Heroes are defined by the challenges that they overcome, and I think we can all agree that there are no greater challenges than those faced by the Batman. Over the past 77 years, he's saved the world countless times and foiled countless dastardly plots, battling some of the most sinister arch-villains of all time. But now, he is facing his single greatest challenge ever: Can he make wearing just underwear and black socks look good?

I mean, seriously, that's one of the classic all-time Bad Looks, but it seems that Mikel Janin, who's coming in as one of the artists on Batman after DC's "Rebirth" event this summer, has decided that now is the time for Bruce Wayne to redeem it. Check out his designs below and decide for yourself!



Of course, we can't just look at Janin's version of Batman in isolation. There's a history here, a shared universe! We need to be scientific, and I think the best way to do that is to compare Janin's version to other images of Batman without his shirt on. And fortunately, I keep a detailed file of Shirtless Batman photos for just such an occasion.

The most famous, of course, is the scene Neal Adams drew in Batman #244:


Art by Neal Adams, Batman #44


This has a pretty weird look itself, what with the fact that Batman took off his shirt and cape but left his cowl on for dramatic purposes. The other major difference is that Adams's Batman --- much like John Byrne's Superman --- is rocking a lot more chest hair than his modern counterpart.

For a more modern comparison, we can go to Chris Sprouse's version from Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne.


Art by Chris Sprouse, Batman; The Return of Bruce Wayne #1


Here we can see that Batman has a little less chest hair, but a body that's sculpted a bit more like Janin's take. It seems to follow a natural progression.

As for whether this will be the new definitive shirtless Batman (and whether Janin will have as many excuses to draw Shirtless Batman as he did for Shirtless Dick Grayson at his previous gig), I'm still not sure. I mean, can we ever consider any drawing of Batman to be complete without his Batman-shaped kneepads? I suppose we'll have to make do with Batman-branded underwear instead.


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