1966 Topps Batman “Black Bat”: The Entire “Batman vs. The Joker” Subset

Over the past couple of years I’ve been slowly acquiring cards from the 1966 Topps Batman “Black Bat” set. At first it was just replacing lost cards from my childhood, then it was picking up a few others I found appealing. At some point I saw that I had a fair number of cards from the 11-card “Batman vs. The Joker” subset, so I decided to work towards completing that subset.

I recently picked up the last two cards I needed to finish off the storyline, and to commemorate that minor achievement I decided to share the entire 11-card subset along with the text from the back.  Instead of making you read off of an image like this:
1966 Batman Black Bat - Batman Strikes back
I’ve taken the time to type out the text of the back of each card. See how well I treat you guys?

One thing I’d never noticed until I typed these out is that many cards have an italicized phrase that corresponds to the image on the front.  I’ve replicated those italics here.

One more thing I’ll point out before we get into this… This concept has faded over the years, but “Batman” is not his name, it’s his title. Much as you would say “I’m going to see the doctor” and “Doctor, please look at this X-ray”, you would say “This is a job for the Batman!” and “Batman, come quickly!” I just wanted to point that out because the card backs throw in “the Batman” every so often.

Oh, and one last thing (I feel like Stephen Colbert)… Cards #1 and #2 are devoted to Batman and Robin and are not part of this subset;  that’s why I’m starting with #3 (not to mention that I still don’t have those two cards, which carry a significant premium).

Now that we have all of that out of the way, here is the full “Batman vs. The Joker” story arc:

1966 Batman - Black Bat - Bat Signal

A new adventure for Batman and Robin was about to begin.  The huge symbol of a bat cast its shadow upon the clouds of the night sky.  A large searchlight upon the roof of police headquarters was summoning the aid of the mysterious duo who were so efficient in solving so many of the most baffling mysteries.  It was not long before the super-sleek Batmobile appeared before headquarters.

1966 Batman Black Bat - Midnight Conference

Commissioner Gordon ushered Batman and Robin into his private office.  There he presented them with the facts of the latest crime to which there seemed to be no clue.  A valuable formula had been stolen.  Also, many of the biggest racketeers of the country had recently assembled in the city.  Could there be some connection?  If so, how could they get proof?  This was The Batman’s task.

1966 Topps Batman Black Bat 5 Roof Top Vigil
For several nights, the shadowy form of The Batman kept watch over the building where the racketeers frequently gathered upon the top floor.  Through the skylight he was able to see them, and hear parts of their conversation.  No clue, however, was revealed as to their reason for being in the city, nor of any connection with the stolen formula case he had hoped to solve.

1966 Topps Batman Black Bat Chloroform Victim
While The Batman kept vigil upon the roof, Robin stayed below, close to the Batmobile.  Suddenly a hand reached out of the darkness, clasping a chloroform-soaked cloth to his face.  In a moment, he sank to the ground unconscious.  When Batman returned, Robin was just beginning to revive.  “This doesn’t make sense,” exclaimed Batman.  “Why should someone knock you out and then just leave?”

1966 Topps Batman Black Bat Grim Realization
“Perhaps while I was unconscious,” suggested Robin, “someone planted a bomb in the Batmobile, hoping to get both of us that way!”  The eyes of Batman narrowed as he realized the possibility of Robin’s theory.  Had he started the Batmobile, they might have both been blown up.  In fact it seemed the only reasonable explanation for the unexplained attack upon Robin.

1966 Batman Into The batmobile
Batman and Robin made a thorough search of the Batmobile, but found no indication that it might have been wired as a trap.  They also tested the fuel tank, to make certain that no liquid explosive had been added.  “Perhaps the plan was simply to delay us,” said Robin.  The two vaulted over the sides of the Batmobile and into their seats.  “Let’s check the police reports!” exclaimed the Batman.

1966 Batman Face Of The Joker

As the crime bosses gathered for another meeting, the lights suddenly went out, and the room was filled with chilling laughter.  Then a large face was projected upon the wall, announcing the arrival of The Joker.  “Sorry to have kept you waiting for so many days,” came a voice from the darkness, “I have had men keeping watch, hoping to discover the traitor among you before now.”

1966 Topps Batman Black Bat Crime Czar
The Joker continues speaking to the crooks. . .  “A portion of the secret formula I arranged for you to steal is missing.  One of you is a traitor against my plans to become crime czar of the nation.  My spies have told me that none of you have as yet tried to slip the missing formula to my major rival, so I must now resort to giving you all a lie detector test.  Into the next room, all of you!”

1966 Batman - Black Bat - Poison Pellet

“So!” exclaims the Joker, pointing a finger at one of the men, “The lie detector shows that you are the traitor.  But you no longer have a copy of the formula on you.  What did you do with it?”

Before the Joker can stop him, the crook swallows a pellet of poison.  “You’ll never torture me!” he gasps, as he falls to the floor.  “Only the Cat Woman knows where to find the formula now!”

1966 Batman Black Bat - Batman Strikes

Suddenly, the Batman crashes through the skylight, knocking two of the thugs to the floor.  The Joker attempts to escape, but is trapped as police swarm through the door.  “You have no evidence against us,” screams the Joker.   “The man on the floor killed himself, with poison!”

“We have evidence of other crimes,” says Batman.  “Someone sent the commissioner a large package of proof!”

1966 Topps Batman Black Bat The Joker In Jail
“But why would the Cat Woman send the police evidence against the Joker and all of his accomplices?” asks Robin.

“Probably to remove competition,” explains Batman.   “And now that she has the Joker’s gang out of the way, she’ll probably start planning something really big!”

A loud laugh rings out from the nearby cell.  “Crime marches on, while the Joker gets a rest!” mocks the crime clown.

The 1966 Topps Batman “Black Bat” series was the first of several series issued to capitalize on the popularity of the campy TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward. Within the 55-card Black Bat series were 4 subsets, each detailing a story of Batman vs. The Joker, The Penguin, Cat Woman and The Riddler.

Now that I’ve completed the “Joker” subset, I’m temporarily putting my search for Batman cards on the back-burner… towards the end of the search, it was becoming more of a task than a joy, so I feel the need to step away for a little while. I’m only sharing this with you to let you know that this may be the last Batman post for a while. (Cue the disappointed groans, mixed with the sounds of people shuffling for the exits).

Ya Get Whatcha Get: 1966 Batman And 1954 World On Wheels

I’m so worn out today that I don’t have many words inside me… So I’ll share some recent non-sport acquisitions that largely speak for themselves.

The first two come from the 1966 Topps Batman “Black Bat” series.
1966 Topps Batman Black Bat To The batcave
I can imagine that this card confused more than a few kids in the 1960’s. “What the – where are the Bat Poles?”

This next one isn’t the most visually exciting, but it’s part of the “Batman vs. The Joker” subset that I’m close to finishing.
1966 Topps Batman Black Bat Chloroform Victim

The other two cards are from the 1954 World On Wheels set, which I’ve been picking up when I find cheap, well-loved examples. I didn’t realize it until after I’d bought these two, but they have both been trimmed… Not by an unscrupulous person looking to get sharp corners, but by a kid trying to get these cards into standard size. Oh, well… They both go into the “I’ll upgrade these… Maybe… someday…” list.

This first one is the Pegaso, which is Spanish for “Pegasus”.
1954 Topps World On Wheels Pegaso

I love the writeup on the back:  “…can go more than twenty-five miles on a single gallon of gasoline…”   Yep it was a different time then.
1954 Topps World On Wheels Pegaso back

It also wasn’t much on safety features…. it can go greater than 170 MPH, but it has no bumpers, no roof, no roll bars.  Don’t want to wreck while driving this sucker.

The next one is a one-off prototype car from 1952 that is actually called the “SOCEMA-Gregoire”, and was one of the first cars built with a turbine engine.

1954 Topps World On Wheels Cemo Turbo
1954 Topps World On Wheels Cemo Turbo back

Ya Get Whatcha Get: Randy, B.J., Batman and Milt

One of the things I did during my COMC Black Friday shopping was buy up any and all cheap Kellogg’s cards I found (and needed). This Randy Jones came from the 1976 set (in case you couldn’t tell by the red, white & blue motif).
1976 Kellogg's Randy Jones
Turns out that this particular card was damaged in a sneaky sort of way… No cracks, no damage to the edges but there was a spot in the middle where it almost looks like someone tried to push something through the back. Oh well, it’s still a nice card for the most part. Did I mention the cheap part?

Even if I weren’t a B.J. Surhoff collector, I would’ve picked this card up just for the photo:
1991 Stadium Club BJ Surhoff
Nobody in the field, nobody in the stands, it looks like B.J. is by himself in County Stadium, running the bases for the heck of it. If any of you are familiar with Buster Keaton’s film “The Cameraman”, it kind of reminds me of the scene where he’s alone in Yankee Stadium and pretending to play a game.

This is far from the most exciting card in the 1966 Batman “Black Bat” series…
1966 Topps Batman Black Bat 5 Roof Top Vigil
…But it’s a card I need to complete the entire 11-card “Batman Vs. The Joker” subset. When I’ve got all 11 cards I promise I’ll post all of them in sequence so you can enjoy the story being told.

This 1972 Milt Wilcox is one of a dwindling number of needs for the 4th series of 1972 Topps.
1972 Topps Milt Wilcox
Milt is showing off the long-lost skill of looking up at the sky / a pop fly / a bird, all in the name of making it easy to use the photo after a guy’s been traded.  In December, 1971 Milt Wilcox was traded from the Reds to the Indians for Ted Uhlaender… and at this time a year ago, Ted’s daughter Katie was preparing for the Sochi Olympics… Which has nothing to do with nothing, I just figured I’d mention it.


Is This The End Of The Dynamic Duo?

Things suddenly got very busy for me – damn that real life for interfering with my blogging activities! – so I haven’t been able to post as often as I’d like, nor have I been able to show off some of the cards I just got from COMC… heck I still haven’t even scanned all of them.

Since I was looking for something relatively quick to post, I decided to show off the three 1966 Batman “Black Bat” cards I got.

“Grim Realization” is probably the most “stand-alone-y” interesting of the three.
1966 Topps Batman Black Bat Grim Realization

My original goal was just to replace the cards I had as a kid that mysteriously vanished, but then I decided that I had enough cards from the 11-card “Batman vs. The Joker” subset to attempt to finish that off… each of the subsets tells a story, and “The Joker In Jail” is the 11th card in this particular “story arc”.
1966 Topps Batman Black Bat The Joker In Jail

I do enjoy these cards (and the awesome Norman Saunders artwork) an awful lot, and I’ll probably keep working towards the entire 55-card “Black Bat” set, but that’s a long-term goal at this point… unless I unexpectedly run into a bunch of cheap cards.

This last card is more of an “advancing the plot” card than an example of visually stunning artwork, but I like the thuggish gentleman lurking in the background… a bit of Norman Saunders’ pulp magazine experience shining through.
1966 Topps Batman Black Bat Crime Czar

The Joker is administering a Lie Detector Test to his fellow hoodlums, and if you were wondering  how things turn out for this particular gentleman, I’ll refer you to a card I’d shared last December…

1966 Batman - Black Bat - Poison Pellet

When I get the whole subset, I’ll post all 11 cards, front and back, in one post… so that everybody can share in the excitement of Batman vs. The Joker!  It’s the next best thing to sticking  your head out the window to find The Caped Crusaders climbing the side of your building!

1966 Batman Cards I Got On “Bat Friday”

When I was a kid, I somehow got a small batch of 1966 Batman “Black Bat” cards in my card collection. All but one of those cards disappeared over the years, but I’ve been working on getting my modest collection back to where it used to be.

On Black Friday, I got two cards I used to have, plus one that I’ve never owned but was cheap enough and cool enough that I pulled the trigger on it as well.

I guess there’s no surprise that the Joker would be amused at a suicide pill, but Batman seems a bit shocked.
1966 Batman - Black Bat - Poison Pellet
1966 Batman - Black Bat - Poison Pellet back

I’ve always thought this baby being rescued looked a bit odd..
1966 Batman - Black Bat - Race Against Death
1966 Batman - Black Bat - Race Against Death back

This is the card which is in my collection for the first time. One cannot resist the call of The Bat Signal!
1966 Batman - Black Bat - Bat Signal
1966 Batman - Black Bat - Bat Signal back

National Show & Tell: Da-da Da-da Da-da Da-da Dah! BATMAN!

I’d mentioned these cards two months ago as long-lost cards from my childhood that I was hoping to reacquire. Two down, I don’t know how  many to go – At this stage, I just look through the cards and say “Oh, I had that one.  Yoink!”  Once I’ve finished replacing all of these cards, I’ll most likely find the originals stuck between the pages of my elementary school yearbook.

I just love this card, it’s a great “action shot” made better by the fact that Batman seems to be looking back at you as he climbs into the Batmobile.  Norm Saunders (the artist for these cards) had a great sense of composition.

In the card below, Matthew Lesko is telling Robin that you can get government money to buy the tools needed to start your own business, like this large saw used in the lucrative Crimefighter Bisection industry!

I don’t always watch Batman, but when I do, I prefer 1960’s Batman. Biff! Pow!

Baby, Baby, Where Did My Cards Go? Part 2: 1966 Batman (Black Bat)

Like yesterday’s World Series card, I used to have a handful of these cards;  unlike those World Series cards, I’m almost positive that the other ones are long gone.  I’m up in the air as to how far I want to go with the Batman cards;  I’m definitely going to re-acquire the ones I used to have, I could go further and get the whole 55-card first series (referred to as “Black Bat” because the front has a black bat graphic) or I could finish the whole 1966 run (adding the Red Bat and Blue Bat series).

I love the artwork on these cards, and I just found out that these were painted by Norm Saunders, who was also the artist for Mars Attacks and Wacky Packs (and a whole lot of other things).  Even though I don’t have any of the original cards, I’m looking forward to the Mars Attacks Heritage set coming out later this year.  I’m thinking that the money I’m not sinking into Archives or  Bowman (or apparently Attax) will go into Mars Attacks.

As for Norm Saunders,  there’s more I’d like to say about his work, but I’ll leave that for another post.

Do we have any 1966 Batman collectors out there?  I’ve read some stuff that said that the first series is far superior to the other two, do you agree with that?