David Vern Reed

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David Vern Reed
BornDavid Levine
Died1989 (aged 64 or 65)
Pseudonym(s)Alexander Blade, Craig Ellis, Peter Horn, Coram Nobis, David Vern, Clyde Woodruff
Notable works
Detective Comics

David Vern Reed (born David Levine; 1924–1989), was an American writer, best known for his work on the Batman comic book during the 1950s in a run that included a revamp of the Batplane in Batman #61 and the introduction of Deadshot in Batman #59 (July 1950).


Reed's novelette "Giants Out of the Sun", published under his "Peter Horn" pseudonym, was the cover story for the May 1940 issue of Amazing Stories
Reed's novella "Death Plays a Game" was the cover story for the December 1941 issue of Fantastic Adventures

Born David Levine,[1] David Vern Reed grew up to become a writer, with his work appearing under several Anglicized pseudonyms, amongst them David Vern,[2] Coram Nobis,[3] Alexander Blade, Craig Ellis, Clyde Woodruff, and Peter Horn.[4] In the 1940s, he wrote such science fiction stories as the novella "The Metal Monster Murders" in Mammoth Detective vol. 3, #4 (Nov. 1944).

He was hired to write comic book scripts by his friend, Julius Schwartz, an editor at DC Comics. It was at DC where Levine — who like all Batman writers and artists of this time ghosted under Bob Kane's byline — would eventually become best known to Batman fans as "David V. Reed." Reed's first story published by DC, "Ride, Bat-Hombre, Ride" in Batman #56 (Dec. 1949–Jan. 1950) was the start of his first tenure chronicling Batman's adventures.[5][6] He and artist Lew Schwartz created the villain Deadshot in Batman #59 (July 1950).[2][7] Reed wrote such key stories as "The Birth of Batplane II" in Batman #61 (Nov. 1950),[8][9] "The Joker's Millions" and "Two-Face Strikes Again", the latter two featuring the return of the original villains introduced by Kane and writer Bill Finger. Another story from this period, "The Joker's Utility Belt", once mistakenly believed to have been written by Finger,[10] was eventually adapted[11][12] for Cesar Romero's first appearance as the Joker on the 1960s Batman television series, broadcast as the episodes "The Joker Is Wild"[13] and "Batman Gets Riled".[14] Besides Batman, Vern Reed wrote for Superman in Action Comics, World's Finest Comics and several of DC's non-superhero series.[5]

He later left comics to return to prose fiction, writing such science fiction novels as Murder in Space (Green Dragon Books / Ideal Publishing, 1945), and stories for such magazines as Amazing Stories, Fantastic Adventures, and Astounding Science Fiction. He also wrote for glossy magazines including Argosy, Collier's, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, and Mademoiselle.[15]

Reed returned to comic books in the 1970s and to Batman in 1975. Initially ignoring the character's large rogues gallery, he engaged the superhero in a series of bizarre mysteries such as "The Daily Death of Terry Tremayne"[16] and "The Underworld Olympics '76!"[17] However, supervillains would later appear in tales like "Where Were You On The Night Batman Was Killed?".[18][19] Critic Chris Sims of ComicsAlliance praised that story in 2012, noting "The price of Batman’s heroism, the guilt that he feels for being personally responsible for the victim showing up at the scene of one of his exploits, the lengths to which he’s willing to go to make sure that this person isn’t just another (literally) faceless victim, the desire to make sure he has the right killer — they’re all very modern ideas. This story may not be as well-known as anything by Englehart and Rogers or O’Neil and Adams, but it’s just as much of a turning point in how Batman was presented."[20] Batman #300 (June 1978) featured a story by Reed and artist Walt Simonson[21][22]

After writing various Batman stories for three years, Reed left comics again in 1978 with his final Batman story "Hang the Batman" appearing in DC Special Series #15.[5] He died in 1989.[23]

Comics bibliography[edit]


  1. ^ Rozakis, Bob (April 9, 2001). "Secret Identities". "It's BobRo the Answer Man" (column), Comics Bulletin. Archived from the original on May 23, 2011. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Batman #59 (July 1950)". Grand Comics Database.
  3. ^ Eury, Michael; Kronenberg, Michael (2009). "The Bronze Age Batman and Detective Comics (1969–1979)". The Batcave Companion. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 233. ISBN 978-1893905788. Bob Rozakis reveals that David V. Reed also writes for Plop! under the pseudonym Coram Nobis
  4. ^ Clute, John; Nicholls, Peter (2015). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. London, United Kingdom: Orion Publishing Group. Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Reed was probably the first writer to use the House Name Alexander Blade, which began as a personal pseudonym; among his other names (some apparently not identified) he used also the house names Craig Ellis and Peter Horn and wrote as David Vern, plus one story as Clyde Woodruff.
  5. ^ a b c David V. Reed at the Grand Comics Database and David Vern Reed at the Grand Comics Database
  6. ^ Manning, Matthew K.; Dougall, Alastair, ed. (2014). "1950s". Batman: A Visual History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 46. ISBN 978-1465424563. A frequent Batman writer during the 1950s and later the 1970s, David V. Reed penned this tale drawn by Dick Sprang.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  7. ^ White, James (October 28, 2015). "From Slipknot To Captain Boomerang (And Back Again): Meet The Suicide Squad". Empire. Archived from the original on October 30, 2015. [Deadshot] was originally created by Bob Kane, David Vern Reed and Lew Sayre Schwartz in 1950 as a prime villain for Batman.
  8. ^ "Batman #61 (Nov. 1950)". Grand Comics Database.
  9. ^ Manning "1950s" in Dougall, p. 47: "Batman unveiled the Batplane II in this issue by writer David V. Reed and artist Dick Sprang."
  10. ^ Goulart, Ron (1991). Over 50 Years of American Comic Books. New York City: Bdd Promotional Book Co. p. 237. ISBN 978-0792454502. The story is described as a "...typical Bill Finger story..."
  11. ^ Manning "1950s" in Dougall, p. 51: "The Joker received a utility belt of his very own in this tale that would later inspire an episode of the 1966-68 classic Batman TV show."
  12. ^ Gerber, Sean (November 25, 2014). ""The Joker Is Wild/Batman Gets Riled" (S1/E5 & 6)". Batman on Film. Archived from the original on September 12, 2015.
  13. ^ "The Joker is Wild" Story Code '8709-Part 1' originally broadcast January 26, 1966
  14. ^ "Batman Gets Riled" Story Code '8709-Part 2' originally broadcast January 27, 1966
  15. ^ Editor's comment, "Letters to the Batman", Batman #271 (Jan. 1976).
  16. ^ Batman #269 (Nov. 1975) at the Grand Comics Database
  17. ^ Batman #272 (Feb. 1976) at the Grand Comics Database
  18. ^ Batman #291–294 (Sept.–Dec. 1977) at the Grand Comics Database
  19. ^ Cronin, Brian (June 13, 2014). "75 Greatest Batman Writers and Artists: Writers #20-16". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on April 18, 2015.
  20. ^ Sims, Chris (June 29, 2012). "Ask Chris #112: Where Were You On The Night Batman Was Killed?". ComicsAlliance. Archived from the original on September 21, 2015.
  21. ^ Manning "1970s" in Dougall, p. 128: "Crafted by writer David V. Reed and penciller Walter Simonson, this special 34-page issue imagined a possible future where Gotham City had become the hub of Magalopolis-East."
  22. ^ Trumbull, John (December 2013). "A New Beginning...And a Probable End Batman #300 and #400". Back Issue!. TwoMorrows Publishing (69): 49–53.
  23. ^ "Contributors' bio section". Batman in the '50s. DC Comics. 2002. p. 190. ISBN 978-1563898105.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Bill Finger
Batman writer
Succeeded by
Edmond Hamilton
Preceded by
Bill Finger
Detective Comics writer
Succeeded by
Edmond Hamilton
Preceded by
Dennis O'Neil
Batman writer
Succeeded by
Gerry Conway
Preceded by
Dennis O'Neil
Detective Comics writer
Succeeded by
Elliot S. Maggin