaton’s ‘89 Batman costume which features this logo, and that could make DC #327 more valuable.
Again, this is an issue that most collectors skim past. The only graded copy to swap owners online this month has been the 6.0. While it brought a record $149 last year, October 17 saw it earn just $66. Last month, a 9.0 sold for $325, which is a great price for the debut of one of Batman’s classic logos.
WORLD’S FINEST #153
I could not resist the urge to add World’s Finest #153 to today’s list. This issue features one of the many classic team ups of Superman and Batman. There have been rumors of a Superman/Batman movie titled “World’s Finest,” and that would have implications for this series. However, the real selling point for WF #153 is the image of Batman slapping Robin. For years now, this picture has become infamous as a meme that continues to circulate on social media.
That single image is so popular as a meme that it has added value to this comic. In fact, a 6.0 sold for a record $400 on October 10. That is nearly eight times the former record of $52 set in 2016.
MORE TO COME
By no means are these the only Batman keys you should be watching. In the coming days, I will spotlight more underappreciated comics from the Bronze, Copper, and Modern Ages, so keep an eye out for those blog posts.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.