Larry Eischen - My favorite hero of the 50s was unceremoniously cancelled in the spring of 1964. I bought every one of the three titles he appeared in. He was one of those non-powered grim avengers. His parents had been killed when he was young and with steely-eyed determination, he trained himself to fight crime. And they cancelled him. No relegation to Earth-2, no nostalgic reprints today, just flat out gone.
My favorite hero of my youth--Bruce Wayne aka Batman.
But, I can hear you say, Batman was never cancelled. He's still going, more popular than ever. A Batman is still being published, but not mine. For a kid in the late 50s, Batman was an adventurer who took on a wide assortment of foes. He fought gimmick villains-losers and bums who took names like Signalman to use the knowledge of signals and signs to commit crimes. Mostly they were one and done, but one guy kept coming back-the Joker. He was there bedeviling Batman at every opportunity with thefts that usually centered around a them of some sort or another lastest gimmick of his own. Never lethal, he was a trickster who worked more to embarass Batman than kill him.
My Batman fought aliens, usually an interplanetary villain who saw easy pickings on Earth. Green, blue, red, Batman fought them all (along with the earth gang they recruited)...sometimes Batman would actually travel to another word to fight crime among the ET's. He was a symbol of justice for all, even those on far off worlds.
And the changes-my Batman became a giant, a baby, a, creature. a water breather, a duplicate of himself, a negative photoimage of himself and, my favorite, the zebra Batman-a weird elctromagnetic creature (the zebra stripes were patterns of force) who inadvertently rained destruction everywhere.
And the hangers-on, Bathound, Batwoman, Batgirl. I loved them all. I hated Bat-Mite though. When he showed up the stories just got silly. I bought every issue of Batman, Detective and World's Finest. To this day, I can't describe any of the Roy Raymond or J'onn J'onnz stories from Detective, but loved those Batman stories.
The highpoint was issue 156 of Batman. It featured a booklength epic. Today's version of a booklength story is a twelve-part mini with crossovers. That's how exciting it was back then. The story "Robin Dies At Dawn" featured Batman and Robin, Batwoman and Batgirl in a science fiction adventure on alien worlds. The cover showed a grim Batman carrying Robin's body through an alien landscape. I loved that story, cover dated June 1963. In my memory, it was always the last gasp before disaster. My Batman hung around for another year but in my memory, that has always been the last Batman book.
In June 1964, issue 164 featured the "New Look" Batman. He fought common criminals and sometimes Joker and Penguin and the like. I stopped buying Batman and Detective. I'd check every once in a while to see if my old friend was back, but he'd disappeared. When I finally saw a Ras al Ghul story, he'd been around a few years already. Joker turned lethal. Catman was replaced by the old standby Catwoman. I bought the titles here and there but three issues in a row would be a long run of the title for me. I bought Brave and Bold if I liked the team-up partner, not for Batman.
Latter, I found a run I liked. Batman and Catwoman were an item. She'd renounced crime and was joining him on adventures. The Joker caught wind of this and turned her evil again. Oh boy, this was going to be good. Then came one of the "Events", Crisis or Legends and the storyline was dropped and Batman re-booted. Damn, they got him again.
My Batman is gone. The Showcase reprints start Superman in 1958, Jimmy Olsen in 1954. The Batman Showcases start with the new look issues. I hear rumors that the current Batman author is slipping the stories back into continuity. I miss my Batman.