“Criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot. So my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. I must be a creature of the night. Black. Terrible. I shall become A BAT!”
H E R O E S
“The Caped Crusader.”
“The World’s Greatest Detective.”
“The Dark Knight.”
Created in 1939 by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, The Batman is one of the world’s most well-known comic book and literary characters. He is an American icon enjoyed by generations the world over for over 70 years.
Not only is Batman world famous, so is his supporting cast: sidekick Robin; Gotham Police Commissioner James Gordon; and Alfred Pennyworth -- surrogate father, butler, and reluctant partner. Batman also has arguably the greatest gallery of villains in the world of comics: Two Face, The Penguin, Catwoman, The Riddler, and of course, The Joker.
His real identity is Bruce Wayne, billionaire and philanthropist. As a child, his parents (Dr. Thomas and Martha Wayne) were murdered in front of him. This tragedy led Wayne to train and study to the peak of physical and intellectual perfection, don the guise of a bat, and fight crime in his hometown of Gotham City (First mentioned in BATMAN #4, Winter 1941).
“The Bat-Man” first appeared in the year 1939 in the pages of DETECTIVE COMICS #27. Artist Bob Kane -- inspired by Zorro, The Shadow, Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, the movie THE BAT WHISPERS -- collaborated with writer Bill Finger and came up with a hero attired in a black cape and cowl. Unlike Superman -- who had debuted the year before -- The Bat-Man possessed no super powers> His campaign against crime was armed with his wit, genius, superior detective abilities, a crime-fighting arsenal, and world class martial arts skills. Batman was immediately a hit and the character was given his own comic book title, BATMAN, in 1940.
As time passed, there have many different interpretations of the character. He’s been…
A dark avenger/creature of the night…
A deputized law enforcement officer of the Gotham Police Department…
A sci-fi character who could travel through time and space…
A silly, *wink-wink*, almost a joke of a character immersed in a campy aesthetic…
And finally, a dark avenger/creature of the night.
Many folks should be credited for returning Batman to the darkness as his creator’s originally intended for the character -- first and foremost, writer Denny O’Neil and artist Neal Adams. Though Batman had been removed from silliness that most identified him with for almost two decades, it wasn’t until Frank Miller’s classic graphic novel -- THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS -- did the mainstream audience get a look at what Batman was really all about. “The Dark Knight” version of The Batman was further infused into the minds of the mainstream in 1989 with the release of director Tim Burton’s BATMAN.
Cinematically, Batman -- and his fans -- experienced the same sort of rollercoaster run of interpretations in the 1990’s as his comic book counterpart had during the past several decades.
In 1995, Warner Bros. rebooted the Batman franchise via director Christopher Nolan’s BATMAN BEGINS -- which yet again brought Batman back to his dark and “realistic” roots. Its 2008 sequel, THE DARK KNIGHT, is not only the most successful comic book movie of all time at the box office, it’s considered to be the greatest “comic book movie” of all time. As of this writing, a third Nolan-directed Bat-Film, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, is in pre-production and will conclude Batman’s first true cinematic trilogy.
THE DARK KNIGHT (2008)
In the comics, there are currently two “Batmans.” The first Robin, Dick Grayson, is the Batman of Gotham City. Bruce Wayne is still THE Batman, but is traveling the world recruiting individuals to join his new endeavor, “BATMAN INCORPORATED,” and be the “Batman” of their respective country/city.
Yeah, I know. *sigh*
Currently, you can experience Batman in a variety of media. There are Batman animated TV series, live-action films, video games, toys, collectables, clothing, and, of course, comic books. - "Jett"
James “Jim” Gordon is the police commissioner of Batman hometown, Gotham City.
During the Gold and Silver age of Batman comics, Gordon was depicted as fully trusting Batman and was even needed The Caped Crusader’s help in policing Gotham. In current continuity, Gordon came to Gotham from Chicago where he had been a member of that city‘s police force. At first, Gordon views The Dark Knight as nothing more than a vigilante, however, Gordon eventually forms an alliance with “The Bat-Man” (and a Gotham district attorney names Harvey Dent), hoping it would aid in the fight against organized crime and police corruption in the city. The two have remained allies ever since.
Commissioner Jim Gordon
To summon The Batman, Gordon uses the Batsignal, which is found on the rooftop of the Gotham PD headquarters.
Gordon is portrayed as not knowing the true identity of The Batman. Many feel that if Gordon wanted to know he could find out, but chooses not to do so.
Gordon is an important part of the Batman mythos and history and has been featured in virtually every incarnations of the character.
Alfred Pennyworth is Bruce Wayne’s British butler, confidant, and partner. Alfred was created by Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson and first appeared in BATMAN #16 in 1943. He is an extremely important part of "Batman" and has appeared in just about all incarnations of the character in comics, TV, and the big screen.
In current, or “Post-CRISIS,” continuity, Alfred has been with the Wayne family for decades and is the person who raised Bruce after the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne. He aided young Bruce Wayne in creating his alter-ego, “The Batman,” from the very beginning.
Alfred runs Wayne Manor and keeps up with the maintenance of The Batcave and everything in it. Alfred is a former actor, he can use his skills to help The Batman when needed. He also provides medical assistance and first aid to Bruce and his “Bat-Crew.” Alfred also takes part in tactical support and can also be considered a true partner in The Batman’s mission.
Richard "Dick" Grayson (Robin/Nightwing/Batman)
Richard "Dick" Grayson was the original Robin, Batman's partner. The character was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger and illustrator Jerry Robinson, and he first appeared in DETECTIVE COMICS #38 in April 1940.
After his stint as Robin, Nightwing was the “superhero name” for Dick Grayson. As Nightwing, Grayson operated much like his mentor, The Batman. His base of operations have been Blüdhaven (Gotham's troubled neighboring city) and New York City.
Dick Grayson as Robin, Nightwing, and Batman
He has been the leader of The Teen Titans and The Outsiders.
After the events in "Batman R.I.P." and FINAL CRISIS, Dick moves back to Gotham to protect the city following Bruce's apparent death. There, Dick takes up the Mantle of the Bat and becomes the "new" Batman.
Upon Bruce's return, Dick offers to return to being Nightwing. Bruce tells him that he wants him to stay on as "Batman" and continue to serve as protector of Gotham City. Bruce decides to take Batman global by creating "Batman Incorporated." Bruce is also Batman.
Dick Grayson appears monthly as "Batman" in BATMAN, DETECTIVE COMICS, and BATMAN AND ROBIN.
Other "good guys" who have allied themselves with The Batman and/or Bruce Wayne include: Barbara Gordon (Batgirl, Oracle), Gotham PD Detective Harvey Bullock, Rene Montoya, Dr. Leslie Thompkins, and Wayne Enteprises CEO Lucius Fox.
Bruce Wayne's love interests have included (but not limited to): Julie Madison, Vicki Vale (in the comics and the film BATMAN), Silver St. Cloud, Selina Kyle ("Catwoman"), Talia al Ghul (Who claims to have a son, Damien, fathered by Bruce), Vesper Fairchild, Rachel Dawes (in the film BATMAN BEGINS), Dr. Chase Meridian (in the film BATMAN FOREVER), Andrea Beaumont (in the animated film MASK OF THE PHANTASM), Kathy Duquesne (in the animated, direct-to-video BATMAN: MYSTERY OF THE BATWOMAN, and Jezabel Jet.