Detective Comics #153, DC Comics, November 1949.

I was sorting through a pile of old Golden Age a while back and came across a rat chewed Detective Comics that for some reason made me do a double take. It honestly took me a millisecond before I thought “hey, where’s Robin”. Intrigued, I did some digging and what I found made it obvious that the Undervalued Spotlight had to shine on Detective Comics #153.

Detective Comics #153 features the first appearance of Roy Raymond TV Detective and it also features the origin of the DC version of the Human Fly. Roy Raymond is a surprisingly durable and versatile character that has made 227 comic book appearances since this issue, his back up stories ran in Detective and Superman and he made modern age appearances in Swamp Thing.

Check out that gorgeous cover! Cover appeal is such an important driver of demand and value in today’s comic book marketplace and Dick Sprang’s Detective Comics #153 delivers.

As I mentioned to start, I caught the lack of Robin right away and for some reason, this compelled me to do a little research. I ran through the covers of Detective Comics since Detective Comics #37 (March 1940) and since Batman #1 (Spring 1940), what I found surprised me. Of the 270 or so comic book issues published between the 2 titles in the Golden Age (up until February 1955, the last non-code issue) only 12 did not have Robin on the cover.

Talk about an uber cool collecting strain! Non-Robin Golden Age Batman covers!

The list is as follows:

  • Batman #47 – July 1948
  • Detective Comics #153 – November 1949
  • Batman #57 – March 1950
  • Detective Comics #159 – May 1950
  • Detective Comics #163 – September 1950 – love this cover
  • Detective #172 – June 1951
  • Detective Comics #179 – January 1952
  • Detective Comics #200 – October 1953
  • Batman #82 – March 1954 – love this cover too
  • Detective Comics #209 – July 1954
  • Batman #85 – August 1954
  • Detective Comics #215 – January 1955

It’s important to note Batman #47 here, Batman #47 is the classic Batman origin issue with it’s famous Batman and young Bruce Wayne cover. The young boy/Batman motif of Batman #47 has confused collectors into assuming it is Robin at first glance but it is a young Bruce Wayne and it is the true first non-Robinin cover. Batman #47 is very much a realized book that has been a key for decades.

Detective Comics #153 represent the first solo Batman cover since Detective Comics #37. The cover scene is classic Batman depicting the Caped Crusader springing into action alone.

Without a doubt, the most coveted, ogled, revered, respected and worshiped run in comic collecting history has to be Detective Comics #27 to #37. Each of these books are heavyweights on their own but the thought of actually owning the complete set is mere fantasy to most.

You can read a thousand posts online about what the introduction of the Robin character did to the Batman character. Many cite the introduction of Robin as the beginning of the end of that dark and dangerous Batman. I think Robin was gold for the franchise, the addition of the Boy Wonder made Batman as populist as can be and the Dynamic Duo were forever the gold standard for hero/sidekick. Robin with Batman was so successful that the wisdom of the pairing was left unchallenged for 30 years, with Neal Adams starting exploring the pre-Robin mystique of Batman around 1970.

Still, the sheer scarcity of non Robin covers in the Golden Age makes all the above issues desirable and collectible. I’ve chosen Detective Comics #153 because I see it as the first true solo Batman cover since Detective Comics #37 and it doesn’t hurt that the book delivers a great cover, a first appearance and an origin story.

The market is healthy for this book right now with it trading higher that the other non key issues around it. Neither the Overstreet Price Guide nor nor the CGC labels mention that this is the first solo Batman cover since… so I’m assuming some of the value appreciation it’s enjoying now is cover based and Roy Raymond based but it could also be savvy non Robin cover collectors based as well. I think the book still has a good amout of appreciation left in it.

Try and grab a nice tight CGC 5.0 and look for one with good gloss, the yellows and the blacks just jump out of the high gloss copies.

The 48th Overstreet price break for this book is $621/$1061/$1500 in the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grade splits.

Reasons to buy this comic book as an investment:

  • 1st solo Batman cover since Detective Comics #37
  • 1st appearance Roy Raymond TV Detective
  • Fantastic cover
  • Origin the Human Fly