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The Origins of Man-Bat, a formidable friend… or foe of the Batman

In 1964, the Batman titles got a “New Look,” but as 1969 ended, it already faded and change was again needed as both Batman and Detective Comics didn’t sell that much anymore. Artist Neal Adams was motivated to bring the Caped Crusader back onto a darker gothic path and worked with writer Frank Robbins—and occasionally Denny O’Neil—toward this goal.

One of the creative highlights of the Adams and Robbins collaboration in 1970 was in the pages of Detective Comics #400 with the introduction of Man-Bat.

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Who is Azrael, Batman’s Ally?

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In 1992, DC Comics published a four-part miniseries titled “The Sword of Azrael,” written by Dennis O’Neil–the editor of the Batman line–and penciled by Joe Quesada. At the time, readers thought it was just another inconsequential adventure of Batman, not knowing that the introduction of the character Azrael was part of a bigger plan that would come to fruition with the Knightfall storyline.

Azrael, Vengeful Angel of the Order of St. Dumas

When Jean-Paul Valley’s father is mortally shot by a gangster he was sent to kill, he gives his son instructions to follow before dying. This led Jean-Paul to Switzerland where he had a rendezvous in a tiny mountain village to meet his destiny. There, a small man dressed as a monk named Nomoz becomes his new teacher. His brutal training starts.

Jean-Paul Valley is to become the new Azrael, the deadly Angel working to protect the Order of St. Dumas–a secret society/religious organization with a long history, dating back to the Crusades, that was originally connected to the Knights Templar. What he doesn’t know is that he was conditioned to take on this role from birth as were his father and ancestors.

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The Death of Captain Marvel, A Tragic And Impactful Event in the Marvel Universe

In the world of comic books, death and resurrection have become commonplace. For a long time, there was a common saying amongst readers that was “everyone comes back except for Bucky Barnes, Jason Todd, and Uncle Ben.” Or a variation of it. However, this saying had to change after 2005, when both Jason Todd and Bucky Barnes came back.

Although the deaths of some superheroes have had a significant impact on the industry, few had the emotional impact of The Death of Captain Marvel, which was written and drawn by Jim Starlin.

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Alfred Pennyworth Comics to Read to learn more about Batman’s loyal butler

It takes a special man to stand next to Batman and be able to snark at him or tell him, in a very British way, that he is wrong. That man is Alfred Pennyworth, the Ultimate Supporting Character.

Introduced in Batman #16 in 1943, under the name Alfred Beagle, Pennyworth is known as Bruce Wayne’s faithful butler and trusted confidant. The world of Bruce Wayne/Batman feels a little bit incomplete when Alfred’s not here to help, guide, and reason with Bruce.

Because Alfred is more than a butler. This former British agent is the surrogate father of Bruce Wayne and other members of the Bat Family. The man doesn’t just look after the Manor and the Batcave, he also takes care of everyone, showing them love, cooking for them, making snarky remarks, and using his military medical skills when needed.

While Alfred generally stands in the shadow of Batman, we choose today to put him in the spotlight with a selection of comic book stories highlighting the greatness of the character.

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Jeff The Land Shark, Marvel’s cult-favorite landshark (with a reading order!)

It’s been only five years since Jeff the Land Shark first showed up in the Marvel Universe, stealing the hearts of West Coast Avengers readers. Created by Kelly Thompson and Daniele di Nicuolo, Jeff the Land Shark, also called Jeffrey, became the adorable pet sidekick of superheroine Gwenpool, named after Gwen’s own kitten.

Jeff quickly became a hit online and won over Marvel fans with his undeniable cuteness, landing him numerous cameo appearances and variant covers (this would make a great ‘Where’s Jeff?’ book!). All of this will naturally lead to our boy Jeff headlining his own series, and prompting Comic Book Treasury to make a dedicated Jeff The Landshark Reading Order, further solidifying his place as a cherished icon in the Marvel universe.

But first…

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Bizarro: Superman’s Deranged Clone is a tragicomic anti-hero NOT!

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The 1950s were another time, especially in the pages of comics like Superboy where strange things happened regularly for our young superhero. As the decade concluded, things would not become more conventionally heroic by today’s standards. Yesterday’s standards, that’s another story. Anyways, Superboy met The Super-Creature of Steel named Bizarro in Superboy #68 (October 1958).

Often portrayed as a distorted and imperfect duplicate of Superman, Bizarro had different origin stories through the years, but he has chalky white skin and distorted features–and is often depicted with a backward “S” symbol on his chest. His actions and speech are often opposite or inverted compared to Superman’s. As a result, he became the source of humorous situations or, on the contrary, tragic ones.

Credits for the creation of the character are often given to writer Otto Binder and artist George Papp, but Bizarro came from the mind of another writer, Alvin Schwartz. He was going to introduce this distorted mirror version of the Man of Steel first in the Superman daily newspaper strip. However, editor Mort Weisinger had reviewed Schwartz’s work and passed the idea to Binder to use in Superboy. The newspaper strip ended up published later and that’s why Alvin Schwartz is not the credited creator of Bizarro.

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Detective Chimp, DC Comics’ Chimpanzee investigator in the occult

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All of DC Comics’s heroes don’t wear a cape, some are not even qualifiable as heroes, but they still fight crimes in their way, especially when there are occult elements involved. That is the case of Bobo T. Chimpanzee, the world’s greatest simian detective–his real name is unpronounceable, but can be translated as “Magnificent Finder of Tasty Grubs.”

Better known as Detective Chimp, Bobo first appeared in 1952 on the pages of Adventures of Rex the Wonder Dog #4. Created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, Bobo started as an abnormally intelligent chimpanzee. When his trainer, Fred Thorpe, was killed, Bobo helped Sheriff Edward Chase to catch the murderer. Maybe he could not speak, but he always knew how to make himself understand–and how to outsmart criminals. After that, he became the lawman’s unofficial partner.

This became the career of a lifetime. You may not be too familiar with this Detective Chimp as it was the 1950s version of the characters. Decades later, Bobo’s story was retcon.

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The Story of Will Eisner’s The Spirit

Nowadays, Will Eisner (1917-2005) is still one of the most famous comic book creators in the history of the medium–the highly respected Eisner Awards were named after him for a good reason. He did a lot from his beginnings in 1933 doing illustrations and comic strips in his high school newspaper to his famous graphic novels. But his most famous creation is clearly “The Spirit.”

Eisner broke into the comic book industry next to his school friend, Bob Kane, creator of Batman, but their career didn’t follow the same path. Quite the entrepreneur, Eisner formed a partnership with Samuel “Jerry” Iger. They opened their own studio that soon started to work like a factory, putting out comics. This was a financial success, but when Everett Arnold of Quality Comics offered him the possibility to produce a 16-page newspaper supplement for the Des Moines Register-Tribune Syndicate, the offer was too good to say “no.” Eisner loved comics and this was for him a new avenue to prove that this sequential art was not just for kids.

Eisner left Iger, took with him a few employees, and started to work on what is, on paper, the creation of another mystery man. The Weekly Comic Book supplement was composed of three stories per issue–two of them were the backups “Lady Luck” and “Mr. Mystic.” The main feature was of course “The Spirit.

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Flash of Two Worlds, the comic book that introduced Earth-Two and the Multiverse

Just as the world outside was changing, the comic book industry was experiencing a shift in the sixties. The release of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four #1 in November 1961 would lay the foundation for Marvel Comics as we know it today and change the superhero genre. A few months prior, DC Comics also put on sale an issue considered one of the most important comics in their history: The Flash #123.

Written by Gardner Fox and illustrated by Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella, the story Flash of Two Worlds introduced readers to the concept of a parallel Earth and paved the way for the multiverse which would inspire many writers for the following decades.

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Bat-Mite: Batman’s Biggest Fan or Hallucination from the 5th Dimension?

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There was a time when Batman’s adventures were a bit wilder, shall we say. The Golden Age of comics (then the Silver Age) gave us some colorful stories full of surprising characters and twists. The autoproclaimed Batman’s biggest fan was the embodiment of that.

Introduced in Detective Comics #267 (May 1959), in a story titled “Batman Meets Bat-Mite” by writer Bill Finger and artist Sheldon Moldoff, Bat-Mite is to the Dark Knight what Mister Mxyzptlk is to Superman, to some extent.

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