A Tribute to the of

Itís still hard to believe all the losses weíve experienced the last several years. Mind you, I didn't get my interview gig started until 2007 and thatís been a solid decade ago, but in that relatively short span of time, 30 of those interviewees have left this mortal coil.

I don't mean to start on such a morbid note, but part of the reason Iím offering up this particular, unusual edition of the Silver Age Sage is to bring some attention yet again to the wonderful work of Carmine Infantino, interview #4 on my list (and a thrill it was) and unfortunately a member of that aforementioned club who left us 4 years ago as of April 4th of this year, 2017.

Carmine did so much and a lot of it is common knowledge between his rise as an artist, penciler in particular and then becoming art director at DC and doing so many covers and of course ultimately publisher. Others more eloquent than I have waxed on about his design sensibilities and his particular capability with city skylines, both contemporary and futuristic, remembering in particular the Adam Strange series and so much more. His trademark use of "helping hands" and his angle shots are other things we remember from Carmine's artistic arsenal. I've learned a great deal about his talents that weren't so obvious to me back in the day.

I've shared before that the webmaster used to occasionally chide me about my lack of commentary on the art aspect of the stories I was reviewing. It's true. I don't know if it's because I learned long ago I had zilch in the way of artistic talents or the fact that I'm a reader and a writer and tend to think more in the prose arena than the visual, but ultimately, comics are a visual medium and when I began this journey, I still didn't understand or appreciate some of the subtleties that entails.

Therefore, with the encouragement of my good friend, Clem Robins, who incidentally got me on the interview bandwagon in the first place, I am revisiting one of my earlier efforts. When the webmaster suggested I do an analysis on the Zatanna series where she's searching for her missing father, Zatara, I thought it was a wonderful idea. The concept itself was unique and interesting and crossing several titles right in the heart of the Silver Age seemed more than appropriate as well. Consequently, one of the books I covered was Detective Comics #355 and while it was a while back, in the early part of the 2000s, I can't recall why I reviewed the entire book, but I did. The lead story was ďThe Hate of the Hooded Hangman!Ē [Sage #59] and I trashed it pretty good.

Clem disagreed with me, calling it one of the greatest Silver Age stories and giving me some reasoning as to why, mainly due to Carmine Infantino's prodigious talent. In fact, he recently e-mailed me and particularly spotlighted a panel that he loved as a kid from page 4 of the story. I'll just paste in part of his e-mail note here:

Bryan, here's that page I found so thrilling.

Panel 5, the hangman's running feet framing Bats in the background. how could a human mind think up something so beautiful, so dramatic, so delicious?

I decided it was time for me to reread the story and see if my experience and opinion had changed. I won't rehash the story line and Iíd encourage you to look at my original review to get a feel for it, but this time Iím going to look at it from another angle: The artistic angle. Let's see what we can discover.

Oh, before I get too carried away, I left out an important bit of credit in the original review. Lettering was done by the wonderful Gaspar Saladino, the first interview I enjoyed and it was all due to Clem's help putting me in touch with him.

Let's start with the splash page, where our hero is trapped in a headlock by the Hooded Hangman. Incidentally, it's been suggested that this villain and certain elements of the story could arguably be compared to Batman's first encounter with Bane. I'm not suggesting plagiarism, but I can see some of the similarities.

One thing I neglected, and will look at much more closely this time, is Carmine's attention to detail and backgrounds. The splash is a good start with skyscraper backgrounds, a full moon and Batman's ankles seeking purchase while entwined in those of the Hangman.

At the wrestling match, Carmine didn't scrimp with the faces in the crowd, hair textures, hand gestures and hats, even on Bruce Wayne himself. Out on the street as Bruce and Dick are hailing a cab you've got backlighting from the venue, casting full shadows on a textured sidewalk.

Later, as Batman is on patrol, there are more cityscapes by night, Gaspar's ever inventive sound effects and the bat emblem used as a shadow for the Batman in consecutive panels, with a bit more subtlety in Clem's favorite panel with the fleeing feet of the Hooded Hangman suspended in mid stride just over the surface of the sidewalk.

During the battle on page 5, it's pure motion and physical drama with a detailed wooden fence serving as part of the background with grain detailing and a streetlamp showing "Douglas Street," though Iím not sure what significance that held. I wondered whether it was the old trope of slipping in one of the creator's names, but Douglas doesnít track. Iím thinking Carmine's experience on the Flash gave him mastery of the motion lines he uses to such effect in these panels and he again uses the bat shadow on the final page of Part I and yep, there are those helping hands on the final caption.

Part II, back at Wayne Manor, offers more details to those paying attention, even making certain the placement of the toaster on the table and items on a cart are consistent from differing points of view and the longshot of the Batmobile uses Carmine's favored angle shot, giving an interesting perspective as Batman continues his patrol in search of the Hooded Hangman.

When he finds his quarry, more cityscapes and textured brick help set the mood and the power Batman uses to break the full nelson is apparent with both well placed fists and a backward head motion, setting things up for some haymakers and two more bat shadows on page 9.

Meanwhile, back at Wayne Manor again, even the book placement on the shelves shows that attention to detail and angles showing a furrowed brow and even the controls on the television set help convey realism into a fairly mundane setting.

Figure work, the sense of motion and camera angles (not to mention more Gaspar Saladino applied sound effects) make the final rooftop battle another joy to behold and the scale given by the skyscrapers grants further perspective.

I donít know how I missed all this before, but Iím going to blame a lot of it on being a beginner at this gig and with the benefit of the things Iíve learned along the way, and I certainly never dreamed I'd speak to the man himself a few years later, I must concede this is a better story than I gave credit for back then. Carmine Infantino was a superb designer and it's a small wonder that between his talents and the television series' popularity, the character of Batman was not only revived, but began to reach new heights, especially with Carmine's innovative cover work.

I still think John Broome's script was not up to his usual par, but in the hands of a master artist, ďThe Hate of the Hooded Hangman!Ē is worth your time. Obviously others thought so as well, perhaps editor E. Nelson Bridwell, because it was a story that made the cut for the oversized Batman Limited Collectorís Edition #C-25 that you could pick up a mere 8 years later for one dollar. I had to smile, too, looking at the indicia where none other than Carmine Infantino is listed as publisher.

Well done, Mr. Infantino! Your stellar Silver Age work, going clear back to Showcase #4, kicking off the era, continues to thrill and instruct all these years later. You are missed.

Next time around, believe it or not, it's milestone time yet again as this feature celebrates its 17th year. With the always essential assistance of the webmaster, we'll try to mark it appropriately. So by all means, join us again on the 1st of May and in the interim, the invitation stands for feedback, comments and questions. My e-mail address hasn't changed in all this time, so fire one off to: professor_the@hotmail.com.

See you next time andÖ

Long live the Silver Age!

© 2000-2017 by B.D.S.

This feature was created on 05/01/00 and is maintained by


The Silver Lantern Site Menu + Map & Updates

HomeThe SageSage Archives1934-19551956
1967196819691970GL Data

All characters mentioned, artwork, logos and other visual depictions displayed, unless otherwise noted, are © by DC Comics. No infringement upon those rights is intended or should be inferred. Cover, interior and other artwork scans and vid-caps are used for identification purposes only. The mission of this non-profit site is to entertain and inform. It is in no way authorized or endorsed by DC Comics and/or its parent company. The Webmaster assumes no responsibility for the content or maintenance of external links.