Is this the end of the Dynamic Duo?  Will the Caped Crusaders make their great escape?  Find out...same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!  Cliffhangers and escapes highlighted episodes of Batman '66, but the comics also featured covers worthy of Houdini.  Let's peruse these portraits of perplexing predicaments while exclaiming, Holy Death Traps, Batman!

Holy Death Traps Batman Comics

Holy Death Traps Batman 207Before Mister Miracle, Batman was called the world's greatest escape artist in comics.  The producers of the Batman Television series featuring Adam West and Burt Ward accentuated that quality of Batman every week.  Of course, they didn't make it up.  Escaping certain death was just part of the job for the two most prominent non-superpowered heroes of the Golden and Silver Ages.  Let's perceive some of those perilous pictures, but before we do, what was your favorite deathtrap from Batman '66?

Batman 81.jpgI was curious what cover from Batman or Detective Comics first featured the Dynamic Duo in a 'death trap'.  Early stories featured the Caped Crusaders bound in ropes or chains.  Detective Comics #93 from Nov. 1944 almost got my vote.  Robin was tied to a chair while an axe swung like a pendulum.  Check it out to see if it's worthy of a GoCollect mention as "1st Death Trap Appearance".

I cast my vote for Batman #81 (February 1954).  That cover has all the elements: Rogue's Gallery villain Two-Face, use of his signature token in the trap (his coin), and an elaborate device that surely took more effort to create than simply killing Batman the traditional ways.

The Riddler Strikes

Batman 263Before Two-Face in 1954, perhaps the first appearance of the Riddler deserves the title for 1st death trap?  Of course, the idea of creating a deadly riddle for Batman makes perfect sense for someone with the Riddler's obsessions.   As the first villain in the 1966 televisions series, Frank Gorshin's Riddler had the honor of perpetrating the first cliffhanger.  Anti-climatically, Robin's operation was not to the death in episodes Hi Diddle Riddle and Smack in the Middle.

Detective Comics 140 1st Appearance of Riddler and possible 1st death trap coverIn a similar vein, Detective Comics #140 (October 1948) depicts Batman and Robin trapped by the Riddler, but it appears to be more puzzling than life-threatening.  The Riddler did pose a killer conundrum for Batman in issue 263.  Both comics would make nice additions to your collection.

Set GoCollect Chartbusters to 180 days and you'll find the Riddler's 1st appearance at #5 in the Golden Age.  The Promise Collection Pedigree number-one-in census CGC 9.6 copy of Detective Comics 140 sold June 21 for $456,000.  On the other end of the spectrum, Batman 263 in CGC 9.6 (2 higher) sold this year for $132.

Honorable Mentions and Collector Notes

Batman 220Besides tricks by brand name villains like the Riddler and Two-Face, what are some other pickles in Batman's eighty-year career?  How about the Thousand and One Escapes of Batman and Robin depicted in Detective Comics #221 (1955)?  Likewise, Detective Comics #346 prior to the TV show put Batman in an "Inescapable Doom-Trap"!  Further, Batman #228 collects stories with the death trap theme.

Batman 228 Holy Death Traps specialFor the collector, here are some recent sales notes:

  • Batman #81 - $300 to $900 for 2021 sales in roughly CGC 5.0
  • Detective Comics #221 - Only 23 in CGC census with 6.0 selling for $264 in 2021
  • Batman #207 - two CGC 9.8 sales average a whopping $1,650 this year
  • Detective Comics 346 - CGC 9.8 sales price nearly doubled in a year at $2,400
  • Batman #220 - Neal Adams cover - so, always in demand for me, but average prices under $1,000 in highest grades
  • Batman #228 - Three CGC 9.8 sales average $740 in 2021

Holy Death Traps, Batman - The Escape Clause

Holy Death Traps Batman 66Despite clever schemes and awful predicaments, Batman and Robin have always escaped certain death in television and comics.  But, I will give a nod to the Houdini of comic book escapes, Mister Miracle.

Clearly, Jack Kirby's Mister Miracle is the greatest escape showman of the four-color medium.  And yes, I did write a letter as a teenager expressing my outrage that Batman needed Mister Miracle's help to escape time and time again in Brave and the Bold #138.  All is forgiven, now.

Jim Aparo art featuring escape artists Batman and Mister MiracleThe most impressive team-up of the TWO greatest escape artists occurred in Brave and the Bold #112.  This cover art by Jim Aparo from Brave and the Bold #112 sold in May 2020 for $18,000.  If you crave more thrills, check out original art featuring Batman's great escapes!

For more on Mister Miracle, the world's SECOND greatest escape artist, look to Charles' article on the FIRST LOOK AT MISTER MIRACLE: THE GREAT ESCAPE FROM DC COMICS and Matt's article Scrambling for Mister Miracle anticipating a New Gods movie.

Of course, you can always escape your doldrums with a GoCollect article from me :)

*Advice and opinions offered in this blog are those of the author and do not represent any investment advice on the behalf of GoCollect.