David Vern Reed

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David Vern Reed (1924–1989) born David Levine, 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.


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] Alexander Blade,[citation needed] Craig Ellis,[citation needed] Clyde Woodruff[citation needed] and Peter Horn.[citation needed] 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 of 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." He and artist Lew Schwartz created the villain Deadshot in Batman #59 (July 1950).[2]

Reed's first story published by DC, "Ride, Bat-Hombre, Ride", (Batman #56 Vol. 1) was the start of his first tenure chronicling Batman's adventures. Reed wrote such key stories as "The Birth of Batplane II" in Batman #61 (Nov. 1950),[3] "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,[4] was eventually adapted[citation needed] for Cesar Romero's first appearance as the Joker on the 1960s Batman television series, broadcast as the episodes "The Joker Is Wild"[5] and "Batman is Riled".[6]

Besides Batman, Vern Reed wrote for Superman, World's Finest and several of DC's non-superhero books.[citation needed] 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 Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Collier's, Argosy, and Mademoiselle.[7]

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"[8] and "The Underworld Olympics '76!"[9] However, supervillains would later appear in tales like "Where Were You On The Night Batman Was Killed?".[10] Reed's version would greet his foes with a dry quip, to which some readers objected[citation needed] as out of character for a "dark knight". Other fans acknowledged[citation needed] that deadpan humor had been a part of the character's personality since his earliest appearances.[11] Reed remained on Batman for three years before leaving comics again.

He died in 1989.[12]

Other works[edit]

Outside comic books, Vern Reed wrote for several magazines. These included Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Collier's, Argosy, and Mademoiselle. His work also appeared in pulp magazines like Amazing Stories, Fantastic Adventures and Astounding Science Fiction.[7] and published novels such as Murder in Space.


  1. ^ Rozakis, Bob (April 9, 2001). "Secret Identities". "It's BobRo the Answer Man" (column), Comics Bulletin. Archived from the original on November 14, 2010. Retrieved November 14, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Batman #59 at the Grand Comics Database
  3. ^ Batman #61 at the Grand Comics Database
  4. ^ 50 Years of American Comic Books by Ron Goulart, p.? describes story as a "...typical Bill Finger story..."
  5. ^ "The Joker is Wild" Story Code '8709-Part 1' originally broadcast January 26, 1966
  6. ^ "Batman is Riled" Story Code '8709-Part 2' originally broadcast January 27, 1966
  7. ^ a b Editor's comment, "Letters to the Batman", Batman #271 (Jan. 1976).
  8. ^ Batman #269 (Nov. 1975) at the Grand Comics Database
  9. ^ Batman #272 (Feb. 1976) at the Grand Comics Database
  10. ^ Batman #291-294 (Sept.-Dec. 1977) at the Grand Comics Database
  11. ^ Detective Comics #28, reprinted in Batman Archives Volume 1 (DC Comics, 1997) ISBN 978-0-930289-60-7
  12. ^ Contributors' bio section, Batman in The 50s p. 190,DC COMICS, 2002