Batman Turns 75

Happy new book day, everyone! Today marks the official 75th anniversary of Batman’s first appearance in Detective Comics #27 back in 1939. That was one of the primary reasons I chose to start my blogging hobby with a Batman column, and I have stuck to it for seven months now.

I have tackled lots of angles on the character, his history, his potential heirs, and even some of his antagonists (after all, the Joker is in all of us, just waiting to get out). I have also shown you all part of my Batman collection, voiced my need for aid in finding an old comic from the 90s, and even drawn sometimes loose connections between Batman and real life historical figures. It’s been a wild ride so far.

Though I am not exclusive with my superhero fandom, Batman has held a special place in my heart since childhood. The Tim Burton/Michael Keaton films and Batman: The Animated Series cemented differing versions of the character in my mind at a very early age, and the idea of the multiple narratives, universes, and timelines of this mythical character attracted me almost from the beginning. In fact, I still imagine Kevin Conroy‘s voice whenever I read a comic featuring Batman.

And that version of the character may be for me what many would call the Batman of my heart. It has grown over the years, shaped by the stories and other media I’ve been exposed to in the years since, but some things remain part of the character’s core.

Batman isn’t entirely good or kind–no one that damaged would be–but he has enough of both present within him to recognize the darkness his experiences have placed within him, and (again, as Frank Miller has said) he makes that darkness work for the betterment of the world around him. He is generous and charitable with his immense wealth, since it holds little allure for him beyond funding his war against crime and maintaining the illusion of Bruce Wayne’s apathetic playboy lifestyle. Because I also believe Bruce Wayne is the false identity and Batman is the real character; Bruce only exists to keep suspicion off of him in his real life.

And I believe that life is long and filled with adventure. One day, decades hence, Bruce will finally be forced to retire and pass on the mantle to one of many possible heirs. Because there must always be a Batman.

Final page from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Art by Frank Miller. Image found at http://www.therealbatmanchronologyproject.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/BatmanTDKR4-199-The-Dark-Knight-Falls.jpg

Final page from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Art by Frank Miller. Image found at http://www.therealbatmanchronologyproject.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/BatmanTDKR4-199-The-Dark-Knight-Falls.jpg

That’s my thought for this auspicious day. Any of you who might be capable should leave flowers on the graves of Bill Finger and Bob Kane today. Little did they know what their attempt to simply pay the bills would become over the next century.

That said, who is the Batman of your heart? Which take from which writer, artist, or medium is the core, definitive Batman for you? Let me know in the comments below.

I would also like to take this opportunity to announce that I will be expanding the scope of this blog in the coming weeks. Batman shall always form its core, but I need to stretch my legs a bit. Please keep coming back to see what I’ve come up with.

My comic picks for this week:

Batman #33

Batman Eternal #16

Batman Beyond Universe #12

Superman #33

Injustice: Year Two #8

Daredevil #6

Storm #1

Velvet #6

Mr. Freeze: The Most Sympathetic of Batman’s Villains

Good day, everyone! I hope your week is going well. For this week’s post, I want to focus on another Batman villain the way I did the Joker many weeks ago. This time, I want to look at Mr. Freeze, Batman’s most underrated and sympathetic opponent.

Mr. Freeze (originally named Dr. Victor Fries and called Mr. Zero) was created in 1959 by Bob Kane, David Wood, and Sheldon Moldoff. At first, he was a somewhat ridiculous, generic ice villain, of which there were several in the Silver Age (the Flash’s Captain Cold being another notable example). And Mr. Freeze remained an unremarkable sometime foe of Batman for decades, despite a slight bump in popularity during the Adam West years based in no small part by portrayals by such esteemed actors as Eli Wallach. That is, until the 1992 episode of Batman: The Animated Series entitled “Heart of Ice.”

The animated version of Mr. Freeze (voiced by the late, great Michael Ansara) was an entirely new take on the character defined by his sorrow and his quest for vengeance against the company that pulled funding on his studies to cure his wife (then in suspended animation) of an undisclosed terminal illness. The resulting seizure of his lab by its big businessman owner (Ferris Boyle of Gothcorp in some versions) ended with Victor Fries being bathed in a cryogenic formula that drastically lowered his body temperature and made it nearly impossible for him to survive exposure to even the mildest environment without the aid of an armored suit.

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What is it about the Joker?

the-killing-joke-deluxe-front-cover1

by Jeremy DeFatta

Happy new book day, everyone! Today, I want to take a little break from Batman himself and begin discussing some of his supporting cast and rogues gallery. I believe the appropriate first choice for this will be the Joker.

The Joker first appeared in Batman #1 back in 1940. Appropriately enough, given that so little is known about the character, his exact creator is disputed to this day—creator credit is generally spread out across Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson. Originally meant to be a one-off character, the Joker seemingly returned from the dead due to an unexpected upsurge in his popularity among fans after (what was intended to be) his single appearance. Indeed, the Joker has never not been popular, and is likely as well known as his heroic nemesis. Why is this? What makes this character as immortal and (arguably) as beloved as Batman?

The Joker is sometimes painfully campy and goofy, while at other times he is a chillingly deranged mass murderer. What is the appeal of this character? Deep down, as can be argued with Batman, do we as readers/viewers sense a sort of kinship with the character? Do we understand him? Does he force us to recognize something we are afraid to see within ourselves? Let’s try to address these questions.

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Why do we love Bruce Wayne?

"Makin' it Wayne" by m7781/Deviant Art

“Makin’ it Wayne” by m7781/Deviant Art

by Jeremy DeFatta

Good day, everyone! After a couple of weeks of somewhat tangential diversions, I want to return to the original Batman himself, Bruce Wayne. There have been as many iterations of Bruce Wayne as there have been writers tackling the character and actors portraying him, but what is the real core of the character? Why does he endure and maintain such outrageous popularity?

As I pointed out initially, Batman is a product of the 1930s, one of the very first superheroes—the Dark Knight to Superman’s Sun God. He was created during the Great Depression. I don’t think it is any great leap in logic, and other writers may have commented on this before, to see Bruce Wayne as a thought experiment into what a good and useful rich man should be at a time of not only national, but global crisis.

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