Sunday, March 6, 2016

When Batman Battled King Kong

From Batman 75, 1953: Original script by David Vern; art by Lew Sayre Schwartz and Charles Paris
Batman has a history of tackling challenges outside his weight class that long predates the Batman vs. Superman movie.
For example, how about King Kong vs. Batman? What kid could resist that? Few, as it turns out, either in 1953’s Batman Comics 75 (The Gorilla Boss of Gotham City) or in 1962’s third Batman Annual, where the story was reprinted (and slightly censored to accommodate the Silver Age Comics Code).
Why was the Masked Manhunter fated to fight a giant ape in 1953? I’m going to suggest it was because in 1952, RKO had re-released their 1933 hit film King Kong. Advertised on TV, the movie became a tremendous smash again, generating more box office receipts than the original 1933 release had. Cinema owners named it Picture of the Year.
Okay, but exactly how do you pit an acrobatic detective against a titanic simian, story-wise? By putting a human criminal’s brain into the ape. 
Executed for murder, George Dyke has his brain transplanted into a giant ape’s body, then goes on a rampage of larceny with his super strength, intending to lure Batman out and steal his body in turn.
Seems a villain more suitable to Superman, but it would be years before the Man of Tomorrow tackled his own giant ape foe, Titano, in 1959’s Superman Comics 127. By that time, Batman would be up to his cowled neck in giant monsters and bizarre aliens.
The Gorilla Boss was the first of many giant monsters subdued  by Batman

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