Postal administrations worldwide are short of a dollar, so they’re replacing worthy topics with themes they hope will appeal to the masses beyond their base of stamp-collector suckers. This can lead to horrendous results, like the use of stamps to report sports results. But sometimes, it totally works.
The four Batsignals from different eras are all stamps, and the four hero images depict Batman as seen in the Modern Age, Bronze Age, Silver Age and Golden Age of comics.
I like this issue. It does its subject proud. The natural rectangular shapes of the stamps call to mind the panels of a comic book. And it manages to retain Batman’s general darkness, which will keep Batfans happy. It’s a marked difference from the riotous colour of the USPS’s action-packed twin Superheroes issues of 2006-07, celebrating DC and Marvel superheroes respectively.
These sheets each depicted 10 superheroes – an action shot, and a comic book cover to prove that they totally existed.
Am I the only one surprised to learn that Batman beat all-American hero Superman in the race to get a stamp issue all to himself? Superman was part of the USA’s late-90s ‘Celebrate the Century’ series, his 1938 arrival hailed as one of the notable moments of the 1900s. Er, guys, you DO know Superman is make-believe, don’t you?
Don’t look now, America, but while you’re thumbing your nose at the Man of Steel, Canada Post is digging its polar bear claws into him, on the flimsy pretext that one of his creators, Joe Shuster, was Canadian. This sheetlet was issued in 2013:
Superman had already gatecrashed a 1997 Canadian issue celebrating its home-grown superheroes. Being (a) Australian and (b) not that kind of geek, I’m not familiar with any of them. But I must say that Nelvana and Fleur de Lys look rather cool – nice nod to those Montreal Francophones, Fleur. But I’m sorry Canadia, I know you call yourselves Canucks and that these characters have a proud pedigree, but… if either of Johnny Canuck or Captain Canuck turned up in the nick of time to rescue this damsel in distress, I’d probably burst out laughing in their faces, eh.
But wait, who’s this swinging in from above, spaffing cobwebs everywhere? It’s Spider-Man! He was featured on a 2014 USPS Priority Mail promotion which included his image on stamps from DIY kiosks, Priority Mail boxes, and even on USPS trucks in 14 major cities. Hardcore collectors would consider these issues fair game. But they were entirely a paid promotion for a film, and, being a purist, I spit on them. Paying your way onto a kiosk stamp is NOT the same as having the USPS put you on a proper stamp because you damn well deserved it for your crime fighting! Bugger off, corporate Spider-Man, before I reach for the insect repellent.
There was, however, a lighter side to this corporate whoredom. The USPS came up with a neat hashtag to promote this release.
— U.S. Postal Service (@USPS) May 20, 2014
#AmazingUSPS? That’s catchy. A little too catchy. Would any of my very clever tech-savvy readers like to guess what happened next? That’s right!
— Michael P. Hill (@michaelphill) September 11, 2014
— Steven Greenstreet (@MiddleOfMayhem) March 25, 2014
Oh dear. Sometimes, all the superheroes in the world can’t save you from yourself.
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© Philatelic product images remain the copyright of issuing postal administrations and successor authorities, and in this case I’m guessing the comic book images remain the copyright of relevant parties