Over eight decades ago, the smoking gun barrel of Joe Chill unleashed unto the unsuspecting denizens of Gotham City a nocturnal nightmare of which they had never seen. The tragic murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, before the innocent eyes of their young son, Bruce, created a force of vengeance and justice that has been preying on Gotham’s criminal underbelly with furious anger ever since… The Batman!
Created by the peerless pairing of Bill Finger and Bob Kane, the creepy and curmudgeonly creature of the night’s first ever appearance was in DC Comics’ revered Detective Comics in May of 1939. Since that time, the dark and surly one has gone on to become, quite possibly, the most popular and renowned Superhero ever conceived, with his fame spreading across every single known entertainment medium, from comic-books through video-games, television shows, movies, toys, clothes, novelisations, and so, so much more, firmly cementing his place in heroic history!
But what is it that compels readers to immerse themselves in a vengeance driven man-hunter, a being that has devoted his life to bringing his own brand of Bat-justice to a corrupt and dystopian city seething with criminal detritus? I absolutely believe that it’s his inherent vulnerability and pathos, you see, unlike the vast swathe of caped crusaders, Bruce is, ultimately, just a man in a costume… he can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound, or deflect bullets with bracelets, he’s not capable of reaching the speed-force, or even talking to fish! but what he does possess is the inherent belief in his own righteousness and decency, it’s his integrity and moral fortitude that has enabled him to rise above the sea of costumed crimefighters and be the best he can be, no matter the adversity or lack of powers thereof… the mark of a true hero (of course, billions of dollars, an unsurpassed mastery of myriad martial arts, genius level intellect and a compendium of glorious gadgets also, sort of, helps!)
And So… Happy Batman Day! What will you be doing to celebrate the Dark Knight? Why not sound off in the comments below, fellow Bat-fans.
“It’s on the thirteenth floor, appropriately” the landlord mentioned as we approached the apex of the top floor of his ‘luxury’ apartment block.
“Appropriately?” I questioned back at the rather burly man who was quietly fumbling for the requisite key to the apartment we had just reached.
“Oh didn’t I mention, this apartment is really rather special, it has the most glorious view of the city from a large picturesque window situated in its front room, and, well, I dunno, I guess the number thirteen sort of comes to mind whenever I think about him… uh, it!? Mmmmmm, no’one’s really sure if he’s human, or something, else”
My curiosity piqued – ” Him? who exactly are we talking about?”
“Wow, you’re really not from around here are you, I mean your accent sounds, British, right?” the landlord sighed heavily as he finally found the relevant apartment key.
“Yes, I’m English, only been in the states for a couple of days in fact, I’m a writer you see, one in need of a healthy dose of inspiration, I thought travelling across the pond and making my home here in Gotham for a few months might help blow away those writer’s block cobwebs… again, who is this mysterious, entity to whom you refer?”
The landlord turned towards me with a look of startling incredulity “Batman, of course, what rock have you been living under, Brit or not, I mean come on, it’s the goddamn Batman!”
“Batman?” my brow furrowed at the idea “he’s actually real?, I always thought he was some kind of myth, a sort of urban legend, you know a boogeyman type”
The landlord’s lips cracked into a rather ominous smile “Oh he’s the boogeyman alright, ‘cept in his case he only does harm to those who deserve it, anyway, please go in and take a look around, but I suggest you make up your mind quickly if you are at all interested, this apartment is well sought after and I have two more viewings this evening”
The apartment was much larger than I had at first envisioned, but then at the price he was charging I could probably afford a mansion in comparison, but it was, strangely enough, the apartment number that had attracted me to the viewing – 1313, there just seemed something, familiar about it.
“And here we are” the landlord stood in front of a sizeable plate glass window with what could only be described as a spectacular view onto the city itself, yet, with the constant torrential rain and lightning storm, and the ridiculously prodigious amount of black spires and gargoyles that peppered the immediate skyline, Hell came more to mind. “This window is better than any TV set you’ve ever seen, and if you’re looking for inspiration to break your writer’s block, well, this particular room might very well be your new favourite muse”
I pressed my nose against the cold glass “How so?” I asked, curious of his assertion.
“Well, you see, for some reason the Bat seems to frequent this particular area rather often, I mean we do have a rather high crime rate here, but that could be said for the entire city, it’s Gotham after all, infamous across the world for just this reason. This particular suburb – Park Row is actually more famous for one particular street dubbed ‘Crime Alley’ by the locals, if you look just over to your left you can see the infamous thoroughfare, the downgrade of this area began maybe thirty years ago after an awful tragedy involving Gotham’s famous affluent family, The Waynes…”
“Ah, as in the parents of billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne?” I said glancing towards the landlord, who appeared a little miffed at my interruption “I think I’ve heard this story, but please, continue on Sir”
“As I was saying, it’s been at least three decades since that awful night, when, after a evening out at the movies with their young son Bruce, the Waynes, Thomas and Martha were gunned down in cold blood right before the very eyes of their child, I mean can you imagine that, how it would taint your life… well it certainly tainted this area that’s for sure and the entire city itself, things got worse from that night onward, the city began its slow gradual descent into hell, I know, I know, I sound awfully dramatic but… wait a second, is that?”
The landlord stood transfixed staring out the window, like a deer caught in headlights, “what is it?” I said whirling on the spot following his gaze. Something dark was moving through the buildings, at first it appeared to be some kind of gigantic corvidae, but one of this size would be ridiculous, we continued to watch as the ‘thing’ descended to the ground below. It was then that the darkened figure began to take shape as my eyes adjusted to the light differential outside, it was clearly some kind of humanoid creature, though like no man I had ever encountered before. The head bore two rather long pointed ears and what seemed to be large black wings draped around the impressively framed individual.
“It’s him!” the landlord exclaimed with an almost childlike glee “told ya huh, can’t believe he appeared just as I was telling you about him though, really creepy timing, and yet…” the landlord glanced at a calendar hanging on the back wall “that’s it!, weirdly enough he seems to come here, to crime alley every year on this particular day”
I looked back towards the calendar “26th of September, Mmmmm, I wonder what the significance of this date is to such a man, umm, creature? that he should appear every year on this very day” I looked back out of the window towards where this ‘Bat’ had been, “he’s gone! I mean, he was there literally a second ago!”
The landlord’s face broadened into a large wry grin “Oh yeah, he’s good at that! off to take down a murderous clown or a riddling sociopath I would hazard, so, after that excitement, what do you think of the place, interested?”
I turned away from the window “I’ll take it” I said confidently.
“Yeah, thought ya would” the landlord passed me the keys”Oh, and we’ve had a few writers rent the place in the past you know, I believe they may have even left some of theirs musings and manuscripts up in the loft area, may be of interest to you.” The landlord turned on the spot and slowly made his way for the door “Welcome to Gotham” he uttered as he closed the door behind him.
“Thanks” I murmured back “I think I’m going to like it here” I gazed towards the trap door that gave access to the attic area… “yeah, I really think I’m going to like it here”
To Be Continued…
Batman and Gotham City are trademarks of DC Comics.
In preparation for the biggest showdown in comic book history, Warner Bros have released five prequel comics to the March 25 dated Batman v Superman movie. The comics primarily focus upon – Batman, Superman, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor and Senator Finch, and disclose some interesting revelations in the run up to the highly anticipated gladiatorial bout between the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel. Below you will find in its entirety, Chapter 1: Batman.
The above images are courtesy of ComicBookMovie.com, where you can find the other four chapters of the prequel comics. Written by: Christos Gage. Art by: Joe Bennet.
On October 1st the new semester for Gotham’s most exclusive prep school begins, we follow the adventures of new student Olive Sherlock as she makes friends and investigates the dark mysteries of one of Gotham city’s oldest and most imposing structures. Written by Eisner award nominee: Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher, with interior and cover art handled by Karl Kersch, the series is described as a coming of age, mystery solving thriller seen through the eyes of Gotham’s young students.
Poor old Babs Gordon has definitely been through the emotional wringer over the past two years, her estranged mother returns to Gotham city is promptly kidnapped by the Joker and Batgirl is forced into almost marrying him. On top of this she finds out her brother James is a serial killer, and of course the constant fight against the criminal underbelly of Gotham have taken their toll on her.
So from issue #35, Batgirl will be moving to Gotham’s trendy borough of Burnside and concentrating more on having a life outside of the cape and cowl. With the move also comes a new costume, and a new creative team for the comic itself with writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher and the appropriately named Babs Tarr handling the artwork. We wish Babs all the best in her new ventures.
NUMBER 2 is: The Batman.
Batman-real name Bruce Wayne was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, his first appearance was Detective comics#27 in May 1939. After his parents were brutally murdered in front of young Bruce’s eyes by Joe Chill, he swore an oath of vengeance against the criminals of his home..Gotham City. Spending his formative years training under the world’s greatest martial arts masters and learning other abilities such as ninjutsu and escapology, Bruce returned to Gotham to fight crime as the Batman.
Bruce was also born with a genius level intellect and was left a massive multi billion dollar fortune by his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne. Though he has no superpowers, Batman is quite possibly the most feared superhero in the DC universe…with the ability to seemingly appear and disappear at will, most criminals (and some superheroes) believe he is a supernatural creature of the night akin to a vampire. Using this reputation, his advanced skills and his ‘toys’, Batman with the help of other Gotham guardians (including Batgirl, Robin and Batwoman) manages to just about keep the streets of Gotham from overflowing in crime and supervillains.
Batman to date has the largest amount of appearances outside of comics than any other character, with movies and television shows dating back to the 1940’s. His popularity has never waned and he is as beloved today as when he was created seventy five years ago. This year is the year of the Bat, being his 75th anniversary and I am sure he will still be with us in another seventy five years!
As a side note, Batman was originally going to share the number one spot on this list, as we love this character so much and felt bad about putting him at number two. But as Christopher Lambert said in Highlander..’there can be only one!’, join us tomorrow friends to see who that is.