Mike Gold: Batman’s Rainbow Coalition

Detective Comics 241You’ve probably heard this one; the story has been going around for more than a half-century.

During the 1950s, publishers and sales directors would carefully gawk at their covers, most often all tacked up on one wall, and discuss sales figures and the all-important “sell-through” percentages, the latter being the percentage of comics sold against the number of comics printed. They would try to figure out what cover elements sold best. Mind you, this wasn’t simply an activity of the 1950s: in the late 1970s I started at DC’s wall of covers and noticed Batman was dead on a half-dozen separate titles. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have pointed this out.

But getting back to the 50s, the story goes there were three elements that caught the readers’ eyes: the color purple (no, not the movie; that was much later), fire, and talking apes. That’s the folklore, and it reeks of truthiness. Being who I am – an obnoxious sot – I maintain there was a fourth element.


dc-collectibles-rainbow-batmanThere were a hell of a lot of rainbow covers back in the day. I admit they attract the eye, although not so much the imagination, as compared to all those talking ape covers. My favorite by far was on Detective Comics #241, “The Rainbow Batman.” The cover was drawn by Shelly Moldoff and the story itself was written by science-fiction master Edmond Hamilton and penciled by Shelly and inked by Stan Kaye.

The plot is irrelevant, at least for my purposes today. I was six years old at the time – yep, obnoxious and precocious is a wonderful combination in a human of that age. Anyway, the story worked for me and it still works for me because, like many Geek Culture fans, I suffer from the disease called “nostalgia.”

So, when I saw that DC will be coming out with a set of Rainbow Batman action figures this summer, I let out a apoplectic yelp that is common to our ilk but generally perceived as childish by mainstream humanity…

If such exists.

But I’ll cop to the childish part. I immediately texted the link to The Point’s Mike Raub, knowing full well he would have a similar reaction. I did not share it with my daughter, who has been tolerating such nonsense most of her life. But I bet she’ll find this sort of cool.

Yes, I know Funko Pop did such a set several months ago, but it wasn’t realistic. Think about that for a moment. That’s not realistic? Well, no, it’s not: the real Rainbow Batmen were not hydrocephalic.

Childish as it may be – well, is – I shan’t be playing with the Rainbow Batman action figures in my bath.

But I will take them out of the box!