Stephen J. “Steve” Ditko (born November 2, 1927) is an American comic book artist and writer best known as the co-creator of the Marvel Comics heroes Spider-Man & Doctor Strange. Considered a legend by many for his co-creation of some of Marvel’s most iconic characters, Ditko’s post-1960s comics work has had little impact, and by the end of the 1990s he had retired from mainstream publishing. For most of the last few decades, Ditko has maintained a secretive profile, only occasionally self-publishing his Objectivist-inspired comics.
What more can I say about Ditko that I didn’t already here? Well, he drew Batman once, that’s what. As far as I can tell, the only time my favorite Objectivist artist ever drew the Dark Knight Detective was, bizarrely, in the pages of Man-Bat #1, from 1975. An extremely short-lived series (this was the first of only two issues before it was canceled), Man-Bat featured the exploits of Kirk Langstrom, a scientist whose experiments in things led him to become the incredibly-literal titular creature.
The 70s saw Ditko largely acting as a journeyman penciller, drawing varied books for varied publishers while working on his more personal Ayn Rand-inspired work. Hence his work on Man-Bat. Even on work-for-hire like this, Ditko’s quirky style shines through. I love how almost every one of his Batman renderings hides his face in complete shadow apart from his eyes. I don’t think I’ve seen another artist do that before.
Like Jack Kirby, Ditko did a lot of work for DC after leaving Marvel, creating or co-creating characters like The Creeper, Hawk & Dove and Shade, The Changing Man along the way. Also like Kirby, he rarely worked on DC’s most famous icons. So it’s a treat to see his take on Batman, even if it’s just in the form of a few pages in an obscure spin-off