Not long ago I wrote a somewhat lengthy post discussing a character design project by artist Dennis Culver, in which the talented artist drew about 50 portraits of Batman and his allies as a sort of fantasy Batman Inc. project. (You remember; it was awesome. Culver's project, that is, not my post about it).
Some of the characters he drew were Batmanized versions of pre-existing DC characters, with Culver giving them Batman-inspired costumes and assigning them cities to serve as the Batman of.
One of the goofier ones, perhaps only out-goofied by Angel and The Ape as the Robin and Bat-ape of Gorilla City, was his Tawky Tawny, the Batcat of Fawcett City.
Tawky Tawny is, as the majority of my readers are no doubt aware, the talking, bipedal tiger friend of Captain Marvel, who usually appears today dressed like a tweedy college professor, rather than Batman. Fawcett City is the fictional city where Captain Marvel and his related characters all reside in the current DC Universe.
At the time, I wrote of Culver's Batcat that "he’d probably need Fifth Dimensional Imp help to ever actually appear in a comic," given how rarely he shows up in DC Comics these days...let along Batman comics, which tend to be a degree or five more serious and "realistic" than other DCU super-titles. (Seriously DC—Bat-Mite Inc. by Dennis Culver!)
A bipedal tiger in a Batman costume? That seemed a bit too out there for a regular old, in-continuity Batman comic to me, you know?
So the other day I was playing around on comics.org, looking for a Batman image to illustrate a post somewhere, and I saw this: Well, what do you know...it's a bipedal tiger in a Batman costume! In a regular old, in-continuity Batman comic!
The particular comic is 1969's Batman #209, featuring a story by Frank Robbins, Irv Novick and Frank Giella. I haven't read it, but this synopsis makes it sound like nothing anything like the cover actually occurs in the comic itself (Criminals hypnotize Batman and Robin to think they're in an African jungle and that Alfred is a tiger, according to this "Keller" fellow's write-up). Guess who edited this old DC comic with an irresistible cover that has only a vague connection to the actual contents of the comic? If you guessed Julius Schwartz then you guessed right.
That's one of the many (many, many) things I love about superhero comics—try to think up the craziest idea you can and, chances are, it's already been done repeatedly in an old superhero comic. Heck, I bet it's hard to think of an animal head that neither Superman nor Batman sported in a story at some point during their almost three-quarters of a century having crazy-ass adventures...