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Batman

Batman (originally referred to as the Bat-Man and still sometimes as the Batman) is a DC Comics fictional superhero who first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in May 1939. He has since become, along with Superman and Spider-Man, one of the world's most recognized superheroes. Batman was co-created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, although only Kane receives official credit for the character. Batman's secret identity is Bruce Wayne, billionaire industrialist, playboy, and philanthropist. Witnessing the murder of his parents as a child leads him to train himself to the peak of physical and intellectual perfection, don a costume, and fight crime. Unlike most superheroes, he does not possess any superhuman powers or abilities; he makes use of intellect, detective skills, technology, physical prowess, and intimidation in his war on crime.

Publication History

Creation

In early 1939, the success of Superman in Action Comics prompted editors at the comic book division of National Publications (later DC Comics; D.C. is short for Detective Comics, now a subsidiary of Time Warner) to request more superheroes for their titles. In response, Bob Kane created a character called "the Bat-Man".[2] His collaborator Bill Finger offered such suggestions as giving the character a cowl instead of a simple domino mask, wearing a cape instead of wings, wearing gloves, and removing the red sections from the original costume.[3] Finger came up with the name "Bruce Wayne" for the character's secret identity. In Jim Steranko's History of the Comics, vol. 1, Bill Finger reveals, "Bruce Wayne's first name came from Robert Bruce, the Scottish patriot. Wayne, being a playboy, was a man of gentry. I searched for a name that would suggest colonialism. I tried Adams, Hancock...then I thought of Mad Anthony Wayne."[4] Inspirations for Batman's personality, character history, visual design and equipment include movies such as Douglas Fairbanks' The Mark of Zorro, The Bat, and Dracula; characters such as The Shadow, The Phantom, Sherlock Holmes, Dick Tracy, Jimmie Dale, The Green Hornet, Spring Heeled Jack; and Leonardo Da Vinci's drawings of a flying machine.

Kane signed away any ownership that he might have in the character in exchange for, among other compensation, a mandatory byline on all Batman comics. This by-line did not, originally, say "Batman created by Bob Kane"; his name was simply written on the title page of each story. The name disappeared from the comic book in the mid-1960s, replaced by credits for the artists and writers who actually worked on the stories. In the late 1970s, at the same time as Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster began receiving a "created by" credit on the Superman titles, Batman stories began saying "created by Bob Kane" in addition to the other credits. Finger did not receive the same recognition. Although Finger did receive credit for other work done for the same publisher in the 1940s, he began to receive limited acknowledgement for his work on Batman in the pages of the comic book only in the 1960s, as a script-writer (for example, "Letters to the Batcave", Batman no. 169, Feb. 1965, where editor Julius Schwartz names him as the creator of The Riddler, one of Batman's recurring villains). However, his contract, in contrast to Kane's, left him only with his page rate for the stories he wrote and no by-line even on most of the Batman stories he had written. Finger, like Joe Shuster, Jerry Siegel, and some other creators during and after the Golden Age of Comic Books, would resent National's denying him the money and credit that, he felt, he was owed for his creations. At the time of Finger's death, in 1974, he had not been officially credited as a co-creator of the character. Kane himself, however, in later years willingly acknowledged Finger's contributions to the character while also insisting on his own role. [5]

Early Years (1939-1949)

The first Batman story, "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate," appeared in Detective Comics #27, cover-dated May 1939. Finger wrote the first Batman strip and Kane provided the art. Finger said, "Batman was originally written in the style of the pulps"[6] and this influence was evident with Batman showing little remorse over killing or maiming criminals. The Bat-Man was a breakout hit, with sales on Detective Comics soaring to the point that the character was given his own title in 1940. By that time National was the top-selling and most influential publisher in the industry, and Batman and National's other major hero Superman were the cornerstones of the company's success.[7] The two characters were featured side-by-side as the stars of World's Finest Comics, which was originally titled World's Best Comics when it debuted in fall 1940. Creators including Jerry Robinson and Dick Sprang also worked on the strips during this period.

Over the course of the first few Batman strips elements were added to the character and Kane's artistic depiction of Batman evolved. Kane noted within six issues he drew the character's jaw more pronounced and lengthened the ears on the costume; "About a year later he was almost the full figure, my mature Batman," Kane said.[8] Batman's characteristic utility belt was introduced in Detective Comics #29, followed by the batarang and the first bat-themed vehicle in issue 31, and the character's origin was revealed in issue 33. The early pulp-influenced portrayal of Batman started to soften in Detective Comics #38 in 1940 with the introduction of Robin, Batman's kid sidekick.[9] Robin, based on Robin Hood, was introduced based on Finger's suggestion to Kane that Batman needed a "Watson" that would give Batman someone to talk to.[10] The first issue of Batman was notable not only for introducing two of Batman's most persistent antagonists, the Joker and Catwoman, but for one of the stories in the issue where Batman shoots some monstrous giants to death, which prompted editor Whitney Ellsworth's decree that the character could no longer kill or use a gun.[11] Batman's tone continued to stay light for the next several decades.

The Fifties and Early Sixties

In Superman #76 (1952), Batman first teams up with Superman and learns his secret identity; following the success of this story, the separate Batman and Superman features that had been running in World's Finest Comics instead featured both together; this series of stories ran until the book's cancellation in 1986. The stories feature the two as close friends and allies, tackling threats that require both of their talents.

Batman was one of the few superhero characters to be continuously published as interest in the genre waned during the 1950s. Starting in the mid-1950s, Batman's stories gradually become more science fiction-oriented, an attempt at mimicking the success of the top-selling Superman comics of the time. New characters such as Batwoman, Ace the Bat-Hound, and Bat-Mite (the latter two paralleling Krypto the Superdog and Mr. Mxyzptlk of the Superman titles) were introduced. Batman has adventures involving either odd transformations or dealing with bizarre space aliens. Batman is a highly public figure during the stories of the 1950s, regularly appearing at events such as charity functions and frequently appearing in broad daylight. In 1960, Batman becomes a member of the Justice League of America, which debuts in The Brave and the Bold #28.

"New Look" Batman and Camp (1964-1969)

By 1964 sales on Batman titles had fallen drastically; Bob Kane noted that as a result "[DC] were planning to kill Batman off altogether."[12] Editor Julius Schwartz was soon assigned to the Batman titles and presided over drastic changes. Beginning with 1964's Detective Comics #327 (billed on its cover as the "New Look"), Schwartz introduced changes designed to make Batman more contemporary and return him to more detective stories, including a redesign of Batman's equipment, the Batmobile, and his costume (introducing the yellow ellipse behind the costume's bat-insignia), and brought in artist Carmine Infantino to help in this makeover. The space aliens and characters of the 1950s such as Batwoman, Ace, and Bat-Mite were retired. Batman's erstwhile butler Alfred Pennyworth was even killed off and replaced with Aunt Harriet, who came to live with Bruce and Dick.

The debut of the Batman TV series in 1966 had a profound influence on the character. In addition to initiating the return of Alfred and the introduction of Batgirl, the show's campy nature found its way into the comics. Although both the comics and TV show were successful for a time, the camp approach eventually wore thin and the show was cancelled in 1968. In the aftermath the Batman comics themselves lost popularity once again. As Julius Schwartz noted, "When the television show was a success, I was asked to be campy, and of course when the show faded, so did the comic books."[13]

O'neil and Adams (1970-1985)

Writer Dennis O'Neil and artist Neal Adams made a deliberate effort to distance Batman from the campy portrayal of the 1960s TV series and to return the character to his roots as a "grim avenger of the night."[14] The O'Neil/Adams era began in earnest starting with Detective Comics #395's "The Secret of the Waiting Graves" (1970). Dick Grayson had been sent off to college in a story written by Frank Robbins, making Batman a loner once again. O'Neil's tone influenced Batman comics through the rest of the 1970s and into the 1980s; 1977 and 1978's stories in Detective Comics written by Steve Englehart (with art by Marshall Rogers) are held by many as a high point of this era.

The Modern Batman (1986-present)

Frank Miller's 1986 limited series Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, which tells the story of a 50-year-old Batman coming out of retirement in a possible future, returned the character to his dark roots. The Dark Knight Returns was a financial success and has since become one of the seminal works in comic book history.[15] The series also sparked a major resurgence in the character's popularity.[16] That year Dennis O'Neil took over as editor of the Batman titles and set the template for the portrayal of Batman following DC's status quo-altering miniseries Crisis on Infinite Earths. O'Neil operated under the assumption that he was hired to revamp the character and as a result tried to instill a different tone in the books than had gone before.[17] One outcome of this new approach was the "Year One" storyline in Batman #404-407, where Frank Miller and artist David Mazzucchelli redefined the character's origins. Alan Moore and Brian Bolland continued this dark trend with 1988's Batman: The Killing Joke, in which the Joker, attempting to drive Commissioner Gordon insane, cripples his daughter Barbara Gordon, kidnaps him, and tortures him physically and mentally. These stories and others like them helped to raise the image of comic books beyond mere children's entertainment. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and stories following it (such as John Byrne's Superman revamp) also severed the close friendship of Batman and Superman, replacing it with a more antagonistic relationship.

Since the publication of "Year One," many creators have set their stories in Batman's formative years, and the Batman title Legends of the Dark Knight in particular often features stories that take place in Batman's early days. Many of the stylistic notes of Year One, specifically text captions designed to look handwritten on note paper, have also been used quite successfully by other authors. In addition, the general concept of a Year One book, taking a fresh look at the origins of an older character, as well as showing their learning process, has been embraced by the comics industry as a whole. Other comics which have since gotten a "Year One" treatment include Spider-Man and the Justice League.

The Batman comics garnered major attention in 1988 when DC Comics created a 900 number for readers to call to vote on whether Jason Todd, the second Robin, lived or died. Voters decided in favor of Jason's death by a narrow margin of 28 votes.[18] 1993's "Knightfall" series introduces a new villain named Bane, who critically injures Batman. Jean-Paul Valley, known as Azrael, is called upon to wear the Batsuit during Bruce's convalescence. Writers Doug Moench, Chuck Dixon, and Alan Grant worked on the Batman titles during "Knightfall" and would also contribute to other Batman crossovers throughout the 1990s. 1998's "Cataclysm" storyline served as the precursor to 1999's "No Man's Land," a year-long storyline that ran through all the Batman-related titles dealing with the effects of an earthquake-ravaged Gotham City. At the conclusion of "No Man's Land" O'Neil stepped down as editor and was replaced by Bob Schreck. In 2003, writer Jeph Loeb and artist Jim Lee began a 12-issue run on Batman. Lee's first regular comic book work in nearly a decade, the series became #1 on the Diamond Comic Distributors sales chart for the first time since Batman #500 (1993). Lee is currently teamed with Frank Miller on All-Star Batman and Robin, which debuted with the best-selling issue in 2005,[19] as well as the highest sales in the industry since 2003.[20] After featuring Batman in major roles in DC's 2005 crossover event Identity Crisis and 2006's Infinite Crisis, DC has used the "One Year Later" event to reinvigorate the main Batman titles by assigning top comics talent to them. As of 2006 the regular writers on Batman and Detective Comics are Grant Morrison and Paul Dini, respectively, the former trying to restore Batman to his less rough 1970s character.[21]

Fictional Character History

Over the years, Batman's origin story, history and tone have undergone various revisions, both minor and major. Some elements have changed drastically; others, like the death of his parents and his pursuit of justice, have remained constant.

Consistent across all versions of the Batman mythos, Batman is the alter-ego of Bruce Wayne, a wealthy playboy, industrialist and philanthropist who is driven to fight crime in Gotham City after his parents, the physician Dr. Thomas Wayne and his wife Martha Wayne, are murdered by a mugger. Bob Kane said he and Bill Finger has discussed the character's background and decided that "there's nothing more traumatic than having your parents murdered before your eyes."[22]

Golden Age

In Batman's first appearance in Detective Comics #27, he is already operating as a crime fighter. Batman's origin is first presented in Detective Comics #33 in November 1939, and is later fleshed out in Batman #47. As these comics state, Bruce Wayne is born to Dr. Thomas Wayne and his wife Martha, two very wealthy and charitable Gotham City socialites. Bruce is brought up in Wayne Manor and its wealthy splendor and leads a happy and privileged existence until the age of eight, when his parents are killed by a small-time criminal named Joe Chill on their way home from the movie theater.

Bruce Wayne swears an oath to rid the city of the evil that had taken his parents' lives. He engages in intense intellectual and physical training and studies a variety of areas which would aid him in his endeavors, including chemistry, criminology, forensics, martial arts, and gymnastics, as well as theatrical skills like disguise, escapology, and ventriloquism. He realizes, however, that these skills alone would not be enough.

"Criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot", Bruce Wayne remarks in Detective Comics #33, "so my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. I must be a creature of the night, black, terrible..." As if responding to his desires, a bat suddenly flies through the window, inspiring Bruce to assume the persona of Batman. His career as a vigilante in early Batman strips initially earns him the ire of the police. During this period Bruce Wayne has a fiancee named Julie Madison, who first appears in Detective Comics #31.

In Detective Comics #38 (1940), Bruce takes in the orphaned circus acrobat Dick Grayson, who becomes his sidekick, Robin. Batman also becomes a founding member of the Justice Society of America (DC Special #29), although according to the team's first appearance in All-Star Comics #3 he, like Superman, is an honorary member and thus only participates in a few Justice Society stories during the Golden Age. Batman's relations with the law thaw in stories in the early 1940s, notably in Batman #7 (1941) where he is made an honorary member of Gotham City's police department. Other elements of Batman's milieu are introduced during this era: in addition to Batman's first encounters with some of his most enduring adversaries, butler Alfred arrives at Wayne Manor in Batman #16 (1943) and after deducing the Dynamic Duo's secret identities joins their service. By the 1950s, many of the familiar elements of the Batman mythos had been introduced.

Silver Age

The Silver Age of comic books in DC Comics is sometimes held to have begun in 1956 when the publisher introduced Barry Allen as a new, updated version of The Flash. Batman is not significantly changed by the late 1950s for the continuity which would be later referred to as Earth-One. The lighter tone Batman had taken in the period between the Golden and Silver Ages led to the stories of the late 1950s and early 1960s that often feature a large number of science-fiction elements, and Batman is not significantly updated in the manner of other characters until 1964's Detective Comics #327, in which Batman reverts to his detective roots, with all science-fiction elements jettisoned from the series. After the introduction of DC Comics' multiverse in the 1960s, it is retroactively established that the Golden Age Batman lives on the parallel world of Earth-Two. This version of Batman partners with and marries the reformed Earth-Two Catwoman, Selina Kyle (as shown in Superman Family #211) and fathers Helena Wayne, who, as the Huntress, becomes (along with the Earth-Two Robin) Gotham's protector once Wayne retires from the position to become police commissioner, a position he occupies until he is killed during one final adventure as Batman. Batman titles however often ignored that a distinction had been made between the pre-revamp and post-revamp Batmen (since unlike Flash or Green Lantern, Batman comics had been published without interruption through the 1950s) and would on occasion make reference to stories from the Golden Age (such as the Englehart/Rogers run of the late 1970s, which has editorial notes directing readers to issues such as Batman #1). Nevertheless, details of Batman's history were altered or expanded upon through the decades. Additions include meetings with a future Superman during his youth, his upbringing by his uncle Philip Wayne (introduced in Batman #208, Jan./Feb. 1969) after his parents death, and appearances of his father and himself as prototypical versions of Batman and Robin, respectively.[23][24] In 1980 then-editor Paul Levitz commissioned the Untold Legend of the Batman limited series to thoroughly chronicle Batman's origin and history.

Batman meets and regularly works with other heroes during the Silver Age, most notably Superman, whom he began regularly working alongside in a series of team-ups in World's Finest Comics, starting in 1954 and continuing through the series' cancellation in 1986. Batman and Superman are usually depicted as close friends. Batman becomes a founding member of the Justice League of America, appearing in its first story in 1960's Brave and the Bold #28. In the 1970s and 1980s, Brave and the Bold became a Batman title, in which Batman teams up with a different DC Universe superhero each month.

In 1969, Robin attends college as part of DC Comics' effort to revise the Batman comics. Additionally, Batman also moves from Wayne Manor into a penthouse apartment atop the Wayne Foundation building in downtown Gotham City, in order to be closer to Gotham City's crime. Batman spends the 1970s and early 1980s mainly working solo, with occasional team-ups with Robin and/or Batgirl. Batman's adventures also become somewhat darker and more grim during this period, depicting increasingly violent crimes, including the first appearance (since the early Golden Age) of an insane, murderous Joker, and the arrival of Ra's Al Ghul. In the 80s, Dick Grayson becomes Nightwing.

In the final issue of Brave and the Bold in 1983, Batman quits the Justice League and forms a new group called the Outsiders. He serves as the team's leader until Batman and the Outsiders #32 (1986) and the comic subsequenlty changed its title.

Modern Batman

After the 12-issue limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC Comics rebooted the histories of some major characters in an attempt at updating them for then-contemporary audiences. Frank Miller retells Batman's origin in the storyline "Year One" from Batman #404-407, which emphasizes a grittier tone in the character. Though the Earth-Two Batman is erased from history, many stories of Batman's Silver Age/Earth-One career (along with an amount of Golden Age ones) remain canonical in the post-Crisis universe, with his origins remaining the same in essence, despite alteration. For example, Gotham's police are mostly corrupt, setting up further need for Batman's existence. While Dick Grayson's past remains much the same, the history of Jason Todd, the second Robin, is altered, turning the boy into the orphan son of a petty crook, who tries to boost the tires from the Batmobile. Also removed is the guardian Phillip Wayne, leaving young Bruce to be raised by Alfred. Additionally, Batman is no longer a founding member of the Justice League of America, although he becomes leader for a short time of a new incarnation of the team launched in 1987. To help fill in the revised backstory for Batman following Crisis, DC launched a new Batman title called Legends of the Dark Knight in 1989 and has published various miniseries and one-shot stories since then that largely take place during the "Year One" period.

In 1988's "Batman: A Death in the Family" storyline from Batman #426-429 Jason Todd, the second Robin, is killed by the Joker. Subsequently Batman takes an even darker, often excessive approach to his crimefighting. Batman works solo until 1989's "A Lonely Place of Dying", in which Tim Drake becomes the new Robin. In the tale Batman: Son of the Demon, Batman marries Talia Al Ghul. The marriage is annulled and Batman is unaware that she bears his son. This was considered an Elseworlds tale until Grant Morrison revived the idea in 2006 in Batman #655.

After the 12-issue limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC Comics rebooted the histories of some major characters in an attempt at updating them for then-contemporary audiences. Frank Miller retells Batman's origin in the storyline "Year One" from Batman #404-407, which emphasizes a grittier tone in the character. Though the Earth-Two Batman is erased from history, many stories of Batman's Silver Age/Earth-One career (along with an amount of Golden Age ones) remain canonical in the post-Crisis universe, with his origins remaining the same in essence, despite alteration. For example, Gotham's police are mostly corrupt, setting up further need for Batman's existence. While Dick Grayson's past remains much the same, the history of Jason Todd, the second Robin, is altered, turning the boy into the orphan son of a petty crook, who tries to boost the tires from the Batmobile. Also removed is the guardian Phillip Wayne, leaving young Bruce to be raised by Alfred. Additionally, Batman is no longer a founding member of the Justice League of America, although he becomes leader for a short time of a new incarnation of the team launched in 1987. To help fill in the revised backstory for Batman following Crisis, DC launched a new Batman title called Legends of the Dark Knight in 1989 and has published various miniseries and one-shot stories since then that largely take place during the "Year One" period.

In 1988's "Batman: A Death in the Family" storyline from Batman #426-429 Jason Todd, the second Robin, is killed by the Joker. Subsequently Batman takes an even darker, often excessive approach to his crimefighting. Batman works solo until 1989's "A Lonely Place of Dying", in which Tim Drake becomes the new Robin. In the tale Batman: Son of the Demon, Batman marries Talia Al Ghul. The marriage is annulled and Batman is unaware that she bears his son. This was considered an Elseworlds tale until Grant Morrison revived the idea in 2006 in Batman #655.

After the 12-issue limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC Comics rebooted the histories of some major characters in an attempt at updating them for then-contemporary audiences. Frank Miller retells Batman's origin in the storyline "Year One" from Batman #404-407, which emphasizes a grittier tone in the character. Though the Earth-Two Batman is erased from history, many stories of Batman's Silver Age/Earth-One career (along with an amount of Golden Age ones) remain canonical in the post-Crisis universe, with his origins remaining the same in essence, despite alteration. For example, Gotham's police are mostly corrupt, setting up further need for Batman's existence. While Dick Grayson's past remains much the same, the history of Jason Todd, the second Robin, is altered, turning the boy into the orphan son of a petty crook, who tries to boost the tires from the Batmobile. Also removed is the guardian Phillip Wayne, leaving young Bruce to be raised by Alfred. Additionally, Batman is no longer a founding member of the Justice League of America, although he becomes leader for a short time of a new incarnation of the team launched in 1987. To help fill in the revised backstory for Batman following Crisis, DC launched a new Batman title called Legends of the Dark Knight in 1989 and has published various miniseries and one-shot stories since then that largely take place during the "Year One" period.

In 1988's "Batman: A Death in the Family" storyline from Batman #426-429 Jason Todd, the second Robin, is killed by the Joker. Subsequently Batman takes an even darker, often excessive approach to his crimefighting. Batman works solo until 1989's "A Lonely Place of Dying", in which Tim Drake becomes the new Robin. In the tale Batman: Son of the Demon, Batman marries Talia Al Ghul. The marriage is annulled and Batman is unaware that she bears his son. This was considered an Elseworlds tale until Grant Morrison revived the idea in 2006 in Batman #655.

Many of the major Batman storylines since the 1990s have been inter-title crossovers that run for a number of issues. In 1993, the same year that DC published the "Death of Superman" storyline, the publisher released the "Knightfall" storyline. In the storyline's first phase, new villain Bane paralyzes Batman, leading Wayne to ask Azrael to take on the role. After the end of "Knightfall", the storylines split in two directions, following both the Azrael-Batman's adventures, and Bruce Wayne's quest to become Batman once more. The story arcs realign in "KnightsEnd", as Azrael becomes increasingly violent and is defeated by a healed Bruce Wayne, who reclaims the mantle of Batman. Wayne has Nightwing stand in as Batman for a brief time before returning to the role once more.

1994's company-wide crossover Zero Hour changes aspects of DC continuity again, including those of Batman. Noteworthy among these changes is that the general populace and the criminal element now considers Batman an urban legend rather than a known force. Similarly, the Waynes' killer is never caught or identified, effectively removing Joe Chill from the new continuity, rendering stories such as "Year Two" non-canon.

Batman once again becomes a member of the Justice League during Grant Morrison's 1996 relaunch of the series, titled JLA. While Batman during Morrison's JLA run is depicted as "the most dangerous man alive"[25] and contributes greatly to many of the team's successes, the Justice League is largely uninvolved as Batman and Gotham City face catastrophe in the decade's closing crossover arc. In 1998's "Cataclysm" storyline, Gotham City is devastated by an earthquake. Deprived of many of his technological resources, Batman fights to reclaim the city from legions of gangs during 1999's "No Man's Land." While Lex Luthor rebuilds Gotham at the end of the "No Man's Land" storyline, Bruce Wayne is later framed by Luthor for murder in the "Bruce Wayne: Murderer?" and "Bruce Wayne: Fugitive" story arcs; Wayne is eventually acquitted.

The "Batman: Hush" storyline introduces Tommy Elliot, a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne's, who had significant influence on him during his youth. As Hush, Elliot attacks Batman by coordinating many of the hero's enemies. During the story, Catwoman and Batman become romantically involved for a brief time, but Batman's growing sense of distrust in her ends their relationship. One of Hush's tactics is to trick Batman into believing that Jason has returned from the dead. Although the Jason Todd whom Batman fights in the "Hush" storyline is revealed to be Clayface, Todd does turn up alive later in the guise of the Red Hood.

DC's 2005 limited series Identity Crisis, reveals that JLA member Zatanna had edited Batman's memories, leading to his deep loss of trust in the rest of the superhero community. Batman later creates the Brother I satellite surveillance system to watch over the other heroes. Its eventual co-opting by Maxwell Lord, Black King of the government organization known as Checkmate, is one of the main events that leads to the Infinite Crisis miniseries, which again restructures DC continuity. In Infinite Crisis #7, Alexander Luthor, Jr. mentions that in the newly-rewritten history of the "New Earth", created in the previous issue, the murderer of Martha and Thomas Wayne is captured, thus undoing the retcon created after Zero Hour. Batman and a team of superheroes, including the new Blue Beetle, destroy Brother Eye and the OMACs.

Following Infinite Crisis, Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, and Tim Drake retrace the steps Bruce had taken when he originally left Gotham City, to "rebuild Batman". In the "Face the Face" storyline, Batman and Robin return to Gotham City after their year-long absence. Additionally, Bruce adopts Tim as his son. The follow-up story arc in Batman, "Batman & Son", features Talia al Ghul and a boy who believes Batman to be his father and brings elements of Son of the Demon into continuity. Batman also helps create Wonder Woman's new identity, Diana Prince, and has begun screening other heroes for candidacy in the new Justice League of America.

Personas

Like his close friend Superman, the prominent persona of Bruce Wayne's dual identities varies with time. Modern-age comics have tended to portray "Bruce Wayne" as the facade, with "Batman" as the truer representation of his personality (in counterpoint to the post-Crisis Superman, whose "Clark Kent" persona is the 'real' personality, and "Superman" is the act). Since Infinite Crisis and the portrayal in Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne has been shown as somewhat of an amalgam between the two.

Wayne guards his secret identity well, as only a handful of individuals know of his superhero alter-ego. Several villains have also discovered his true identity over the years, most notably eco-terrorist Ra's al Ghul, as well as Catwoman, Hugo Strange, the Riddler, Bane, and Hush.

Bruce Wayne

To the world at large, Bruce Wayne is seen as an irresponsible, superficial playboy who lives off his family's personal fortune (amassed when Bruce's family invested in Gotham real estate before the city was a bustling metropolis) and the profits of Wayne Enterprises, a major private technology firm that he inherits. Forbes Magazine once estimated Bruce Wayne to be the 7th-richest fictional character with his $6.3 billion fortune.[26] However, Wayne is also known for his contributions to charity, notably through the Wayne Foundation, a charity devoted to helping the victims of crime and preventing people from becoming criminals. Bruce creates the playboy public persona to aid in throwing off suspicion of his secret identity, often acting dim-witted and self-absorbed to further the act. Batman makes it clear that he considers keeping his secret identity a top priority; on various occasions, he often risks death rather than exposing his skills in public as Bruce Wayne.

The Dark Knight

Bruce Wayne creates Batman to strike fear into the hearts of Gotham's underworld. The costume — and the way he acts while wearing it — are meant to be as imposing and intimidating as possible While Bruce Wayne is lighthearted and irresponsible, Batman is stoic and driven. In addition to the change in costume and personality, Bruce Wayne also changes his voice significantly to become Batman. The Dark Knight's voice is low and raspy, for both disguise and intimidation.

In keeping with the "dark" theme of the comics and the nature of bats, Batman is usually presented as operating primarily at night. After Zero Hour, DC Comics introduced the idea of Batman as an urban legend; however, Batman is "outed" in the "War Games" crossover, when his live image is broadcast over the news during a brief daytime appearance in front of a high school under siege in Gotham. In The Long Halloween, Batman himself regards "his appearance to be more effective during the night".

Matches Malone

Batman also occasionally goes undercover to infiltrate Gotham's criminal element. Matches Malone is a small-time thug who serves as Batman's snitch; when Matches is killed, Batman assumes his identity.

Skills, Resources, and Abilities

Batman is a superhero despite his not having super-powers. His resourcefulness, insight, and years of rigorous training make up for the absence of any other special abilities.

Physically, he is at the peak of human ability in dozens of areas, notably martial arts, acrobatics, strength, and escape artistry. Intellectually, he is just as peerless; Batman is one of the world's greatest scientists, criminologists, and tacticians, as well as a master of disguise. He is regarded as one of the DC Universe's greatest detectives. Rather than simply out-fighting his opponents, Batman often uses cunning and planning to outwit them.

Equipment

Batman designs or modifies the majority of costumes, equipment, and vehicles he uses as Batman, producing them through various divisions of Wayne Enterprises, including Kordtronics. At various times, characters such as Oracle, Harold, and Toyman III create, modify, or repair Batman's equipment. Additionally, sometimes Batman adapts or reverse-engineers the technology of other villains and heroes, such as Mister Terrific's T-spheres.

Over the years, Batman accumulates a large arsenal of specialized gadgets (compare with the later James Bond), the designs of which usually share a common theme of dark coloration and a bat motif. A notable example is Batman's primary vehicle, the Batmobile, usually depicted as an imposing black car with large tailfins that suggest a bat's wings; another is his chief throwing weapon, the batarang, a bat-shaped boomerang/throwing star. Batman's other vehicles include the Batplane (aka the Batwing), Batboat, Batmarine, and Batcycle.

In proper practice, the "bat" prefix (as in batmobile or batarang) is rarely used by Batman himself when referring to his equipment, particularly after some portrayals (primarily the 1960s Batman live-action television show and the Super Friends animated series) stretched the practice to camp proportions. The 1960s television series Batman has an arsenal that includes such ridiculous, satirical "bat-" names as the bat-computer, bat-scanner, bat-radar, bat-cuffs, bat-pontoons, bat-drinking water dispenser, bat-camera with polarized bat-filter, shark repellent bat-spray, and bat-rope. In one episode, Batman and Robin stop by an outdoor hamburger stand which sells "bat-burgers", beef sandwiches supposedly named in his honor. The storyline "A Death in the Family" suggests that given Batman's grim nature, he is unlikely to have adopted the "bat" prefix on his own.

Batman keeps most of his field equipment in a signature piece of apparel, a utility belt. Over the years it is shown to contain a virtually limitless variety of crimefighting tools. Different versions of the belt have these items stored in either pouches or hard cylinders attached evenly around it.

In some of his early appearances, Batman uses side arms (see especially Detective Comics #32, September 1939), but he uses them less over time, later eschewing their use because a gun was used to murder his parents. Some stories relax this rule, allowing Batman to arm his vehicles for the purpose of disabling other vehicles or removing inanimate obstacles. In two stories, The Dark Knight Returns and The Cult, Batman used machine guns loaded with rubber bullets rather than live ammunition. In the 1989 Batman film, firearms figure more prominently in the Dark Knight's arsenal; machine guns and grenades are mounted on the Batmobile, and missiles and machine cannons on the Batwing.

Costumes

The details of the Batman costume change repeatedly through the character's evolution, but the most distinctive elements remain consistent: a black scallop-hem cape, a cowl covering most of the face featuring a pair of batlike ears, and a stylized bat emblem on the chest, plus the ever-present utility belt. His gloves also typically feature three scallops that protrude from the sides. The most significant costume variations over the years involve the chest emblem–a yellow ellipse was added in 1964, and has come and gone since then; and the color scheme, alternately lighter colors (medium blue and light gray) or darker (black and dark gray). The length of the cowl's ears and of the cape vary greatly depending on the artist.

In his earliest appearances, Batman wears a bulletproof vest, but it was dropped soon after, in order to make the character even more human. However with more informed writers who are aware bullet hits, even when armored, are undesirably painful and potentially dangerous, the idea of the hero having such protection and still endeavouring to avoid being hit has been reintroduced. To that end, in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Batman explains that the bright yellow ellipse on an otherwise dark costume provides an attractive target, as drawing shooters away from a headshot and to a region of his costume that can better take the blow.

Bat-Signal

One of the best-known elements of the Batman mythos is the Bat-Signal. When Batman is needed, the Gotham City police activate a searchlight with a bat-shaped insignia over the lens that shines into the night sky, creating a bat-symbol on a passing cloud which can be seen from any point in Gotham. The origin of the signal varies, depending on the continuity and medium.

In various incarnations, most notably the 1960s Batman TV series, Commissioner Gordon also has a dedicated phone line, dubbed the Bat-Phone, connected to a bright red telephone (in the TV series) which sits on a wooden base and has a transparent cake cover on top. The line connects directly to Wayne Manor, specifically to a similar phone sitting on the desk in Bruce Wayne's study.

Batcave

The Batcave is Batman's secret headquarters, consisting of a series of subterranean caves beneath his residence, Wayne Manor. It serves as his command centre for both local and global surveillance, as well as housing his vehicles and equipment for his war on crime. It also is a storeroom for Batman's memorabilia. In both the comic Batman: Shadow of the Bat issue #45, and the 2005 film Batman Begins, the cave is said to have been part of the Underground Railroad. Of the heroes and villains who see the Batcave, few know where it is located.

Supporting Characters

Despite his reputation as a loner, Batman works with many people in his fight against crime. For much of Batman's history, a teenager serves as the youthful sidekick Robin. The first Robin, Dick Grayson, eventually leaves his mentor and becomes the hero Nightwing. The second Robin, Jason Todd, is beaten to death by the Joker but later returns as an adversary. Tim Drake, the third Robin, first appears in 1989 and aspires to be as good a detective as Batman. Alfred Pennyworth is Bruce Wayne's loyal butler and father figure, and also aids Batman by maintaining the Batcave while Lucius Fox sees to his business and charitable interests. Police Commissioner James "Jim" Gordon works closely with Batman despite their differences on how to best enforce the law.

Barbara Gordon, Commissioner Gordon's daughter, was the second Batgirl (the first being Batwoman's niece Betty Kane, as "Bat-Girl"), and now, confined to a wheelchair due to a gunshot wound inflicted by the Joker, serves the superhero community at large as the computer hacker Oracle. As Oracle, Barbara directs the Birds of Prey team, among whose numbers is the Huntress. The Huntress' willingness to kill makes her alliance with Batman uneasy.

While primarily operating either alone or with Robin, Batman is at times a member of the Justice League of America or the Outsiders, though his status is often that of a part-time member. He even has a friendly rivalry with Mister Terrific.

Superman and Batman are featured together in both World's Finest comics and the current Superman/Batman series. In pre-Crisis continuity, the two are depicted as close friends; however, in current continuity, they have a mutually respectful but uneasy relationship, with an emphasis on their differing views on crimefighting and justice. In recent years, Batman's relationship with Superman warms, making Superman his closest ally in the Justice League. Batman keeps a Kryptonite ring, given to him by Superman, in case the world's most powerful being is ever manipulated or goes rogue.

Azrael is a hero who works with Batman but not as part of his team. Azrael eventually becomes Batman after the events of Knightfall, when supervillain Bane cripples Bruce Wayne. He is very different from Bruce Wayne, and he rejects Robin. Eventually, Wayne recovers and takes back his Batman identity.

Batman is involved romantically with many women throughout his various incarnations. These include villainesses such as Catwoman and Talia al Ghul; reporters Vicki Vale and Vesper Fairchild; superheroines Wonder Woman and Zatanna; former sidekick Sasha Bordeaux; and others, including Silver St. Cloud, Julie Madison, physician Shondra Kinsolving, nurse Linda Page and even Lois Lane. While these relationships tend to be short, Batman's attraction to Catwoman is present in nearly every version and medium in which the characters appear. Authors have gone back and forth over the years as to how Batman manages the 'playboy' aspect of Bruce Wayne's personality; at different times he embraces or flees from the women interested in attracting "Gotham's most eligible bachelor".

Other characters in Batman's world include Batwoman, a young socialite who operates in Gotham City during Batman's absence following Infinite Crisis; Ace the Bat-Hound, Batman's pet dog; and Batmite, an extra-dimensional imp who adores Batman.

Batman Villians

Batman's foes form one of the most distinctive rogues galleries in comics. The most familiar Batman villains were created in the 1930s and 1940s: the Joker, Catwoman, the Penguin, Two-Face, the Riddler, Mad Hatter, Scarecrow, and Clayface. Other well known villains emerge in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s including Mister Freeze, Killer Moth, Poison Ivy, and Ra's Al Ghul. Killer Croc, Man-Bat, Black Mask, and the Ventriloquist first appear in the 1980s, and Bane and Harley Quinn in the 1990s. Enemies introduced since 2000 include Hush, David Cain, and Jason Todd.

Homosexual Interpretations

Psychologist Fredric Wertham's general assertion in his 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent is that readers imitated crimes committed in comic books, and that these works corrupt the morals of the youth. The most notorious charge in the book, however, is leveled at Batman, in a four-page polemic claiming that Batman and Robin are gay. "They live in sumptuous quarters, with beautiful flowers in large vases, and have a butler," Wertham wrote. "It is like a wish dream of two homosexuals living together." Wertham asserted, "the Batman type of story may stimulate children to fantasies."[27]

Wertham became aware of this alternative reading through his conversations with fans of Batman in the fifties, who brought the comic book to his attention as an example of the idealization of a "homosexual lifestyle." Burt Ward has also remarked upon this interpretation, in his autobiography Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights noting the relationship could be interpreted as a sexual one, with the show's double entendres and lavish camp also possibly offering ambiguous interpretation.[28] This is despite the fact that the TV series was an attempt at a tamer version of Batman which tried to be less violent than the comic series — one of Wertham's arguments against comics.

The fact that the original Robin costume is made up of tiny green shorts and pixie boots also lead to some homosexual suggestions; however, Robin's costume was designed in the late 1930's, and he was meant to appeal to children as a colorful, fun character in contrast to the darker Batman. The current Robin dresses in a more modern costume that is not as skimpy as the original design.

Despite the lack of any concrete cause-and-effect link between reading comics and "deviance", these suggestions raised a public outcry during the 1950s, eventually leading to the establishment of the Comics Code Authority. It has also been suggested by scholars that the characters of Batwoman (in 1956) and Bat-Girl (in 1961) were introduced in part to refute the allegation that Batman and Robin were gay, and the stories took on a campier, lighter feel.[29] Julius Schwartz has said that when he became editor of the series he was conscious of the inferences that could be drawn from Batman's living arrangements, and that because of this he and writer Bill Finger had Batman's butler Alfred killed and his role in the stories filled by Dick Grayson's Aunt Harriet, providing in effect a female chaperone at Wayne Manor.[30]

Commenting on homosexual interpretations of Batman, writer Alan Grant has stated, "The Batman I wrote for 13 years isn't gay. Denny O'Neil's Batman, Marv Wolfman's Batman, everybody's Batman all the way back to Bob Kane... none of them wrote him as a gay character. Only Joel Schumacher might have had an opposing view." Devin Grayson has commented, "It depends who you ask, doesn't it? Since you're asking me, I'll say no, I don't think he is ... I certainly understand the gay readings, though."[31]

While changing morals have made the issue less important today, popular culture and a number of artists continue to play off the homosexual connotation of the Batman-Robin relationship against the wishes of the publisher.[32] One notable example occurred in 2000, when DC Comics refused to allow permission for the reprinting of four panels (from Batman issues 79, 92, 105 and 139) to illustrate Christopher York's paper All in the family: Homophobia and Batman Comics in the 1950s[33] Another happened in the summer of 2005, when painter Mark Chamberlain displayed a number of watercolors depicting both Batman and Robin in suggestive poses. DC threatened both artist and gallery with legal action if they did not cease selling the works and demanded all remaining art, as well as any profits derived from them.[34]

Most recently, George Clooney said in an interview with Barbara Walters that in Batman & Robin he played Batman as gay. "I was in a rubber suit and I had rubber nipples. I could have played Batman straight, but I made him gay." Barbara Walters after laughing then asked, "George, is Batman gay?" To which he responded, "No, but I made him gay." [35]

Batman, both as a superhero and in his identity as Bruce Wayne, has been portrayed throughout his years in comics and other media as having enjoyed a number of romantic relationships with women, and his encounters with his female adversaries have also occasionally used sexual tension to add to the narrative. Batman's sexuality is, as intended by most authors, predominantly heterosexual. Homosexual readings of the texts are the product of non-canonical reader interpretations.

Notes

  1. The British newspaper The Guardian has called the character, commonly known as the Dark Knight, "the perfect cultural artifact for the 21st century" in an article about Batman's anniversary [1].
  2. Daniels, Les. Batman: The Complete History. Chronicle Books, 1999. ISBN 0-8118-4232-0, pg. 18.
  3. Daniels (1999), pg. 21, 23
  4. Kane, Bob, Tom Andrae (1989). Batman & Me. Forestville, CA: Eclipse Books, 44. 1-56060-017-9.
  5. Batman and Me by Bob Kane and Tom Andrae
  6. Daniels (1999), pg. 25
  7. Wright, Bradford W. Comic Book Nation. Johns Hopkins, 2001. ISBN 0-8018-7450-5, pg. 19
  8. Daniels (1999), pg. 29
  9. Wright, pg. 17
  10. Daniels (1999), pg. 38
  11. Daniels (1999), pg. 42
  12. Daniels (1999), pg. 94
  13. Daniels (1999), pg. 115
  14. Wright, pg. 233
  15. Daniels (1999), pg. 147, 149
  16. Wright, pg. 267
  17. Daniels (1999), pg. 155, 157
  18. Daniels (1999), pg. 161
  19. Diamond's 2005 Year-End Sales Charts & Market Share (http). newsarama.com (2006). Retrieved on October 26, 2006.
  20. July 2005 Sales Charts: All-Star Batman & Robin Lives Up To Its Name (http). newsarama.com (2005). Retrieved on October 26, 2006.
  21. Morrison in the Cave: Grant Morrison talks Batman. Newsarama. Retrieved on 2006-10-29.
  22. Daniels (1999), pg. 31
  23. Detective Comics #235 (September 1956)
  24. Detective Comics #226
  25. JLA #4 (1997)
  26. Noer, Michael; Dan Ackman (2002-09-13). The Forbes Fictional Fifteen. Forbes. Retrieved on 2006-10-28.
  27. Daniels (1999), pg. 84
  28. Bruce Wayne: Bachelor. Ninth Art: Andrew Wheeler Comment. Retrieved on June 21, 2005.
  29. York, Christopher (2000). "All in the family: Homophobia and Batman Comics in the 1950s". The International Journal of Comic Art 2 (2): 100–110.
  30. Daniels (1999), pg. 99
  31. Is Batman Gay?. Retrieved on December 28, 2005.
  32. Ennis, Garth. "Midnighter is the Gay Batman", Newsarama, March 2006.
  33. Beatty, Bart (2000). "Don't Ask, Don't Tell: How Do You Illustrate an Academic Essay about Batman and Homosexuality?". The Comics Journal (228): 17–18.
  34. "Gallery told to drop 'gay' Batman", BBC, 19 August 2005.
  35. "Brokebat Mountain: "Batman is gay", says George Clooney", PinkNews.co.uk, 3 March 2006. Retrieved on 2006-03-12.

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