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75 years of Batman

He first appeared in 1939, got his own comic book title in 1940. His ultimate power is his (very much human) brain. Meet the world’s greatest detective.

brunch Updated: May 04, 2014 10:51 IST
Shantanu Argal

He first appeared in 1939, got his own comic book title in 1940. His ultimate power is his (very much human) brain. Meet the world’s greatest detective.


Batman is the superhero alter-ego of Bruce Wayne. When Bruce was seven, his parents were killed by a petty criminal named Joe Chill in a mugging gone wrong. The incident scarred Bruce so much, he trained for years and became a crime-fighting masked vigilante. The Waynes were one of the wealthiest families in Gotham City (their hometown) and the wealth Bruce inherited allowed him to develop non-lethal weapons, armour and vehicles to combat crime.

Batman’s closest aide is Alfred Pennyworth, his trusted butler who also has medical training. The position of his sidekick, Robin has been occupied by different people at different points of time. One of them (Jason Todd) even went on to become a bad guy!
He has also teamed up with Superman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter and Aquaman to form the Justice League of America (JLA) – he is not the loner everybody makes him out to be!

Joker:Anti-thesis of Batman, dresses like a clown but his actions are far from funny. The most important villain in the Batman universeRa’s al Ghul: He’s sort of immortal (restores his youth by bathing in Lazarus Pits). He figured out Batman is Bruce Wayne, but hasn’t gone public because he respects him as an opponentBane:Arguably Batman’s most dangerous opoponent, he once put Batman out of commission. They’ve also had a common lover!Penguin:Real name Oswald Cobblepot. He used to be a prominent supervillain but has become more of minor criminal / stool pigeon in later seriesRiddler:Edward Nygma / Nigma likes puzzles and likes to puzzle old Bats

Poison Ivy:Tantalising temptress who thinks plants are better than peopleTwo Face:Former district attorney Harvey Dent who lost half his face and all of his sanityKiller Croc:Born with a birth defect that made him look more and more reptilian. He is physically superior to most humans but cannot match the wits of The Dark KnightScarecrow:Former psychologist Dr Jonathan Crane is an expert on fear and uses it to his advantage while pulling off heistsMan-Bat:Dr Kirk Langstrom was performing ground-breaking research when he self-tested a formula that turned him into a strange beast – the Man-Bat!

Year One (1987): Frank Miller’s rendition of the origin of Batman. How Bruce Wayne goes from billionaire rich-kid to crime-fighting vigilante. How Commissioner Gordon (a no-nonsense cop) and Batman (a law breaking vigilante) end up on the same side. Brilliant parallel narratives!http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2014/5/040514_HTBrunch_pg19b.jpg

The Dark Knight Returns (1986) and The Dark Knight Strikes Again (2001): Frank Miller writes about a post-retirement Bruce Wayne who is forced to make a comeback.

The Killing Joke (1988): Alan Moore writing an origin story about the Joker. Possibly one of the most poetic storylines in the Batman universe.

Knightfall (1993-94): Bane breaks Batman’s spine, paralysing him. Unfortunately titled, though!

Son of the Demon (1987) and Batman and Son (2006): About Damian, Batman’s son.

All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder (2005-08): Featuring hotties Vicki Vale (journalist who has a scene of sorts with Bruce Wayne) and the Black Canary (leather-clad bike riding super lady who also joins the JLA). Yum.

Hush (2002-03): Batman versus every Batman villain ever. A surprise ending.