Saturday, 14 May 2011

Why I Hate The Bat-man (Part 1)

In which the blogger presents the first part of a short weekly series looking at the first years of The Batman, the next section of which will appear here next Friday;

         
1.

The Bat-Man was not a bad-ass. He was an idiot.

 2.

We all get by on sound-bites. The vast majority of what we know, or rather, of what we think we know, consists of little beyond brief and beguilingly simple statements. There's an awful lot to remember and not a great deal of grey matter to carry it all around in. This is as true for the history of comic-book characters as it is for anything else. 

The history of Batman, for example, has been reduced with time to a litany of deceptively-thin, or just plain deceptive, bullet-points. Facts have been over-simplified, opinions accepted as undeniable facts, statements repeated so often in passing that they’ve collected the air of unchallengeable authenticity. For those without the time, opportunity and even inclination to investigate texts such as Les Daniel’s “Batman: The Complete History” or “The Batcave Companion” by Michael Eury et al, let alone READ the original stories themselves, the character’s history is often understood to fall into quite recognizable periods, each with its own utterly distinct and unarguably defining characteristics. Judgements of authenticity and quality have been culturally allocated in the broadest of terms; this Batman of these years is the real Batman, that Batman is barely Batman at all. All of this is nobody’s fault, of course, and it causes no great harm, but it does mean the historical record becomes more and more distorted as time passes. 

            
And so, it’s generally understood that the eleven months between the Batman’s first appearance, in Detective # 27, and Robin’s debut, in Detective # 38, is the ur-text of the character of the Dark Knight. This, so a host of comments on various blogs and boards, fanzines and letters pages, is where the ‘real’ Batman can be found, the definitive Batman, the pure form against which the value of all other takes must be measured.

With the coming of Dick Grayson, so the gospel of “of-course” declares, the essence of the Batman was immediately diluted, the value of his adventures overnight changing from powerful and conceptually flawless to derivative and toothless. It's an opinion which has long been held amongst both fans and professionals, although earlier generations have, as would be expected, held to their own markers of what’s genuine and what’s counterfeit where matters of Batology were concerned. The seminal "All In Colour For A Dime", from 1970, reported the belief that the character had ceased to be truly himself when his alter ego's title lost "the definitive article", became "Batman" instead of "the Batman. Yet even that's a far more difficult moment to define than at first appears. The character's title-page logo lost that 'the' after august 1939, at the same moment as "The Bat-Man" became "Batman". But it's only in "Batman" # 1 in the spring of 1940 that Bruce Wayne starts to regularly be referred to as a the-less "Batman" in the actual text of his stories. Such apparently straight-forward turning points

The Batman may have had his familiar moral code in place by 1948, but Robin clearly hadn't. It's surely hard not to be shocked by Dick Grayson's attitudes to crime and punishment in this Bill Finger script. (Batman # 48)
     
can become more and more indistinct the more the reader pays attention to them, a comicbook Mandelbrot point zoom sequence. Place undue reliance on the definitive article on the title page as a marker of authenticity and only the first four tales of The Bat-Man become holy writ and pass the puritan absolutist’s test. Yet the narrative caption of “The 1 000 Secrets Of The Batcave” from Batman # 48, from the autumn of 1948, still refers to “the Batman’s subterranean retreat” and “all the other crime-fighting tools of the Batman”, even as two sentences later Bill Finger’s script declares “and when this enemy would destroy Batman’s fate”. Certainty can be a tough business when the texts themselves are taken into consideration. Why, the lead tale of Batman # 48 is something of a dark and violent tale in itself, long after such stories are commonly supposed to have disappeared from Bruce Wayne’s adventures. There are police guards being callously shot and police motorcyclists being deliberately murdered in car crashes, doctors being savagely beaten, children being cracked across the head, and a wonderfully macabre death scene where the clearly-psychotic Wolf Brando drowns in a whirlpool in the Batcave. (The Bat-Whirlpool?) While no-one would mistake “The 1 000 Secrets Of The Batcave” as a story which could have been published in 1939 or early 1940, it stands as a direct contradiction to any scema which declares that the coming of Robin left the Batman’s stories without darkness, value, or even, indeed, that sacred definitive article.

Again from Batman # 48, from a period in the character's history popularly associated with anything but such brutality.

This focus on the conceptual purity of the first year or so of Bruce Wayne's career in "Detective Comics", and upon the unquestionable value of those tales, hasn’t always been the commonly accepted version of Batman’s history. In 1970, for example, Ted White identified the period of 1940 to 1946 as the high summer of the character’s history, an opinion now extremely difficult to hold, unless, of course, the stories of those years have actually been read. Contemporary dogma now tells us that 1940 was the end and not the beginning of the Batman’s first age of excellence, and the years of the forties are now assumed to be marked by a rapid and increasing decline in the quality of his adventures. Similarly, it’s generally held that the undeniably fine scripts of Denny O’Neil, Archie Godwin and Steve Engelhart in the late Sixties and Seventies restored The Batman to full health because they brought back what the character had originally been before commercial pandering turned him into Robin’s foster father, a neutered children’s comic book character where once Bruce Wayne had been The Dark Knight.

It’s easy to understand why such beliefs have become articles of faith. There’s undoubtedly a great deal of meaning, if not always any precise grasp of the facts, in such credenda. But the truth of the situation is so much more complicated and qualified that the accepted version.

Because the version of The Bat-Man/Batman before Robin’s arrival isn’t in any way the default take on the character. In truth, there are grounds for arguing that in many ways he’s not the Batman at all.

         
 3.

The Batman, so the legend goes, was returned to his original uncut state after the camp era ground the character's sales down to the point of  cancellation. From this over-simplification of circumstance comes the assumption that the post-1968 Batman was a character that was essentially the same character as the Bat-Man/Batman of 1939/40. And, so, we constantly hear that the Batman was returned to his dark noir roots, that he was restored as a creature of the night, that he became again in most if not all fundamental ways the Batman of Kane and Finger, Fox and Moldoff and Robinson.

The truth of the matter is rather different, of course, and Denny O'Neil for one has always been careful not to make any such fundamentalist claims for his take on Batman. The version of  the Dark Knight that O'Neil helped to develop as part of editor’s Julius Schwartz’s team of creators was characterised, he’s argued, not by pulp noir, or any such vaguely-defined but romantically compelling concept, but by "magic realism", by the premise that "if Batman could exist, this is how he could be". To O'Neil, his caped crusader was a quite different version of the Batman to the first one, whom he categorised as a "costumed gentleman crimefighter".

            
These labels, these sound-bites, can be incredibly effective in shaping our thinking. The Dark Knight, the Dark Knight Detective, the Masked Manhunter, the Gotham Guardian; these are powerful, emotive labels, although in themselves they mean nothing. They carry a sense of what the Batman has become and, to a greater or lesser degree, they stand for what he’s no longer supposed to be, for a rejection of the supposed epoch between 1940 and late 1968 when the Batman wasn’t truly himself. Even in 2011, where Grant Morrison and The Brave & The Bold cartoon have convincing established the worth of some at least of those supposedly fallow years, we're mostly all still sure that the Batman of the interregnum was only something of himself, and a selective use of quotes from key players in the restoration can help bolster that impression. And so, Julius Schwartz's statement that he, O'Neil and Adams had in 1968 decided to "go back to the way it used to be" can be taken out of context, as it indeed has been, to indicate a protestant reform of an extravagantly corrupted text, a back-to-basics version of a long-ignored but utterly essential take on the Batman.

What would the taken-for-granted understanding of the Batman’s first year of adventures be today if O’Neil’s definition, as stated in “Batman In The Seventies”, and others like it, had become accepted as definitive? What if the Batman, or the Bat-Man, of 1939 had been cast decades later as something other than a slightly-less-restrained, still humane and quite brilliant ‘creature of the night’? After all, little seems as antithetical to the idea of the criminal-terrifying Dark Night Detective, for example, as the image of a "costumed gentleman crimefighter", carrying as that does images of wealthy indulgence, class privilege and a distinct lack of elemental fearsomeness. 

What if it had been accepted that The Bat-Man wasn't any Batman at all? I wonder whether many of the violently grim'n'gritty excesses imposed upon the character in the quarter-century following the unexpected commercial success of The Dark Knight Returns would have been conceivable without the common belief that the first Bat-Man was is so many ways the true Batman?

           
 4.

The truth is that the 1968 reworking of the Batman could never have been a return to the original take of the superhero. As I’ll try to show next week, such could never have been considered, and that's true even if we discount the much-discussed matter of the Batman having once been shown carrying a smoking gun, and twice, actually firing one. The brutal, arrogant, egoistical, careless, contemptuous, bodging The Bat-Man, with the air of a racist class-warrior, wouldn’t have been at all in keeping with the DC of 1968, and could never have been revived in that original form. Whoever would wanted to so?

The fundamental difference between the Batman of pre-Summer 1940 and that of the post-1968 revision is utterly straight-forward and simple, and it’s so essential a distinction that the two depictions stand not as similar takes on one essentially unchanging ‘core’ character, but as two utterly separate and antithetical superheroes. For the Bruce Wayne who lost his parents some time in the 1920s responded to his loss by becoming a great deal of a brute. He’s not, as some have chosen to see him, simply inexperienced, and he’s certainly not naive; he’s not a man on a journey to assume his costumed responsibilities as a competent and compassionate man in any way at all. The truth is, he’s a persistently stupid, vicious and largely uncaring man.. By complete contrast, the Bruce Wayne of the late 1960’s is a terribly psychologically wounded character who’s seeking not to avenge himself while having a very good time indeed, but to prevent others from suffering as he did.

            
It’s an obvious difference, of course, but it’s one which changes everything. These two Batmen aren’t anything but opposites. The little boy shown weeping in the Batman’s first origin tale, told seven month’s after the superhero's first appearance? His tears can deceive the reader into believing that this is a lad who’ll grown up to be characterised by benevolence and perseverance cloaked in the image of a fearsome vigilante, but that’s not the man that the first Bruce Wayne grew up to be. He’s little but the second half of that equation, unless you’re someone of his class, to whom he tends to display a touch of sympathy and concern. Jones and Jacobs, in "The Comic Book Heroes", describe 1939/40’s Batman as being “explicitly motivated by his rage over the murder of his parents”, but his behaviour doesn’t so much read today as ‘rage’ as contempt. He's not simply more violent than the Batman we know, he's an entirely different human being. There’s no restraint or doubt at all in the mind of the first Bruce Wayne; he’s so utterly convinced of his moral superiority that his whole life seems dedicated to expressing his disdain in as violent a fashion as possible towards his “cowardly and superstitious” criminal 

This isn't a tragic duty, this is an absolute pleasure. (From Detective Comics # 36, February 1940)
           
opponents. He is, as O’Neil described, “The lone obsessed avenger ..”, but unlike today, when such characters are inevitably seen as damaged and often tragic figures, the first Batman became more and more of joyfully thuggish bully. He very much loved not just helping those he was concerned to, but hurting those he disapproved of, and as the months passed, he was shown reveling to a greater and greater degree in the harm that he could achieve, especially where the early months of 1940 were concerned. Eury et al call these the character’s “darker, more sinister’ roots, and though that’s quite literally true, a modern understanding of what those words mean obscures the sadism and glee which characterised The Batman’s first year. We think of a ‘dark’, ‘sinister’ Batman as being one who adopts a vampiric disguise in order to achieve through intimidation what violence alone might otherwise fail to accomplish, but the character’s first 11 appearances aren’t about a man pretending to be terrible at all. Rather, those story’s present a character who’s morally rather than physically  ‘dark’ and ‘sinister’. That Bruce Wayne isn’t using Batman as a front for his mission, he’s occupying the identity so that he can have a great time showing off and beating people up.

Those qualities of glee and sadism would constantly threaten to be his undoing, but The Batman never noticed. He was having far too much fun punching and shooting whoever he wanted to.

To be continued next Friday, but first, amongst other offerings, tomorrows "Smith's Miscellany", reviews, irrelevancies and moral quandaries too;

Dennis O'Neil's Batman, definitive article or not, had far, far more in common with his predecessor from 1948 than with the beast of 1939-1940. 
              
Tom Irwin? Moi? Well, yes, of course .......

17 comments:

  1. Brilliant analysis! I think the frequently stated desire in comic fandom to regress the character to their 'true' characterisation is a very interesting one. It speaks very strongly to the idea of trying to resurrect some rose-tinted halcyon past. It'd be fair to say that the majority of superhero fans started reading superhero comics in their younger years. Does the frequently stated desire to take a character back to its roots just show a sense of trying to regain childhood wonder? After all, things were just so much more colourful and exciting in the past...

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  2. Hello Automatic:- I do appreciate the kind words. The old blog's taken a real hammering in terms of visitors during the Blogger crisis and it's heartening to know that it's up now and folks can, if they choose to, read it again.

    That matter of "true" characterisation is a common problem, isn't it? I remember researching a piece in the Hulk, for example, and finding there were 6 quite different takes on the character in his first 6 appearances. I promise I'm not exaggerating. And yet I also collected four different interviews by professionals arguing that their take on the Hulk was one which reflected the big grey/green monster's first run. I think we long to believe that we can find a 'true' take on a character which no-one can ever ruin, and I think it's true for just about every human endeavour, which I'd not realised until typing this sentence; the real Jesus, the real Kennedy, the real Kal-El. You'd think no-one had ever watched Rashoman :)

    Mind you, I obviously hadn't. I made some aligned if not identical comments some 13 or so months ago on this blog, but I promise, I've learned my lesson!

    I'm sure childhood memories and a longing for certainty have a great deal to do with it, as you say. But I'm also sure that human beings have a general and typical capacity to match up what they believe inside their heads with what they perceive to be objectively true outside of them. The real Thatcher, the real Jack the Ripper, the real Pirates of The Caribbean ....

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  3. Now I haven't read the early Batmans, so finding out he's not a brooding avenger and some Robin stories could be vicious is a bit of a surprise. The Batman stories we later see indicate the early days were completely different, don't they? And they'd have to be. The flashback stories Year One, The Long Halloween, and the Dark Moon Rising cycle by Matt Wagner are. (In fact, they're also different from each other despite each one deliberately trying to tie in to the ones before it...)

    Paul O'Brian had a good line with the X-Men: First Class stories - they're absolutely nothing like the Silver Age X-Men, but they are what, the way the X-Men have turned out, the Silver Age X-Men 'must' have been and can be assumed to have been. Website "Spidey Kicks Butt" also noticed how Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborn originally weren't Peter's friends at all, he didn't think much of them and vice versa, but few people remember that because the Lee/Romita version of college Spidey usurped the far shorter Lee/Ditko one - and which would the fan-turned-writer rather write about and the fan-still-fan read about? Same with Batman probably, most people don't want an early Batman that's a brutish dick.

    ...holy crap, mid-writing it just occured to me that All-Star Batman and Robin is exactly that and Miller was semi-accurate all along. Damn.

    - Charles RB

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  4. Charles, that jump in logic from the above to All-Star Batman ... well, that's a holy $*!% moment for me too. I don't know more than two of the stories in that series; I couldn't stick it, to be honest, but now that I think of it, the Batman of January to April 1940 IS remarkably close to ASB in some key ways, and I had a keen sense that Miller had used those issues as an influence on Batman: Year One when I was reading them. Well, I'm going to have to dig out my skimmed but never properly read ASB hardback. I may just have had my snotty objections to ASB blown right out of the water! Good work, Mr Charles, and as always, I'm grateful for pointing out the significant possibility of very flawed thinking on my part!!!

    That first Batman isn't a brooding avenger, or rather not in the sense that we associate that concept with today. In some of the stories, such as those early '40 ones, he's just a laughing thug, picking fights for the sake of it and a host of things which I'm looking forward to discussing next week. Robin's character is closer on the whole to what we would expect as the strip settles down later in 1940, but there are some remarkable moments too, the one used in the piece being the latest one I could find. (I don't know much about Batman, I'm doing the best with what I can find, but I have tried not to bodge the research.)

    The point about Harry and Gwen is a good one. Gwen is SO different at first that she's obviously replaced by a Skrull or some such like when JR comes along. Good call, and I'll go check that site out.

    As a social scientist, I'm fascinated by how a common culture creates illusions which supersede the evidence before their eyes. Batman of 39/40 may look like we expect him to according to the CCC, but if the stories are read for what the say and show rather than for what's expected to be there, well, a different story emerges. I honestly do believe that that early Batman isn't anything like the general assumption of his character and actions, but of course the Batman experts and those who've read the material always knew it, or always knew enough to know I'm talking piffle! What interests me isn't claiming a breakthrough in Batman studies, 'cause that's obviously not true. But I am interested in how so many of us come to assume that something's true when it's patently not.

    Sadly, all I can do is try to note something of the surface of the process. There's no research grant for Batman Studies, ethnomethodology section :)

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  5. Man, if snotty objections to ASB is factually wrong, who wants to be correct?

    - Charles RB

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  6. Charles, the problem is that if your supposition is right, and I really think that it may be, then ASB is actually very .... clever and ..... far cleverer than me, certainly, though that's not difficult. If it really is a continuation of the 39/40 Batman, then it's one great satire on the CCC and its preconceptions.

    Must find it, must read it again, must slam up the hand of penitence if you're right.

    If not, if it really is what it appears to be, then fine, I'm with you; snotty objections time!

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  7. While I think there's always mileage in pointing out the proprietary feelings of comics fans when it comes to interpretations of characters and how they think "their" Spider-Man/Hulk/Batman/Superman is the real thing above all others, it's worth remembering that once you strip the presumption of geekiness on the part of fans away from the argument, all you have is a consumer who isn't interested in a retooled product - and that is perfectly fine as a rationale given it might not actually be "their" character, but it's definately their money.

    I have always wondered about the proprietary attitude from some quarters and wondered how it might work, however: if the married Spider-Man is more valid than the current singleton because readers grew up with him, then surely earlier versions are just as valid for even older fans? The jingoistic pro-Vietnam Spidey who loves Prez Nixon, for example? Or the commie-bashing Captain America? The Gun-toting Bat-Man? The Nazi-loving, union-busting, anti-Semite Mickey Mouse?
    Which generation of fans can legitimately lay claim to any character if such a thing were possible and not in direct contradiction of the demands of the market and - dare I say it - POP?

    Personally, as much as I enjoyed Year One and the Nolan films, any version of Batman that wasn't made in the late sixties and starred the trouser-worrying Yvonne Craig is dead to me. That sucker is just plain bulletproof.

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  8. Hello Mr B:- Ironically, it's Spider-Man who always complicates this situation for me. Because on the whole I've come to believe that there are no default versions of characters and that no-one, alone or with a group of like-minded folks, has a better claim where 'their' version of a property is concerned being seen as the definitive one. And then I think of the Lee/Ditko Spidey and I think "No, there really are objective grounds for believing that Spidey was only ever the real Spidey back there'. Objective grounds? Pah. I liked it better. And if I don't read Mr Slott's Spidey because I'm not very interested in the modern, adult Spidey-as-Avenger tales, it doesn't mean that his take is wrong. I'm just not very interested.

    In the end, Grant Morrison has the best attitude, regarding as he does the superhero being given much of its vitality by its capacity to be reinvented. I think it's a shame that the superhero must be reinvented within the wider context of an immersive universe, because outside of that straight-jacket, more might be achieved. But in the end, what we like is what we like. If THAT Batman is your Batman, then good luck to Yvonne Craig and your good self.(But no photos and transcripts, p-lease.)

    Alan Moore made a good point about the constant re-invention of characters meaning that the reader was likely to become more and more alienated. And yet, Miller's Daredevil was a revamping, and now it's the default take, rather than that of Gene Colan and 'Mike' Murdock, the dafteest alter ego's alter ego ever.

    By which I mean, we all want what we think is the best take and yet there's no way to fix a definitive version on these products. But I have found that alot of folks can't say what they want, although they're great at saying what they don't. So most of us struggle to say much of what we like beyond naming a run of issues and a few key creators. Keeping folks happy when they don't really know what it is that they want must surely be a thankless task for creators and editors alike.

    That Walt Disney was, shall we say, something of character, wasn't he? I guess I'm not really fan of his politics, or of that Mouse, to be honest.

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  9. I don´t know. I concur that the wish for the ur-Batman is not very helpful. On the other hand those stories are not very good or developed in in terms of characterisation. Of course this 1940 Batman is a bully but so is the Dark Knight.

    The 1940 Batman is a truly derivative character. There was The Shadow and The Spider. Not to mention the coincidence of The Black Bat. I trust there are well researched articles why those two characters have nothing in common except appearing within a few month. Still, the only new in the concept is the avenger of murdered parents angle. And even this got put in the foreground after O´Neil. The ur-Batman is an underdevolped concept.

    But I understand that the gun-toting Bat-Man is unsuitable for what was a kids medium. You just need to read a Spider-novel which is always a virtual slaughter or a less bloodthirsty Shadow to see that they are unsuitable as a one-for-one adaption at the time.

    But the evolution of Batman in the O´Neil era can be seen as a much needed maturation. I am not a fan of the silly camp Batman, and I am not a fan of the Grant Morrison Batman which I sampled and found disappointing to a confusing mess. Frankly I don´t get the obsession with the Silver Age. And I have no interest in the Batman Inc idea. This is again a case of the emperor´s new clothes.

    Of course I understand that the grim´n gritty Batman has become quite silly. It is no wonder that it all ended in ASBAR which for me still is a bad, sad joke. How this ever could get green-lit is beyond me but it is kind of consequent.

    Looking forward to your posts.

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  10. I specifically remembered this blog, Colin, and, taking a bit of time to enrich myself/ goof off, enjoyed your historical contrast and closer examination of the short-hand expression that not only defines much of the old comics fan experience, but also our understanding of so very many things in life. Entire countries are caricatured in a simple group of images; complex workings of staples of our society, understood vaguely on the strand of a single description---even, occasionally, a joke!

    The question of changing society beneath the story, its meta-text, is very interesting, but I wonder if it doesn't simply say more about the creators than the audience? Will certainly comb this one through again.

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  11. Hello Cease-Ill:- the question you raise about how ideas change is one which fascinates me. In another life, I'd be a researcher of independent means who could really dig into the historical record where comics are concerned in general. As it is, I'm just playing around with the ideas, but I know that all I can do is play. Identifying the degree of change, let alone the reasons for it, is quite beyond my talents and resources :)

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  12. Hello Andy:- Firstly, I'm sorry for the delay in posting this. It was directed into the spam file of my account and so I never realised it was there.

    Secondly, I think you're right; the 68 Batman revamp, with Mr O'Neil as its guiding light, created the Ur-text of the Batman, but placing his sorrow and sense of social responsibility right at the front of the character. And of course, the way that DO took the origin and used it to make the Batman an entirely sane but entirely sorrowful man is what makes the character so marvelous. There were of course a good many stories from before which cast Bruce Wayne in that light, but DO nailed the mix and past it down in such a way that even the grim'n'gritty excesses can't stick for too long. (An irony then, that a great deal of the excessively bleak Batman occurred while DO was the character's editor.)

    As for the 39/40 Batman. I'd quite like to see him return exactly in that form for a one-shot or whatever. It could be fine satire, to watch the Batman who the Batman would be appalled by running around in a story by modern-day creators. If ASB was intended as that, it wasn't nasty enough ...

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  13. Mr. Smith,

    Greetings, my apologies for the lengthy response but I reduced it as much as I could. As a big fan of Batman I feel compelled to supply you a response. At some point in your article you were describing the Bob Kane comics Batman as "The truth is, he’s a persistently stupid, vicicious..." and of course you described him as an idiot in the opening. He didn't seem stupid to me at all, as I remember he was very foxy and devilish. He cleverly knew how to escape a deathtrap using the deathtrap itself, sneaked up on people with stealth, and of course in the very first issue we see how intellegent he is when his identity is revealed at the end of the story; so a man who can fool them all.


    The major thrust of the overall character or what the writer's intent to create was someone devilishly cunning and highly intellegent and dangerous. So I don't know if I could possibly at all agree with the early Batman, or original, as anywhere near stupid. (Admitedly, if you were to refer to the animated series character as stupid I would however be quick to agree lol)

    So that's my first observation, and as for the second: You also claim who the "real Batman" is. Discerning two batmen's with the Bat-Man and the Batman when you say "so essential a distinction that the two depictions stand not as similar takes on one essentially unchanging ‘core’ character, but as two utterly separate and antithetical superheroes."

    They are certainly not utterly seperate, as you put it. The two depictions (bat-man and batman)stand truly as variant takes on one essentially unchanging ‘core’ character. There is in fact a CORE that you seem to dismiss between the two and blatently sweep away as if it didn't exist. Between the earliest Bob Kane comics (and I do include the secret origin of Batman) and the later Batman comics (meaning the 60's, 70's, or 80's or even whatever) the CORE is always present (which I will state).

    So to say that bat-man and batman are utterly seperate and anithetical, I must say, is truly an exaggerated statement. Before I mention the characters core, it should be pointed out that ORIGINAL forms of a character are not necessarily the end-all-be-all. ORIGINALS are actually rough drafts, such as the original Iron Man was a grey tin bucket. The original Hulk was passive, harmless and could speak clear english sentences. Heck, even the original Superman couldn't even fly.

    CONTINUED-

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  14. CONT-

    ...couldn't even fly.

    So, I certainly would side with you on the "bat-man's" trait of killing people as a necessary edit, a flaw to be corrected as many originals are simply rough drafts to be worked on, corrected and improved. But even with the 'kinks' being worked out in BobKane's comic, the CORE never changed and is the common denominator throughout Batman's entire history of existing.

    So that core includes the following fifteen: 1. A man with no powers. 2. A man who barely uses any tools or weapons and uses only his body and wits (Tarzan) 3. A masked vigilante who works outside the norms (Zorro) 4. A person with no resolve and seems to possess unlimited will power.
    At this point, these listed four can actually apply to hundreds of other characters so if you stopped here you would not yet have reached the core of Batman, continuing then-
    5. A man of sharp vindication or swift justice. 6. The spooky impression of a supernatural entity. 7. By FAR a rebel. 8. A man of kindness+respobsibility to cultivate a child and protect the innocent. 9. A man of no fear. 10. A shrewd, cunning man who uses fear against his fear-ridden opponent (The Shadow)

    So far these above listed has narrowed it down more to only a handful of characters, so not yet quite limiting it to only Batman just yet, but finishing off-
    11. A man who sacrificed his whole life to honor the tragedy of his parents. 12. A man of uncomparable SELF RELIANCE. 13. A Master Scientist. 14. An athlete who has reached near superhuman levels. Both 13+14 however can be made simpler by combining them together as: A being who has reached human perfection. If we do not combine them though then moving to 15. Possessing immpeccable logic he is the World's Greatest Detective and a brilliant strategist.

    There are still yet others bullet points that would bring this Core to an even higher acuity: 16. The master of disguise. 17. The worlds greatest escape artist. 18. A man who has mastered many languages. 19. A personality of stoicism. 20. A hero who implements a bat theme.

    Adding the bonus list truly rules out any other character thus leaving Batman standing alone as the only one who exists with these qualities that define his core. Bare in mind, none of these are trivial details (especially points 1-15) but actually they are the major basics. These are the core fundamentals the Batman was born with since issue one and has remained in him decades later, and still so even more decades later, never being altered.

    So to whatever anyone, like your article, would claim as the REAL Batman it would have to stay in the bounds of his core. Perhaps two or three of those listed may be slightly missing in the BobKane comic, but it is arguable that they're not missing. Either way, even with a few out, the majority of that listed is completely present in the BobKane comic thus showing the dominant core of the character, a CORE that exist in no other character. Even outside of comic books, there are no fictional characters to be found that possess ALL of these highly original traits that forever define the Batman.

    There are many characters who possess the first few, and even other characters that go as far to extend further on the list. But in regards to Batman autonomously, be it Batman in the 80's or Batman in the 40's with all the various stories and adventures, the core still remains untampered with (until you get into the realm of the media which flaunt a blatant and rude disregard for the comic book character).

    Again, apologies for the lengthy response but as a Bruce Wayne-fan I can't help but write thoroughly. Thanks for the article and any support on Batman. May the comic books one day bring him back and rescue him from the movie toon media.

    Sincerely,
    "Kato"

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    1. Hello Kato:- Thank you for your interpretation of those earliest Batman stories, and for the civil way in which you expressed a pretty fundamental disagreement :) Obviously, we disagree, and obviously it would be ridiculous for me to answer your points, because I've said my piece in the above! To repeat myself would just be rude. It's always interesting to note that the same material can carry quite different meanings to different readers, and I guess that's part of the appeal of the character which writers such as O'Neil and Morrison have always accentuated; the Batman can be pretty much whatever the audience wants to make of him. I like that :-)

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    2. There still seems to be some questions lingering that I truly thought not covered in your article brought up in a few of my points, but that's for another time. And thank you SIR, for your equal civility and very kind words. Best of wishes.

      Sincrely,
      Kato :)

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    3. Hello Kato:- I hope it didn't appear as if I was set on ignoring your concerns. I just thought it respectful to recognise our differences without insulting you by repeating arguments which have already failed to convince. I certainly have no problem with our having different views, and I appreciate the fact that you don't seem to either!

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