By Mike Carron
What is it that makes Batman timeless? And why is it that despite the numerous reinventions of his character he still draws readers every issue?
He’s got the best weapons. He’s got some of the best enemies. And he doesn’t even have super-powers.
Batman made his first appearance in Detective Comics #27 over 60 years ago and the Batman series has been one of the best selling comic series ever, the comic staying fresh for years. First there was Batman, then it was Batman and Robin and now there are several different Batman series. Batman retired, was wheelchair-bound, and had a gang of hooligans take over for him. He battled the Joker, the Penguin, the Scarecrow, and even the Predator to name but a few of his foes. Most comic series falter when artists and writers change, but Batman seem to thrive on the various writers and artists who have created adventures for the caped-crusader.
Batman is one of the more interesting comic book heroes because despite being in a universe where other heroes rely on their superpowers he has no real power. Batman is just a normal human being. He does not have a power reliant on the yellow sun of Earth or from a bite from a nuclear spider. Batman is as strong as he is simply from his own training. Being millionaire Bruce Wayne helps, but he honed his own skill and became the hero he is from training.
Another interesting feature of Batman is the series’ ability to survive with or without one of its main characters–Robin. There have been 3 Robins over the years. Dick Grayson, Jason Todd and Tim Drake have all worn the colours of the boy wonder. Each time Batman becomes a new series. Each time a new Robin enters the series a new light is given to Batman as a character and to the series itself.
The series has also dealt with issues and subjects that for a long time were untouched by many of the other mainstream comics of its time. Getting fans to decide on the fate of a character over the phone was revolutionary. Fans were
given phone numbers to call in order to determine the fate of Jason Todd.
DC Comics also pushed the envelope with the collected trade story “A Killing Joke” in which the Joker strips and tortures Barbara Gordon in order to drive Commissioner Gordon crazy. The story had critics and fans debating the violence for a long time. These days it seems like every other comic has extreme violence, but for Batman to do this in the early 90s shows the series willingness to go a little further.
Batman has been a long running comic and it will continue to please audiences for years to come in all of its manifestations.