“Actually, I’m looking for a Batman #14.”
In the vampire-killing continuity of The Lost Boys, that intriguing humble-brag by Corey Haim’s Sam Emerson could very well be the definitive way to declare yourself amongst the elite of geekdom. Yet, while the 1987 film—notably from future Batman film franchise director Joel Schumacher—was rife with riffs directed at the hitherto untapped masses of comic book fandom, this shout-out to a Golden Age issue would, indeed, make it “a very serious book, man,” as Corey Feldman’s Edgar Frog famously replied. Moreover, the reference would pay emotional dividends in a made-for-video sequel.
The scene was expository for The Lost Boys, in which young Sam, new to the California community of Santa Clara, wanders into the comic shop of Frog Brothers Edgar (Feldman) and Alan (Jamison Newlander), who immediately scope him out as someone who doesn’t quite belong in their nerdy, secret-vampire-hunting hub, especially with the loud-even-for-1987 shirt he’s sporting. However, that’s when Sam drops the Batman #14 gauntlet, wiping away the siblings’ incredulous grimaces, leading to the further revelation—apocryphal as it may be—by Alan that there are “only five in existence,” to which Sam retorts with a cocky composure, “Four, actually, I’m always looking out for the other three.”
With a few lines, a vampire-hunting alliance for the ages had been forged—all thanks to the mere mention of an early Batman issue!
So, what’s the deal with Batman #14? As World War II raged on, the book was published by DC on October 10, 1942, post-dated for January 1943. Plot-wise, it wasn’t a particularly important or exceptional book, divided—per the norm of the era—into separate stories.
The first was “Prescription for Happiness,” in which Batman and Robin help an old drug store owner fight off criminals who’ve taken it over to use as their base. “Swastika Over the White House,” which was wartime red meat, had the Dynamic Duo thwarting a Nazi spy who posed as a photographer. Lastly, “Bargains in Banditry” showcased a plot by the Penguin to act as a criminal agent of sorts, selling price guides to other crooks to easily commit pre-planned crimes. Interestingly, after being thwarted by our heroes, Penguin was abruptly (even for 1942) sentenced to death, which briefly left his fate up in the air.
Consequently, Batman #14 doesn’t seem to bear any intrinsic connections to The Lost Boys. In fact, while its status as an early Batman comic makes it valuable in its own right, it’s not believed to be “only five in existence” rare, and a 9.8 graded copy apparently goes for around $54,000. Rather, it is generally believed that the reference was simply an example of the late director, Schumacher (who worked off a script by Jan Fischer and James Jeremias), showing off his stripes as a Batman fan. Yet, it did serve as an eight-years-early foreshadowing of his controversial tenure with that franchise for 1995’s Batman Forever and 1997’s Batman & Robin. Indeed, it seems to be an esoteric-sounding throwaway line that sounded geeky enough for mainstream audiences, many of whom were getting their first exposure to a subculture that now permeates the zeitgeist.
However, the specter of Batman #14 would once again grace The Lost Boys mythos in 2010’s Lost Boys: The Thirst, the second of the franchise’s generally unknown made-for-video sequels. Pertinently, the film, which positions Feldman’s returning Edgar Frog as the protagonist, happened to be in the works when Corey Haim—who expressed his desire to be in the film—tragically passed away on March 10, 2010. Such an appearance would have reversed his character’s apparent fate in a mid-credits scene from the previous sequel, 2008’s Lost Boys: The Tribe, in which Sam was revealed to have become a vampire. Thus, The Thirst heavily implies that Vampire Sam was staked by Edgar.
Naturally, The Thirst hit the Haim nostalgia hard, first with a flashback from the original film showing the aforementioned Batman #14 encounter between Sam and the Frog Brothers and notably reveals that Sam was NOT bluffing about having the coveted book, as it is shown in the possession of Edgar, to whom it was willed. Subsequently, in a heartbreaking meta scene, we see Feldman (who’s clearly mourning his real-life close friend,) as Edgar visiting Sam’s grave, showing that he died in 2008, which canonizes the character’s teased death in The Tribe. However, the geeky feels don’t stop there, since Edgar then takes out the fateful comic and proceeds to leave it on Sam’s grave. Indeed, it is worth pointing out that he left a book possibly worth as much as $50,000 on a gravestone and walked away. It’s an amazingly heartfelt gesture, but ouch!
Regardless, The Lost Boys has maintained its status as a modern classic, and was recently on the verge of being rebooted as a CW television series, although those prospects were essentially nixed even before the pandemic altered every industry variable. And as for Batman #14, the price of the “very serious book” in question becomes a bit more reasonable below the 8.5 grade—that is, if $5,000 is reasonable.