Thursday, June 5, 2014

Byrne-ing to Read/Amazed by Aparo: "In the Beginning" by Wein, Byrne, and Aparo

Hey, hey, hey, Groove-ophiles! Way back when John Byrne (along with writer Chris Claremont and inker Terry Austin) was making The Uncanny X-Men the coolest comicbook on the planet (think Dark Phoenix Saga-era!), he found the time to pencil his very first comic for DC: the first issue of The Untold Legend of the Batman (April 1980). Written by Len Wein and inked/finished by (tah-dah!) Jim Aparo, TULotB was the ultimate Batman origin mag--at least until Frank Miller's Batman: Year One came along in 1986 (and some would argue that B:YO is more a Commissioner Gordon origin mag, but I digress). Besides the teaming of two of the all-time best artists of the Groovy (and any) Age, Untold  gave us extra pages (22 pages in the 17 page era!) so we could really dig into every nook and cranny of The Batman's past! And how 'bout how well Byrne and Aparo's styles mesh here? You can tell Byrne's faces and figure-work quite easily, but Aparo's inks give it that dark, moody look we so loved in The Brave and the Bold! I hear that Untold is soon to be reprinted in a Batman omnibus of some sort, so be on the lookout! (Know ye this: issues two and three contain all-Aparo art, so Byrne fans might be bummed, but Aparo fans will be dee-lighted!) Let's start things off with the ads that made Teen Groove go mad with desire (okay, my life wasn't nearly as sad as that sounds...)...

And now, here's..."In the Beginning"!

AWESOME ADDENDUM:  Over on the Byrne Robotics message board, Mr. Byrne, himself, tells the story of how he got the ULotB job and why he only drew the first issue. Sigh, what might have been!

Ya know that The Untold Legend of the Batman was the second-ever comicbook limited-series, don'tcha? What was the first? Tune in Monday! If ya don't know, you'll find out--and if ya do know, Ol' Groove hopes you'll get a kick out of it!


  1. Love that panel on the bottom of page 12.
    The whole issue is beautifully drawn. Aparo is never mentioned as an inker for Byrne, but this is great work.
    Maybe I'll get the Wein Batman collection.

  2. Oh, I remember this so well. I ate this entire series right up, and I loved the combination of Byrne and Aparo in that first issue. Their styles really meshed together well. Of course, the next two issues didn't suffer from Byrne's absence - like you said, Aparo was one of the best in the biz.
    As to your question at the end, I'm guessing we're expected to keep the answer to ourselves if we know it. But yes, I remember that one as well, also drawn by another personal favorite of mine...

  3. I actually owned this miniseries. It's better served as a stand-alone TPB, not one of those overpriced-out-of-my-budget volumes. Awesome stuff. Unfortunately, the charm is almost gone thanks to all the reboots the last 30-odd years.

  4. Ingenious how they made Bruce the original Robin -- I LOVE that idea! I think that may be original to this series, but I'm not really sure. I'm pretty sure that Thomas Wayne being the first Batman was a Silver age invention. Do you happen to know if Bruce being the first Robin was done before this series?

    And btw, my all-time fav Batmobile shows up on the last page. Nice!

    1. "When Batman Was Robin" appeared in Batman Annual #2, reprinted from an issue of Batman in the 1950s. What number, I don't know. As for "The First Batman", I believe that was 'Tec # 225 reprinted in Bat's Annual # 7. All this is without looking anythin up (includind the FIRST mini-series "_ o ___ _ r _ _ _ o _" [from Tommy Tomorrow}

  5. Great Batman tale! Wow I've never seen this one; great Len Wein script and Byrne and Aparo's art looks great!

    - Mike from Trinidad & Tobago.



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