Limited Collectors’ Edition C-37 stands tall in the Batlibrary…
UPDATED 2/26/20: Enesco is making a statue of Jim Aparo’s glorious cover for Limited Collectors’ Edition #C-37 (click here for more on that), so I was reminded of this piece that ran in 2016 in slightly different form. Perfect time to present it again. Dig it. — Dan
It’s funny how I’ve been doing this for a few years now and I’ve never gotten around to writing more than in passing about 1975’s Limited Collectors’ Edition C-37, one of the lynchpins of my development as a Batman fan and very possibly yours as well.
Well, I’m really glad I have the proper opportunity to write about it now. See, Rob Kelly, a regular 13th Dimension contributor, has launched yet another superb podcast: TreasuryCast, which explores those great tabloids of the past (and, occasionally, the present).
I’m honored he asked me to be his first guest, to discuss this very issue, which had such a significant impact on me. (Click here to listen.)
Now, without stealing the thunder of that conversation — really, have a listen because we had such a great time talking about this issue — I figured it was only appropriate to match TreasuryCast #1 with these 13 QUICK THOUGHTS ON WHY THIS IS THE GREATEST BATMAN TREASURY EVER:
1. Actually, I consider it kind of a tie. The Batman #1 reprint treasury is a necessary part of any Bat-library. The issue has been reprinted a few times in its entirety but the treasury version is the best of them because of the sheer scope and since it’s on newsprint. But it’s also a reprint of a single issue, which kind of makes comparing it to C-37 like comparing apples to different kinds of apples.
2. It’s also tied with C-51, which reprints the four most essential issues of the original Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams Ra’s al Ghul saga. But again, comparing a treasury that’s an anthology with a treasury that’s a single story is somewhat incongrous.
3. But put those two together with C-37 and you pretty much have the foundation of any Batman library. You can give these three to anyone (and they’re not all that expensive) and really build from there, with, say, Batman #251 the first back issue (or Facsimile Edition) to add to the pile.
4. Now, on to C-37 itself. The Jim Aparo cover is a masterpiece, from the illustration, to the layout to the cover.
5. The Cross Country Crimes! starring the Joker is an epic of Golden Age pulp adventure and sadism.
6. You get a Penguin story that has shades of the Batman TV show.
7. You get a sequence of Sunday newspaper strips starring a very familiar — yet very different — Two-Face. It’s a downright masterpiece of pre-Code drama (and even horror).
8. You get big, bold pages that reveal the secrets of the Batcave and Batman’s equipment.
9. You get the Scarecrow’s origin story.
10. You get a fun Catwoman romp.
11. And you even get a full-page devoted to the Batman TV series, which was popular in syndication at the time — only seven years after the show left ABC.
12. And there’s more, including a puzzle, a Nick Cardy illustration and a diorama that entices you to tear apart the back page.
13. The only thing missing is the Riddler. If we’re talking the core, classic villains, I’d have picked him over the Scarecrow. But, hey, you can’t have everything.
Anyway, I’m really only scratching the surface with this list. Rob and I had such a great time talking about this issue in depth on the new TreasuryCast, I invite you to listen here and let us know what you think.
— One of BATMAN’s Greatest Covers is Now a Groovy Statue. Click here.
— The Brilliant Majesty of the BATMAN-RA’S AL GHUL Treasury. Click here.
November 22, 2016
When you say, “… put those TWO together with C-37 and you pretty much have the foundation of any Batman library. ” Sorry, I’m not sure which is the third title? C-37, C-51, and which other? I’m not finding the third. Thanks!!!
February 26, 2020
I loved those Limited Collectors Editions, this one definitely included. They were being released when I first started reading comics and bring back great memories.
April 18, 2020
That Batcave poster was also issued separately in the late 70’s as a promotion. I have a German version from about 1975, as well as a German version of the Fortress of Solitude Poster.
March 12, 2023
Dan, you are 100% correct about these tabloid comics. All three of the Batman books you mention are at the top of my list also. I bought C-37 and F-5 right off the stands when they first came out in the mid-seventies, and C-51 at a comic shop in the late eighties (because I somehow failed to snap up a copy when it was initially released in the seventies). The other thing that made the Batman #1 reprint so special was Carmine Infantino’s tribute to Bill Finger, who had just passed away a short time before that tabloid was published. It was the first time I learned about Finger and his enormous contribution to the creation of Batman and all the Batman lore. Thank goodness he’s FINALLY getting a regular credit for co-creating the Caped Crusader. As we all know, it’s LONG overdue.