Batman Turns 75: Comics Alliance’s Favorite Bat-Features
Today marks the 75th anniversary of a little-known character that some comics readers may have had occasion to hear of in their exploits, if they really dug through the back-issue bins: The Batman.
Here at ComicsAlliance, as regular readers surely are aware, we’re big fans of Batman, who I’m not told is apparently, and basically undeniably, the most popular comic book character ever created. Who knew? To celebrate the Dark Knight’s three-quarters of a century, we’ve assembled a collection of 25 of our favorite articles from the past five years of ComicsAlliance to share with you one more time.
Original publication date: March 27, 2012
We’ve seen a good many stories of real-life Batmen over the years, but this one about a fellow who cops pulled over on Route 29 in Silver Spring, Md., in a Batmobile-like Lamborghini for various violations is probably the weirdest and funniest of the bunch.
And as it turns out, the mystery man ended up being a great guy. Known in his civilian identity as businessman Leonard B. Robinson, this Batman goes to children’s hospitals and visits sick kids. Despite his seemingly cavalier attitude toward the rules of the road, he really lives up to Batman’s spirit.
Original publication date: April 10, 2013
We here at ComicsAlliance have long subscribed to the idea that there are many, many valid interpretations of Batman. He’s one of comics’ most malleable characters. Even this version, which has been constructed from scenes from Christopher Nolan’s first film in his Dark Knight trilogy to look like a bright romantic comedy, has its own sort of charm, doesn’t it?
Original publication date: August 19, 2013
Last summer, the comics Internet was abuzz over Grant Morrison’s contention that the classic Batman graphic Novel The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland ended with Batman killing the Joker by snapping his neck.
ComicsAlliance’s Joe Hughes offered his take on why he didn’t believe that to be the case.
Original publication date: March 29, 2010
Batman has had more than his share of wonderful toys over the past seven-and-a-half decades, and a handful of really, really weird ones. Batmanologist Chris Sims documented some of the strangest, including the Bat-Jetpack and the costume Batman wore to fight Orca the whale woman.
Original publication date: July 9, 2013
I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to get into the infamous reputation of Batman’s credited creator, Bob Kane, in this list intended to celebrate 75 years of the character, but it’s hard to ignore this amazing story legendary comics creator Jim Steranko told in his early days on Twitter about slapping “Bat Majesty” across the face.
Original publication date: September 17, 2010
Batman has had a vast array of costumes over the years, and that’s not even counting the many costumes he has only had in toy form, where he has had far more occasion to go on Arctic and space missions. Chris Sims counted down a few of his least favorite versions of the costume in the days before the New 52 rendition.
Original publication date: March 18, 2011
Speaking of Batman toys, Let’s Be Friends Again’s Chris Haley and Curt Franklin tracked down some never-produced Batman toys for this feature. It got pretty weird.
Original publication date: March 6, 2012
Listen, that have some completely damn insane Batman stories since 1939, like the time he had to dismantle a bomb inside the New Year’s ball. But only once did Batman ever have to stop the Joker from being the number one criminal on the moon. Chris Sims examined the craziness.
Original publication date: July 5, 2011
David Uzumeri and Chris Sims watched every Batman movie available at the time for their “Remedial/Advanced Batmanology” feature, but no review generated as much…let’s say…passion, as their highly favorable look at the film that all but killed the Batman movie franchise.
Original publication date: July 14, 2010
Did you know that there were multiple Batman-themed bands in the 1960s? And there were even more novelty songs about the Caped Crusader. Chris Sims assembled a list of the gems of the time, including one sung by Adam West himself!
Original publication date: March 2, 2011
OK, yes, this article is really more about Chris Sims than it’s about Batman, but it was sparked by the big Bat-controversy of 2011, which revolved around the French, Muslim member of Batman Incorporated, Nightrunner. When The Daily Show interviewed comics artist Bosch Fawstin about his objections to the character, correspondent Aasif Mandvi asked The Internet’s Foremost Batmanologist to come act as the counterbalance. Chris related his experience in fully Batman terms, and got to be a voice in the biggest Batman story of the year.
(Notably, the video of the segment has mysteriously disappeared from The Daily Show‘s website. It got Flashpointed!)
Original publication date: October 26, 2012
Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is widely regarded to be one of the best Batman stories ever published. Critic Sean Witzke took a deep dive into the visual storytelling on display in the book in this extremely thoughtful piece.
Original publication date: April 17, 2012
A good 40 percent of the “Great Comics That Never Happened,” Chris Sims’ team-ups with artists to think up the best never-was comics in history featured Batman, but they never got better than this entry.
Original publication date: March 28, 2013
In what is perhaps the greatest-ever two-parter in the entire run of the 1960s Batman TV show, the Joker talked into a hot dog and Batman was attacked with weaponized acupuncture needles. Chris Sims documented the madness (and, as the title states, radness).
Original publication date: April 30, 2012
In his book Seduction of the Innocent, Dr. Fredric Wertham said the obvious homosexual relationship between Batman and Robin was one of the reasons that comic books were immoral garbage that were rotting children’s brains. In spring 2012, Batman Incorporated writer Grant Morrison brought the topic of Batman’s possible gayness to the limelight in a Playboy interview. ComicsAlliance’s Andrew Wheeler examined just how realistic a gay Batman would be.
Original publication date: April 5, 2013
Many writers have tried to write “final” Batman stories in the character’s long history. Here, Chris Sims determines his ideal ending for a character who will most likely outlive us all.
Original publication date: July 23, 2012
ComicsAlliance didn’t exist when Batman Begins or The Dark Knight came out, so when The Dark Knight Rises hit, we blew out our coverage and invited everyone to chip in. The variety of opinions on display in this piece, particularly in how it relates to how well the movie depicted each writer’s ideal version of Batman, is a fascinating look into just how varied people’s conceptions of Batman are.
Original publication date: August 1, 2013
Writer Grant Morrison’s run on Batman reached through multiple titles and lasted seven years. David Uzumeri was with him every step of the way, annotating individual issues and tying the various pieces together so that the magnum opus made sense to the rest of us. This was the period on the end of his examination of Morrison’s Bat-work, and it’s beautifully stated.
Original publication date: September 24, 2012
Designer Dylan Todd made his adoration for the 1960s Batman TV series known with this stunning series of graphical creations on Tumblr.
Original publication date: July 29, 2011
One of Batman’s defining traits, since the early 1940s, has been his enduring friendship with Superman. Frank Miller famously said he believed the two could never really be friends, but Chris Sims says the characters’ friendship held strong for 40-plus years before writers chose that having them fight was the better course.
Original publication date: August 23, 2011
Certainly we can debate whether Frank Miller’s opinions on Batman and Superman’s friendship hold water, but there’s no denying that he’s been one of the most influential — if not the most influential — Batman writer of the past three decades. In this piece, critic and commentator David Brothers attempts to tie together the themes of Miller’s major Batman stories: Year One, Dark Knight Returns, and All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder. Surprisingly, the three seemingly disparate stories come together pretty well.
Original publication date: January 17, 2013
Though many writers and readers have championed various interpretations of Batman over the years, one trait that has remained mostly consistent over the years is that Batman hates and refuses to use guns because his parents were killed with one.
There’s a complicating factor, though: It’s a well-known bit of trivia that Batman actually did carry and use a gun in some of his earliest appearances. Chris Sims reconciles that fact (and how pulp-fiction characters clearly inspired Batman) with the character’s clear anti-gun stance.
Original publication date: March 8, 2011
Speaking of Batman and guns: Batman: Odyssey was confusingly full of them. And that was one of the least baffling things about it.
Neal Adams is undoubtedly one of the most influential Batman artists of all time. As a writer, he has turned out to be something entirely different. In 2011, he kicked off the mind-bogglingly strange series Batman: Odyssey, and writers Laura Hudson and David Wolkin tried valiantly to make sense of it. It’s not clear they did, but it was immensely entertaining.
Original publication date: November 15, 2013
In what was a strong contender for the most heartwarming phrase of the year, virtually the entire city of San Francisco gathered together to help a five-year-old cancer patient named Miles live a single, beautiful day as “Batkid.” He spent the whole day taking down supervillains, riding around in the Batmobile and hanging out with Batman.
What better way to celebrate Batman’s 75th anniversary than to take note of the ways the character has helped make the real world a better place?
Original publication date: February 6, 2014
When we celebrate the anniversary of a character, we’re indirectly celebrating the people responsible for those characters existing and perpetuating throughout the culture we love.
Bill Finger was never credited as a co-creator of Batman, but had more influence on who the character is today than anyone (Sheldon Moldoff and Jerry Robinson also had considerable input). He deserves some direct celebration today, of all days. Check out these stories if you can get your hands on them, and commemorate 75 years of one of comics’ greatest heroes.