A Brief History of Sexy Batman: From The Golden Age to Kate Beaton
This weekend, Kate Beaton did what Kate Beaton does, which is make awesome comics, but this time, it wasn't Canadian history, classic literature or the adventures of Nancy Drew that inspired her. It was Batman.
Specifically, Sexy Batman.
With a series of amazing strips in which the Dark Knight employs his fearsome flirtiness to bring down his superstitious, cowardly foes (who are apparently most cowardly when it comes to aggressive sexuality), Beaton has thrown the spotlight on a rarely seen element of Batman's crime-fighting arsenal. But that said, it's hardly a new one, and never let it be said that we here at ComicsAlliance don't go out of our way to provide you with the background information you need. That's why today, we've got a timeline with a look at over fifty years of Batman fighting the idea of crime with the idea of rock-hard abs!
1952: Batman has always flaunted his handsomeness in the face of crime -- we've all seen that Golden Age panel of Batman and Robin doing some indoor midnight sunbathing -- but it was in 1952 that he would issue the command that set the tone for the next half-century of shirtlessness:
Fun fact: In the '50s, "strip off all unessential clothing!" was a perfectly acceptable pick-up line. Thanks for nothin', Women's Lib.
Anyway, you'd think that when going into an unknown and possibly hostile situation, Batman would at least want to keep his utility belt and all the handy crimefighting gadgets it contains, but no. As revealed in "The Jungle Batman," there are only two things that Batman considers "essential."
1) His mask.
2) Tiny, tiny shorts.
That's it. It's worth noting that while it looks like Robin is wearing apair of leopard-print briefs, that's actually just the faded coloring of the scales on his his normal green outfit. He doesn't get the leopard-print briefs until the next page.
1972: Bat-shirtlessness continued to be a powerful anti-crime technique over the next few decades, but in the '70s, the next big development came along: chest hair.
The primary advantage of the Foest of Bat-Power is that it allows for a truly devastating technique. After all, any run-of-the-milll vigilante can have a shirtless swordfight with a bad guy, get bitten by a scorpion, come back from the dead and haul said bad guy off to jail, but only the power of Bat-Sexiness can lead to the added deterrent: Not only will Batman foil your sinister plans, but he will straight up make out with your daughter, too.
1987: By the mid-80s, the chest hair was gone in favor of the return of tiny shorts...
...which were also accompanied with bobby socks and a pair of Keds. The '80s were a weird time, everybody.
2001: By the turn of the 21st century, Batman had reached the peak of his powers -- both deduction and seduction -- which led the stories to become more focused on the internal struggle. Was it worth it? Was using his sexiness to fight sexy crime really making a sexy difference in the world?
Evan Dorkin Ivan Brunetti's examination of this rarely seen psychological aspect was limited to one story in the Bizarro Comics graphic novel, and we never got the twelve-part Batman's Introspective Hot Tub Party series the fans wanted to see.
2008: Still, the effects of those questions were felt for years afterwards, inspiring Batman to go with a "back to basics" approach: Shirtlessness and crunches.
No joke: That panel is from a story where Batman counters a fake seduction by an evildoer by reverse seducing her with the power of his abs, so that she can experience heartbreak as a punishment for her crimes. Harsh.
2010: Finally, recent developments for Batman -- "death," a time travel adventure, the expansion of the Batman identity into a franchise of crimefighters in Batman Inc -- have also seen him expanding into new areas of sexiness, too.
Areas that sometimes involve safewords.