How many vehicles are more recognizable than the Batmobile? None. If you said the van from Scooby-Doo, you can have a Scooby snack. But the Batmobile is loved and recognized around the world. It doesn’t even matter if you’re talking about the 1966 Ford Futura Batmobile, the city-block-long Tim Burton Batmobile, the Christian Bale Tumbler Batmobile or the Robert Pattinson modified Charger Batmobile. So why does the Batmobile appear so rarely on the cover of Batman and Detective Comics?
Batman received his own title in Spring 1940 but it wasn’t until issue 20 that the Batmobile made a cover appearance. You might be surprised to hear that the Batmobile only appeared on the cover eight times from 1940 until 2011. During that time there were 713 regular issues published and over 1200 if you include variants and reprints.
Eight covers in 71 years!
If you include volume two which covered 2011 until 2016 and had 57 regular issues and 277 issues including variants, the number doesn’t change. Still, only 8 Batmobile covers in the first two volumes of Batman, or 1481 total issues spanning 76 years.
The current run of Batman (Vol. 3) doesn’t show the Batmobile on the cover until issue 50 in 2018. For those of you, keeping track that is 8 cover appearances in 78 years or about once every 10 years. Within those numbers are decades with zero cover appearances. From 1987’s Batman 408 (vol. 1) when Jason Todd was stealing the wheels off the Batmobile to 2018’s Batman 50 (vol. 3) there were zero cover appearances. (Issue #50 side note, Catwoman put her knee on the hood of the Batmobile right after she married him. Batman had to be thinking, “Is it too late for an annulment?”)
That’s a 31-year drought for arguably the most famous car on the planet!
Let’s get sarcastic, why would they even think about showing the Batmobile during that time, nothing important happened in those years other than
1989 Batman movie
1992 Batman Returns movie
1993 Batman: The Mask of the Phantasm with Mark Hamill’s Joker voice
1995 Batman Forever
1997 Batman & Robin with Batnipples for everyone
2005 Batman Begins with a new Batman and a tumbler Batmobile
2008 The Dark Knight with an unbelievable performance by Heath Ledger
2012 The Dark Knight Rises
2016 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with a mixed-up plot
2017 Lego Batman movie
Yeah, so nothing really in that 31-year gap.
Detective Comics is slightly better but still woefully lacking in Batmobile covers. In 1989 the late, great Norm Breyfogle included a sleek Batmobile on the cover of Detective 601 in the summer that Michael Keaton’s Batman debutted. The next Batmobile cover in Detective Comics was in 2018 when Mark Brooks drew issue 986.
A 29-year gap with no Batmobiles on the cover of Detective Comics!
As a lifelong Batman fan, the Batmobile and Batman are tied together. Adam West is tied to the 1966 Barris Batmobile. Michael Keaton is connected to the Tim Burton and crew designed jet turbine Batmobile. Christian Bale is in the Tumbler Batmobile that can transform into a fat-tired motorcycle. Not only is it iconic but it’s interesting with a vast storage of cool gadgets.
Since 2018 we have seen a dramatic shift in Batman and Detective Comics. Artists like Lee Bermejo and Sean Murphy have been instrumental in showing the Batmobile more. Thank you for that. My advice for DC is if you have an iconic car you should show it off.
by Ron Cloer