History of Batman (Comics) - Part 1
Updated: Nov 20, 2022
Batman has been around for quite a long time. In fact, he has been around since May 1939. The above image is the first Batman symbol ever seen in a comic. I have been a fan of Batman since I was a kid. I always loved picking up the new issue from the local comic store.
Bob Kane and Bill Finger created the Batman idea. In 1939, there was a need for more super heroes. Superman was hitting it big with the kids and DC (Detective Comics) needed to provide more comics. So, Bob Kane and Bill Finger created The Bat-Man. Bob was asked years later, where he received the inspiration for this superhero and he said it was based on the character played by Douglas Fairbanks, Zorro.
When Bill Finger was hired at the studio, he was working as a shoe salesman. Bill was the writer and wrote the first Batman Issue. According to Kane, Bill wrote very compelling stories and he is a big reason for the success of this franchise/comic.
Batman - Golden Age (1930 to 1950)
First Appearance of Batman (Detective Comics)
As mentioned above, this is the first time that the world was ever exposed to Batman. It was part of a series called Detective Comics (DC Comics). You can read the comic at the link below. The issue was released in May 1939.
The storyline was just a guy dressed as a Bat and he would fight crime. There was not much back story, but there was enough mystique to the character that people loved it. In fact, it was so loved that it spawned a spinoff comics called Batman.
Batman Issue #1
This series debuted in May 1940. The above series of comic books had the sidekick known as Robin, the Boy Wonder. It brought to the public classic villains as The Joker, Catwoman and Mad Hatter. Alfred, the world's most famous butler was also introduced in this series. As expected the first issue recapped the reason Batman became Batman. It outlined the murder of his parents. Although, now that we have been shown this story thousands of times, that the back story may annoy some people. Back then, this was a deep telling of a story. People could relate to this character as he went through a hard time. He was human. This is different from almost every other DC comics character at the time, where they are mostly from other planets.
You can read the comic here: http://www.readcomics.tv/batman-1940/chapter-1
Batman - The Silver Age (1955 to 1970)
In this timeframe we are introduced to more villains. This era brought us such classic villains as Mr. Freeze (initially Mr. Zero). The first time that we see this character is in the Batman Issue #121 which was published on February 1959.
Mr. Freeze (Mr. Zero) First Issue
This era also saw us discover Bat-Girl (Issue #139) and Poison Ivy (Issue #181). This part of history also gave us back The Riddler. The character had disappeared for several years (18 years) and DC brought him back in Issue #171.
Batman (1970 to 2000)
This era really showed us the Batman series that we love today. It brought back the darker tones of the series. In 1971, writer Dennis O'Neil and artist Neal Adams were trusted with continuing the series. They were responsible for bringing in a new villain called Ra's al Ghul. Although he is a very popular super villain to many fans, I do not think that they have gone far with him in the movies and TV shows. This is also the era which gave us the crazy version of the Joker. In 1979, Len Wein introduced us to Lucius Fox which was portrayed by Morgan Freeman in the Dark Knight movie franchises. In 1993, Chuck Dixon, Graham Nolan and Doug Moench created the Knightfall storyline which introduced us to the Super Villain Bane. Bane appeared first in Batman: Vengeance of Bane #1 (January 1993).
Batman: Vengeance of Bane #1
This is where Batman originated, and still today, these comics are some of the most popular. We have seen many iterations of the Dark Knight and he always manages to reinvent itself.
I think that people have loved this franchise for numerous reasons. The one for me is that he is the everyday guy that is equipped up in gadgets. He is not an alien. He cannot fly. Although some of his gadgets are a little far fetched, they are still more realistic than other comics.
The dark tone of the comic also makes it a little different from others. Superman which is the poster boy for DC is much more light hearted even in the darkest of times. You can see and feel the suffering that Batman is going through and the burden of such a troubled childhood.
The next section will be focusing on the TV and Movies franchises.
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