In honor of Batman’s 75th anniversary, DC Comics and the United States Postal Service have announced that the Caped Crusader would be the latest superhero to get his own sheet of limited edition stamps. The stamps will be unveiled for the first time at next week’s New York Comic-Con.
This isn’t the first time Batman’s mug was used to transport the mail across the country, but it is the first time Bats didn’t have to share with the rest of the Justice League and got a whole sheet all to himself, depicting four distinct eras of the Bat mythos. And I know how tough it is to distill Batman’s iconography to just four artists, but it’s hard to argue against featuring Bob Kane, Dick Sprang, Neal Adams, and Jim Lee. Though cases could be made for the likes of Carmine Infantino, Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli, Norm Breyfogle, Bruce Timm, Kelley Jones, Alex Ross…
Besides, those legendary artists, though, what other versions of Batman failed to make the cut? Here are four that will probably never be available at your local post office.
Probably one of the more popular Elseworlds stories was Mark Millar’s Superman: Red Son, which explored what would have happened if Kal-El’s rocket had crash landed in the Soviet Union instead of in Smallville, Kansas. In this alternate universe, Batman isn’t the alter ego of billionaire Bruce Wayne, but the persona taken on by an anti-Communist “terrorist” hell-bent on taking down the Soviet government. Also, his name is Batmankoff, you know, because Russia.
The story is actually really good, and one of the few times I actually enjoy Mark Millar’s writing. But yeah, Bats’ outfit is kinda ridiculous. The best part, of course, is that his cowl is fashioned after a traditional Russian ushanka. But with bat ears.
Batman of Zur-En-Arrh
I will admit, though it was mostly well-received by critics and fans alike, I could never get into Grant Morrison’s run on Batman. While I appreciated all of the nods to classic — and wacky — Batman mythology throughout his run on the book, some of the concepts he introduced were just a little too out there for me. The wackiest, perhaps, was how Morrison wove the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh — which was originally created in 1958 as an alien version of Batman — into the modern era. In Morrison’s Batman R.I.P. arc, “Zur-En-Arrh” was a “backup personality” created by Bruce Wayne to take over in the event that he could no longer function as Batman. Um, okay.
Both versions of Z-E-A-Bats — the Silver Age original drawn by Sprang and the modern one illustrated by Tony Daniel — sport the same gaudy purple-red-yellow colorway. What’s even more unbelievable is that though this guy will never be on a stamp, he was actually made into an action figure by Mattel — and even comes with an exclusive Bat-Mite.
In Detective Comics #241, Batman and Robin go on the trail of thieves who have stolen some television cameras after Dick Grayson — in his civvies — fails to stop them. Dick hurts his arm in the scuffle and later reports the crime to Batman. For the rest of the issue, Batman and Robin attend events all over Gotham to find the crooks with the camera, and each time, Batman is rocking a different crazy-colored Batsuit, culminating in that beauty you see above.
The reasons for the constant wardrobe changes is kept a mystery throughout until Bruce tells Alfred his costumes were meant to deflect attention away from Robin’s injured arm so people wouldn’t figure out Dick and Robin were one in the same. Why Batman applies this strategy and not, say, any other thing is never revealed. You can read the story in its entirety here.
Man, comics in the ’50s were weird.
Val Kilmer Batman
Too bad these stamps didn’t come out in 1995. Can you imagine the marketing possibilities of a Batman “Forever” stamp?1 Not that this movie needed any more marketing. People give it crap now, but they forget that this was actually considered a successful Batman movie. Also, I don’t know why Batman & Robin always gets accused of adding nipples to the Batsuits when Kilmer and company were already sporting the anatomically correct body armor.
Still, I’m sure it’ll be disappointing for fans of the film (the dozens that still admit they’re fans of this film) to head to their favorite post office to pick up some “Batman Forever” stamps, only to receive a sheet that is noticeably lacking in neon. And nipples.
Anyway, here’s a closer look at the stamps we actually will be getting next week. Who knows? If these sell well enough, maybe there might be more coming down the road?
- Granted, “Forever” stamps didn’t even exist in 1995. Back then, you could send a letter for only $.32. Also, people actually sent letters. ↩