Thursday, 4 February 2016


From 1988: the first issue of London Editions' BATMAN MONTHLY UK reprints. With free pin badge still just about attached. 

LE must have thought they were on pretty safe ground with this one. The Caped Crusader had always, along with Superman, enjoyed the highest profile of the DC heroes. That profile was particularly high thanks to what seemed like near-constant reruns of the 1960s TV show in the UK during the 1980s. 

The show popped up a lot across the ITV network, sometimes as a standalone programme and sometimes buried in a larger format like LWT's partially networked NIGHT NETWORK offering. 

Breakfast time operator TV-am had been using the show for a while as part of its weekend schedules, usually as part of the marathon kids show WIDE AWAKE CLUB. When a 24-hour ACTT technicians strike turned into a protracted lockout (followed by dismissal), the broadcaster used the Adam West show (along with FLIPPER, HAPPY DAYS and various already on the shelf animated series) to pad out their 6-9.25 schedule. 

Viewers liked the changes and ratings remained healthy. Although its perfectly possible audiences were just watching to see what technical mishap would strike next. With little or no technical staff left, it fell to management and non-union support staff to grapple with specialist broadcast technology. For months it looked like the station would fall off air at any moment. 

Then, of course, LE knew that the BATMAN movie was currently filming at Pinewood and was already generating some buzz. That anticipation exploded as the release date approached and the film's logo and merchandise became ubiquitous. 

LE were initially careful to select reprints which, whilst not as campy as the strip became in the sixties, weren't to far removed from the tone the general public expected from the character. Despite the mainstream press hype surrounding THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, this new launch was not the place to reprint it. 

As the UK public warmed to the darker tone of the cinematic Dark Knight over the next few years, the editors started to select darker and more contemporary strips to reprint. 

The heightened interest in the Bat Universe allowed LE to expand with a series of specials usually focused on one particular character. The SUPERMAN and BATMAN titles survived the expansions and contractions of the LE line (say hello, and goodbye, to HEROES, DC ACTION, ZONES and SHOCKWAVE) and the merger with Fleetway. The Supes book always looked the weaker and had its frequency reduced. Relaunches followed and both characters eventually found themselves sharing the same title. The writing was on the wall. 


  1. I recall awaiting the first issue of this after it was cleverly advertised in Superman Fortnightly #4 (which guest-starred Batman). For whatever reason, distribution of issues 2 and 3 was non-existent in my area, so I originally never read the conclusion to "The Untold Legend of the Batman" - assuming the last part was ever reprinted.

    I seem to recall Adam West actually being brought over to the UK to help publicise the first issue of Batman Monthly in addition to providing an interview.

    Like Superman Monthly, in addition to the Batman reprints I especially liked some of the more factual articles London Editions did that discussed the comics history of the characters (like the differences between Earth-1 and Earth-2, etc.) and especially their exploits in film over the years.

    It would have been nice if London Editions' later DC reprints would have had some original cover artwork, like the beautiful all-original covers on The Super Heroes Monthly they published years earlier.

  2. Hi Slow,

    A little insight into the material Batman Monthly reprinted, as I was in touch with the editor at the time. It wasn't by choice that London Editions later switched to reprinting the more recent, "darker" material, that was ordered by DC. Apparently, shortly after Batman Monthly's launch, DC proclaimed anything pre-Batman Year 1 (published '87) to be strictly off limits as it was "old, pre-Crisis" and as such "no longer counted".

    The editor was frustrated, as he saw the vast library of material he'd had to pick and choose from reduced to about two years worth of material (maybe 40 comics). He told me that had the magazine launched a year later they wouldn't have been able to use those marvellous Len Wein and Gerry Conway-penned 80s tales, and Brave and the Bold reprints. That's (partially?) why UK Batman Monthly Vol 2 launched with Year One and the Catwoman mini series.

    The tragedy there, I felt, was that post Year One Batman comics were easy to track down whereas runs of the 80s material were tough to find, and a chunk of that limited new material was characterised by Max Al Collins' ill-fated run. Collins admits he was pulling in a different direction to editorial, and he suffered some unfortunate artist choices as his original artist missed deadlines and left the book.

    P.S. to Jon T--Untold Legend of Batman is great, but #2 and 3 didn't have Byrne on art, as apparently Len Wein's scripts were very late and Byrne had a small window between Marvel contract negotiations to complete the DC work. That's a shame, the combination of Byrne inked by Aparo is one of my favourites.

  3. I have this comic signed by adam west with providence any idea of value


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