In a previous BATBLOG My first Batman I talked about my first memorable Batman experience. But there was one other Batman that came before the Burton / Keaton Batman 1989 mania. My own sort of Batman: Year One if you will.
When I was a kid, I had the Kenner Super Powers Superman and Batman action figures that my mom gave to me. They were really cool toys, if a bit underweight for two DC titans, you could squeeze their legs together and their arms would pump back and forth like they were jogging.
I don’t know why Superman and Batman were jogging, I guess I missed that particular issue of World’s Finest, I figure they were both healthy enough already and probably too busy for jogging. But none of that mattered to my younger self, I guess they were just good buddies and liked to hang out together, so why not jogging?
All I knew is that they were cool and colourful and that their arms moved, which breathed more life into them with my imagination doing the rest.
Both action figures came with sweet cloth capes which inevitably got lost, I would make the Superman fly around the room with one hand making that swooshing noise. I seemed to know a little bit about Superman from the Dick Donner directed movies starring Christopher Reeve and Gene Hackman, I think I saw the third one in the cinema, but my memory is pretty foggy. I also had a Parademon toy, but I had no idea what that was, and the mini-comic that came with all of the Kenner figures didn’t really help me out.
So I knew a little about Superman, even less about Batman. He was on some crummy animated shows now and then that I never paid attention to, and the repeats of Batman 66 with Adam West and Burt Ward would play forever on TV. But I was not a fan of that show even as a kid. But none of that mattered, I loved those toys and would play with them all the time. This was years before I had ever seen any kind of comic book, which were not common or easy to find when I was kid in New Zealand.
At some point I got older and my adult self had no idea what happened to those two toys, I wish I still had them today. I have other toys now from back then some even older than the World’s Finest, so I really have no clue what happened to them. It sounds silly, but my adult self feels like I lost something of my childhood when those toys disappeared and I didn’t even notice they were missing until years later.
These days I like to imagine that they went to another dimension for an adventure and they were needed there, so they never returned.
Superman and Batman left enough of an impression on me that over a decade later I would seek them out in comics, animation and films, and they would come to define a large part of my life, and provide inspiration every day to live a good life, treat others right and be an everyday hero.
Can a toy inspire a kid to live a good life and be a good human being? Probably not, but the adult me purchased a Batman toy a few months ago, and I bought the Batman that my childhood BAT-FAN demanded from ebay, all sleek Blue and Grey. That lithe Neal Adams look, and he sits proudly atop my book shelves reminding me to train hard, keep learning and adapting, treat people right and be just a little better today than I was yesterday.