The very first reference to the 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast came only a few
years after its transmission, in of all things the pages of the April 1940 issue of
the comic book Batman. Not just any Batman comic it should be emphasized, but the
very first issue of that historic publication. If you can find an original copy,
it would now cost you tens of thousands of dollars, though it would be silly
to suggest that this value is in any way enhanced by the inclusion of a reference
to the 1938 broadcast.
It is however a story that capitalizes on lingering memories
of the broadcast, featuring a first devilish turn from the Batman's arch nemesis
the Joker, who in the opening panels hijacks a radio program to predict that the
millionaire Henry Claridge will be killed at midnight and the Claridge diamond stolen.
One listener is less than impressed, laughing it off as a hoax like, "that fellow
who scared everybody with that story about Mars the last time." But of course the
prediction does come true, and the Joker them precedes to make a series of similar
radio announcements, each time fulfilling his prophecy and leaving behind victims
scarred by his hideous trademark rictus grin.
It's well worth a look to see this fleeting pop culture reference to the broadcast, but
equally if you're unfamiliar with the early adventures of The Batman, you'll find
this a rewarding excursion to the early days of comicbook history and the beginnings of an iconic character.
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