Batman

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The comic book character Batman, originally and still sometimes referred to as The Batman, is a fictional character who first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in May 1939. Nicknames for Batman include the Dark Knight, the Creature of the Night, the Masked Manhunter, the World's Greatest Detective and the Bat; when teamed with his aid Robin, The Boy Wonder, the two are nicknamed the Dynamic Duo. When Batman has needed an underworld human face, he has assumed the identity of a hood named "Matches" Malone. His true identity is Bruce Wayne, billionaire industrialist, playboy, and philanthropist. Although the character was cocreated by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, only Kane receives official credit for the character. Batman was, at first, just one of several characters featured in Detective Comics. He has since become the lead or co-lead character of a number of comic book series, including a number of titles featuring related characters (e.g. Robin, Batgirl). Batman and Superman are DC Comics' two most popular and recognizable characters.

Publication history

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Detective Comics #27, May 1939. The first appearance of Batman. Art by Bob Kane.

In early 1939, the success of Superman in Action Comics prompted editors at the comic book division of National Publications (later DC 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". His collaborator Bill Finger offered such suggestions as giving the character a cowl instead of a simple domino mask, giving him a cape instead of wings, giving him gloves, and removing red sections of the original costume. Finger wrote the first Batman story, while Kane provided art. Because Kane had already submitted the proposal for a Batman character to his editors at DC Comics, Kane was the only person given official credit at the time for the creation of Batman.

A number of other sources have been cited as inspirations for Batman's personality, character history, and visual design and equipment, including Zorro starring Douglas Fairbanks, 1926's The Bat, Dracula, The Shadow, Sherlock Holmes, Dick Tracy, and even the technical drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci.

The character was a breakout hit, with sales on Detective Comics soaring to the point that National's comic book division was renamed "Detective Comics, Inc." Robin was a outgrowth of a conversation Bill Finger had with Bob Kane. Bill Finger felt Batman needed a Watson. Robin was named after Robin Hood. The Batman and Robin team was a hit.

Kane, the more business-savvy of the Kane-Finger creative team, negotiated a contract with National, signing away any ownership that he might have in the character in exchange for, among other compensations, a mandatory byline on all Batman comics stating "Batman created by Bob Kane", regardless of whether or not Kane had been involved with that story at all. At the time, no comic books and few company-owned comic strips were explicitly credited to their creative teams. Bill Finger's contract, by comparison, left him with a monetary pittance and no credit even on the stories that he wrote without Kane. Finger, like Joe Shuster, Jerry Siegel, and many other creators during and after the Golden Age of Comic Books, would resent National for cheating him of the money and dignity that he was owed for his creations. By the time Finger died in 1974, he had never once been officially credited for his work. In comparison, Kane parlayed his official sole creator status into a low level of celebrity, enjoying a post-comic book career as a painter. Ironically, much of Kane's later comics work, and even some of his non-comics art, was written or illustrated by other, uncredited writers or artists, ghosting under Kane's name.

Evolution of the concept

  • In Batman's original comics, Batman stories were often presented in the tone of gothic horror films and film noir of the day, with a particularly grim emphasis; a few stories even present Batman making use of firearms, as well as showing little remorse over an enemy's death. The body count in the first dozen or so published Batman stories is quite high, with Batman breaking necks, throwing men off buildings to their deaths, and even committing one act of cold-blooded murder when he kills a thug from behind in the first "Dr. Death" story.
  • 1940 was the introduction of Robin in Detective Comics #35.

In 1941 the grim Creature of the Night outlaw Batman (1939-1941) ended in the comic books when Batman was censored by DC's Editorial Boards starting with Batman #7 where Batman was made an Honorary Member of the Police Department. With all the censorship he was not the same character Bill Finger and Bob Kane created anymore. 1941 was the beginning of the frendly noble lawman Batman that would continue in the comics tell 1970.

1952's Superman (1st series) #76, Batman first teamed up with Superman and learned his secret identity; following the success of this story, the separate Batman and Superman features that had been running in World's Finest Comics were combined into one feature featuring both Superman and Batman together; this series of stories ran until the book's cancellation in 1986. The stories featured Superman and Batman as close friends and allies, tackling threats that required both of their talents.

Starting in the mid-1950s, Batman's stories gradually became more and more science fiction oriented in tone, an attempt at mimicking the success of the top-selling Superman comics of the time. Batman received all manner of 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). Batman also began having various adventures involving either odd transformations or dealing with bizarre space aliens. Batman was a highly public figure during the stories of the 1950s as well, regularly appearing at such events as charity functions, and also frequently appearing in broad daylight. In 1960, Batman also became a member of the Justice League of America as shown in its debut issue in The Brave and the Bold #28.

Editor Julius Schwartz presided over drastic changes made to a number of DC's comic book characters, including Batman in 1964's Detective Comics #327. Schwartz introduced a myriad of 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 oval behind the costume's bat-insignia), as well as bringing in artist Carmine Infantino to help in this makeover. The 1950's worth of space aliens and characters such as Batwoman, Ace, and Bat-Mite were also retired in this makeover. This makeover soon became known as the "New Look" Batman. Julies Schwartz also created Aunt Harriet to live with Bruce and Dick. This influenced the Adam West silly campy Batman parody TV series in 1966 and ending in 1968.

  • Writer Denny O'Neil and artist Neal Adams returned the grim Creature of the Night Batman in Detective Comics #395 1970 "The Secret of the Waiting Graves". Robin, Dick Grayson was sent off to collage, making Batman free to be a total loner again. 1977 and 1978's stories of Detective Comics (Batman: Strange Apparitions) written by Steve Englehart with art by Marshall Rogers (that many considered to be the definitive Batman). The Joker story "The Laughing Fish" was written by Englehart showing how truly insane Joker is.
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The first issue of The Dark Knight Returns, the series that redefined Batman.

Writer Frank Miller grounded Batman further in his grim and gritty roots with the comic book miniseries The Dark Knight Returns (1986), which takes place in an possable future, and 1987's storyline Batman: Year One,

In both Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns, Batman's story runs parallel to that of Jim Gordon. In Year One, Gordon has not yet become the police commissioner, and is instead a middle-aged cop with a working to redeem himself amidst Gotham's corrupt police force, while 25 year old Bruce Wayne trys to become Batman. In The Dark Knight Returns, Gordon is 70, and is forced into mandatory retirement from his post as police commissioner while 55 year old Bruce Wayne returns from retirement as Batman. These stories gave Gordon's character a depth he had seldom achieved before. The Dark Knight Returns served to boost sales and interest for comic books, as its popularity was nothing short of phenomenal. It allowed Batman finally to shed the image of a silly campy Adam West character for which he was still known, and it also helped to raise the image of comic books so that they were no longer known solely as a form of children's entertainment. Kiddie books. The Dark Knight Returns and stories following it (such as John Byrne's Superman revamp) also severed the friendly relationship of Batman and Superman, replacing it with a more realistic one.

Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns as well as Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's Batman: The Killing Joke had set the tone for Tim Burton's Batman movies, Warner Bros' Batman and Batman Returns, as well as the animated series (created by Bruce Timm), and the ongoing comic book series, and have served to inspire imitators on other comic books films.

Batman: Year One was significant in that it was set in Batman's early days, an early period during which Bruce Wayne was still a relatively inexperienced crimefighter and Batman had yet to become an established figure in Gotham. Since the original publication of Year One, many have set their stories in Batman's early days. One of the first being Batman: Gothic by Grant Morrison. Other's have been Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale in their miniseries Batman: The Long Halloween (Loeb's follow-up to Year One) and Batman: Dark Victory - have set their stories in this era. Others included Mike W. Barr's story out of the DC Universe continuity Batman: Year Two in which Batman encounters Gotham's first vigilante, "The Reaper" and forms an uneasy alliance with his parents' killer, Joe Chill. The Batman title Legends of the Dark Knight in particular often featured stories that took place in Batman's early days.

The Year One Batman is characterized by his ongoing learning process and less developed technological equipment, as well as a somewhat different costume, which notably lacks the yellow oval around the bat emblem on his chest. This version of Batman is the basis for the 2005 film Batman Begins.

Many people consider one of the most controversial Batman stories to be Alan Moore's 1988's story Batman: The Killing Joke, in which the Joker crippled Batgirl Barbara Gordon by shooting her in the stomach, which injured her spine and paralyzed her from the waist down. Immediately afterwards, he kidnapped Commissioner Gordon with the intent of driving him insane. The story led to Barbara Gordon having to give up her career as Batgirl and eventually taking the identity and role of Oracle.

1994's Zero Hour storyline, the ideas of Batman as not having caught his parent's killer and of being an urban legend both meant to return Batman even closer roots, were made offical. Noteworthy stories of include the death of Batman's second sidekick to bear the name of Robin, Jason Todd; a new Robin, Tim Drake, took over the role of Robin several years later.

Character history

Origin of the Batman

In the Batman mythos, Batman is the alter-ego of Bruce Wayne, a billionaire industrialist and philanthropist who was driven to fight crime after his parents, the physician Dr. Thomas Wayne and his wife Martha Wayne, were murdered before his eyes at the age of eight. The identity of the mugger traditionally is known as the small-time criminal Joe Chill, though some versions have deviated from that (the 1989 Tim Burton movie Batman presented the Joker as the killer of Wayne's parents, while Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins sticks with Joe Chill). In the present comics continuity, the killer's identity was never found. In the comics and animated series, medical doctor and social worker Leslie Thompkins was there to give loving comfort to the traumatized Bruce. Depending on the adaptation, he was then raised on the Wayne Manor estate by uncle Philip Wayne and/or wise and loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth.

Bruce Wayne swore an oath to rid the city of the evil that had taken his parents' lives. He spent his youth traveling the world, training himself to intellectual and physical perfection and learning a variety of crime-fighting skills, including criminology, forensics, martial arts, gymnastics, and disguise. At age 14, Bruce Wayne began his global sojourn, attending courses at Cambridge, the Sorbonne, and other European universities. Beyond academia, Bruce acquired more "practical" skills. While abroad, Bruce learned all 127 major styles of combat, from Aikido to Yaw-Yan. Frenchman Henri Ducard made him an apprentice in manhunting. The ninja Kirigi schooled Bruce in stealth and the ways of the shadow warrior. African Bushmen taught hunting techniques, while Nepalese monks revealed healing arts. (In the film Batman Begins, he conducted his studies at Princeton University in New Jersey as a young adult, and learns jujitsu, ninjitsu, and multiple forms of kung-fu from Henri Ducard, who is depicted as secretly being Ra's al Ghul) He even studied ventriloquism from practitioners of the art. And so it went for 12 years as Bruce matured into manhood. His knowledge of so many varied disciplines has made Bruce an unconventional and unpredictable opponent. After returning to Gotham in his mid-twenties, Wayne made several harrowing and near-fatal forays into the world of crime-fighting before donning his now familiar costume that was in part inspired by another tragic accident of his life that would have a profound impact on who he would become — at the age of six, he fell down a cavern, located beneath Wayne Manor (later to become the Batcave), that was swarming with bats, nocturnal creatures, wherein he was forever haunted by the event despite the timely arrival of his father. After a particularly fatal brush with the criminals of Gotham (his last encounter before donning the cape and cowl) Bruce sat in his father's study questioning his mission and seeking direction. A bat crashed through the window, and he took it as a sign that he should take on the appearance of a bat to strike fear into the "cowardly and superstitious lot" (i.e. the criminal element).

The Dark Knight

In keeping with the "dark" theme of the comics and the nature of bats, Batman is usually presented as operating only at night. In recent comics, the idea was introduced of Batman being an urban legend and not believed by the denizens of Gotham City to actually exist; however, this notion is contradicted by various previous stories that indicate otherwise. In order to make up for this flaw in continuity, Batman was recently "outed" in War Games, a story that stretched across all Batman titles, when his live image was broadcast over the news as he made a brief daytime appearance in front of a violence-overtaken high school in Gotham.

Whenever he is needed, the Gotham City police activate a "Bat-Signal" (a searchlight with a bat-shaped insignia over the lens) that shines into the night sky (in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, the Bat-Signal is used as much to enhance the terror effect of Batman on criminal elements as a signal). He operates out of the Batcave located beneath Wayne Manor, which contains all of his gadgets, weapons, and other paraphernalia.

Bruce Wayne

To the world at large, Bruce Wayne is an irresponsible, superficial playboy who lives off his family's personal fortune (amassed when Bruce's parents invested in Gotham real estate before the city was a bustling metropolis) and the profits of Wayne Enterprises, a major private technological firm that he has inherited. However, Wayne is also known for his contributions to charity, notably through the Wayne Foundation, a foundation devoted to helping the victims of crime and preventing people from turning to it.

Secret identity

Wayne guards his secret identity well, as only a handful of individuals know of his superhero alter-ego, including Superman (Clark Kent), Wonder Woman (Diana), The Flash III (Wally West), Green Lanterns John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, and Alan Scott, Plastic Man (Patrick "Eel" O'Brien), Aquaman (Orin/Arthur Curry), Green Arrow (Oliver "Ollie" Queen), Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Robin III (Tim Drake), Oracle (Barbara Gordon), and his butler Alfred. The kindly Doctor Leslie Thompkins also is aware of Bruce's secret identity. In the films, the female lead usually learns of Batman's identity, because more often than not, she likes both of them. However, several villains have discovered his true identity over the years, most notably eco-terrorist Ra's Al Ghul, Hugo Strange, the Riddler, Catwoman,Scarecrow, and Bane. Of recent, the villain Hush has been mostly driven on revenge on both sides of the Batman/Bruce Wayne persona, and is noted throughout his run as a villain as having personal ties to Bruce Wayne and/or Batman; yet it is not yet clear who Hush is, therefore it is unclear who else knows of Bruce's other identity. Fortunately, most of Batman's enemies have dismissed the notion of Bruce Wayne as Batman because of Wayne's apparent dim-wittedness and self-absorption while the ones who do know prefer to keep the information to themselves for their own reasons. The Joker has had opportunities to learn himself, but refused them since it would personally rob the mystique of his enemy.

Gotham City

Batman's base of operations is Gotham City, a fictional city modeled primarily after New York City; In some of the early comics, it is called New York. It is generally thought to be located on the northeast coast, though no state is ever named. It's an urban city, with ritzy areas, but a gloomy, dingy city in general. It is renowned for its lead in science development and architecture, among its apparent overabundance of psychopaths. It specifically emphasizes a "dark side", in contrast to the bright, clean, futuristic feel of Superman's Metropolis.

Powers and abilities

An important part of the mythos is that although Batman is commonly referred to as a Superhero, unlike Superman and most other costumed heroes, he is a normal human being who does not possess any superhuman abilities. However, he has elevated himself to near-superhuman status through years of rigorous training - eventually he became an exceptional escape artist, master of martial arts, acrobatics, science, technology, boxing, disguises, criminology and detective skills. Batman is typically portrayed as a brilliant tactician and peerless martial-artist, possessed with a stoic personality and a strong desire for justice. In recent comics, Batman has often been presented as having an obsessive, humorless personality. Like Superman, the prominent persona of his dual identities has varied with time. Present comics seem to favor portraying the decadent playboy aspect of his character as the facade, while the masked and particularly dark, grim vigilante is marked as the "true" man. Usually, Batman is further separated from Bruce Wayne by the raspy voice he usually assumes while costumed. (Except for Adam West's smooth baritone from the TV series.) Interestingly, Batman Begins director Christopher Nolan interpreted the character as having three personas: the affable goofy playboy, the extremely gritty and violent Batman, and the man in-between, when he takes off the mask but doesn't put on a tux. Nolan sees that as the true, pure character, a person that really only Alfred sees.

Being only human, Batman doesn't have any unusual personal physical strengths or weaknesses, like Superman's weakness to kryptonite, but has character flaws that can be exploited by enemies. In recent comics, Batman is shown as being vastly paranoid by nature and tending to not trust other heroes beyond those he has known for years, like Superman or Robin. Batman, also in recent comics in particular, keeps a wary eye on metahumans, similar to Lex Luthor, and is especially suspicious of Supergirl and Hal Jordan (Green Lantern). He does so becaues he always has contingency plans, and, assuming something goes wrong (as it often does) he wants to be ready for a metahuman threat. This often causes conflicts among his peers, who wonder what measures he has taken against them (e.g. the recently discovered OMAC project). Some enemies have used this to isolate him and play games with him. Batman (as recent comics portray him) is also very arrogant and treats many of his allies with a hint of disrespect, being that he is often the smartest person involved. He also sometimes overestimates his own abilities and allows foes to take advantage of that. All of these traits are a reversal of more traditional (pre-1990s) portrayals of Batman, which usually tend to show him as more willing to work with others, much less paranoid, and more trustful/respectful of his allies.

Batman is indeed a brilliant detective, criminal scientist, tactician, and commander; he is widely regarded as the keenest analytical mind on the planet and possesses an eidetic memory. His most lasting and popular stories have almost without exception been ones where he has displayed intelligence, cunning, and planning to outwit his foes, rather than merely out-fighting them. His deductive skills put him on par with Sherlock Holmes, and in several stories he has even met the "Great Detective" himself, proving himself to be a worthy successor to Holmes. Batman is the mastermind behind the Justice League of America, offering brains and tactical skills to guide the raw power of the other members of the team. In this capacity, he is often seen as the antithesis of Superman as aforementioned; in older comics, the two were close friends, while in current comics, the two share an uneasy friendship. At the start of Grant Morrison's run on the Justice League, it is revealed that Superman considers Batman "the most dangerous man on Earth".

Equipment, vehicles and weapons

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The 1966 television Batmobile was built by George Barris from a Lincoln Futura concept car.

Bruce designs the costumes, equipment, and vehicles he uses as Batman, which are produced by a secret military division of Wayne Industries. Over the years, he has accumulated a large arsenal of specialized gadgets (compare with the later James Bond). The designs of most of Batman's equipment share a common theme of dark coloration with a bat motif. A prime example is Batman's car, the Batmobile, often depicted as an imposing black car with large tail fins that suggest a bat's wings; another is his chief throwing weapon, the batarang, a bat-shaped boomerang. In proper practice, the "bat" prefix (as in batmobile or batarang) is no longer used by Batman himself when referring to his equipment, especially as this has been stretched to camp in some portrayals (namely the 1960s Batman live-action television show and the Super Friends animated series). The 1960s live-action television show arsenal included such ridiculous, satirical "bat-" names as a bat-computer, bat-rope, bat-scanner, bat-radar, bat-handcuffs, bat-phone, bat-bat, bat-pontoons, bat-drinking water dispenser, bat-camera with polarized bat-filter, shark repellent bat-spray, bat-funnel, alphabet soup bat-container, and emergency bat-turn lever.

Batman keeps most of his personal field equipment in a signature piece of apparel, a yellow utility belt. Over the years it has contained items such as plastic explosives, nerve toxins, batarangs, smoke bombs, a fingerprint kit, a cutting tool, a grappling hook gun, a "re-breather" breathing device, and a shard of kryptonite, "just in case." In some of his early appearances, Batman used sidearms (see especially Detective Comics #32, September 1939), but since that time, he has eschewed their use because his parents were murdered by a gunman. Some stories have relaxed this rule to allow Batman to arm his vehicles for purposes of disabling other vehicles or removing inanimate obstacles.

Costume

The costume may have been inspired by a Halloween "bat-suit" worn by his father before his death, and was also certainly influenced by both Wayne's conviction that criminals are a "superstitious, cowardly lot" and his own fear of bats. The details of the Batman costume have changed repeatedly through the character's evolution, but the most distinctive elements have remained consistent: a dark scalloped hem cape, with a cowl covering most of his face, with a pair of pointed ears suggesting those of a bat, and a stylized bat emblem on his chest. His gloves also typically feature three scallops that protrude from the sides of each glove, presumably depictive of bat's wings and for offensive and defensive purposes. In Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, these fins are portrayed as metal blades doubling as weapons, derivative of his training with Ra's Al Ghul's organization. The most noticeable costume variations include a "yellow elliptical" bat-emblem vs. no ellipse, lighter colors (medium blue and light gray) vs. darker (black and dark gray), a bulky utility belt vs. a streamlined belt, and a long-eared cowl vs. short-eared. The development of Kevlar, Spectra and other types of body armor has prompted some modern creators to make Batman's costume or parts of the costume bullet-proof. In Frank Miller's seminal work The Dark Knight Returns, Miller explains that the yellow ellipse is used to attract gunfire to Batman's chest, where his armor is heaviest.

When faced with difficult or vastly strong opponents (Frank Miller's Superman in The Dark Knight Returns, Alex Ross's gulag prisoners in Kingdom Come and Predator in Batman vs. Predator), writers do not hesitate to arm Batman with a battle suit of armor. Merchandising variants of his costume have exploited Batman's occasional need to fit him with a suit to match his challenge (ex: Batman's fire-proof suit against Firefly).

In the earliest Batman stories of Detective Comics, the costume features a few curiosities before it evolved in to its more or less standard style. The first gloves were ordinary looking, and lacked any sort of scalloped fins or other stylings, and only came to the wrists. A few issues later the gloves became longer, and by 1940 the familiar fins were added to the gloves. On a curious sidenote, the second Batman adventure featured the character wearing no gloves at all. Another early curiosity was the cape, which at times seemed to attach to Batman's arms, giving it a more wing-like look. The costume is also occasionally seen with a holster, as Batman sometimes carried a pistol in those days.

During Jean Paul Valley's (Azrael) run as Batman, he started out wearing the original costume he was given by Wayne, which was the then current version of the suit (and is once again), and he decided to enhance it with clawed gauntlets of his own design, capable of firing Bat-shaped shuriken. However, he later created several updated versions of the suit which were essentially compact and highly flxible yet well designed and protective suits of armor and which went much better with the clawed gauntlets. The first version of said armor, while a departure from the classic suit, is still the closest in appearance to the original costume. It appeared in Batman not long after Jean Paul's first confrontation with Bane. After he nearly died in conflict with Bane, a battle which he only barely survived, Jean Paul designed the first armored version of the suit for the purposes of presenting greater offensive and defenmsive capabilities, as well as correcting certain flaws he percieved to exist in the suit. It is unknown, but highly doubtful, that Wayne kept any of the improvements made to the suit, particularly the cape, which Valley redesigned to be able to use as either a parachute or glider. Valley felt the excessive wind drag the cape produced was a hindrance (and to be fair, it was) and so redesigned it to be capable of using the wind for lift. Wayne simply continued using the Batman costume he had been wearing up until Bane broke his back, and it is doubtful that he has incorporated or even STUDIED any of the changes Valley had instituted on the grounds that he does not wish to make use of anything that directly references Valley's time as Batman.

Love interests

Batman has had many romantic relationships with various female characters throughout his years fighting crime. The following characters do not include the various female hangers-on that Bruce has employed to maintain his image as a playboy.

In the earliest Batman comics, Bruce Wayne dates the often-imperiled Julie Madison. The two eventually separate and Julie weds into European royalty, much in the manner of Grace Kelly. In Batman and Robin, Elle MacPherson plays Julie, though the character seems to have little in common with her comic book self. The character adds little to the plot, though many of her scenes were edited out of the film's final cut.

In several 1950s stories, Vicki Vale, a reporter for the Gotham Gazette newspaper, was shown as an occasional romantic interest of Batman. Vale appeared as a character in Tim Burton's first Batman feature film, portrayed by Kim Basinger, and also appeared in the recent animated feature The Batman vs. Dracula.

His most well known romance is with Selina Kyle, alias Catwoman. Catwoman has fought Batman on various occasions, yet the two share a mutual attraction to each other. Formerly a jewel thief, Catwoman is now an antihero who defends Gotham City's East End with the help of Dr. Leslie Thompkins. In pre-Crisis continuity, the Earth-Two versions of Batman and Catwoman were shown to have married in the 1950s, and later Selina gave birth to a daughter, Helena Wayne (alias The Huntress) in 1957. Batman and Catwoman became romantically involved during the Hush story arc of Batman. Batman ended the relationship because he was unsure if Catwoman had been a willing participant in Hush's plot. Even when the spark between them rekindled in Crisis of Conscience, the Dark Knight couldn't be sure of Selina's love for him, because of his suspicions that Selina's reformation could be a result of a personality-altering mindwipe by Zatanna. In most versions of the character, the attraction Batman feels towards her is based on the fact that she's sort of a female version of himself: another dark, beautiful creature that prowls in the night. In some of these versions, actually, such as the Burton/Schumacher film continuity - specifically Batman Returns, where Selina was played by Michelle Pfeiffer - she even seems to be the true love of Bruce's life, as not only their costumed identities but also their disturbed psyches are described as similar, their relationship becoming intensely dramatic towards the end of the movie.

A storyline in the late 1970s featured Silver St. Cloud, who managed to deduce the secret of Bruce Wayne's alter ego, but she couldn't handle being involved with someone in such a dangerous line of work. The two parted ways; a 2005 miniseries features a return appearance of Silver St. Cloud.

Another major woman in Batman's life is Talia al Ghul, the daughter of the supervillain, Ra's al Ghul. The villain has encouraged the relationship in hopes of recruiting Batman as his successor, and in the out-of-continuity graphic novel, Batman: Son of the Demon, the romance progressed to the bed and Talia bore his son (later named Ibn al Xu'ffasch in another out-of-continuity 4-part series "Kingdom Come").

In a 1987 series Batman: Year Two, Bruce Wayne falls in love with a woman named Rachel Caspian. Unfortunately Rachel Caspian's father moonlighted as a murderous vigilante who committed suicide once losing a battle against a gun-wielding Batman. Discovery of her father's evils drove Rachel to pay her father's penance on his behalf by enrolling in a nunnery . As a result, she broke off her engagement with Bruce Wayne who had prepared himself to end his crime-fighting career to marry her.

During Greg Rucka's run on Detective Comics, Batman developed a relationship with Vesper Fairchild, a radio show host but left Gotham after the No Man's Land crisis. She was later killed by David Cain on orders from Lex Luthor.

Another woman Batman dated during Rucka was Sasha Bordeaux, Bruce Wayne's bodyguard who discovered his secret. She was framed for Fairchild's murder and later joined Maxwell Lord's Checkmate organization. During The OMAC Project, Bordeaux was turned into a cyborg OMAC and is no longer completely human.

In Batman Forever, Bruce/Batman has a relationship with psychiatrist Chase Meridian, played by Nicole Kidman. She is kidnapped by Two-Face and the Riddler, leading to the climactic showdown.

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Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes and Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne from Batman Begins

In Batman Begins, Bruce/Batman is romantically involved with Rachel Dawes, an assistant district attorney who was a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne. She ends the relationship with him when she finds out he is really Batman. Dawes was played by Katie Holmes.

Wonder Woman and Batman briefly dated within the pages of the recent Justice League of America comics, but nothing came of the relationship and the two remain friends. This is echoed in the Justice League animated series (see below). Some fans have objected to this, insisting that the pairing made no sense and felt extremely forced.

In the comic series Batman: Gotham Knights, "The Human Nature" story arc, Bruce and Poison Ivy are involved, after he helps her return to normal. Poison Ivy has special abilities in this comic through a chemical drug.

In other media, Batman was shown in Batman: The Animated Series as having had a relationship of some sort with Zatanna, the daughter of Zatara the Magician, the man who had taught Bruce Wayne everything he knew about escape artistry. While this relationship didn't last, the two have remained friends, with Bruce contacting her from time to time for help.

He had a brief relationship with Lois Lane during Batman's crossover in the "World's Finest" three part Episode of Superman: The Animated Series. She ended it after learning Bruce Wayne was Batman.

Wonder Woman has been hinted as a romantic interest of Batman in the series Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, though the relationship in the series does not go as far as that of the JLA comics.

In Batman Beyond, Barbara Gordon reveals that she had a romantic relationship with Wayne. However, when he became too obsessed with crime fighting, the relationship ended. This relationship was also hinted at in the direct-to-video animated movie Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman.

Bruce himself also hints at a relationship with Catwoman, Selina Kyle, in the past of Batman Beyond. At the time of Batman Beyond, Bruce Wayne is unattached, and does not seem to have ever married.

Probably the most well-known relationship he had in an animated series was to Andrea Beaumont in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Though all of their relationship is told in flashback, it seems to hint that Andrea was the true love of Bruce's life. It also hinted that had their relationship continued, there probably would not be a Batman in the animated series continuity as he was deeply in love with her.

However, in the original live action series starring Adam West, Batman's relationships with women were somewhat more liberal. In many episodes, the Dark Knight would find himself in a night club, often with a far-fetched name such as the "What-a-Way-to-Go-Go," where he would dance his infamous (and often embarrassing) dance, the "Batusi". A similar dance (thought to be a parody, by some) was attempted by actor John Travolta in the film Pulp Fiction.

Supporting characters

  • Robin: Perhaps Batman's most important allies have been several teenage sidekicks, all of whom had the title Robin (some of them advertised with the nickname "The Boy Wonder" or "The Teen Wonder").
    • Dick Grayson (1940): The original Robin, Dick Grayson has since grown up and become "Nightwing," continuing as an assistant and ally to Batman. Though he is now Bruce Wayne's legally adopted son, many writers have portrayed his current relationship with Batman as strained. Nightwing is also the original leader of the Teen Titans (also known as the New Teen Titans, the New Titans and simply The Titans) and is the current leader of the Outsiders.
    • Jason Todd (1983): Originally a virtual copy of Dick Grayson (orphaned circus acrobat trained by the Batman), Todd's origin was later retconned so that he was a juvenile delinquent Batman took into his care. In 1989, Todd was murdered by the Joker in the controversial A Death in the Family storyline. He was recently discovered alive under the alias of "Red Hood".
    • Tim Drake (1990): After Jason Todd's death, Drake tracked down Grayson and urged him to become Robin once again, because Batman was growing unstable. When Grayson refused, Drake volunteered for the job - arguing that "Batman needs a Robin". Although Drake retired, he has since returned.
    • Stephanie Brown (2004): Formerly the Spoiler; became the fourth Robin and the only female Robin in current DC continuity. Stephanie was captured and fatally tortured by Black Mask, becoming the second Robin to perish.
    • Carrie Kelly (1986): Although not technically part of current DC continuity, Carrie Kelly became the first female Robin (in real world chronology) in 1986's The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again.
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Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne's butler, as seen in Justice League.
  • Alfred Pennyworth: Bruce Wayne's loyal butler (in effect, Batman's batman), who knows his secret identity. Alfred is a trained combat medic in addition to an accomplished former thespian, and has used both skills in Batman's service on many occassions.
  • Batgirl: Several female crime-fighters have taken the name "Batgirl". Unlike Robin, Batgirl has rarely debuted as a sanctioned member of the "Batman Family," although they have all come to be accepted by the Batman to some extent (depending on continuity).
    • In 1961, the original Bat-Girl was introduced as the sidekick to Batwoman (Kathy Kane).
    • In 1967, the Silver Age Batgirl was introduced: Barbara Gordon, niece (turned adoptive daughter) of James Gordon. She continued the role until an attack by the Joker left her a paraplegic. She later reinvented herself as Oracle, a research assistant for superheroes and the leader of the Birds of Prey female superhero team.
    • In the 1997 film, Batman and Robin, Batgirl was Barbara Wilson, the niece of Alfred, played by Alicia Silverstone. She decided to suit herself up and fight alongside Batman and Robin. This version of Batgirl doesn't exsist in the comics or TV shows.
    • In 1999, a third Batgirl was introduced: Cassandra Cain, the daughter of the assassin David Cain.
  • James ("Jim") Gordon: the police commissioner of Gotham City, with whom Batman has a strong (though secret and unofficial) working relationship. In the current DC Universe, James Gordon has retired and been replaced by Michael Akins, a hand-picked successor. Gordon, like other characters, has changed considerably over the years. Of particular note, is that in the early days of the characters, Gordon was not allied with Batman, and was more antagonistic towards him. However, he was friends with Bruce Wayne. In the "Year One" timeframe, Gordon is portrayed as one of the few honest, non-corrupt Gotham cops.
    • In addition, other members of the Gotham City Police Department have played prominent roles, such as Harvey Bullock who was introduced as a subordinate secretly assigned to spy on and discredit Gordon. However, Bullock soon changed his mind and became loyal to the commissioner while having a deep suspicion of Batman. The 1990s comics added Detective Renee Montoya as a character adapted from the animated series. The GCPD are currently featured in their own series, Gotham Central, in which they investigate the unusual crimes that plague the city, in a personal effort to minimize Batman's involvement.
  • Huntress: Originally the daughter of the Batman and Catwoman of Earth-Two, Helena Wayne followed in her late father's footsteps. In current DC continuity, Helena Bertinelli, a daughter of the Bertinelli Mafia family, has become a crime-fighter. She has a difficult relationship with Batman, who feels that she is too rash and violent, and she works closely with Oracle/Barbara Gordon. Bertinelli also went by the alias of Batgirl in 1999, trying to prove herself to Batman. Eventually they fell out again and the mantle was passed to Cassandra Cain.
  • Lucius Fox: Although far less privy to his personal life, Lucius Fox is a trusted close associate of Wayne as his business manager responsible for both Wayne Enterprises and The Wayne Foundation.
  • The Justice League of America: Batman is a member of the superhero group, although is sometimes skeptical of the League's more powerful and idealistic members. In some versions, Superman (often the team's leader) is portrayed as having a strained relationship with Batman. In earlier versions, however, they are shown as "best friends" or the "World's Finest" team. The "World's Finest" nickname derives from the long-running Superman/Batman teamups in World's Finest Comics. In current continutity, the pair are shown as friends with nonetheless different, and sometimes conflicting, crime-fighting philosophies. In the 1980s, when Superman had waning involvement in the team, Batman was portrayed as the leader of the Justice League.
  • Azrael: Trained from birth to be the assassin and enforcer of a sinister secret society, Jean-Paul Valley was trying to forge a new destiny for himself with Bruce Wayne's help when Wayne was crippled by Bane. Valley took up the Bat-mantle until Wayne recovered, but his Azrael conditioning began to take over, and he became violent and dangerous, and Bruce Wayne was forced to fight him to reclaim his identity as Batman. Valley went his own way, returning for the occasional guest appearance until his death.

Enemies of Batman

Main article: Enemies of Batman

Batman's foes form one of the most distinctive rogues galleries in comics. In the 1930s and 1940s the most familiar Batman villains evolved: the Joker, Catwoman, the Penguin, Two-Face, the Riddler, the Mad Hatter, the Scarecrow, Dr. Phosphorus, and Clayface. Other well known villains emerged in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s including Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Ra's Al Ghul; Killer Croc, The Ratcatcher, and the Ventriloquist emerged in the 1980s, and Bane and Harley Quinn in the 1990s.

Crossovers

Batman has been featured in a few crossovers with Marvel Comics heroes. His first crossover with a Marvel Comics character was Bruce Banner, better known as The Incredible Hulk. This crossover featured The Joker and the Shaper of Worlds as it's villains, but also featured 'dream images' brought to life by was of the Shaper's powers, which were representations of classic Batman and Hulk villains.

Both Jean-Paul Valley and Bruce Wayne, both under the costume of Batman, encountered Frank Castle, best known as the Punisher. Both crossovers featured longtime Punisher adversary Jigsaw and the Joker, who only appeared in the first crossover near the very end. Oddly enough, The Joker, in a frightening moment of clarity, correctly deduces part of what created Batman, claiming to Castle that he believed that Batman's family suffered the same fate as Castle's, stating "The masquerade, the gadgets. He reacted just as a child would." This crossover, and the one with Jean-Paul Valley in the updated 'armor' version of the Batman suit, is part of DC/Marvel Crossover Classics II. Interestingly, the first crossover is apparently considered canon in DC, as Jean Paul references Jigsaw in one panel of the Knightsend storyarc, as he descends further into madness because of his Azrael programming conflicting with his role as the new Batman.

Batman and Captain America have fought each other in Marvel vs. DC. They also were allies and battled the Red Skull and the Joker in Crossover Classics II. Since then, they have encounter each other again in JLA/Avengers.

Batman has also worked together with Spider-Man twice, and the first crossover is called simply Spider-Man/Batman. The book takes an interesting look at two heroes with similar backgrounds, and how they differed from the point of tragedy onward. The book also brought together Carnage and the Joker. The sequel, Batman & Spider-Man, was just that, despite belief that the first crossover had been retconned out due to Marvel vs. DC. This crossover brought the two heroes together to face off against Ra's al Ghul and the Kingpin, though Kingpin is in the end a semi-ally of Batman and Spider-Man.

Other crossovers that feature Batman includes Judge Dredd, Spawn, Predators, and Aliens.

Homosexual theories, Frederic Wertham and "The Code"

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The placement of Batman's reference to Robin at the end of a series of sexual innuendos renders what by itself would be a reasonable parental reaction into a comical punch line with homoerotic overtones. From Justice League of America #44. Published in 1966.

Since his introduction, Batman has become one of the most famous comic book characters, known even to people who do not read the comics. In addition to DC's comic books, he has appeared in movies, television shows, and novels.

In 1954, the book Seduction of the Innocent by psychologist Fredric Wertham used Batman and Robin, among several examples, as evidence that the comic book medium corrupted the morals of the young. He suggested that Batman and Robin had a homosexual relationship, hinted at, among other things, by the bare legs in Robin's costume and their happy domesticity, a single man living with an unrelated boy in a posh mansion. He also criticized the dark and violent portrayals of crime in comic books as promoting juvenile delinquency.

The original inspiration for Wertham's interpretation came from fans of Batman in the fifties, who brought the comic book to his attention as an example of the idealization of a "homosexual lifestyle." Their interpretation is seconded by Burt Ward, who, in his autobiographical Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights agrees that the characters could be interpreted as lovers, while the show's double entendres and lavish camp help make the case persuasive. [1] This is despite the fact that the TV series was an attempt at a tamer, more family friendly version of Batman which tried to be less violent than the comic series — one of Wertham's arguments against comics. Wertham wrote another book in 1958 called Circle of Guilt, whose main claim was that Americans were starting to feel that they were less responsible for themselves and their actions, resulting in higher crime rates across the country. The culprit behind this crime, he claimed, was comic books and the cinema.

Wertham succeeded in raising a public outcry, eventually leading to the establishment of the Comics Code Authority. The outcry particularly affected Batman comics for a number of years; the characters of Bat-Girl and Batwoman were introduced to "prove" that Batman and Robin were not gay, and the stories took on a campier, lighter feel. Characters such as the Joker, who had previously been murderers, became characterized by themed crime sprees, such as committing robbery while dressed as famous jester characters from literature.

Despite Wertham and "The Code," the theme of ambiguous sexuality continued to be played upon by both the studios and the readers until the late sixties, when changing public morality necessitated an official split between Batman and any suggestion of sexuality with his young friend. Denny O'Neil separated the two heroes in 1969 by sending Dick Grayson to college, and female characters were eventually brought in as more "proper foils" to the main hero.

Despite the studio's efforts, popular culture and a number of artists continue to play off the homosexual connotation of their relationship, actions which are occasionally challenged by DC Studios under the copyright statutes. In summer of 2005, painter Mark Chamberlain and the galleries featuring his art were threatened with legal action if they did not cease selling and displaying a number of watercolors depicting both Batman and Robin in explicit poses. Some of the more vocal DC Comic fans believe this is a poorly executed stunt to gain attention by a relatively unknown artist, and also a clear violation of copyright law (It should be noted that most of these fans are not well versed in copyright law). The studio also demanded that all remaining art as well as any profits be handed over as well.

Batman and Robin continue to be a fairly popular theme for parodies in gay culture, and a well-known pornographic parody, titled Batdude and Throbbin plays on the association. Likewise, a series of skits on the U.S. TV show Saturday Night Live titled The Ambiguously Gay Duo is generally seen as a parody of Batman's and Robin's relationship.

Comics that feature Batman

Current comics starring Batman

On-going titles

Current comics where Batman does not star, but appears regularly or from time to time as a guest character:

Finished series

Previous comics with long runs featuring Batman:

Batman has also been featured in numerous miniseries and guest starred in many other comics.

See also List of Batman comics

Additional reading

Batman in other media

Newspaper

From 1943 to 1946, Batman and Robin appeared in a syndicated daily and Sunday newspaper comic strip distributed by the McClure Syndicate. Other newspaper comic versions appeared in 1953, 1966, and 1989.

Books

In 2005 The Batman Handbook: The Ultimate Training Manual, written by Scott Beatty was published by Quirk Books (ISBN 1-59-474023-2). Written in the same style as The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook series, the book explained the basics on how to be Batman. Amongst the skills included in the book are "How to Train a Sidekick", "How to Execute a Backflip", "How to Throw a Grappling Hook" and "How to Survive a Poison Gas Attack". Batman is also slated to appear in a novel by cyberpunk/horror novelist John Shirley, entitled Batman: Dead White from Del Rey books.

Radio

Beginning in March 1945, Batman and Robin made regular appearances on the Superman radio drama on the Mutual Broadcasting System. Efforts were made to launch a Batman radio series in 1943 and again in 1950, but neither came to fruition.

Television

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Burt Ward as Robin and Adam West as Batman from the 1960s television series

In the late 1960s, the ABC Network aired a Batman television series with Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. The series aired for 120 episodes from January 12, 1966 to March 14, 1968. It was a parody of the Batman Movie Serial starring Lewis Wilson and the comic books under the strict Comics Code Authority with high camp. It continues to be the version some associate with the Batman character, despite its being a parody and the least representative of his depiction in comics; although some comic book stories were adapted to the TV series. Although it has been disliked and denounced by some, the live-action TV show was extraordinarily popular; at the height of its popularity, it was the only prime-time TV show besides Peyton Place to be broadcast twice each week as part of its regular schedule. (This was, however, inherent in its format, typically splitting full-hour stories into two half-hour episodes to be aired different nights of the same week.)

In 2001 Onstar, DC Comics, and Warner Bros. teamed up to promote the new Onstar onboard guiding system. The comercials featured Batman using Onstar to aid him against vilians such as Joker, Riddler, and Penguin. There were six commercials which premired from 2001 to the beginning of 2002. The Actor that played Batman (Bruce Thomas) in these comercials, also played Batman in the Birds Of Prey Pilot. The Batmobile used is the one from Batman and Batman Returns. Also Michael Gough reprised the role of Alfred one last time in one of the commercials.

The character also had a cameo appearance in the short lived 2002-2003 TV series, Birds of Prey.

There have also been several TV animated series starring Batman, produced by at least three different TV animation studios. The treatment of the character has varied with the decade; the 1990s and later series have had a darker, more sincere tone which has appealed to adult viewers, while still being accessible and entertaining to children. These cartoons include:

Movies

A number of Batman theatrical films have also been made.

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Adam West and Burt Ward from 1966's Batman
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Michael Keaton in 1992's Batman Returns
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Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne from Batman Begins

Several low-budget, unauthorized Batman movies have also been made, including Batman Dracula (1964) by Andy Warhol; Batman Fights Dracula (1967), made in the Philippines; and a second Filipino movie called Alyas Batman en Robin (1993). (Critics who have seen this movie say it is very poor quality.) Additionally, an independently funded self-promo film titled Batman: Dead End was produced by Sandy Collora in 2003, starring Clark Bartram as Batman. The film featured not only Batman but also Aliens and Predators from the popular 20th Century Fox film franchises, and generated considerable buzz. Another self-promo by Collora, a trailer for a World's Finest film and also featuring Superman, followed in 2004.

Since 1997 Warner Bros. has released a number of episodes of Batman: The Animated Series on video (both VHS and DVD), including a volume one set of DVDs in July 2004 and volume two set in January 2005. One three-part episode involving a team-up with Superman ("World's Finest") is available on video as The Batman/Superman Movie.

In addition to Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, a number of movies based on the animated series have been released direct-to-video: Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, and Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman.

Musical theatre

A parody of a Batman musical was featured in one of the most recent series' comics, but little did anyone know that there was some truth to the matter. As of 2005, Jim Steinman, David Ives, and Tim Burton have begun work on Batman: The Musical, set to premiere late this year. A Batman musical is also parodied in Batman Beyond. The episode "Out of the Past," (first aired October 21st, 2000) opens with Bruce and Terry attending a performance of Batman: The Musical, featuring caricatures of prominent members of the Rogues Gallery. This was in response to plans for a Batman musical which had been in place for several years, but was never produced. Series creator Paul Dini, who wrote the episode in question, also wrote a song for the fictitious musical entitled "Superstitious and Cowardly Lot."

Video games

Several Batman video games were created:

Batman also appears in the Justice League Task Force Super Nintendo fighting game.

Batman parodies/references

  • Knight Watchman (based on Batman) & Galahad the Kid Whiz (based on Robin) are Big Bang Comics recreate the golden age and silver age of comics superhero.
  • Midnighter is a comic book superhero who first appeared in the Stormwatch cast in the Batman mold, but with superpowers and one of the few gay superheroes in print. He is married to fellow Authority member Apollo, a hero very similar to Superman.
  • Bart's favorite cartoon character in The Simpsons, Radioactive Man, and his sidekick Fallout Boy, are a clear Batman parody. This is especially clear in an episode in which a film version is made, when the episode refers to the 'campy 70s version, which clearly resembles the original Batman TV series, right down to the impact words. Bart is also known for occasionally wearing a dark mask and cape while calling himself "Bartman."
  • TV Funhouse's The Ambiguously Gay Duo, Ace and Gary, parody the suggestions that the portrayal of Batman and Robin contains innuendo that the two have a homosexual relationship.
  • The Tick's Die Fledermaus (German for "The Bat") is a Batman parody, with a smooth-talking, but craven personality substituted for that of Batman. In Fox's live action adaptation of The Tick comic book, the character of Die Fledermaus was changed to "Batmanuel" and depicted as a phoney Latin lover.
  • There are five versions of Nighthawk from four different dimensions in the Marvel Universe, none of which come from the normal Marvel continuity, although the second Nighthawk did come to reside in the normal Marvel Universe.
    • The version of Nighthawk that had the most character development was arguably the second Nighthawk, due to his integration into the mainstream Marvel continuity.
    • Yet, the version that the rebooted version of Nighthawk from Supreme Power is based upon is actually the version who was a member of the Squadron Supreme, who was replaced by his adopted son Neil Richmond, after his death.
    • The version depicted in The Ultimates is a rebooted version of the second Nighthawk, as he is the leader of that reality's Defenders.
  • Darkwing Duck has various references to Batman. Several of his enemies resemble Batman's villains, much of Darkwing's gadgets resemble Batman's, and he has an alter-ego similar to Bruce Wayne.
  • Astro City contains 'The Confessor and Altar Boy, a riff on Batman and Robin.
  • Powers by Brian Michael Bendis introduced The Red Hawk and Wing, a play off of Batman and Robin. Wing is a homosexual (a reference to the accusations of Batman and Robin being gay) who, after making a pass at the Red Hawk, is beaten half to death and fired. Red Hawk is a sexual deviant who has alienated his partners in Unity (a Justice League analogue and is killed by a crazed Super-Shock, a Superman analogue.
  • Hawk-Owl/Jack Danner - A Batman archetype, complete with secret lair ("the Nest") and crime-fighting gadgets. Unlike Bruce Wayne, Danner is far from being any sort of genius. Rather, he's a socially inept middle-aged billionaire with a rather dangerous and expensive hobby. He also lacks the traumatic murder experience of his DC counterpart, making him less 'severe' in some respects, but also lacks a certain personal element to his own mission.
  • The flash series Homestar Runner has a lot of references to Batman, specifically the "No Loafing" sign in Strong Bad's Computer room. For one of the Halloween cartoons, Strong Bad dressed as Cesar Romero as the Joker, complete with powdered-over moustache.

External links

Comics
Animated cartoons

References

  • Daniels, Les. DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes.
  • Jones, Gerard. Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book.
  • Beatty, Scott, et al., The Batman Handbook: The Ultimate Training Manual. Quirk Books, March 30th, 2005. ISBN 1594740232

See also

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