There's a funny thing about iconic comic book covers. Once they become iconic, you tend to overlook any oddities in them.
To wit, no one is bothered by the fact that Spider-Man is telling his secret identity out loud while holding a crook...
No one really is bothered by the fact that Reed Richards is tied up for no good reason...
Similarly, have you noticed that on the cover of Batman #244 by Neal Adams (speaking of classic Batman covers, we're in the midst of a countdown of the 75 Greatest Batman Covers of All-Time - check it out here!), Ra's Al Ghul has Batman's costume in his hands and yet Batman is still wearing his pants?
Reader Dan P. and his friend noticed, though, and he wrote in to me to help settle an argument he and his friend had over the cover...
My buddy claims it was a mistake on Neal Adams' part since he is shirtless but wearing pants during parts of the story. I think it was a comics code concern, that DC was forced to color the pantsless Batman on the cover.
As it turns out, it was neither (although more the latter than the former).
Neal Adams explained it all to Dan Greenfield recently...
“You and I are going to play a game,” he said. “How many pairs of pants does Batman have on this cover?”
“Two,” I answered. “He’s wearing a pair and Ra’s al Ghul is holding a pair. But why is that?”
Adams explained: “It’s because (editor) Julie Schwartz refused to let me have bare legs on Batman. It was OK to do the bare chest, but if he had his pants off that would imply that he had taken his shorts off as well. So you couldn’t do that. So I said ‘But he’s got a costume!’ and Julie says, ‘Nobody will notice.’ And it’s true.”
Thanks to Dan P. for the suggestion and thanks to Neal Adams and Dan Greenfield for the suggestion!
On the next page, was Hulkling originally created as a girl?!