Batman is a comic book series featuring the DC Comics hero of the same name. The character first appeared in Detective Comics #27, published in May 1939. Batman proved to be so popular that a self-titled ongoing comic book series began publication in the spring of 1940. It was first advertised in early April 1940, one month after the first appearance of his new sidekick, Robin, the Boy Wonder.
Though the Batman comic book was initially launched as a quarterly publication, it later became a bi-monthly series through the late 1950s, after which it became a monthly publication and has remained so since. However, there allegedly came a time in 1964 when DC's then-editorial director Irwin Donenfeld gave Julius Schwartz and Carmine Infantino a deadline of six months to turn the then-flagging comic around, or it would be cancelled. Jettisoning such miscellaneous characters as Bat-Mite and Ace the Bat-Hound in favour of Aunt Harriet (the symbolic figure designed to combat Wertham-led claims of implied homosexuality), Batman gained his famous yellow chest symbol and moved from operating during the day to truly being a creature of the night.
The Batman saga takes place in Gotham City, a city overrun with crime and corruption. Its citizens live in perpetual fear from the vast number of costumed criminals, gangs and common thugs. In an effort to combat the aforementioned villains, Batman preys upon their fear. Secretly, the Batman is billionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne, a young socialite who witnessed his parents' murder during a mugging at the age of 8. Batman utilizes his keen analytical mind and sophisticated technology and gadgetry as well as outstanding physical agility, power and stamina to ensure that criminals never feel safe in Gotham. In the eyes of the public, the Batman is believed to be something more than human: an indeterminable black specter that represents terror. This allows him to become an iconic urban legend, which in turn allows him to do things an ordinary man cannot.
Maturity of content
The first stories appearing in the Batman comic were written by Bill Finger and illustrated by Bob Kane, though Finger went uncredited for years thereafter. These early stories depicted a vengeful Batman, not hesitant to kill when he saw it as a necessary sacrifice. In one of the early stories, he is depicted using a gun to stop a group of giant assailants. The Joker, a psychopath who is notorious for using a special toxin that kills and mutilates his victims, remains one of the most prolific and notorious Batman villains created in this time period. Following the desire of creator Jerry Robinson that the Joker not be a character who gets away with murder, for many years the Joker was changed from cold-blooded murderer to playful trickster. Later, during the Silver Age, this type of super-villain changed from disturbing psychological assaults to the use of amusing gimmicks.
Typically, the primary challenges that the Batman faced in this era were derived from villains who were purely evil; however, by the 1970s, the motivations of these characters, including obsessive compulsion, child abuse and environmental fanaticism, were being explored more thoroughly. Batman himself also underwent a transformation and became a much less one-dimensional character, struggling with deeply rooted internal conflicts. Although not canonical, Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns introduced a significant evolution of the Batman's character in his eponymous series; he became uncompromising and relentless in his struggle to revitalize Gotham. The Batman often exhibited behavior that Gotham's elite labeled as excessively violent as well as antisocial tendencies. Miller portrayed him with an anti-heroic and near villainous characterization. This aspect of the Batman's personality was also toned down considerably in the wake of the DC-wide crossover Infinite Crisis, wherein Batman experienced a nervous breakdown and reconsidered his philosophy and approaches to his relationships. Currently, the Batman's attributes and personality are said to have been greatly influenced by the traditional characterization by Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams' portrayals during the 1970s, although hints of the Miller interpretation appear in certain aspects of his character.
Grant Morrison started a long run with artist Tony Daniel including Batman & Son and The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul, culminating in the Batman R.I.P. storyline. After this the series went on hiatus while the question of which character takes over the role of Batman in Battle for the Cowl. Following this, Judd Winick takes over as writer.
- In 1994 #0 was released as part of the post-Zero Hour Zero Month (falling between #511 & 512).
- The issue with a cover date of November 1998 was "#1,000,000" (falling between #559 & 560) part of the DC One Million crossover.