Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Comic Book Questions: Bronze Age Batman Collections

My favourite comics era is roughly the 1970s  to the 1980s. (Oddly, that’s also my favourite music era.)

Here are the issues of Batman published in that time: (Batman 218 is dated as Feb 1970, but is a reprint issue.)

Batman 219-442; ann 8-13

And here’s Detective:

Detective Comics 395-609; ann 1-2 (ann #1 was ’88! Continued in Green Arrow ann #1 and Question ann #1)

So, my question is: have they been collected into trade paperbacks, omnibuses, anything? If so, are the back-up stories included?

And: why not?


  1. Darthratzinger

    A lot of that era has been collected in a manor that is equally systematic but frustrating for completists like me: the Tales of the Batman/Legends of the Dark Knight Hardcovers based on artists/writers plus the various Neal Adams reprints (3 smaller hardcovers or one omnibus). The earliest 70s issues are also in the latter Showcase black and white reprints.
    Arranging a reading order from that is a nightmare. You could kinda start with Neal Adams, then either the Steve Englehardt or the Marshall Rogers volume then move on to the Len Wein book and then the three Gerry Conway books. I am surprised that DC didn´t publish any Doug Moench books that continue from there.
    Everything after Year One and Dark Knight Returns up to Knightfall should have been collected in the Dark Knight Detective/Caped Crusader-paperbacks.
    I´m very glad that I´ve got about 95% of this era in floppies:-)

    1. Le Messor

      I have a few of those – the Neal Adams omnibus (which contains only lead stories; in some cases only covers!) and some of the other ‘Tales Of’ sets.

      I was hoping for more of an omnibus, but if that’s what’s out there, that’s what I’ve got to go with.

      1. Darthratzinger

        The only Batman series from that era that are nicely collected are Brave and the Bold (all in Omnis) and the short-lived Joker book (paperback and Omnibus).

  2. Jeff Nettleton

    I’m confused here; you say your favorite era is 1970-1980, but your issue numbers and covers go from 1970 to 1989. Did you mean the era of 1970-1990?

    My personal preference is 1970-1980, as there are far more favorite or enjoyable average issues in that decade than 1980-1990, after he was turned into Dirty Harry-in-a-Cape, but with less of a sense of humor. There are several Batman stories post 1980 I like; but not the body of work and more side things, like Gotham by Gaslight, as I am so-so on Dark Knight Returns. Still, it is less the decade than the writers and how they handled the character. Anything Archie Goodwin, O’Neil & Adams and O’Neil and Novick, Jim Aparo Bat team-ups, Englehart & Rogers, Len Wein stories, Frank Robbins; David reed & Mike Grell and Reed and John Calnan (especially with Tex Blaisdell inking); Doug Moench (especially if Gulacy drew it). Don Newton on art, Walt Simonson, when he could….

    Post-Crisis, not so much. I really didn’t care much for the average Batman stories, hated the whole grimmer pathway and mostly looked at special projects that did something difference, especially as we moved towards and into the 90s. Legends of the Dark Knight and Batman Adventures were the only monthly Batman I had read, regularly, in a long while.

    Like the late Greg Hatcher, I enjoyed the globe trotting Batman of Denny O’Neil and Adams & Irv Novick (more Irv than you think). David Reed did some nice stuff, like the trial of his enemies to determine who killed Batman, with a different foe on the docket each issue, Ra’s al Ghul as the judge, and Two-Face as prosecutor. The mysteries under Archie Goodwin, Len Wein’s stories, Mike Grell’s brief art run, Don Newton’s run in Detective, Englehart and roger’s more mature Batman, which set the template for the eventual films, before the mucked it all up with angst and Burton weirdness. Alex Toth drawing ghost pilots. Even the Haney stuff in BATB could be quite good, if you weren’t anal about continuity to stories that really weren’t milestones anyway. I still have great affection for a storey with the Metal Men and an attempt to steal the Declaration of Independence by a group of Native American activists. Just such a rich era….with plenty of klinkers too; but, I preferred some of the attempts more than most of what followed Crisis, especially when everyone jumped on the Miller interpretation.

    1. Le Messor

      I meant the 1970s to the 1980s – thanks, I’ve edited the article.

      I agree with most of what you’ve said here, especially about it being about the creators more than the actual year; but there were more creators I liked working in the above period than in others.
      My period is broader than yours, but you’ve clearly interacted more with the 80s comics than I have. Maybe if I’d read a lot of the later ones I’d be similarly disillusioned.

      I was just thinking earlier today about how the last Batman issue I chose was very 80s (Starlin, after all), but the last ‘Tec issue was very 90s, so proably not quite my thing. (I have both, btw.)

    1. Le Messor

      Thanks! I’ve been looking into that one, and will probably get it. (It was at the first store earlier today – I checked at the second, which is usually cheaper, but it wasn’t there.)

      There are two for Batgirl, which I’m also considering (but they weren’t at either store).

  3. Omar Karindu

    Much of the 1980s runs by Grant and Wagner, Milligan, and Wolfman have been collected in two sets of trades: Dark Knight Detective for the Detective Comics title and Caped Crusader for Batman title.

    However, there are still some big gaps: there’s no systematic collection of any of the Frank Robbins-written stuff that wasn’t pencilled by Neal Adams, the David V. Reed-written material of the mid-1970s, or the Doug Moench pre-Crisis stuff.

    Additionally, I don’t believe they’ve ever collected Denny O’Neil’s return to the Batman books; for example, the League of Assassins storyline that kills off Kathy Kane isn’t, as far as I know, available as a collection.

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