There are so many Batman comics and stories that keeping track of all of them would be impossible. However, the 1988 comic Batman 423 particularly sticks out and had become a valuable collectable. Its value has nothing to do with its contents on the inside, but rather its cover on the outside. The comic contains the only cover in the series that was drawn by artist Todd McFarlane. The cover has a large silhouette of Batman comforting a young woman, possibly a child. The silhouette reminds comic fans of McFarlane’s self-created character Spawn.
Although not completely clear what it is referring to, the cover image has him holding a young female within his cape, and has one hand over her arm. It could possibly be referring to the ending of the interior story, however this could be a stretch, since the ending story contains both a boy and a girl. The story called “You Shoulda Seen Him” tells three different tales from the perspectives of three different police officers. Copies of this comic that were graded and sealed in plastic list for astronomical prices (affiliate link) while ungraded copies are surprising affordable in comparison.
The first tale in this issue is about a man that decides to jump off the Gothamboro Bridge. He is troubled due to his heroin habit. The man explains to Batman that he has no family, job or future. Told from the perspective of the police officer who tried to talk him down, he sees Batman dive after him. Despite it being 465 feet straight down from the bridge, he goes after him anyway, and manages to grab and save the troubled man due to a harness that he was wearing. The officer’s narration explains that if he had hit the water from that distance, it would be like hitting concrete. While still hanging from the harness, Batman calls the man real stupid, and says that although he should be dead, he is not, and gets another chance to start over. He finished by saying that he should quit looking for excuses to fail, and has as good a shot at life as anyone.
As the police officer tells this story to another fellow officer in a diner, this other officer, a member of SWAT, says that he had seen Batman from a different perspective. While the SWAT team was dealing with a hostage situation, they ran out of time. The criminals were ready to kill the victims when Batman appears literally at the last second to save the day. This second story told shows a more brutal aspect of his character. As the officer put it, Batman is tough, mean, and cold as ice. His conversation is interrupted by a third officer, ready to tell the third and final story of the night.
The third story may help explain its cover image. A couple of kids, one boy and one girl, are chased through the ally of a loading dock by a police officer. He figured that they must have been a couple of runaways, but things change when Batman intervenes. With his help, we learn that their names were Hank and Jenny Watkins, and were seven and five years old. Their home was a packing crate under the West Side Highway. For warmth, they would burn garbage, and for food they would look in dumpsters behind restaurants.
The officer and Batman sat down with the children as they told their story. Their parents were already having a hard time financially when their mother died in a car wreck. After their father got laid off from the textile plant, he ended up stabbed to death during a heated game of cards. A social worker was going to separate the siblings, since Hank had to go to a boys’ home, and Jenny to a girls’ home. Not wanting to be separated, they flee and had been homeless for three months.
In the most significant moment of the story, we see Batman turn away and hide tears coming down his face. He wipes them away to hide them, then tells the children that they will never be separated again. Batman says that he knows a friend, Bruce Wayne, who can put them up until they can locate a relative of the children back in Florida where they used to live.
Although Batman 423 contains three interesting mini-stories about Batman’s personality and character, none of them have any significance that explains the high value and why people choose to collect this issue. If it weren’t for its amazing cover by artist Todd McFarlane, this would be another insignificant comic book sold for a dollar at flea markets before ultimately ending up in a landfill.