Thursday, November 23, 2006
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 Caped Crusader, 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, Catwoman and Superman are DC Comics most popular and recognizable characters
Justice League of America; The Outsiders (Pre-Crisis), Justice Society of America (Pre-Crisis Earth-Two Version), All-Star Squadron (Pre-Crisis Earth-Two Version)
The Bat, The Dark Knight, The Creature of the Night, the Masked Manhunter, the Caped Crusader, The World's Greatest Detective, "Matches" Malone
Dr. Thomas Wayne (father, deceased), Martha Wayne (mother, deceased), Phillip Wayne (uncle and foster father, deceased) Alfred Pennyworth (butler and foster father), Dick Grayson (adopted son), Jason Todd (adopted son, deceased), Tim Drake (protégé)
None. However, he is a genius, in peak human physical condition, and has vast personal wealth and access to custom equipment. His skills have made him a master detective and one of the greatest martial artists in the DC Universe
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". 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 friendly noble lawman Batman that would continue in the comics till 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 ellipse 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 college, 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.
Equipment, vehicles and weapons
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.
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