How old is Batman?
Bruce Wayne varies in age between 15 and 50, depending on the retelling. But (and forgive me for not spotting this earlier, but you'll have noticed by now the focus of down the tubes is generally about British comics - certainly on the main site, anyway) - the story of Batman is 68 this month.
Detective Comics No.27 published the first Batman story in May 1939 , and a dark star was born. So belated birthday wishes, dark knight!
There's an entertaining tribute to his longevity on the Inside Bay Area news site, just published today, written by longtime comics fan Sumana Harihareswara, remarking that Batman's success, she feels, is because "We are drawn to Batman's ambiguity, regret, decades-old grief and all those other grown-up situations."
There's also a handy checklist of recent Batman spin-offs for anyone interested in re-tellings of his origins (all links in the list below are to various titles on Amazon.co.uk), to which I've added what I'd say were some other landmark issues:
- Batman: The Animated Series now out on DVD. Personally, I'd also recommend Batman Beyond, sadly not yet available on Region 2 DVD, known as Batman of the Future here in the UK.
- Paul Pope's Batman: Year 100 re-imagining (in paperback), the least cartoony Batman ever. Harihareswara says that Pope's Batman, a dissident in a dystopian future, is so physically present in the art that "I can hear him pant as he escapes hoverpods."
- Frank Miller's 1987 Batman: Year One - a definite landmark, as of course, I would argue, is his seminal Dark Knight Returns
- Then of course there's the films: Batman Begins attracted plaudits, but I enjoyed Tim Burton/Michael Keaton's version back in the 1980s (and let's be honest, who wasn't charmed by the 1960s absurdity of Adam West's take on the character?)
My other favourite Batman stories? Probably one of the first I ever read, which involved Batman riding a stagecoach in a cemetery: nope, I can't remember the issue off the top of my head but it was drawn, I suspect by Jim Aparo. I'd have been drawn in by the Neal Adams cover it probably had, an artist whose take on Batman brought him back to his roots after the 1960s campness of the Adam West-led TV show.
Then there's wonderful work of Steve Engelhart and the late, great Marshall Rogers, an eight issue run of Detective Comics (#469 - 476, and republished several times), described by some as the "Definitive Batman" (and indeed, the story arc was the inspiration for the Tim Burton movie mentioned above). DC Comics paid limited tribute to Rogers in recent Batman comics after his untimely death, and Engelhart talks about the issues on his own web site here.
I don't know about definitive, but I do know they are definitely some of my favourite Batman stories.