CARMINE INFANTINO’s 13 Greatest BATMAN Covers — RANKED

A birthday salute!

Carmine Infantino, who would have been 93, 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.

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.

Joe Giella inks

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.

Murphy Anderson inks

11. Batman #183. So damn funny and self-referential. A Camp Era high point.

Giella inks

10. Batman #184. A text-heavy entry that nonetheless forces the reader to demand more. Love the “Not Even THEY Know!” kicker.

Anderson inks

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!

Giella inks

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.

Giella inks

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.

Giella inks

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.

Anderson inks

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.

Giella inks

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.

Anderson inks

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.

Giella inks

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?

Anderson inks

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.

Anderson inks

MORE

— A Tribute to CARMINE INFANTINO: The Artist Who Rode the Lightning. Click here.

Most cover images and credits from the dynamic Grand Comics Database.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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7 Comments

  1. 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.

    Chris

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    • 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.

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  2. 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.

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    • Detective 347, 371 and Batman 169 and 199 were all in the mix as I pared the list down. So was Batman 197.

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  3. 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!

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  4. 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.

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