Detective Comics #275, January 1960, "The Zebra Batman!"
|An unnamed scientist
developed a means of charging himself with a special force,
enabling him to draw or repel physical objects to or from
him at will. The visible force lines travelling over
his body gave him a striped appearance, so he called himself
The Zebra-Man. Accidentally, Batman was charged with
the same force, making him not only a "Zebra Batman" but
also unable to come near The Zebra-Man as their forces
repelled each other.
In a 1980s' Batman and the Outsiders story, cult leader Kobra replicated the abilities of five of Batman's early foes and gave them to five of his hirelings. A previous Zebra-Man micro was based on that version of the character, but no one had done the original (as far as I know) until now.
Batman #130, March 1960, "The Master of Weapons"
|A masked criminal uses medieval weapons to commit crimes. Batman naturally suspects a known weaponry expert named Grimes, but when Batman refers to an onager literally as a "wild donkey", and the Master of Weapons is confused, he begins to have second thoughts. Is someone trying to throw suspicion on Grimes? Turns out that's just what Grimes, who is the Master, wants Batman to think, but Batman sees through the ruse.||
Detective Comics #279, May 1960, "The Creatures That Stalked Batman"
|While chasing a criminal,
Batman and Robin encounter a weird "non-metallic" robot and
a fantastic creature. The two try to capture him, but fail.
Batman finds himself being hunted by the pair, but manages
to escape. Finally, it is revealed that the criminal Batman
was originally chasing had stolen a device from an alien
spaceship. Ardello, the "robot", is actually a living being,
and the creature his "bloodhound". He was actually tracking
the device, but since Batman was always in its proximity
(due to chasing the real criminal), Ardello assumed Batman
was the thief. Eventually the device is recovered and all is
Batman #134, September 1960, "The Rainbow Creature"
|In a South American country,
a bizarre creature appears, striped in four colors like a
rainbow. When one of its colored sections glows, a strange
power radiates from it: red for heat, yellow for, green for
making things two-dimensional, and blue for cold. After a
while, the effect fades, as does the color of that section.
Over time, the color regenerates, and the Rainbow Beast
regains that power. Batman forces the creature to use all of
its powers in rapid succession, then destroys it before it
can regenerate them.
This is another character whose powers were replicated by Kobra in that Batman and the Outsiders story, although Kobra renamed him to the Spectrumonster and he had a slightly different appearance.
|Batman #134, September 1960, "The Deadly Dummy"||Danny is a ventriloquist with
a twist: he pretends to be the dummy and operates a
life-sized "ventriloquist". But he's sick of people
referring to him as the dummy in the act, so he decides to
use other dummies to make dummies out of the rest of Gotham
This character is a variation on the 1940s foe of The Vigilante but is otherwise unrelated.
Batman #135, October 1960, "Crimes of the Wheel"
|Frank "Wheels" Foster ran an
illegal gambling den, but Batman captured him. Sent to
prison, he managed to escape when the wheel on the prison
van broke and the van crashed. He decided this was a good
omen and started using other wheels for crime as The Wheel.
Not much more to say about him. Just another crook with a theme gimmick.
Batman #137 (February 1961): "Robin's New Boss"
|The new hero in town, Mister
Marvel, fought crime with his brains (which means his
advanced gadgets) rather than his fists. Robin was so
fascinated by him, he quit being Batman's partner to team
with Mister Marvel. Secretly listening, Batman was
astonished to hear Robin praising Mister Marvel and his
methods -- but not as astonished when Robin suddenly knocked
out his new partner. Under the mask was an alien, who had
made a bet he could separate Batman and Robin for 10 days.
To do so, he had secretly told Robin he had a ray which
could destroy Batman unless Robin left him. Robin left
Batman to save him but played up to Mister Marvel to get him
to lower his guard, after which he struck to remove the ray.
The alien left, having lost the bet.
|Batman #137, February 1961, "The Bandit with 1,000 Brands"||The Brand told Batman he came
to Gotham City because he was convinced he could outsmart
Batman with his knowledge of brand symbols. But really, he
was trying to get Batman to delay the opening of a youth
center so that he could tunnel into a bank for the center's
funds. Batman beat him by adding old-fashioned detective
work to solving the brand-puzzles.
Batman #138, August 1961, "Batman's Master"
|The hooded Kadar presented
himself to The Tiger, leader of The Tiger Gang, as "Batman's
Master". With his mental powers, he could not only
tell what Batman was going to do, but he could also take
control of Batman. But when Batman purposely put himself in
danger, Kadar was forced to save Batman's life -- and reveal
himself as a renegade Batman robot. Damaged in a previous
use, the robot sought to "protect" Batman's life by keeping
him from the path of The Tiger Gang. His robot brain,
attuned to Batman's, could actually exert control of
Batman's brain for short moments.
|Batman #138, August 1961, "The Simple Crimes of Simple Simon"||Simple Simon was a rural
thief who used his resemblance to the nursery rhyme
character as his crime theme and to put people off guard. He
acted the fool in events from the rhyme, but then
demonstrated a clever twist, such as fishing for a whale in
a bucket -- an inflatable whale he used as a getaway vehicle
from a yacht robbery.
This character is partly recycled from an identically named foe who fought the Golden Age Hawkman, but that Simple Simon committed crimes using simple methods, where the police were prepared for more elaborate ones.
Batman #141, August 1961, "The Crimes of the Clockmaster"
|The Clockmaster sends Batman a "crime clock" which, on the hour, opens to reveal a clue to a crime. But it's all a ruse, with the first clues pointing to crimes he's arranged to be committed by others, so that, when the third clue sends Batman and Robin to one location, he'll commit a different crime in another. But Batman saw two ways to interpret the third clue, so he sent Robin to one location, while he went to the other -- which happened to be where The Clockmaster was. But was it coincidence? Or did The Clockmaster subconsciously give a clue to his real crime?||
|Batman #141, August 1961, "Batwoman's Junior Partner!"||There's nothing special about The Moth. The story called for a villain for the original Bat-Girl (Betty Kane) to humiliate, so her life would be threatened when he escaped, and they invented him. It's possible this was originally written to be Killer Moth, and then changed for some reason. That's sheer guesswork on my part, but if it's so, it might also be why Killer Moth was chosen to oppose the second Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) when she first appeared. Or it could have been coincidence; bats do eat moths, after all, so they make natural foes.||
Detective Comics #294, August 1961, "The Villain of 100 Elements"
|A laboratory accident gave
research assistant John Dolan an uncontrolled ability to
transform randomly into living versions of various elements.
His principal helped devise a belt to control the changes
until a cure could be found, but Dolan decided to use these
powers to rule the underworld. In an attempt to cure Dolan,
Batman was accidentally given the same powers, and it was
only by pretending the powers had warped his mind and made
him a criminal that Batman was able to gain Dolan's
confidence (and a spare belt) and lure him into a trap which
cured them both.
This is another character whose powers were replicated by Kobra in that Batman and the Outsiders story, although Kobra created an Elemental Woman.
Batman #142, September 1961, "The Crimes of the Ancient Mariner"
|When an old sailor from the days of sail is mocked by the more modern sailors in a dockside bar, he vows revenge. Shortly afterwards, this "Ancient Mariner" uses his old sea-knowledge, and pet albatross, to commit a series of crimes. But Batman proves the Ancient Mariner is really a modern impostor, who used the old sailor's harmless rant as cover for his own crimes.||
|Batman #142, September 1961, "Ruler of the Bewitched Valley"||Searching for a missing detective, Batman and Robin come across a Central American valley ruled by the Aztec god Tezcatlipoca. His giant jaguar and flying serpent keep the valley natives in his thrall. Batman proves Tezcatlipoca is a scientist who uses a robotic jaguar and serpent to cow the natives, so he can use the valley as a hideout for crooks. Batman also frees the captive detective.||
Batman #143, October 1961, "The Blind Batman"
|Doctor Pneumo uses compressed
air to commit crimes, like blowing open a safe from the
inside by forcing in air. In the course of a crime, Batman
intervenes but is hit on the head. Back in the Bat-cave, he
finds he has been temporarily blinded. He comes up with a
radar-device to simulate vision for him, but his actions are
so unsteady, Dr. Pneumo suspects the truth. When he attempts
to confuse Batman's radar, Batman unerringly finds and hits
him -- the blindness had worn off just in time.
A variation of this story was used in the Batman, the Animated Series episode "Blind as a Bat", but with The Penguin as the villain.
Detective Comics #298, December 1961, "The Challenge of Clay-Face"
|Skin diver Matt Hagan
surfaced in an undersea cavern and found a pool of glowing
protoplasm. He fell in and was turned into a monstrous
clay-like being. Desperately wishing he could look like his
old self again, he found he could mentally mold his clay
into whatever form he was thinking of. Using this power for
crime, he fought Batman and Robin, after which the
newspapers gave him the name "Clay-Face". Hagan found the
protoplasm exposure had a 48-hour limit and had to return to
the pool to restore his powers. Batman noticed him fleeing
abruptly after one encounter, deduced some sort of weakening
of the powers, and arranged to hold Clay-Face at bay until
the powers wore off, after which Hagan was easily captured.
This was one of the first comics I remember owning.
"Clay-Face" became "Clayface" in his next appearance,
which I also bought. I didn't learn about the '40s
Clayface until many years later, when that story was
reprinted. Since the original Clayface was never referred
to in the '60s, this character wasn't called Clayface II
until someone created a Clayface III, many years later,
thus implicitly bringing the Golden Age Basil Karlo
Clayface (I) into Silver Age continuity.
This is another character whose powers were replicated by
Kobra in that Batman
and the Outsiders story, although that Clayface
(IV) was a woman.
Batman #149, August 1962, "The Maestro of Crime "
|Cardine the composer is so
upset that people do not recognize his genius that he
decides to use music as The Maestro of Crime. He not only
gives musical clues to a crime, he also uses musical
instruments as weapons, such as special violins whose
vibrations can shatter glass. Musical knowledge is outside
of Batman's training, but Prof. Ambrose Weems offers to
interpret The Maestro's clues. To protect his identity,
Batman has him accompany himself and Robin as The Sparrow.
This is a near-miss of a story. I like the idea of The Maestro, and I like Batman turning to an expert in a field he's not familiar with, but the decision to bring The Sparrow into the story seems to have derailed it. The Sparrow doesn't do much, and I think more could have been done with The Maestro if The Sparrow hadn't taken up story space.
Detective Comics #306, August 1962, "The Wizard of 1,000 Menaces"
|Prof. Arnold Hugo has, he
believes, been unfairly denied his place in history by the
Gotham Historical Society, so he sets out to prove them
wrong with a new invention which causes his brain to grow.
Endowed with super-intelligence (at least, of a sort to make
him able to invent things -- not the kind that helps one
distinguish right from wrong), he sets out to wreck the
Society's events with a series of futuristic inventions. His
invisible robots even capture Batman and Robin. But they
manage to turn the tables on him in time to stop his final
For some reason, Hugo migrated to the "Martian Manhunter" back-up series in Detective, where he fought J'onn J'onzz on a number of occasions. Never went back to Gotham, though.
Detective Comics #308, October 1962, "The Flame-Master"
|Acrobat Pete Dale (wanted by
Batman on unspecified charges) finds a previously unknown
ancient pueblo to hide in. Accidentally exposed to a
mysterious gas, he gets the powers of the four classical
elements -- earth, air, fire, and water -- for a month. Only
by giving himself the same powers can Batman maneuver Dale
and himself into a situation which removes both their
This is another of the stories in which Batman gives himself the same powers as a villain, the others being stories about The Zebra-Man, The Elemental Man, Clayface II, and Doctor Double X. Stories in which Batman transforms into a strange shape or wears odd costumes were common in the late '50s and early '60s, so that we had a winged Batman, a merman Batman, a rainbow Batman and an armored Batman, among others, before the idea of duplicating the villains powers popped up in the Zebra-Man story. Here, Batman gets Dale's powers in the same story in which Dale did, but Dr. Double X needed a second appearance, and Clayface a third, before Batman got a turn at their powers.
World's Finest Comics #131, February 1963, "The Mystery of the Crimson Avenger!"
|The Octopus leads The Octopus Gang (regular gangsters with grey hoods with an octopus symbol). There's nothing special about him, except his elaborate costume. (Those appear to be fabric tentacles in the comic -- they don't move or even have weapons in them.) He's really just a gimmick for the Crimson Avenger storyline in this tale, about a bungling would-be superhero. The Octopus replaces the real Avenger (a "crackpot inventor" who none the less has working gadgets) with one of his men and leads Batman, Superman, and Robin into a trap.||
Batman #156, June 1963, "The Secret of the Ant-Man"
|The Ant-Man, a six-inch high
costumed figure, aids Robin in stopping a robbery, but then
makes off with the loot himself. After a couple of
encounters, in which it becomes clear the Ant-Man is only
opposing the Al Welles gang, Robin surmises he is really one
Jumbo Carson, believed dead at Welles's hands but who
actually was exposed to an experimental shrinking formula.
Robin sets a trap with the promise of an antidote (which,
sadly for the Ant-Man, does not exist).
This is a rare Robin solo story in the Batman magazine, and something of a set-up for the more famous "Robin Dies at Dawn" story which follows it, although the two stories can be read independently.
By the way, this DC Ant-Man appeared while Marvel's Ant-Man was still active (although Marvel's character became Giant-Man a few months later). I suppose this is because neither company was trademarking character names at the time, except for the major characters like Batman.
Batman #157, August 1963, "The Villain of the Year"
|The costumed villain called
The Jackal has been so successful, reporter Hal Lake's paper
has named him "Villain of the Year". Of course, he's
successful because, like his namesake, he steals from other
crooks as they flee with their loot, rather than taking on
the thefts directly. Batman learns Lake leads a double life
as a petty thief called Kale, whose ear to the underworld
provides Lake his stories. But what's this? Kale is revealed
to be The Jackal! But honest Hal Lake hates criminals! It's
a complicated psychological condition, in which Lake is
aware of his Kale identity, but not of Kale's identity as
The Jackal. Batman, having saved The Jackal from gangland
vengeance, sends Lake to a psychiatrist for treatment.
This was a very interesting story. I liked the idea of a thief who stole for himself but from other thieves, but The Jackal never returned. He's "Jackal II" in my micros (not in the story) because there was a previous Jackal in the '40s, a fat criminal who looted the sites of natural disasters, unrelated to this villain.
Detective Comics #323, January 1964, "The Zodiac Master!"
|At first, the costumed
astrologer called The Zodiac Master warned people of coming
disasters. But when Batman found evidence he was secretly
engineering those disasters, The Zodiac Master turned to
offering horoscopes for crimes. Although he wasn't above
using the zodiac-themed weapons on his costume in pursuit of
his own goals, if his clients' futures did not turn out as
expected -- if, say, Batman caught them despite the Zodiac
Master's predictions -- he wasn't about to risk his neck to
fulfill his prophesies.
This story changes course in the middle. First it's about making the ZM's public prophesies come true, then it's about his not caring if his private ones do or not. Not one of the best villains, even for the '60s, when a new villain popped up about every other issue.
Batman #170, March 1965, "Genius of the Getaway Gimmicks!"
|Gang boss Roy Reynolds has
one unbreakable rule, which he insists his henchmen follow:
never tangle with the Batman. Plan the escape for your
crime, and stick to it no matter how tempting a target the
Batman may be, and you'll be free to spend your loot. He
proves it a couple of times in encounters with Batman. So
Batman sets up a situation where he'll be so helpless,
Reynolds's men won't be able to resist taking a shot at
him. Naturally, they fail, are caught, and choose to
bring down Reynolds with them, even though, had they stuck
to his advice, they'd not have been caught.
The Getaway Genius appeared a couple of time in the '60s and '70s, but then disappeared. There's just not much of a Batman story to be had when your villain's stated goal is to avoid Batman at all costs, rather than confronting him. Despite that, a new Getaway Genius, who claimed to be Reynolds's daughter, appeared once, shortly before DC rebooted their universe (yet again) for "The New 52" line of titles.
Detective Comics #346, December 1965, "Batman's Inescapable Doom-Trap!"
|Magician and escape-artist
Carando must have a startling new escape every year, or his
act will go stale. So, every year, he commits a crime to pay
the $100,000 fee master designer Eivol Ekdal demands for his
traps. Only this year, Ekdal's trap is so good, neither he
nor Carando can figure a way out. They decide to get the
only escape artist better than Carando -- The Batman -- to
do it, by leading Batman into it while Carando's committing
one of his crimes.
Ekdal appeared in one more story, in which he snitched on a fellow escape designer (who was helping East German refugees escape) and was killed by the secret police for his troubles. But he also appeared on the Batman TV show of the '60s, in a rewritten version of this story where Carando became a female magician, Zelda the Great.
Batman #180, May 1966, "Death Knocks Three Times!"
|Twice, Batman has encountered
the mocking macabre calling himself "Death-Man", and twice,
the villain has died immediately following capture, after
vowing to return again. Only after seeing a yogi buried
alive does Batman realize that Death-Man can stop his own
heartbeat and place himself into a trance long enough for
henchmen to later recover his body. But who will answer when
Death knocks for the third time?
Well, duh! It's not gonna be Batman.
There's an interesting book called Bat-Manga which collects some Batman stories which, during the Batmania of the '60s, were retold by a Japanese manga artist. Death-Man's was one of those stories, though he appeared as "Lord Death Man". Author Grant Morrison must have a copy of that book, as, 50 years after the character supposedly died, "Lord Death Man" returned, as a masked foe of a Japanese Batman analogue, in the first two issues of Batman Incorporated (January - February 2011). I may do Lord Death Man in the future, as he has a fancier costume, but in the meantime, here's the original version.
World's Finest Comics #160, September 1966, "The Fatal Forecasts of Dr. Zodiac!"
Batman #195, September 1967, "The Spark-Spangled See-Through Man!"
|Thief Ned Creegan unwisely
enters into a laboratory room where a scientist is
conducting experiments against radiation poisoning. Exposure
to the radiation mix turns his flesh transparent and causes
his bones to weirdly show through. It also gives him, as he
discovers in an encounter with Batman and Robin, a
paralyzing electric touch. "You don't scare me, you bag o' bones!" declares
Robin, but Creegan nevertheless makes Robin's hair stand on
end -- because his power is a kind of static electric
charge. Creegan makes a deal with the scientist: Creegan can
have a supply of temporary antidote pills, if the scientist
can study the radiation's effects on a human. And
Creegan needs the pills, because every second he spends in
his skeletal form costs him a day of his expected lifespan.
I was eager, as a child, to buy this comic, because of the cover -- and was very disappointed once I read it. "Bag o' Bones" never appeared in Batman again, but the character apparently excited other children at the time, because two later comics writers brought him back, retaining his radiation-based powers, though not his skeletal form. First, in the '70s, he returned as The Cyclotronic Man in an issue of Black Lightning, and then, in the '80s, as Meltdown in Batman and the Outsiders.