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When Was Guest-Starring Batman First Used as a Sales Boost?

In "When We First Met", we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, "Avengers Assemble!" or the first appearance of Batman's giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man's face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.

Reader R. Alan B. (initials before the first name look weird when you then make the last name also an initial) asked when was the first time that DC Comics used Batman guest-starring in a comic book as a sales boost. He then also wanted to know specifically when it became a trend for Batman to guest-star in the first year of a new comic book series to give that series a sales boost.

Okay, this one is tricky for one major reason. I think that the first time that Batman was used as a sales boost was in a famous comic book that he STARRED in, namely World's Finest Comics, which was based around the idea of "Hey, let's put our two most popular characters in a series together."

(I like that they had to explain the name change on the cover)

Note that in the first decade or so of World's Finest Comics existence, Batman and Superman had their own stories in the book and they did not have team-ups. It was only when the amount of pages in the book were cut down due to inflation that they ended up teaming up together.

So early on, DC (then National Comics) was mostly concerned with just selling comic books starring Batman. What's interesting is that back then, the theory specifically was that having Batman appear in OTHER comic books would specifically HURT the sales on Batman's comics, as the theory went, "Why read Batman's comic when you could see him on the Justice Society with a bunch of other superheroes?" Hence Batman and Superman being mostly honorary members of the Justice Society.

When they did a special charity issue of All Star Comics (the comic where the Justice Society appeared), Superman and Batman made cameos and they did, in fact, use their appearance on the cover, thus this would really be the first instance of a Batman guest appearance being used as a sales boost...

But that was really just a cameo by Batman and Superman, so I'll keep looking for a more flat out guest appearance used that way.

All Star Comics #36 is probably the better example. That comic was flat out using Superman and Batman guest-starring in the issue as a sales tactic. That issue is notably the first time that the DC "trinity" of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman all shared a panel together...

However, that was really it for Batman throughout the 1940s. The only other time he appeared in a book other than his three main titles when he sort of made a cameo on the cover of Star-Spangled Comics #65 to mark Robin getting a solo feature in that series...

For a brief period in 1949, Batman also guest-starred in Robin's Star Spangled Comics feature, likely as a sales boost...

In 1952, Superman and Batman teamed up for the first time, and while that team-up was definitely sales-oriented, it was less Batman guest-starring in Superman's title that was the driving force so much as the two heroes teaming up period. In other words, Superman was the bigger draw at the time, but seeing them together was still a big deal...

That was Batman's only appearance outside his three main titles in the entire decade of the 1950s!

In the 1960s, Batman was a member of Justice League of America, but the deal was that he would not be featured in the book heavily. Note that he is not on the cover of the first cover appearance of the Justice League...

Then something changed around 1966. I wonder what it was...

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