BATMAN’S HOT-LINE: Neal Adams Talks Detective Comics #406

It’s the return of the Neal Adams Interviews!

If you’re a newish reader, one of the recurring features in my BATMAN’S HOT-LINE column is a series of interviews with Neal Adams, in which he discusses some covers I waved under his nose.

In this case, said cover is Detective Comics #406, which actually isn’t all that remarkable. It’s just that I remember it from childhood because it’s so damn unsettling.


I was still very much taking my Bat-babysteps under the watchful eye of the Adam West TV show when this book was on the spinner racks. I saw it in a store and since it came out in late 1970, I was 3 years old at the time — unless the book had been collecting dust for a little while before I came upon it.

In any event, it was one of my earliest comic-book memories and I just remember it as a terrifying image. “How,” my young mind wondered, “was Batman going to get out of this one?”

And that crying statue! Gaaaaah! Even today, it feels like someone’s walking over my grave when I see this image.

So to bring my toddler terror into the light, I asked Adams about it.

“You have to understand, a lot of these are my adding juice to someone else’s story because it’s not my story — I’m not on the inside,” he explained. “I think you’ll notice that covers today are not like covers in those days. These covers were used as selling devices. … You couldn’t read previews or whatever to sell the comic book.

“So my responsibility, with the covers that I did, was to convince the reader to pick up the comic book. That was my job. So anything that I could do short of mayhem, I did to find that dramatic kernel in a story,” he added.

He gave another example, from over in Metropolis:


“I did my first or second cover for Mort Weisinger, who is a well-known ogre in comic books and I did a cover for him — it was probably my second one (Action Comics #359, dated Feb. 1968),” he recalled. “It was of Superman sitting in a witness chair, which seemed like an odd place for him to be, and there’s a judge sitting over  his shoulder, in shock — ‘Why is Superman in the chair like this?’ — and there is a little girl.

“The poor little girl in the dress is pointing to Superman and she says, ‘That man killed my daddy!’ — which I find akin to the National Lampoon cover with the dog with the gun against his head, about to blow his brains out. That (Action cover) was a very powerful cover. Did the story live up to it? I’m not quite sure.”

From the Batcomputer: Pretty slim pickin’s this week, with a lot of fair-to-middling titles featuring the Caped Crusader. So I’m going with one that doesn’t star Batman at all — Talon #16. Why? LORD DEATH MAN!


Oh, and if you’ve never seen the Lord Death Man appearance from “Batman: The Brave and the Bold,” indulge yourself:

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Author: Dan Greenfield

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