A birthday salute!
UPDATED 5/24/19: Hey, it’s Carmine Infantino’s birthday again! I posted this a year ago but I’m re-presenting it because it now has a companion piece — CARMINE INFANTINO’s 13 GREATEST FLASH COVERS — RANKED, which you can find by clicking here. Groovy! — Dan
Carmine Infantino, who was born May 24, 1925, was one of the most important and influential personalities in comics history. He’s also one of Batman’s greatest artists, and this year I’ve decided to go out on a limb for our annual birthday celebration with a full-on ranking of his 13 best Batcovers.
I don’t typically do this with our 13 COVERS salutes, mainly because it’s an inherently flawed premise. Art is subjective. My list may look a lot like yours — or it may not look at all like yours.
No matter, it’s a fun exercise, and hell, I just decided to throw caution to the wind. Maybe next year I’ll do the same with The Flash. (UPDATED: Yep, I did it. Click here).
Are there great covers missing? Most definitely. I can think of five right off the, er, bat. So feel free to add your own!
Nevertheless, here we go with CARMINE INFANTINO’s 13 Greatest BATMAN Covers — RANKED:
13. Batman #188. The campiest Batman cover ever, it’s laugh-out-loud funny and merits a mention on that point alone.
12. Batman #194. Some think this is a Will Eisner rip-off and it kind of is. But it’s an especially well-done and memorable Will Eisner ripoff — among the best-known covers of the Silver Age. I remember tracking it down as a kid, thinking it was a particularly sought-after, important issue on the strength of the cover alone. That bright red background really helps.
11. Batman #183. So damn funny and self-referential. A Camp Era high point.
10. Batman #184. A text-heavy entry that nonetheless forces the reader to demand more. Love the “Not Even THEY Know!” kicker.
9. Detective #360. Boy, Infantino really liked putting Batman and Robin through their paces, didn’t he? This one begs the reader to “BUY ME!” to find out what’s going on — the most important aspect of any cover. BONUS: A classic Infantino “mini-hand” sighting!
8. Batman #175. I first saw this image in the ’70s when it was used for a goofy caption gag in one of the Batman 100-Page Super-Spectaculars. The Caped Crusader looks like he’s been absolutely hammered.
7. Detective #356. One of the most important Batman covers of the ’60s. In this issue, we learn that the mysterious Outsider, who’d been plaguing Batman for two years, was none other than a resurrected — and mutated — Alfred. DC still needs to collect the whole Outsider saga because there are some great, fun comics in there. An early Grail issue for me.
6. Detective #359. Hate to say it but this is a generally uninspired construction. I mean, it’s perfectly fine but it really just says, “Hey, here’s Batgirl!” Which is enough to make it among Infantino’s most memorable covers ever — and earn it a spot this high on the list.
5. Detective #358. The psychedelic ’60s are let loose on this eye-popping cover that is among Infantino’s most enticing. DC needs to bring the Spellbinder back — and he needs to be wearing exactly this outfit.
4. Batman #171. An absolute classic that heralded the Riddler’s return from his sojourn in the comics wilderness. This issue helped hone William Dozier’s vision for the Batman TV series — and that neon cover had to have influenced the brightly colored look of the show.
3. Detective #355. Infantino’s most eerie, unsettling cover, with a completely broken Batman. The Hangman held promise as a Batman villain but quickly vanished into obscurity. You could argue he was Bane before there was Bane. Cooler-looking too.
2. Detective #365. Probably Infantino’s most inventive cover. Makes you wish Mego had come up with a Ha-Hacienda with the Joker’s image on a brick-front facade. How cool would that have been?
1. Batman: From the ’30s to the ’70s. Infantino’s best Batman illustration, hands down. It’s also his best-known and most widely homaged piece. Still, I admit I’m cheating here since it was originally a pin-up in Detective Comics #352. But, damn, how can you deny this grand cover, which manages to confidently straddle the line between Batman’s image as a nocturnal avenger and the brighter era in which the illustration was conceived? Magnificent.
— CARMINE INFANTINO’s 13 Greatest FLASH Covers — RANKED. Click here.
— A Tribute to CARMINE INFANTINO: The Artist Who Rode the Lightning. Click here.
Most cover images and credits from the dynamic Grand Comics Database.
May 24, 2018
Great list Dan. That last one (the 30s to the 70s cover) is my single favorite image of Batman and Robin. I first saw it in a poster I got in Post cereals in the 70s. It hung on my walls for years. I have it all over the place now. A WB Store sculpted lamp, a puzzle in a can, The “Batman in the Sixties” TPB, you name it!
Oh, and I wonder if there is any connection between that hot pink background on Batman #171 and Mego’s color selection for almost all their Batman packaging? It’s the same color, and they lifted a LOT of art from this Infantino era.
May 24, 2018
Boy, I never thought about the Batman hot-pink connection, but it’s entirely possible. They did lift a lot of art from this time, you’re right. The back of Robin’s box was from the cover of Batman #167. (I also had that puzzle in a can!)
Infantino is one of my absolute favorite artists. It was actually a difficult list to put together and even as I sit here writing this, I could easily move the order around and add a whole bunch of different ones.
March 3, 2020
I have a version of the 1. Batman: From the ’30s to the ’70s. Infantino’s best Batman illustration, hands down. It’s also his best-known and most widely homaged piece. Still, I admit I’m cheating here since it was originally a pin-up in Detective Comics #352. But, damn, how can you deny this grand cover, which manages to confidently straddle the line between Batman’s image as a nocturnal avenger and the brighter era in which the illustration was conceived? Magnificent….. one I have is on cardboard, covered in plastic, no markings I can find nor any lettering, except for bottom right corner CD Comics Inc 1066…. its in great condition, was my fathers so Im guessing from the 60’s or 70’s. I’d like to try 7 sell can you provide any suggested pricing?
May 24, 2018
Classics all. I don’t think Infantino ever did a cover that wasn’t brilliant. Some of my favourites are Tec 347, 366 and 371, and Batman 169, 172, 189 and 199.
May 24, 2018
Detective 347, 371 and Batman 169 and 199 were all in the mix as I pared the list down. So was Batman 197.
May 24, 2018
Carmine Infantino has always been my favorite DC cover artist and his Batman and Detective covers were awesome! He always had a great intensity to his work!
May 24, 2018
My favorite was Batman 190 – a fabulous Penguin cover. I loved it so much that I eventually got Joe Giella to do a recreation for me. It’s framed and hanging in my home office.
May 25, 2018
Infantino drew a great Penguin!
May 25, 2019
A terrific tribute to the late Carmine Infantino.
May 29, 2019
The Hooded Hangman, Great name and Great cover, Detective Comics #355.
Agree, a better villain then Bane ever has been or will be.
Also agree about the SPELLBINDER.
Enjoyed his Bronze Age appearances in SUPERMAN #330
and in BATMAN #336.
Although a Spellbinder has been a recurring villains on Batman Beyond.
February 21, 2023
I’d love to see what Grant Morrison could do with the Eraser as a villain!