All About Batman

Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Batman made his debut in the lead story in 1939's ​Detective Comics #27, and has since become one of the most legendary comic book creations of all-time. Let's take a look at some of the history behind the caped crusader. 

What drove Batman to become a hero?

DC Comics

Unlike many famous superheroes like Superman and Spider-Man, Batman debuted without an origin. It was not until his seventh appearance in Detective Comics #33 that we learned Batman's origin, which is one of the greatest origins of all-time. When Bruce Wayne was a young boy, his parents were robbed and murdered in front of him. Young Bruce vowed to avenge his parents' murder by devoting himself to justice.

Using his inheritance of his family's vast fortune (over the years the Wayne family fortune slowly grew from millions until hitting the billions during the 1990s) and his sheer determination. Bruce turned himself into an instrument of justice. He perfected a number of martial art skills as well as mastering the art of criminal deduction.  

Why does he dress like a bat?

Simply put, criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot and the image of a human dressed as a bat is pretty darn freaky. Plus, it helped that a bat crashed through his window while he was deciding what to call himself.

In an amusing moment in Batman #682 (by Grant Morrison, Lee Garbett and Trevor Scott), Bruce Wayne's butler, Alfred, imagines what would have happened had a moth flown through the window or if Bruce had come across a snake instead of a bat.  

Where does Batman live?

Batman lives and operates out of Gotham City. Interestingly enough, Gotham City was not identified as being an independent city until Detective Comics #48, over twenty issues after Batman's debut. Up until that point, while “Gotham” was occasionally referenced, it was only used in the context of the time. You see, in the late 1930s/early 1940s, “Gotham” was a popular term by journalists to refere to New York City. So when Bill Finger and Bob Kane made references to “Gotham” in early Batman stories, they were likely referring to Batman living in New York City. It was only in the aforementioned Detective Comics #48 that they firmly established that Batman lived in the fictional Gotham City.   

Who are his allies?

Initially, Batman's only ally was Bruce Wayne's good friend, Police Commissioner James Gordon (the only other major Batman character to be around since the very first Batman story). In Detective Comics #38, Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson added a sidekick for Batman in the form of Dick Grayson, a young acrobat whose parents were murdered by gangsters. Bruce Wayne naturally saw himself in young Grayson so he gave him the opportunity to join him in his quest for justice as Robin, the Boy Wonder.

In 1943, Alfred Pennyworth, the new Wayne butler, was introduced. While he initially did not know Batman's secret identity, he eventually learned it and became one of Batman's closest aides. His experience as a field medic helps Batman recover from injuries suffered in the field.  

Over the years, as Dick Grayson grew out of his role as Robin, Batman has gained a series of Robins, from Jason Todd (who is currently known as the Red Hood), Tim Drake (who is currently known as Red Robin), Stephanie Brown (who is currently known as Spoiler) and Bruce's own son, Damian Wayne (who is the current Robin).

For a well known loner, Batman has also served on a lot of superhero teams in his career, most famously a number of different variations on the Justice League. Plus he had his own superhero team known as the Outsiders for a few years. One area where his loner status does somewhat creep in is when he keeps on quitting these teams (which I spotlight here). 

Who are his villains?

Joker mocks his fellow villains during the launch of his short-lived ongoing series during the 1970s. DC Comics

One of the fascinating questions in the history of Batman is whether it is Batman's existence that draws out the crazy villains of Gotham City. For instance, before Batman existed, there were just normal gangsters committing crimes. Once Batman debuted, however, slowly but surely a series of colorful villains made their debut in Gotham City. If Batman had never shown up, would these villans have ever existed? I don't think it's necessarily something that we will ever know for sure, but it's certainly food for thought. Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson introduced an astonishingly large amount of classic villains in the first few years of Batman's existence, from the maniacal Clown Prince of Crime, the Joker (introduced in Batman #1), the stealthy cat burglar, Catwoman (also introduced in Batman #1), the pint-sized Penguin (introduced in Detective Comics #58) and the Jekyl and Hyde-inspired Two-Face (introduced in Detective Comics #58 - click here to learn what are the Five Most Essential Two-Face stories). Finger then introduced the Riddler by himself with artist Dick Sprang in Detective Comics #140.

The Joker, though, will always be Batman's greatest foe, something he likes to remind the others of from time to time.