Check out our history of Batman detailing the determined vigilante’s origins, his comrades in arms, and a few of his more notable exploits.
A family outing to the cinema ended in tragedy for young Bruce Wayne. Walking homeward, Bruce, his father Thomas, and mother Martha accidentally ventured into Gotham City’s notorious “Crime Alley” and were accosted by a mugger. Not content merely to rob the wealthy family, the hoodlum – whose identity was “never determined” – shot Dr. Thomas and Martha Wayne dead before fleeing into the darkness. As he knelt beside his parent’s bodies, Bruce swore to avenge them. After the police arrived, Bruce was comforted by Dr. Leslie Thompkins. Dr. Thompkins and Alfred Pennyworth helped arrange matters so that Gotham’s Social Services would not take Bruce into care. In this way, both Dr. Thompkins and Alfred enabled Bruce to realize his dream of becoming a crusader against crime.
The Young Bruce Wayne
At age 14, Bruce embarked on a journey that took him to every continent as he sought to learn all the skills he would need to keep his vow: to find and punish his parents’ killer, and to prevent his personal tragedy from befalling another innocent child. He studied criminology, forensics, and criminal psychology, and learned from Manhunters and martial artists, mastering nearly every fighting style. In time, Bruce forged himself into a living weapon to wage war on crime and injustice. On his return to Gotham, Bruce stalked street thugs as a plainclothes vigilante. Beaten by the very people he intended to protect, he barely survived his first night out. As he sat bleeding in his study at Wayne Manor Bruce knew that he had to first strike fear in the hearts of his foes. Just then, a bat crashed through the study window, giving Bruce the inspiration he needed.
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Establishing a secret headquarters in the caves beneath his mansion, Bruce became Batman, a Dark Knight to protect Gotham and its citizens from vice and villainy. Alfred Pennyworth remained his confidant, tending to injuries and offering sage advice – whether requested or not!
Batman became an urban legend, a cautionary tale that sent shivers through the city’s underworld. This Caped Crusader found a friend in Captain James Gordon, a Gotham cop who didn’t approve of Batman’s methods, but appreciated the results of his nightly crime fighting. Batman’s Rogues Gallery grew to include a host of bizarre criminals, such as the Joker, Catwoman, Two-Face and the Penguin. As his enemies increased, help arrived in the form of another young boy left parentless by brutal crime.
As a member of the Flying Graysons acrobatic family, young Dick Grayson thrilled audiences nightly on the high-wire beside his circus aerialist parents. But when gangster “Boss” Zucco sabotaged the high-wire because the owner of Haly’s Circus refused to offer up protection money, the elder Graysons paid with their lives. Billionaire Bruce Wayne was in the audience that night; however, it was Batman who visited the grieving Dick Grayson, offering the boy a chance at retribution by becoming Robin, the Dark Knight’s squire in his personal war on crime.
The first Robin [yes, there was more than one Robin, there have been 5 in fact, all in continuity] was carefully schooled by Batman, learning all the skills he would need to bring “Boss” Zucco to justice. Before long, Dick was ready for action. Swearing a solemn oath, he joined the Dark Knight’s crusade as his most trusted partner, Robin the Boy Wonder.
After several years in service to the Dark Knight, Grayson – then leader of the Teen Titans – relinquished the mantle of Robin when Batman forced him to choose between his duties with the Titans and his promise to aid the Dark Knight. Adopting the identity of Nightwing, Dick continued to battle crime while remaining Batman’s close ally.
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Jason Todd [Robin #2]
Batman met juvenile delinquent and presumed orphan, Jason Todd, when the boy literally tried to steal the tires right off the Batmobile. With original partner Dick Grayson having given up the role of Robin, Batman decided to take Jason in and offer him both a home and a purpose. Jason began the same training regimen Grayson once undertook to become the Dark Knight’s partner. However, Jason was a troubled soul who lacked maturity and was quick to anger.
A Death in the Family
When Jason discovered clues that his long-lost mother was alive, he secretly traveled to Africa to find her. Tragically, the trail also led him straight into the clutches of the Joker, who savagely beat the second Boy Wonder within an inch of his life. The Clown Prince of Crime left Jason and his mother to die in a booby-trapped warehouse wired from floor to ceiling with high-explosive charges. Jason courageously tried to shield his mother from the brunt of the devastating blast. She survived the explosion just long enough to tell a grief-stricken Batman that his reckless young partner had died a hero.
Tim Drake [Robin #3]
Tim Drake was barely more than a toddler when he sat in the stands at Haly’s Circus and watched the Flying Graysons fall to their doom. Tim was transfixed as the Dark Knight swooped down to comfort young Dick Grayson. The moment was burned into his memory. Years later, Tim saw news reports of an unhinged Batman becoming more and more violent following the death of the second Robin, Jason Todd. Using his detective skills, Tim deduced the secret identity of Batman and the first Boy Wonder, Dick Grayson.
After revealing this knowledge to the original Dynamic Duo, Tim argued the need for a Robin to give the Dark Knight hope, especially when faced with a seemingly hopeless and unyielding war on crime. Though reluctant at first, Batman gave Tim the opportunity to prove that he was as good as his word. After months of grueling training, Tim Drake became the third Robin.
It is a job at which Tim excels, despite the constant struggle of balancing his crime-fighting life with the day-to-day battles of just being a teenager. A former member of Young Justice, Tim presently belongs to the latest incarnation of the Teen Titans.
Stephanie Brown [Robin #4? For about 30 minutes]
Tim Drake met teen vigilante Stephanie Brown, the Spoiler, when she first attempted to thwart her father the Cluemaster’s criminal schemes. Mutual attraction grew, and Tim began supplying Stephanie with official Bat-Equipment. Their love ended tragically when Stephanie was killed in action. Of course, it turned out Stephanie actually faked her death in order to live a life free of crime-fighting. Well, that didn’t last very long.
Damian Wayne [Robin #5]
Damian’s origin harkens back to the formerly non-canon Batman story, Batman: Son of the Demon. Written by Mike W. Barr and published in 1987, Son of the Demon focused on a cooperative, tenuous endeavor involving Ra’s al Ghul and Batman; an assassin who killed a prominent Gotham scientist was also responsible for murdering al Ghul’s wife. During this contentious but beneficial team-up, Batman reentered the cycle of stormy romantic relations with al Ghul’s daughter, the beautiful, deadly Talia al Ghul.
Surprisingly, Batman was agreeable to a genuine relationship, so the two became wed, and Talia pregnant. After witnessing a change in Batman’s behavior – a dangerous lack of focus due to his new, familial concerns – Talia decided she and their child presented a danger to the Dark Knight. Resolving to reignite his legendary determination, Talia claimed a miscarriage, successfully devastating the Dark Knight, resulting in the marriage’s dissolution and resetting Batman’s grim, gritty, and more effective demeanor. Having carried the child to term, Talia gave birth to a son and handed him off to an orphanage where he we was later adopted by a western couple.
Since Batman: Son of the Demon was officially non-canon, no one thought to use the conceit of Batman’s child until Grant Morrison’s 4-issue story arc, Batman and Son, published in 2006. In this story, Talia presented their child conceived during the events of Son of the Demon. However, in this iteration, Damian wasn’t “born,” but “grown” and genetically modified in an artificial womb with the help of Batman’s appropriated DNA. WHOOPSIES! She showed up, introduced Damian to his “father,” and chaos ensued. You see, Damian was trained by master assassins for his ENTIRE LIFE, so he’s a 10-year-old, merciless killing machine with one HELL of an attitude. Yes. Chaos.
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Batman’s [uniform] is bulletproof and fire resistant, featuring a weighted cape and a cowl outfitted with night-vision technology and communications arrays. His utility belt contains an arsenal of crime-fighting gear, including various types of offensive Batarangs, de-cel jumplines and grapnels, micro-camera, smoke pellets, acetylene torch, gas mask, rebreather, and flexi-cuffs among other miniaturized non-lethal weapons. Batman employs a variety of detective gadgets, including micro-computers and crime scene analysis kits; maintains a fleet of high-tech and high-powered vehicles, chief among them the Batmobile, Batcycle, Batboat, Batplane and Batcopter; super-sophisticated Batcave headquarters housing training facilities, forensics laboratories, computer databases, and maintenance bays for all Bat-vehicles.
Some of the More Prominent Batman Storylines
- The Origin of The Joker? The history of The Red Hood? There are two stories; we will give you the current, Killing Joke history of The Red Hood. The man who was to wear the Red Helmet and become the Red Hood was actually a former chemical technician for the Ace Chemical plant, who became a struggling stand-up comedian burdened with the thought of not being able to support his newly pregnant wife. Jack, this poor sot’s name, is approached by criminals who strong-arm him into accepting the role of The Red Hood since they want to rob the Ace Chemical plant. Jack accepts [he had no choice], in order to make enough money to start a better life for his family.The day of the heist, Jack learns that his pregnant wife dies from a “freak accident;” the reader is led to believe that it was done by the gang members ensuring that Jack stuck with the deal. Jack, failed comedian, failed husband to a murdered wife, reluctantly dons the helmet, becoming the new Red Hood. Red Hood had a large domed red helmet [of course] with one-way mirror lenses [like Spider-Man] to see through and a red cape. Oh yes…he also wore a tuxedo. Very dapper was The Red Hood.While attempting to rob a chemical plant, the plant’s security men spot the robbers, shooting the other criminals dead, narrowly missing the Red Hood. Cornered on a catwalk by Batman the [now terrified] Red Hood dives into a chemical basin to make his escape and swims to freedom by way of a venting pipe; he only survived via a special breathing apparatus that was built into his helmet. However, the chemicals in the basin permanently disfigured the man under the hood, turning his hair green, his skin white and his lips red. Upon discovering this, he went insane. What really crawled out of that chemical basin so many years ago was the worst criminal mind to walk the earth. Not Lex Luthor, none other than they psychotic and maniacal Joker.
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- Broken Bat – Bane will forever be remembered as the man who broke the Bat! More than three decades ago, Bane’s father received a life sentence from the Santa Priscan government for his role in a failed revolution. He fled the country, but Santa Priscan law demanded that his son take his place. The child that would become Bane was raised inside Pena Duro prison (mostly in a pit called the Cavidad Oscuro). Bane killed dozens of inmates and engineered a jailbreak when experiments with the drug Venom gave him monstrous strength.
Winding up in Gotham City, Bane exhausted Batman by freeing all the villains from Arkham Asylum. He then crippled the Dark Knight by snapping his spine. Jean Paul Valley (Azrael) donned the Batman garb while Bruce recuperated from his injuries. This interim Batman was more violent and unstable; Bruce returned to action as soon as his body had healed and he had regained his fighting spirit, with the help of ruthless martial-arts mistress Lady Shiva. Bruce took back the Mantle of the Bat by force.
- The “Batman: Hush” storyline introduced Tommy Elliot, a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne’s. As Hush, the bandaged villain, Elliot secretly orchestrated constant attacks on the Batman by manipulating many of th Batman’s Rogues Gallery villains. As the manipulations and orchestrations grew so did the sexual tension between Batman and Catwoman, to the point where they actually became romantically involved to a certain degree. Ultimately, Batman’s distrust in Catwoman ended the doomed relationship. Hush tricked Batman into believing that Jason Todd, the second Robin who was killed by the Joker, was actually alive. An angry Jason fought Batman but he is later revealed to be none other than Clayface. In a bizarre twist of writing, the DC creators decided to go ahead and let Jason Todd return to the world of the living (imagine that) but he arrived in the guise of The Red Hood.
- The Court of Owls: There’s a secret society of ultra-wealthy, influential elitists whose history predates the beginnings of Gotham City. As the city rose on the backs of countless generations, the society, nearly omnipotent in their influence due to the successful consolidation/accumulation of wealth and power, guided the fate of this wondrous, Gothic metropolis from the very beginning. Donning owl masks and meeting in secret, this morally ambivalent sect was discovered by Batman, who was attacked by a Talon, one of the Court’s reanimated super-assassins. You see, Batman/Bruce Wayne had some prodigious restoration projects in store for Gotham, and the Court, very vehemently, disagreed. The Court nearly defeated Batman, physically and psychologically, trapping him in a never-ending maze located underneath Gotham City. Yes, Batman eventually overcame, but it cost him.