Without the perfect combination of luck, patience, and financing, collecting Golden Age Batman and Robin-related comics can seem like a daunting challenge. As a whole, Golden Age Batman and Detective Comics have been among the most sought after comics ever published for decades. It can sometimes seem like every other issue is a key moment in the history of Caped Crusader's career, and that there are no overlooked gems left to discover in the chronicles of Golden Age Batman. But there still are a few underappreciated issues. The copy of Star Spangled Comics #65 CGC 9.0 up for auction at auction at the 2020 July 9 – 12 Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction is a excellent example of one of the rarest concepts in all of comics collecting — an underrated Batman-related key issue.
Like many of the comics of the Golden Age, Star Spangled Comics was an anthology series. The series was launched in 1941 as a war-focused superhero title cover-featuring the Star Spangled Kid and Stripesy. Star Spangled Comics #65, cover-dated February 1947 with a Library of Congress copyright date of December 11, 1946, is the debut of Robin's first solo series. The cover and art for the Robin story in this issue is by Win Mortimer. The writer of the story is unknown but presumed to be Bill Finger. Robin was the cover feature until Star Spangled Comics #95 (cover-dated August 1949) and continued to be a feature in the title until its end with Star Spangled Comics #130 (cover-dated July 1952). Most issues included Batman to some extent as well, and several are even effectively Batman/Robin stories, or nearly so. That's a very respectable 65-issue run spanning over 5 years. Star Spangled Comics was rebooted as Star Spangled War Stories the next month, with the August 1952 cover-dated issue.
Star Spangled Comics #65 was published at a time of transition for the comics industry and the world at large. World War II had ended about a year before this issue was put into production, and war time comics had refocused on crime, comedy, super-science, and the ever-evolving forms of the superhero. Star Spangled Comics #65 has Robin infiltrating a crime school for kids, masquerading as a reform school for juvenile delinquents.
The name of this school, "Boyville," was clearly inspired by Boys Town, Nebraska, a town founded in 1917 by Father Edward J. Flanagan to help underprivileged and delinquent boys. The town was made famous by a 1938 movie of the same name starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney. The crime school element seems loosely inspired by another 1938 movie of that same name, Crime School, among others. Somewhat ironically, the Robin story in Star Spangled Comics #65 tracks the rise in the national concern over juvenile delinquency during this era, which would result in the Association of Comics Magazine Publishers Code of 1948 — and more famously the Comics Magazine Association of America's Comics Code Authority in 1954.
Star Spangled Comics #65 is an important and overlooked Batman-related key that can typically be had for significantly less than Batman and Detective Comics issues from the same era. There are only 28 unrestored copies on the CGC census, with only four copies graded higher than the of Star Spangled Comics #65 CGC 9.0 up for auction at the 2020 July 9 – 12 Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction. The auction for this item closes on July 11, 2020.
Star Spangled Comics #65 (DC, 1947) CGC VF/NM 9.0 White pages. Robin stories and covers begin. Batman cameo. Win Mortimer cover and art. Charles Paris art. Overstreet 2019 VF/NM 9.0 value = $2,401; NM- 9.2 value = $3,400. CGC census 7/20: 1 in 9.0, 4 higher.