BATMAN #312: An Often Forgotten WALT SIMONSON Gem

A BIRTHDAY SALUTE: Len Wein’s revival of Calendar Man brought out the best in the acclaimed artist…

Batman #312 looms large in my personal comics history. The issue, written by Len Wein and beautifully illustrated by Walt Simonson and Dick Giordano, came out in March 1979 and was the first comic I bought when I made the fateful decision to try to collect new issues every month. In a very real way, this was my gateway from being a kid who had a lot of comics to becoming a consistent reader and collector.

The timing was great because the issue is a real humdinger, featuring not the Joker or the Penguin, but the return of Calendar Man, a villain who had appeared only once before, in 1958. I’d never heard of him but Wein spun a fabulous tale that was perfect for a 12-year-old: Calendar Man frustrates Batman by executing crimes based on the day of the week, each time wearing a different, colorfully elaborate costume that plays into the daily theme. But rather than silly, it’s grand fun, with the story’s Bronze Age sensibilities keeping the plot from veering into camp.

Just look at one of 1958’s Calendar Man costumes in comparison to one of Simonson’s below:

Detective Comics #259. Written by Bill Finger. Sheldon Moldoff pencils, Charles Paris inks.

The costumes overall are Simonson unbound — fanciful and clever; his DC versions of Odin (for Wednesday) and Thor (for Thursday), for example, make for a great inside gag when you consider that just a few years later the creator would put his own emphatic stamp on Marvel’s Thunder God. (Years ago, I got to tell Wein that this issue taught me the etymology of the days of the week and he seemed surprised and pleased by that.)

Anyway, Simonson was born 76 years ago on Sept. 2, 1946, so for this year’s birthday salute, we bring you 13 PANELS (and sequences) from one of the most entertaining comics of the ’70s, a favorite that has deep meaning for me — and who knows, maybe for you too.

Dig it.


— PAUL KUPPERBERG: My 13 Favorite Pieces of Original Art by WALTER SIMONSON. Click here.

— The LEN WEIN Interviews: Riddler, Crazy Quilt and Calendar Man, Oh My! Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. What a great issue! I bought this one off the stands too. I wasn’t old enough to read it just yet, but I enjoyed it when my Mom read it to me, and the art was of course spectacular! My introduction to Calendar Man AND the Whirly-Bat!

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  2. Yes! This one, and then soon after, #321, the Joker issue also drawn by Simonson! Can you imagine how great it would have been to have all of Len Wein’s run drawn by Walt Simonson? Just seeing that Two-Face panel makes me wish it could have been so…

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  3. Also had this one. Really fun to “flip through” it again! Thanks!

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  4. I get so excited when I see you are spotlighting a BATMAN comic from this era. This is my absolute Golden Age of reading and collecting The Caped Crusader! Simonson’s art on this, and his other DC work at the time, was spectacular. And Len Wein is one of my all-time favorite Batman writers. I wish his tenure had lasted a bit longer, and that goes for his run on Amazing Spider-Man as well. But Marv Wolfman, Gerry Conway and Doug Moench kept up the high standards of quality storytelling for years to come.

    Thanks for keeping the old Bat-Signal shining bright.

    “Groovy” Mike Decker

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  5. Would be so nice for DC to re-release their Walt Simon “universe” book as an expanded hardcover to include all of his Batman and Detective work.

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  6. Walt Simonson’s work is always masterful, you can’t touch his work on Thor– a character I only liked when he worked on it– but Calendar Man has the dopiest costume in the history of villains. What’s up with the flower petal neck collar? And the idea of a different costume for each crime seems convoluted.

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  7. The Odin and Thor jokes are especially cool considering Wein and Simonson had worked together on Thor a bit earlier. They were a great team at Marvel, and were an awesome team on this issue!

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  8. In my hometown of Thomasville, NC, there used to be a store called Jenkins’ Used Books that sold old paperback novels and comic books. One of the first few times my mom and I went inside there I found a copy of this book. I absolutely loved this book and read it many times until it fell apart. I later picked up a coverless copy of the next issue with Two-Face. Years later, I was able to replace these first copies with better conditioned books and with covers!

    One funny thing I have to mention. When I picked up a copy of Detective 450 a few years later, I read the bylines and looked at the splash page. I was shocked to see the name Walt Simonson listed as artist and saw the difference in art style from what I remembered in Batman 312. This was Walt Simonson?!?!?!? At that moment, I knew how much of a difference Dick Giordano made as an inker.

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  9. I remember getting BATMAN #312 in a Whitman 3 Pack of comics off the spinner rack at Woolworths.

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