Batman

Original + Golden Age + Earth 2 (New 52)

Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger

NAME + ALIASES:
Bruce Wayne (deceased)

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Thomas and Martha Wayne (parents, deceased), Selina Kyle (Catwoman, wife, deceased), Helena Wayne (Huntress, daughter, deceased), Karl Kyle (brother-in-law), Bruce N. Wayne (cousin)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Justice Society of America

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Detective Comics #27 (May 1939)

History

Bruce and Selina surrender. From The Brave and the Bold #197 (1983); art by Joe Staton and George Freeman.
Lois and Clark Kent patrol the wedding of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. From Superman Family #211 (1981); art by Kurt Schaffenberger and Frank Chiaramonte.
The death of the original Batman. From Adventure Comics #462 (1979); art by Joe Staton.
Alfred sends a prayer to the Batman. From Wonder Woman #295 (1982); art by Joe Staton and Jerry Ordway.

Although Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman have been continuously published since before World War II, in the mid-sixties, DC retroactively assigned the earliest "Golden Age" incarnations of those characters to the parallel world of Earth-Two, while the "modern" characters were said to exist on Earth-One. Unlike the Earth-One Batman, who remained eternally in his early 30s, DC later established that the Earth-Two Batman had begun his career in 1939 (the time of his comic book debut) and grew older in more or less real time, eventually marrying and starting a family. He died in 1979, but his daughter began her own heroic career as The Huntress.

Earth-Two's entire history was wiped out in 1986 after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, but a new, very similar Earth-Two (with its own Batman and Huntress) was created in 2007 in the wake of Infinite Crisis. In 2011, that world was also wiped out in favor of the current New 52 Earth 2, whose late Batman is profiled separately.

Early Life

On Earth-Two, Bruce Wayne was born in 1915 and his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne, were murdered in 1924. After their deaths, Bruce was raised by his uncle, Philip Wayne, who died sometime before Bruce entered college in 1935. While attending Gotham University, Bruce became engaged to socialite Julie Madison. (Secret Origins #6) (She left him in 1941 to pursue an acting career.)

Bruce had sworn to avenge his parents' deaths by fighting crime, but his engagement to Julie made him think twice about becoming a policeman. In the spring of 1939, shortly after graduation, a bat flying through the window of his study gave him his inspiration: He would become a costumed avenger called The Batman.

Early in his career, Batman worked alone and was hunted by the police, although as Bruce Wayne, he became close friends with Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon. Batman found no shortage of criminal opponents, including Dr. Death, the vampiric Monk and Dala, and Professor Hugo Strange.

In 1940, roughly a year after his debut, Batman met Dick Grayson, a young circus acrobat whose parents had been murdered by racketeer 'Boss' Zucco. Batman revealed his true identity to the boy and agreed to train him as Batman's crimefighting assistant: Robin. Although he was unable to legally adopt Dick, Bruce arranged for the boy to become his ward. (Detective #38)

Golden Age Heyday

Later that year, Batman was recruited to help stop a planned Nazi invasion of Great Britain and became a founding member of the Justice Society of America. (DC Special #29) A year later, he and Robin were among the many heroes to join the new wartime All-Star Squadron. (All-Star Squadron #3) They also met Superman, who became their friend and eventually shared their secret identities. (World's Finest #271)

Nonetheless, Batman would have only sporadic involvement with the JSA and All-Star Squadron, generally confining himself to Gotham City. By 1941, he and Robin had been deputized by the Gotham Police Department (Batman #7), allowing them to concentrate their energies on battling a host of colorful fiends like The Joker; the comical-looking but often deadly Penguin; the macabre Scarecrow; and former D.A. Harvey Kent, who was scarred by acid to become Two-Face. Kent later reformed after his face was surgically repaired.

After Julie Madison's departure, Bruce Wayne dated Linda Page and later reporter Vicki Vale, but he was most fascinated with one of his costumed adversaries: The Catwoman (Selina Kyle, originally just called The Cat), a beautiful jewel thief. (Batman #1) Batman and Catwoman were immediately taken with each other, and in the early days of their flirtation, Batman would often let her escape rather than turn her over to police.

In 1943, Batman and Robin gained a new friend who would become their most trusted confidant: English butler Alfred Beagle, son of former Wayne family butler Jarvis Beagle. Alfred, an erstwhile amateur detective, accidentally discovered his employers' secret identities shortly after joining the Wayne household. He soon became their stalwart (if occasionally bumbling) ally.

In the mid-fifties, Batman and Robin were periodically joined by Batwoman (actually heiress Kathy Kane), although they steadfastly refused to share their true identities with her and did their best to discourage her crimefighting career. (Detective #233) Batman occasionally dated Kathy as Bruce Wayne, but never fully reciprocated her feelings for him. She would carry a torch for him the rest of her life. (Brave and the Bold #182)

Later Life

In 1955, the wedding of Linda Page prompted Batman to reappraise the course he had chosen for his life. Soon after, he and Catwoman finally confessed their true feelings for one another. Batman revealed his secret identity to her and she forswore her life of crime. (Brave and the Bold #197) They were married later that year (Superman Family #211) and in 1957 they had a daughter, Helena Wayne. (DC Super-Stars #17)

By the mid-1960s, Bruce had largely curtailed his career as Batman, leaving the protection of Gotham to Robin. (Justice League of America #55) Although Batman joined a few of the JSA's missions with Earth-One's Justice League, he never met the Earth-One Batman.

In 1976, a former member of Selina's gang blackmailed her into resuming her role as Catwoman to assist the gang with a robbery. Batman intervened, initially unaware of his wife's involvement, and Selina was accidentally killed in the ensuing struggle. Afterwards, Bruce Wayne burned his cape and cowl, intending to retire for good. Unbeknownst to Bruce, his daughter Helena decided to avenge her mother's death by assuming the role of The Huntress. (DC Super-Stars #17)

After Selina's death, Bruce succeeded Jim Gordon as Gotham's police commissioner, (All-Star #66) which brought him into conflict with the revived Justice Society. (All-Star #69) He was also diagnosed with terminal cancer, although he told no one but Helena and asked her to keep his condition a secret even from Dick Grayson. (America vs. the Justice Society #4)

In early 1979, Bruce was forced to resume the role of Batman one final time to stop a super-powered criminal named Bill Jensen. Both Batman and Jensen perished in that battle. (Adventure Comics #462) Although Bruce's secret identity was revealed in his final battle, Dr. Fate later cast a spell causing everyone who did not already know the secret to believe Batman and Bruce Wayne were separate people who died at the same time, thus protecting Helena and Dick's identities. (Adventure #463) The Huntress subsequently took Batman's place as Gotham's principal hero.

Five years after Batman's death, his former Justice Society comrades were rocked by the publication of his diary, which accused the JSA of having been Nazi collaborators during World War II. Dick Grayson eventually discovered that the diary was an elaborate ruse to alert the Justice Society to a plot by their old adversary, Per Degaton, and the JSA members were exonerated. (America vs. the Justice Society #1-4)

Several of Batman's greatest foes outlived him, including the Joker (Wonder Woman #281–283) and Hugo Strange. (Brave and the Bold #182)

The Earth-Two Batman's history was wiped out by the Crisis, but around the time of Infinite Crisis, his ghost reappeared briefly on Earth-0, helping his former JSA comrades defeat the Gentleman Ghost. (JSA #85)

Continuity Notes

Since the existence of separate Earth-One and Earth-Two Batmen was only established retroactively, there is no clear line of demarcation between the Golden Age and Silver Age versions. (The original Who's Who series asserted that the Earth-One Batman first appeared in Detective #327, May 1964), the issue in which Batman's costume gained the yellow oval around the chest emblem, which is obviously incorrect.) In general, most stories published prior to 1956 took place on Earth-Two, but some earlier stories also took place on Earth-One and some later stories took place on Earth-Two. See Batman: Earth-One vs. Earth-Two for a more detailed discussion of this issue.

In any event, the existence of the Earth-Two Batman was first acknowledged in an Imaginary Story in Detective #347 (Jan. 1966) and his first actual appearance in the age of the multiverse was in Justice League of America #82 (Aug. 1970).

+ Powers

Batman had no superhuman powers, but in his prime, he was an exceptional athlete and a formidable hand-to-hand combatant. Thanks to his superb conditioning and an infusion of "temporal energy" he received in 1941, (All-Star Squadron Annual #3) he remained vigorous and active well into his 60s. He had a full array of sophisticated paraphernalia, including the Batarang, Batmobile, and Batplane. Early in his career, he frequently wore a bulletproof vest and occasionally carried an automatic pistol, although he had abandoned both by late 1941.

Appearances + References

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:  

  • All-Star Comics #7, 36
  • Brave and the Bold #197, 200
  • DC Special #29
  • DC Super-Stars #17
  • Justice League of America v.1 #135-137
  • Secret Origins v.2 #6
  • Superman Family #211
  • World's Finest #271

» SERIES:

  • Batman #1 through the Golden Age
  • Detective Comics #27 through the Golden Age
  • New York World's Fair Comics #1
  • Star-Spangled Comics #65-66, 86-96, 98, 110-112, 114-115, 117, 120, 127, 130
  • World's Best Comics #1
  • World's Finest Comics #2 through the Golden Age