In early 1939, the success of Superman in Action Comics prompted editors at National Comics Publications (the future DC Comics) to request more superheroes for its titles. In response, Bob Kane created “the Bat-Man”. Collaborator Bill Finger recalled that “Kane had an idea for a character called ‘Batman,’ and he’d like me to see the drawings. I went over to Kane’s, and he had drawn a character who looked very much like Superman with kind of … reddish tights, I believe, with boots … no gloves, no gauntlets … with a small domino mask, swinging on a rope. He had two stiff wings that were sticking out, looking like bat wings. And under it was a big sign … BATMAN”. The bat-wing-like cape was suggested by Bob Kane, inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci‘s sketch of an ornithopter flying device as a child.
Finger suggested giving the character a cowl instead of a simple domino mask, a cape instead of wings, and gloves; he also recommended removing the red sections from the original costume. Finger said he devised the name Bruce Wayne for the character’s secret identity: “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.” He later said his suggestions were influenced by Lee Falk‘s popular The Phantom, a syndicated newspaper comic-strip character with which Kane was also familiar.
World’s Finest was initially a 96 page quarterly anthology, featuring various DC characters – always including Superman and Batman – in separate stories. Comics historian Les Daniels noted that “Pairing Superman and Batman made sense financially, since the two were DC’s most popular heroes.” When superheroes fell out of vogue in the early 1950s, DC shortened the size of the publication to that of the rest of its output, leaving only enough space for one story; this led to Superman and Batman appearing in the same story together starting with World’s Finest Comics #71 (July 1954).The series continued to feature Superman and Batman team-ups until issue #197. Noted Batman artist Neal Adams first drew the character in an interior story in “The Superman-Batman Revenge Squads” in issue #175 (May 1968).
During the 1980’s serialization was used in the main Batman story, with stories from Detective Comics and Batman directly flowing from one book to another, with cliffhangers at the end of each book’s monthly story that would be resolved in the other title of that month. A single writer handled both books during that time beginning with Gerry Conway and followed up by Doug Moench. The supervillain Killer Croc made a shadowy cameo in issue #523 (February 1983).Noted author Harlan Ellison wrote the Batman story in issue #567.
World’s Finest featured Superman and Batman team-ups until issue #197. Noted Batman artist Neal Adams first drew the character in an interior story in “The Superman-Batman Revenge Squads” in issue #175 (May 1968). The title briefly featured Superman teaming with heroes other than Batman in the early 1970s beginning with issue #198 (November 1970). That issue featured the first part of a two-issue team-up with the Flash. The series reverted to Superman and Batman team-ups after issue #214, initially with a unique twist, featuring the children they might one day have, Superman Jr. and Batman Jr. These characters, billed as the Super-Sons, were co-created by writer Bob Haney and artist Dick Dillin in issue #215 (January 1973).
Frank Miller‘s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (February–June 1986), which tells the story of a 55-year old Batman coming out of retirement in a possible future, reinvigorated the character. The Dark Knight Returns was a financial success and has since become one of the medium’s most noted touchstones. The series also sparked a major resurgence in the character’s popularity.
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. One outcome of this new approach was the “Year One” storyline in Batman #404–407 (February–May 1987), in which Frank Miller and artist David Mazzucchelli redefined the character’s origins. Writer Alan Moore and artist Brian Bolland continued this dark trend with 1988’s 48-page one-shotBatman: The Killing Joke, in which the Joker, attempting to drive Commissioner Gordon insane, cripples Gordon’s daughter Barbara, and then kidnaps and tortures the commissioner, physically and psychologically.
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 (see Batman: A Death in the Family). The following year saw the release of Tim Burton‘s Batman feature film, which firmly brought the character back to the public’s attention, grossing millions of dollars at the box office, and millions more in merchandising.
Since the beginning of The New 52, Scott Snyder has been the writer of the flagship Batman title. His first major story arc was “Night of the Owls“, where Batman confronts the Court of Owls, a secret society that has controlled Gotham for centuries. The second story arc was “Death of the Family“, where the Joker returns to Gotham and simultaneously attacks each member of the Batman family. The third story arc was “Batman: Zero Year“, which redefined Batman’s origin in The New 52. It followed Batman #0, published in June 2012, which explored the character’s early years. The final storyline before the Convergence (2015) event was Endgame, depicting the supposed final battle between Batman and the Joker when he unleashes the deadly Endgame virus onto Gotham City. The storyline ends with Batman and the Joker’s supposed deaths. Starting with #41, Commissioner James Gordon takes over Bruce’s mantle as a new, state-sanctioned, mecha Batman, debuting in the Free Comic Book Day special comic Divergence. However, Bruce Wayne is soon revealed to be alive, albeit now suffering almost total amnesia of his life as Batman and only remembering his life as Bruce Wayne through what he has learned from Alfred. Bruce Wayne finds happiness and proposes to his girlfriend, Julie, but Mr. Bloom heavily injures Jim Gordon and takes control of Gotham City and threatens to destroy the city by energizing a particle reactor to create a “strange star” to swallow the city. Bruce Wayne discovers the truth that he was Batman and after talking to a stranger who smiles a lot (it is heavily implied that this is the amnesic Joker) he forces Alfred to implant his memories as Batman, but at the cost of his memories as the reborn Bruce Wayne. He returns and helps Jim Gordon defeat Mr. Bloom and shut down the reactor. Gordon gets his job back as the commissioner, and the government Batman project is shuttered.
The Batman Family ran twenty issues from September-October 1975 to October-November 1978 and featured solo and team-up stories starring Batgirl and Robin. The lead story in the first issue teaming Batgirl and Robin was originally intended for publication in an issue of 1st Issue Special.The series additionally featured reprints of Golden Age and Silver Age stories. Many issues of Batman Family featured Batman supporting characters such as Alfred Pennyworth, Vicki Vale, the Elongated Man, the Huntress, and Ace the Bat-Hound. Writer Bob Rozakis introduced the Duela Dent character in issue #6 (July–August 1976)and revived the original Batwoman in issue #10 (March–April 1977).The series began featuring only new material as of issue #11 (May-June 1977) and Man-Bat began appearing as a regular feature. Batman Family converted to the Dollar Comics format with issue #17 (April–May 1978).
A two-part Batman/Grendel crossover, Devil’s Riddle and Devil’s Masque, was written and drawn by Wagner and colored by Wagner at the time of the Comico series, but was delayed by Comico’s bankruptcy. It was finally published by DC in 1993.
The story assumes that Hunter Rose and Batman live in the same fictional universe and are contemporaries. Bored with Argent the wolf and the NYPD, Hunter Rose comes to Gotham City to challenge the city’s protector to stop him before he commits an audacious crime. Hunter Rose becomes increasingly impressed with Batman but is still able to pull off his crime. However, Batman’s interference proves to be more trouble than he expected and Grendel winds up unintentionally endangering the life of a child and indirectly causing the death of a person he did not consider an enemy. Grendel and Batman’s final battle ends with the assassin just barely escaping Gotham, his arm broken by the Dark Knight in the process.
Although this story can be seen as out of continuity, Hunter Rose is depicted with a broken arm in the “Devil’s Advocate” short, featured inGrendel: Black, White, & Red.