Batman. Everybody knows his name, as he is possibly the best known superhero (along with Superman and Spider-Man, of course) in the world. He is dark, tough and rad as hell. How familiar are you with The Dark Knight? Well for those of you are just catching up with 'The World's Greatest Detective', these articles are for you. There is over half a century of history behind Batman, so I am just gonna cover the Cliff-Notes mixed in with the stuff I especially love about him.
After the success of Superman in the late '30s many people in comics were working on cranking out more superhero stories for the public. This is what prompted Bob Kane to create Batman. Though his name is on everything Batman-related these days, a lot of the definitive features on Batman were created by Bill Finger, including the trademark cowl and his secret identity, Bruce Wayne. They were influenced by many of the famous heroes and great detectives of the time - Sherlock Holmes, The Phantom and even Zorro.
All great superheroes have an interesting and tragic origin story, and Batman is no exception. Born Bruce Wayne, to Gotham City socialite parents Doctor Thomas Wayne and philanthropist Martha Wayne, he was a generally happy and well-adjusted young boy. While walking home from a movie (oddly enough some continuity says they were watching Zorro), they are approached by a nameless mugger who ends up killing the elder Waynes, leaving their young child Bruce alive. Depending on what version you are presented with, the Waynes' killer may be different, but the effect of this event is always the same; their traumatic deaths drive Bruce Wayne to become the protector of Gotham, Batman.
Bruce Wayne grows up into a very angsty young man and uses his endless funds to travel around the world and learn a lot of the dangerous and cool skills that Batman later utilizes. If you have seen Batman Begins you may be familiar with this part of his life.
Of course he learns a bunch of combat from all sorts of people around the world, including ninjas, Kung Fu fighters, and Tai Kwan Do masters. Another leg of his journey sees him learning underneath the world's greatest escape artist, a Houdini pastiche named Zatara (whose daughter Zatanna would join the Justice League and be an on-again off-again love interest for Bruce).
When Bruce returned to Gotham, the city was in a state of chaos. He couldn't stand by and let more damage be done to his beloved city, or more children be orphaned by senseless crime. His belief that criminals tend to be a superstitious lot led to the creation of Batman, a dark avenger that could lead to a legendary status that would keep the weak of heart from even considering crime. Though a solitary guy, Batman would need help to keep Gotham safe.
Next time: Batman Primer Part II - The Batman Family, His Allies and Love Interests
Thanks to Crystal for the awesome post!