In 1964, Batman was in the doldrums after years of wacky and wildly inappropriate sci-fi adventures. For the longest time Batman and Robin battled dinosaurs, aliens, giant robots and weird transformations (the Zebra Batman!). Sales had fallen so low that cancellation was a possibility. Imagine that: a world where Batman disappeared from the comics rack in 1964.

Julie Schwartz had successfully revived a number of old Golden Age heroes, including the Flash and Green Lantern. In a last-ditch attempt to save the character, the Batman titles were handed to Schwartz to edit. He immediately threw out the silliness of the previous decade: gone were Bat Woman, Bat-Girl, Bat-Mite and Ace, the Bat Hound, and in came serious detective stories. To separate the new regime from the old, a yellow oval was placed around Batman’s chest emblem.

You can now relive this era in Bat-history as DC is publishing a Showcase volume of the earliest Schwartz-edited stories.

There’s a lot of good stuff there, and artist Carmine Infantino draws a great Batman and Robin, however, I’ve gotta admit that I kinda prefer the silly stuff. And we’ll be getting to the flying Batcave very soon…