Although they perhaps didn’t make quite the fuss they would today, DC did acknowledge a change was being made to Batman in 1964. With sales falling (some say dangerously close to cancellation, but that seems unlikely), the decision was made to take the character away from long-time editor Jack Schiff, and give him over to golden boy Julie Schwartz. Schwartz had spent much of the previous decade reviving the fortunes of moribund characters. Under his watch the Flash, Green Lantern, the Atom, Hawkman and Justice League, amongst much else, had proven to be strong sellers.

With Bat-“creator” Bob Kane sidelined, and more of the production of the strip moved in-house, Schwartz marked the new order by giving Batman a yellow oval (a perfect target as Frank Miller was later to point out) around his chest emblem. More than that, though, the stories became much stonger, moving the Dark Knight away from the absurd robots and aliens tales of recent years with mysteries that challenged the heroes detective skills. To deliniate these adventures Schwartz turned to the ever-reliable Carmine Infantino, who brought a style to the strip that it had lacked for many years.

Still some years away from a return to the shadow-enshrouded avenger of the night that characterised Batman’s earliest stories, and yet to go through the worst excesses of the “camp”-era of the Adam West tv show, the Schwartz effect was nonetheless a step in the right direction.

©2009 DC Comics