Friday, March 08, 2013


Why We Love Detective Comics

Steve Ditko

Well, we love us some Steve Ditko around here, and I thought this might be a good place to say a few words about some of the random stuff you sometimes find in the issues of a comic book like Detective Comics that has been around since 1937 and has been through numerous format changes.

For example, comics legend Steve Ditko, in his many, many years as a comic book writer and artist, only got into Detective Comics four times - in issues #483, #484, #485 and #487. Detective Comics at this time (1979 to 1980) was about as thick as three comics books and it was only a dollar. And there were no ads! (Regular comics were still 50 cents. And there were lots of ads.)

It was an experiment by DC, trying to find a format to cope with inflation. A lot of the comics at DC were published in this format. (Was it a successful experiment? It lasted for 15 bimonthly issues of Detective Comics. It was probably successful at the start and then became less so.)

When filling those pages, the editors at DC seemed to be interested in sticking to the theme, when possible, and Detective Comics was a natural home for Robin, Batgirl and Man-Bat. Then there was Etrigan the Demon. He wasn't really a natural choice for Detective, but he had appeared with Batman a few times in titles like The Brave and the Bold. So Michael Golden drew one story (for #482) and Steve Ditko drew three more. And then the Demon was gone from Detective. (He eventually got his own series again in 1987.)

Etrigan is a Jack Kirby creation, but Kirby had moved on and Ditko took over for a few issues. The Ditko Etrigan looked like this:

(That's him on the right. He's fighting Baron Tyme. Unfortunately, the series was canceled before he could get to Baron Parsley, Baron Sage and Baron Rosemary.)

There was also one story featuring The Odd Man, a character written and drawn by Ditko for "Shade the Changing Man," where it was the backup feature. "Shade the Changing Man" was canceled and The Odd Man became The Odd Man Out and his last story ended up in Detective Comics #487.

(I've never read a single story with The Odd Man. So I don't really know what he's doing here.)

The only one of the issues of Detective Comics with Steve Ditko art that I have is #485. It's a lot of fun!

I'll get the other issues eventually, I guess. Waiting to see how these stories turn out is one of the reasons we love Detective Comics!


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