In the beginning, a criminal killed his parents. In the end, a criminal killed him.
In between those two acts of dread finality -- for forty years -- he fought the forces of violence with nothing but his gloved fists and his keen brain.
He’s forgotten now...the very Earth that spawned him swallowed up by cosmic catastrophe and replaced by another Earth, a newer universe.
But that’s today.
And today didn’t get where it is...without yesterday.
– from Secret Origins #6, September 1986 (script by Roy Thomas)
The Golden Age
This page is a chronology of the life and times of the Golden Age Batman, who — before the Crisis on Infinite Earths brought radical changes to the DC universe in 1986 — lived on the parallel world of Earth-Two. On Earth-Two, Batman began his costumed career in 1939, married Selina Kyle (the Catwoman) in 1955, and had a daughter, Helena Wayne, who ultimately became the Huntress just before Batman’s untimely death in 1979. The chronology traces his life from his origins in the hard years just before World War Two to his swashbuckling journeys through time and space in the 1950s to the life and death of his heroic daughter in the eighties. It’s a tragic story: a noble hero, conceived in death, who found a brief moment of happiness in the arms of one of his greatest foes, only to be swallowed up in the end — along with his entire family — by the same darkness in which he was born. It is the essence of the Dark Knight.
This chronology began as an exercise in comfortingly time-wasting trivia, an exploration of an odd corner of DC comics continuity. It was not simply obscure, it was also obsolete. Not only had the “Golden Age” Batman long since been shuffled off to an alternate world called “Earth-Two” (scroll down for an extended explanation of exactly what that meant), not only was he dead (killed off in 1979), but he was declared retroactively null and void back in 1986. So his relevance to the current lexicon of DC comics and importance in comprehending the involved, labyrinthine saga of the modern Batman is, well, zero.
So what was the interest? I’ve long had a peculiar fascination with the Earth-Two Batman that began back in 1984, when I saw a retailer poster for a mini-series called America versus the Justice Society. That poster was a reproduction of Jerry Ordway’s cover for issue #1, showing a spectral Batman looking accusingly at members of the Justice Society of America (with whom I was not yet familiar), with a caption proclaiming, “Batman speaks from beyond the grave...to accuse the JSA of TREASON!” Now that certainly caught my attention—I’d always been a Batman fan, dating back to my earliest coherent childhood memories. The discovery that there had been an “old” Batman who had married, had kids, and died was both intriguing and creepy. The notion that my previously ageless childhood hero was dead created an odd and vaguely unsettling sense of my own mortality, which perhaps was why it stuck in my head. It didn't hurt, of course, that the stories about his life and death were poignant and eloquent.
When I first started the chronology it was intended as a quick exercise to save me time; over the years I’ve found myself fielding questions from others who’ve stumbled upon these obscure stories and been curious about them. As it developed, though, I realized that it also provided an opportunity to delve into the roots and history of the character. As a result there’s information here on Batman’s 1940s movie serials, the appearances of Batman and Robin on the radio, their short-lived newspaper strip, the origins of familiar aspects of the mythos like the Batarang and Batmobile, and the various things that influenced and inspired Batman’s creators.
I think the results are interesting, surprising, and often enlightening. I hope you enjoy it.
If you have any questions or comments, please send me mail.
I have added a bibliography listing various
resources and links related to the Golden Age Batman, and a Golden
Age Batman Reprint Index.
Skip ahead to the chronology
A Little Background: The Origin of the Multiverse
In the forties comic books were dominated by colorful costumed superheroes, all of them tracing their roots back to Superman and Batman. There were dozens of different heroes, some popular, some appearing only once or twice before vanishing for good. By the early fifties that horde was nearly extinct. At DC Comics, the only survivors who retained their own books in 1952 were Superman (and his younger self, Superboy), Batman, and Wonder Woman, along with a handful of others (Aquaman, Green Arrow, Robotman, the Vigilante) who survived as back-up features. Publishers turned to westerns, crime comics, war comics, and science fiction, looking for something to fill the void.
In 1956 DC editor Julius Schwartz decided to try out a new character in the fourth issue of the ongoing try-out series Showcase Comics: a new version of the Flash, one of DC’s more popular heroes of the forties. The new Flash, like the original, had the power to move at super-speeds, but he was otherwise an entirely new character, with a different costume, different identity, and a different origin as police scientist Barry Allen. His adventures were a success, and before long he graduated to his own book, reviving the old Flash Comics series. Realizing that revamped superheroes retooled for the tastes of modern readers could be hits, Schwartz commissioned a similar revival of another forties stalwart, Green Lantern, who debuted in Showcase #22 in 1959. He, too, graduated to his own series, followed by a new version of the old Justice Society of America team-up series, the Justice League of America, which debuted in Brave and the Bold #28.
In 1961 Flash writer Gardner Fox created a clever story for Flash #123, entitled “The Flash of Two Worlds.” Fox and Schwartz knew that a few readers remembered that there had been an earlier Flash who disappeared in early 1951 — in fact, in the origin of the new Flash they showed a young Barry Allen reading about the original hero in comic books. Using the “parallel world” concept popular in science fiction, they concocted an adventure in which the modern Flash accidentally traveled into a parallel dimension, where he meets the original Flash, Jay Garrick, a little older but still vigorous and active. The two Flashes discovered that their worlds existed in the same space, but vibrated at different frequencies so that they never quite intersected; by changing his own “internal vibrations,” the Flash could travel between them at will. They dubbed Barry’s world “Earth-One” and Jay’s world “Earth-Two.” They postulated that Gardner Fox, a comic book writer on Barry Allen’s Earth, wrote the Flash comics Barry read as a child based on psychic visions of Jay Garrick’s Earth seen in dreams.
This tale proved popular enough to make meetings between Barry Allen and his “Earth-Two” counterpart a regular occurrence. By 1963 some readers were clamoring for the return of other Golden Age heroes. The Justice Society of America, the first comic book superhero team, appeared in Flash #137, reviving forties heroes the Atom, Dr. Mid-Nite, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and Johnny Thunder, all unseen since 1951. Two months later, in Justice League of America #21, the Justice Society met the Justice League, a team-up that would become a popular annual event.
In the mid-sixties it occurred to Gardner Fox that if DC’s forties heroes existed on Earth-Two, Superman and Batman — who had been published continually since the late thirties — would also have Earth-Two counterparts. (The Golden Age Wonder Woman, in fact, had appeared in Flash #137, but Wonder Woman’s internal continuity was such a mess, with Wonder Woman regularly sharing stories with herself as a baby and a teenager, that it didn’t make much difference if the Wonder Woman who was in the JSA was the same as the one in the Justice League.) Fox wrote an “Imaginary Story” in Detective Comics #347 (April 1966) in which the older, grayer Earth-Two Batman came to Earth-One after the “modern” Batman was killed in action. The following year (in Justice League of America #55), Earth-Two’s grown-up Robin, now wearing a baroque, ugly costume with a grey bodysuit and high-collared yellow cape, joined the Justice Society, telling his comrades that the Earth-Two Batman was now in semi-retirement. The Earth-Two Superman popped up for the first time in Justice League of America #73 (August 1969), and the Earth-Two Batman finally made a real appearance in Justice League of America #82 a year later.
These Earth-Two doppelgangers presented an interesting storytelling opportunity. The other Earth-Two heroes (the Flash, Green Lantern, et al) were not the same as their Earth-One counterparts. They had similar costumed identities and sometimes similar powers, but they were different people. The Earth-Two Batman and Superman, on the other hand, were still Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, but older and, significantly, no longer the stars of the ongoing Superman and Batman series. Therefore they could be allowed to grow, change, and develop in ways that their Earth-One counterparts could not, outside of the Imaginary Stories of the 1960s. Relieved of the pressures of carrying several monthly comic books and a host of licensing commitments, they could age, marry, have children — or even die.
In 1977 writer Paul Levitz and artist Joe Staton conceived the idea of an Earth-Two version of Batgirl. The Justice Society’s adventures in the revived All-Star Comics had already introduced Power Girl, a livelier (and bustier) Earth-Two counterpart of Supergirl, to great success, so Batgirl was the next logical step. However, unlike Power Girl, who was Superman’s cousin just like Supergirl, the new heroine would not be a duplicate of Earth-One’s Batgirl, but Batman’s daughter.
In a storyline that began to unfold in All-Star Comics #66, they established how an older Bruce Wayne had married his former enemy, Selina Kyle (the Catwoman), and settled down, having a daughter named Helena. Selina Kyle was killed, prompting Bruce to retire for good as Batman (becoming police commissioner of Gotham City) and her daughter to avenge her death as the Huntress, borrowing elements from both Batman and Catwoman’s costumed identities. Eventually Batman himself perished and his daughter took his place as the guardian of Gotham City.
The early eighties saw the Huntress earn her own ongoing series in the back of Wonder Woman, while several poignant tales in Brave and the Bold fleshed out more about the life and tragic death of the Golden Age Batman, the only Batman to live and die in real time.
In 1985 DC chose to bring an end to the multiverse that encompassed Earth-One, Earth-Two, and numerous others, collapsing them into a single, revamped world in the cosmic calamity known as the Crisis on Infinite Earths. The Huntress, Earth-Two’s older Robin, and all memory of their existence were wiped out, never to be seen or mentioned again. But the legacy of the original Batman lives on.
Note: A complete discussion of the origin of the multiverse and of its destruction in the Crisis on Infinite Earths is beyond the scope of this chronology. However, an excellent discussion of all the aspects of the Crisis can be found in Jonathan Woodward’s The Annotated Crisis.
A special thanks is also due to Mike
Kooiman, whose chronology format I adapted for this project.
Some Notes on References, Sources, and Methodology
This chronology does not list all of Batman’s adventures, which would take a document many times this size, but it lists crucial events in his life and the lives of his family, and various points of historical interest. All events are fully annotated: each entry includes a notation showing the source of the reference (the title and issue number, if applicable) and the publication date of that reference. If a story contains a character’s first appearance in print, the character’s name is shown in red boldface type. Note that a character’s first appearance in print is not necessarily his or her first chronological appearance.
Throughout the Golden Age, all Batman stories were all relatively short, ranging from six to 15 pages. Batman appeared in one story of that length in each issue of Detective Comics and World’s Finest Comics (through 1954, after which he shared the main story with Superman), and three to five stories in each issue of Batman. Continuity from story to story within the same issue was relatively uncommon, although not unheard of. Full-issue (“book-length” or “novel-length” stories) were not seen in Batman until the early 1960s. Because this chronology does not attempt to list every published story, it should not be assumed that the listing for any single issue of Batman represents the whole contents of that issue. In addition, an effort has been made to separate events taking place in separate stories in the same issue.
The material in this chronology is drawn from one of two sources: Golden Age stories (stories published between 1939 and roughly 1958) and Earth-Two stories (stories published between 1963 and 1986 that are specifically indicated as taking place on Earth-Two and/or involving the “Golden Age” Batman and his friends, colleagues, and enemies).
The question of which stories should be considered part of the Golden Age canon is the subject of some debate. Assigning a fixed cut-off point based on either date or issue number is arbitrary and potentially misleading. The early careers of the Earth-Two (Golden Age) and Earth-One (Silver Age) Batmans were substantially similar, and many events took place on both Earth-One and Earth-Two (for example, as shown in Brave and the Bold #182, there was a Batwoman on both Earth-One and Earth-Two). By the same token, some adventures, although certainly Golden Age stories, were not part of Earth-Two continuity.
For the purposes of this chronology, it was generally assumed that stories in Batman and Detective Comics prior to roughly 1960 took place on Earth-Two (although they may also have taken place on Earth-One) if they could reasonably be reconciled with the timeline established for the Golden Age Batman’s career. Batman’s appearances in other comic books after 1954, including his team-ups with Superman in World’s Finest Comics from issue #71 (July-August 1954), were assumed to have taken place solely on Earth-One except as noted herein. Where contradictions arose, Earth-Two stories were given precedence over Golden Age stories. For example, Batwoman did not make her comic book debut until the July 1956 issue of Detective Comics, but a key Earth-Two story (Brave and the Bold #197) shows her in action in 1955. Therefore, the chronology assumes that Batwoman’s debut on Earth-Two took place sometime prior to 1955.
The events of each story are generally assumed to have taken place on the publication date, or on the date specified in the story, if different. Where precise dates were established, they are shown in yellow boldface type (e.g., December 7, 1941). If an event is described in the story as having taken place at an earlier time, or an event is presented as a flashback within a story, the event is listed at the time it occurred and the issue and publication date references are shown in parentheses. For example, World’s Finest Comics #53 (August-September 1953) contains a retrospective of the life of Commissioner Gordon, which (among other things) includes his birth date. This event is listed in chronological order (January 5, 1900); the citation shown is (WF 53) with the date (8-9/53).
The majority of the chronology deals with events depicted
in the comic books. Because World’s Finest Comics #271 (September
1981) established that the first meeting of Superman and Batman in the
1945 season of the Adventures of Superman radio series was part
of Earth-Two continuity, other events from the radio series are also assumed
to be part of Earth-Two continuity. Similarly, because the villain of the
1943 movie serial, Dr. Daka, was later introduced to the comic books in
All-Star Squadron, the events of the serials are also considered
to be canonical. Not all of the events of the Batman newspaper comic strip
of 1943-1946, however, can be considered as part of the same continuity.
Some of the stories in the strip were rewritten from previous comic book
stories and cannot be easily reconciled with the events in the comic books.
Creator Credit Abbreviations
One of the most unfortunate aspects of Golden Age comics is that their creators often remain sadly and undeservedly anonymous. Many early comic books were produced in assembly-line fashion by studios of assistants, for companies that rarely printed creator credits (so as to avoid ownership disputes and payment of royalties), with recordkeeping that was frequently poor or nonexistent. Batman stories published before the mid-1960s did not list any names except that of Bob Kane, Batman’s co-creator. The question of who worked on a given story is often a matter of confusion and controversy, especially when it involves writers — while pencillers and inkers can often be identified by a careful attention to stylistic details, uncredited scripts often remain a mystery. Nevertheless, I feel that an effort should be made to at least try to credit the people who created the stories and characters.
The credits listed here for pre-1965 stories represent
the best information that I have been able to gather. The question of proper
credit is one that confounds comic book scholars far more knowledgeable
than me, and I don’t doubt that there are a fair number of errors, owing
both to incorrect data and simple mistakes and omissions on my part. If
you have corrections to any of the credit information herein, please let
me know and I will add it to future updates of this chronology. A special
thanks is due to the historians of the Grand
Comics Database and to Bob Hughes, who maintains the excellent
Whose in the DC Universe web site, from whom much of this data was
|Mike W. Barr – MWB
Cary Bates – CB
Alan Brennert – AB
E. Nelson Bridwell – ENB
Don Cameron – DC
Joey Cavalieri – JC
Gerry Conway – GC
Arnold Drake – AD
Bill Finger – BF
Gardner Fox – GF
Mike Friedrich – MF
Joe Greene – JG
Edmond Hamilton – EH
Bob Haney – BH
France E. Herron – FH
Paul Kupperberg – PKu
Paul Levitz – PL
Elliot S. Maggin – ESM
Denny O’Neil – DON
Marty Pasko – MPa
Bob Rozakis – BR
Joe Samachson – JSa
Jack Schiff – JSch
Alvin Schwartz – ASch
Jerry Siegel – JSi
Roy Thomas – RT
David Vern – DV
Marv Wolfman – MW
Dave Wood – DW
Bill Woolfolk – BW
|Neal Adams – NA
Alfredo Alcala – AA
Jim Aparo – JA
Terry Austin – TA
Mark Beachum – MB
John Beatty – JBe
Rich Buckler – RiB
Tim Burgard – TB
Jack Burnley – JB
Ray Burnley – RaB
Frank Chiaramonte – FC
Mike Clark – MC
Gene Colan – GC
Vince Colletta – VC
Mike DeCarlo – MDC
Tony DeZuniga – TDZ
Dick Dillin – DD
Ric Estrada – RE
George Freeman – GF
Joe Giella – JGi
Keith Giffen – KG
Mike Gustovich – MGu
Don Heck – DH
Mike Hernandez – MH
Richard Howell – RHow
Rick Hoberg – RHob
Carmine Infantino – CI
Arvell Jones – AJ
Bob Kane – BK
|Rafael Kayanan – RK
Stan Kaye – SK
Bob Layton – BL
Mike Machlan – MM
Gary Martin – GM
Todd McFarlane – TM
Frank McLaughlin – FM
Sheldon Moldoff – SM
Jim Mooney – JM
Win Mortimer – WM
Jerry Ordway – JO
Charles Paris – CP
Bruce Patterson – BP
Chuck Patton – CPt
George Pérez – GP
Fred Ray – FR
Marshall Rogers – MR
David Ross – DR
George Roussos – GR
Bernard Sachs – BSa
Alex Saviuk – AS
Kurt Schaffenberger – KS
Lew Sayre Schwartz – LS
Mike Sekowsky – MS
Dick Sprang – DS
Joe Staton – JSt
Romeo Tanghal – RoT
Stan Woch – SW
Wally Wood – WW
For the sake of conciseness, the sources referenced in this chronology have been abbreviated as follows. Non-comic book sources are indicated between asterisks (e.g., *BATMAN*, referring to the 1943 movie serial).
|ADV||Adventure Comics (first series)|
|AMvJSA||America vs. The Justice Society (4-issue mini-series)|
|BAT:B&W||Batman Black and White|
|*BATMAN*||1943 Batman film serial (Columbia Pictures)|
|*BATMAN & ROBIN*||1949 Batman film serial (Columbia Pictures)|
|BRAVE||Brave and the Bold (first series)|
|CRISIS||Crisis on Infinite Earths (12-issue limited series)|
|*DAILY*||Batman daily newspaper strip (McClure Syndicate, 1943-1946)|
|DCCP||DC Comics Presents|
|JLA||Justice League of America|
|LAST DAYS||Last Days of the JSA (one-shot special)|
|LEGENDWW||Legend of Wonder Woman|
|NYWF||New York World’s Fair Comics|
|*SUNDAY*||Batman Sunday newspaper strip (McClure Syndicate, 1943-1946)|
|SUP||Superman (first series)|
|*SUP RADIO*||Adventures of Superman radio serial (Mutual Broadcast Network)|
|WF||World’s Finest Comics|
|WW||Wonder Woman (first series)|
|Pre-History: Journeys in Time|
|c. 50,000 B.C.: On a time-journey to the Stone Age, Batman and Robin meet Tiger Man, possibly the world’s first crimefighter. EH/DS/CP||BATMAN 93 ||8/55|
|c. 580 B.C.: Batman and Robin aid King Lanak
of Babylon, see the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and discover
that the ancient Babylonians revered a hero called Zorn, who bore
a striking resemblance to Batman. BF/DS/CP
Notes: The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, were located near the Euphrates river about 50 kilometers south of modern Baghdad, Iraq. According to ancient Greek historians the Gardens were created by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II (604-562 B.C.), although modern archaeologists are uncertain of the exact dates — or if the Gardens even existed at all.
|BATMAN 102 ||9/56|
|c. 500 B.C.: Batman and Robin visit Athens and
witness the Olympic Games. EH/JM/RB
Notes: The first Olympic Games were held in Olympia, a rural town in the western Peloponnesos, in 776 B.C. They were held every four years through 393 C.E.
|BATMAN 38 ||12/46-1/47|
|336 B.C.: Batman and Robin visit Macedonia and
meet Alexander the Great.
They are briefly stranded in the past when Professor Carter Nichols’s “time-box”
malfunctions, but they are later rescued by Superman. BF/DS/SM
Notes: Alexander the Great of Macedonia was one of the greatest leaders and conquerors of the ancient world. He was born in 356 B.C., ascended to the throne in 336 B.C. after the murder of his father, Philip of Macedonia, and died in 323 B.C. at the age of 33.
|c. 280 B.C.: Batman and Robin travel back in time
to the Greek island of Rhodes, where they see the legendary Colossus
of Rhodes and rescue Professor Carter Nichols, who has been captured
by King Phorbus and forced to construct futuristic weapons.
Notes: The precise date of these events is not given, but the Colossus of Rhodes, an enormous (10-meter) statue of the sun-god Helios, was erected in Mandraki harbor in 282 B.C. and toppled by earthquake in 226 B.C.
|BATMAN 112 ||12/57|
|Batman and Robin visit ancient Rome and defeat a Roman gangster called Publius Malchio. JS/DS||BATMAN 24 ||8-9/44|
|c. 40 B.C.: Batman and Robin travel to Egypt,
where they briefly serve as personal bodyguards to Cleopatra. BF/DS/CP
Notes: The precise year of these events is not given, but the historical reign of Cleopatra VII, wife of Julius Caesar and lover of Mark Anthony, was from 53 B.C. to her suicide in 30 B.C. Interestingly, Cleopatra is depicted in this story as a look-alike for the Catwoman.
|c. 530 A.D.: Batman and Robin travel back in time
to Great Britain, where they meet King Arthur. Batman — dubbed “Sir
Hardi Le Noir” — joins the Round Table and helps Arthur and his knights
thwart a conspiracy by Mordred and Morgan Le Fay. BF/BK/RB
Notes: The approximate date of this event is based on the Annales cambiœ (Welsh Easter Annals), which have two references to a figure believed to be the historical basis of King Arthur. The latter, dated 537, refers to “the Strife of Camlann, in which Arthur and Medraut [Mordred] perished.”
|BATMAN 36 ||8-9/46|
|c. 700: Batman and Robin travel back in time to the Middle East, where they help a tribe called the Zotos defend their valley from a race of giants. BF/FM/CP||BATMAN 115 ||4/58|
|c. 900: Batman and Robin travel back to the city of Baghdad, where they encounter the evil Crier, a villain who looks exactly like the Joker except that he cries rather than laughs. During their time in Baghdad they convert a carpet into a serviceable glider, an event they believe later inspires legends of flying carpets. ?/LS/CP||BATMAN 49 ||10-11/48|
|c. 950: Batman, Robin, and Superman visit ancient
Baghdad, where they meet Aladdin. EH/DS/SK
Notes: Aladdin is one of the most famous characters from A Thousand and One Nights (Alf Laylah Wa Laylah), a collection of Arabic and Oriental myths and stories of various (and in some cases uncertain) origins.
|990: On a time-journey to 10th century Norway, Batman and Robin meet Olaf Erickson, a Viking warrior who is a perfect look-alike for Bruce Wayne. They rescue him from a Byzantine prison and give him the self-confidence to lead an expedition from Norway to North America. BF?/LS/CP||BATMAN 52 ||4-5/49|
|c. 1200: Batman and Robin visit Sherwood Forest
in medieval England, where they meet Robin Hood and the villainous
Sheriff of Nottingham. DC/WM
Notes: The date is based on historical accounts of the early 16th century that suggest that Robin Hood was a historical figure during the era of King John and Richard the Lion-hearted. This is the account on which Sir Walter Scott based the best-known version of the story. Scottish historians of the 14th century considered Robin Hood to be a historical figure of the late 13th century (circa either 1266 or 1282), decades later.
|1255: Scientist/philosopher Roger Bacon
sends two of his students, Marcus and Guy Tiller, through the time barrier
to Gotham City in the year 1955 to determine, “Will the future world be
worth working for? Will it be a good world?” BF/DS/CP
Notes: Roger Bacon (c. 1220-c. 1292) was a philosopher and educational reformer noted for his efforts to add science to university curricula.
|1275: Batman and Robin visit 13th century China,
where they meet Kubla Khan and legendary explorer Marco Polo.
Notes: Marco Polo (1254-1324) was the famous Italian explorer who spent 17 years in China in the late 13th century. Born in Venice, Polo and his family journeyed to Asia in 1271, reaching China in 1275. He was a guest of China’s emperor Kubla (or Kublai) Khan (the first of the Yuan, or Mongol, dynasty, who lived from 1215-1294), until about 1292. According to his book Il milione (The Travels of Marco Polo), he served as the mayor of Yangzhou for three years in the 1280s (not 1275, as the text of this story indicates), but modern historians are extremely skeptical of his claims.
|1499: Batman and Robin travel back in time to
Milan, Italy, where they meet famed artist and inventor Leonardo Da
Vinci. DC/DS/Gene McDonald
Notes: Italian artist, sculptor, and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) is perhaps the most famous figure of the European Renaissance. In 1499 he was in the final months of his role as official painter and engineer of Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, who was overthrown later that year. Batman co-creator Bob Kane has often cited Da Vinci’s plans for a flying machine, the wings of which resembled those of a bat, as one of his inspirations in the creation of Batman.
|BATMAN 46 ||4-5/48|
|Early 17th century: Batman and Robin visit Venice, Italy to verify the authenticity of a painting by the artist Verillo. BF/SM/CP||BATMAN 125 ||8/59|
|c. 1628: Batman and Robin visit France during
the reign of Louis XIII and meet the Three Musketeers. They aid
D’Artagnan, Aramis, Athos, and Porthos in protecting Queen Anne from the
machinations of Cardinal Richelieu and Milady De Winter. DC/DS
Notes: Although D’Artagnan and his three comrades were based on real people, the characters depicted here are clearly the fictionalized versions made famous by Alexandre Dumas’s romances, beginning with the novel The Three Musketeers (first published in 1844). This story takes place at some point during the action of the novel, prior to the execution of Milady at its conclusion.
|BATMAN 32 (4)||12/45-1/46|
|c. 1654: Batman and Robin travel back in time to the area that will later become Gotham City, where they discover that the cave that will become the Batcave is being used by colonial scout Jeremy Coe as a base from which to spy on local Indian activity. BF/SM/CP||TEC 205||3/54|
|April 16, 1667: A time-traveling Batman and Robin
battle the infamous pirate Henry Morgan. ?/DS/CP
Notes: The real-world Henry Morgan (1635-1688), less villainous and bloodthirsty than his Earth-Two counterpart, was knighted by England’s King Charles II in 1674 and appointed governor of Jamaica.
|1696: On a time-journey to 17th century France,
Batman, Robin, and Superman fill in as the Three Musketeers to help D’Artagnan
free the Man in the Iron Mask, who is revealed to be the noble Count
Ferney, imprisoned by Louis XIV’s evil chancellor, Bourdet.
Notes: The chronology of this story is questionable. The events of Alexandre Dumas’s novel The Man in the Iron Mask take place in 1660, when the Musketeers are already old men. (Porthos, Aramis, and Athos pass away in the latter part of the novel, and D’Artagnan’s death is described in the epilogue, which takes place four years later.) The historical Man in the Iron Mask, whose true identity remains unknown, was arrested in 1669. He was transferred to the Bastille in 1698 — not 1696, as stated in this story — and died in 1703. It should be noted that the Musketeers do not recognize Batman and Robin from their earlier encounter in Batman #32 (12/45-1/46).
|1753: Batman and Robin travel back in time to
Gotham City, where they meet the notorious Captain Lightfoot and
learn that he is secretly Abel Adams, a citizen of the town that will become
Gotham City, working to prevent a war between Gotham’s settlers and the
local Indian tribes. BF/LS/CP
Notes: The real Captain Lightfoot was Michael Martin, an Irish-born highwayman who terrorized New England beginning in 1818. He was not born until 1775, 22 years after the events of this story, and was eventually hanged in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1822.
|BATMAN 79 ||10-11/53|
|1787: Batman and Robin travel back in time to Philadelphia, where they make the acquaintance of scientist and statesman Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) and acquit Bruce Wayne’s ancestor, silversmith Silas Wayne, of charges that he is secretly a notorious highwayman. BF/JM||BATMAN 44 ||12/47-1/48|
|c. 1816: Batman and Robin travel back in time
to 19th century Europe, where they meet writer Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
and Baron Victor Frankenstein and witness the true events that inspired
Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein. EH/LS/CP
Notes: Historically, Mary Shelley (1797-1851) conceived Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus in the summer of 1816. The novel was completed in May of 1817, and the first edition was published in January 1818.
|1854: Batman and Robin visit California in the time of the Gold Rush and battle the bandit Joaquin Murieta. BF/DS/CP||BATMAN 58 ||4-5/50|
|Later in 1854 Batman and Robin visit the Mississippi valley, where they meet river boat captain John Gordon, an ancestor of Commissioner Gordon, and exonerate him of charges that he is secretly a ruthless thief. BF/DS/CP||BATMAN 89 ||2/55|
|1880: On a time-journey to the Old West, Batman
and Robin meet legendary lawman Bat Masterson. EH/SM/CP
Notes: Bartholomew “Bat” Masterson (1853-1921) spent most of 1876-1886 in Dodge City, Kansas. Although he served as deputy sheriff of Ford County from 1877-1879 and briefly as a U.S. marshal in 1879, by 1880 he was making his living primarily as a saloonkeeper and gambler.
|BATMAN 99 ||4/56|
|The 20th Century|
|January 5, 1900: Birth of James W. Gordon, who
will later become police commissioner of Gotham City. ?/DS
Notes: Gordon’s name may have been inspired by the pulp hero Commissioner James W. “Wildcat” Gordon, a police official who also fought crime outside the law as a vigilante called the Whisperer. That Jim Gordon, who was created by Johnston McCulley, the creator of Zorro, first appeared in his own pulp magazine in October 1936.
|Later in 1900, a time-traveling Batman and Robin meet
famed science-fiction author Jules Verne, who briefly returns with
them to the 1950s. AD/DS/CP
Notes: French author Jules Verne (1828-1905), who created such works as Le Voyage au centre de la Terre (1864; A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, 1872), De la Terre à la Lune (1865; From the Earth to the Moon, 1873), Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (1870; Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, 1873), and L’Île mystérieuse (1874; The Mysterious Island, 1875) is considered one of the chief architects of modern science fiction. By 1900 he was residing in Amiens, where he stayed until his death in 1905. The mechanism by which Verne returned with Batman and Robin to the 1950s was not explained in this story.
|BATMAN 98 ||3/56|
|April 7, 1915: Bruce Wayne is born in Gotham City
to Thomas and Martha Wayne. BF/JM
(World’s Finest Comics) / ?/JM (Star-Spangled Comics) / RT/RK/AA
(America vs. the Justice Society)
Notes: The year is the date shown on Bruce’s tombstone in America vs. the Justice Society. World’s Finest Comics #33 established the month of Bruce’s birth as April. Star-Spangled Comics #91 indicated that his birthday was the 7th of the month. According to Jim Steranko’s Steranko History of Comics Vol. 1 (1971), Batman’s secret identity was devised by Bill Finger. He was named for Scottish patriot Robert the Bruce (later Robert I of Scotland, 1274-1329) and American Revolutionary War General “Mad Anthony” Wayne (1745-1796).
|c. 1916: The distant planet Krypton explodes.
Moments before its destruction, the Kryptonian scientist Jor-L and his
wife Lora send their only son, Kal-L, rocketing to Earth, where he is found
and adopted by John and Mary Kent. They name him Clark Kent. At the same
time Jor-L’s brother, Zor-L, launches his own daughter, Kara, but her rocketship
does not arrive on Earth until the 1970s, although her aging is artificially
retarded during her long journey. Jerry
Siegel/Joe Shuster (Superman newspaper and Action #1) / PL/JSt/JO/DG
Notes: Curiously, the exact date of the destruction of Krypton-Two was never established. The origin of Power Girl in Showcase #97-#98 described it as approximately 60 years before her 1976 debut. Superman’s parents and homeworld were not named until the first episode of the Superman newspaper comic strip in January 1939. The first names of his foster parents, not revealed in the early stories, were given as Eben and Sarah in George Lowther’s 1942 prose novel The Adventures of Superman and as John and Mary in Superman #53 (7/8-48), which Who’s Who in the DC Universe later established as the names of the Earth-Two Superman’s foster parents.
|c. 1917: Thomas Wayne becomes a surgeon in the
American Expeditionary Forces during the first world war, eventually rising
to the rank of colonel. BF/SM/CP
Notes: Although World War One began in Europe in the summer of 1914, the United States did not formally enter the war until April 1917, and the first American combat troops were not involved combat until later that year.
|(BATMAN 120 )||(12/58)|
|Some time following Thomas Wayne’s return from the Army,
Englishman Jarvis Beagle becomes the Waynes’ butler. His son, Alfred Beagle,
will later follow in his father’s footsteps as the butler to Bruce Wayne.
Notes: Alfred initially had no last name. He was given the surname “Beagle” in Detective Comics #96 (2/45). Although the name of his Earth-One counterpart was later said to be Pennyworth, the Earth-Two Alfred, as established in Superman Family #211 (10/81), was Alfred Beagle.
|(BATMAN 16 )||(4-5/43)|
|c. 1918?: After attending a masquerade ball dressed
in a bat-man costume, Thomas Wayne captures fugitive bank robber Lew Moxon,
who has invaded the Wayne house seeking medical attention for wounds suffered
during his flight from police. At his trial, Moxon swears vengeance on
Wayne. Thomas Wayne’s costume, which fascinates his young son, later inspires
the design of the costume Bruce Wayne wears in his career as Batman. BF/SM/SK
Notes: The placement of this story in Earth-Two continuity is extremely tentative. It shows Bruce as a young boy of perhaps two or three at the time of the masquerade party, and indicates that Moxon spent 10 years in prison before ordering Wayne’s murder, which is not consistent with the dates of Bruce’s birth or his parents’ murders. Nonetheless, the story is included here for the sake of completeness.
|c. 1920: Probable date of Selina Kyle’s
Notes: The date is conjecture. In Brave and the Bold #197 Selina says that she was 30 years old when she claimed to have become Catwoman while suffering from amnesia; that story took place in late 1950 (Batman #62).
|Circus acrobat Hugo Marmon, calling himself “Bat
Man,” thrills crowds while performing in a costume uncannily similar to
that eventually worn by Batman. ?/DS/CP
Notes: The dates of Marmon’s career are conjecture. The story specified only that his career preceded that of Bruce Wayne’s, although Marmon did not perform in Gotham City until after May 1939.
|c. 1923: Alfred Beagle’s niece, Valerie, is born
in Australia. Although Alfred maintains a correspondence with Valerie for
many years, she does not come to England until after Alfred has already
left for the United States, and the two never actually meet. BF/JB/CP
Notes: Earth-One’s Alfred, Alfred Pennyworth, also had a niece, Daphne Pennyworth (daughter of Alfred’s older brother, Wilfred), who first appeared in Batman #216 (11/69).
|June 6, 1924: James Gordon graduates from law school and joins the Gotham City Police Department as a rookie policeman. ?/DS||(WF 53)||(8-9/51)|
|June 26, 1924: While walking home from a movie,
Thomas Wayne is shot and killed by Joey Chill. His wife Martha suffers
a fatal heart attack, leaving their son Bruce an orphan. Although Thomas
Wayne’s killer is presumed to be a mugger, Bruce Wayne later learns that
Chill was a hired killer in the employ of Lew Moxon. Young Bruce is left
in the care of his uncle, Philip Wayne. He vows to devote his life to avenging
his parents’s deaths. BF/BK/SM
Notes: The first version of Batman’s origin, in Detective Comics #33, indicates that the murder took place “some 15 years” prior to 1939. The specific date was established in Secret Origins #6.
In the early versions of this story, both Thomas and Martha Wayne were shot. Batman #47 (6-7/48) said instead that Martha Wayne had a heart attack upon seeing her husband shot. This version was repeated in most accounts until the early seventies.
The first version of Batman’s origin was devised by his creators, Bill Finger and Bob Kane. The definitive retelling of the story, in Secret Origins #6, was written by Roy Thomas with art by Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin.
Bruce’s uncle Philip was first mentioned, in connection with the Earth-One Batman, in Batman #208 (2/69); Philip Wayne’s role in Earth-Two continuity was established by Secret Origins #6.
According to Secret Origins #6 the Waynes were shot after seeing a film starring Rudolph Valentino. Historically, the only two Valentino films in theatres during 1924, Monsieur Beaucaire and A Sainted Devil, were not released until months after June 26; these were the first Valentino films to be released since 1922.
|October 11, 1926: James Gordon marries a young
woman named Barbara. ?/DS
Notes: Superman Family #211 (10/81) revealed that Commissioner Gordon’s wife, never named in any Golden Age story, was named Barbara. The Earth-One Gordon’s wife’s name was Thelma.
|c. 1927: James Gordon and his wife have a son,
Tony Gordon. ?/DS
Notes: Tony Gordon had a counterpart on Earth-One, the older brother of Barbara (Babs) Gordon (Batgirl); he was first seen in Batman Family #12 (7-8/77). Barbara Gordon apparently had no direct counterpart on Earth-Two.
|1928: Richard (Dick) Grayson is born to John and
Mary Grayson. RT/DR/MGu
Notes: The year is that shown on Dick’s tombstone.
|1931: James Gordon attains the rank of lieutenant in the Gotham City police department. ?/DS||(WF 53)||(8-9/51)|
|c. 1933: Disguising his identity with a costume very similar to that later worn by Robin, Bruce Wayne studies with gifted police detective Harvey Harris. EH/DS/CP||(TEC 226)||(12/55)|
|Fall 1935: Bruce Wayne enrolls in Gotham University. RT/MR/TA
Notes: Bruce Wayne was first established as having attended Gotham University in World’s Finest Comics #59 (7-8/52).
|c. 1937: James Gordon becomes Gotham City’s police chief and later its police commissioner. DV/DS/CP||(BATMAN 71 )||(6-7/52)|
|A very young Selina Kyle marries a wealthy man who proves to be physically and emotionally abusive. When Selina divorces him, he uses his connections to ruin her socially and financially. To strike back, she burglarizes his estate, stealing jewels he ostensibly bought for her. Afterwards, she takes up a full-time criminal career, becoming the notorious jewel thief called the Cat. AB/JSt/GF||(BRAVE 197)||(4/83)|
|June 1938: Clark Kent becomes a reporter for the
Metropolis Daily Star, meets Lois Lane, and begins
his heroic career as Superman. JSi/JSh
Notes: The name of the newspaper that employed Clark Kent and Lois Lane was changed to the Daily Planet in the December 2, 1939 installment of the Superman Sunday newspaper strip. The change was reflected in the comic book in Superman #4 (Spr. 40) and Action Comics #23 (4/40). However, as established in Justice League of America #91 (8/71), the Earth-Two Clark Kent continued to work for the Daily Star, eventually becoming the paper’s editor. Superman was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
|Fall 1938: While attending Gotham University,
Bruce Wayne meets Julie Madison while acting in a production of Hamlet,
in which Bruce plays the part of Polonius and Julie that of Ophelia. They
soon fall in love. RT/MR/TA
Notes: This was the first chronological appearance of Julie Madison.
|Resentful of Bruce Wayne’s popularity and his success as a member of Gotham University’s fencing team, Bruce’s classmate Joe Danton removes the safety cap from his foil during a match, inflicting a small scar on his wrist that later enables Danton to deduce that Bruce is secretly Batman. BF/SM/CP||(BATMAN 96)||(12/55)|
|Spring 1939: Bruce Wayne and Julie Madison graduate from Gotham University. Julie moves to New York to pursue an acting career on Broadway, while Bruce remains in Gotham to pursue his dreams of fighting crime. RT/MR/TA||SO 6||9/86|
|A bat flying into the open window of Bruce Wayne’s study
inspires him to create a new identity for his war against crime: the
Batman. BF/BK (Detective #27) / RT/MR/TA
Notes: This scene, conceived by Batman co-creators Bill Finger and Bob Kane, may have been inspired by a very similar scene in the debut adventure of the Bat, a pulp adventurer who appeared in Popular Detective magazine in November 1934. The Bat’s adventures, credited to Better Publications house name C.K.M. Scanlon, may have been written by Johnston McCulley, the creator of Zorro.
|In his first outing, Batman apprehends a thief named
“Slugsy” Kyle at the Gotham Glassworks and leaves him, bound and unconscious,
for the police. BF/SM/CP (Detective
#265) / RT/MR/TA (Secret Origins)
Notes: This story was originally recounted in flashback in Detective Comics #265 and retold in Secret Origins #6.
|Bruce Wayne meets Commissioner James Gordon, an
old friend of his uncle Philip. BF/BK (Detective #27)
/ RT/MR/TA (Secret Origins)
Notes: Bruce Wayne’s connection to Gordon was revealed in Secret Origins #6.
The relationship between Wayne and Gordon in this story was clearly inspired by that between the Shadow’s playboy alter ego, and New York City’s Police Commissioner Weston. The Shadow, a major influence on the creation of Batman, first appeared as the narrator of Street & Smith’s weekly Detective Story Hour radio series in July 1930 and made his pulp debut in April 1931’s The Living Shadow. The Shadow appeared in 325 pulp novels through 1949, most written by Walter B. Gibson under the Street & Smith house name Maxwell Grant. He went on to star in a variety of comic books and comic strips, four movie serials, and several films, as well as a highly popular radio series that aired from 1937 to 1954.
There is no evidence to suggest that the Shadow, whose comic book adventures were published by DC in the 1970s and 1980s, had a counterpart on Earth-Two, but in Batman #253 (11/73), Earth-One’s Batman met the Shadow and confessed that his costumed career and identity had been directly influenced by the Shadow’s exploits. That story was written by Denny O’Neil and drawn by Irv Novick and Dick Giordano.
|The Batman tracks down the villainous Alfred
Stryker, a chemical magnate who has murdered several of his partners
in an attempt to gain control of Apex Chemicals. BF/BK (Detective
Comics #27) / RT/MR/TA (Secret Origins)
Notes: This six-page tale, entitled “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” was the first published appearance of Batman, although the text makes it clear that it is not Batman’s first case — he is already wanted by the police. Bruce Wayne smokes a pipe in this story, as he did in a number of stories through the mid-forties. Batman’s car in this tale and in subsequent early adventures was a red coupé, later replaced by the more flamboyant Batmobiles. Batman’s first adventure was drawn by Bob Kane and scripted by Bill Finger, who later indicated that the story was borrowed from an adventure of the Shadow.
|Bruce Wayne becomes engaged to Julie Madison. RT/MR/TA||SO 6||9/86|
|Batman apprehends jewel thief Frenchy Blake after
killing one of his henchmen by throwing him off a roof and extorting
a confession out of Blake himself. BF/BK
Notes: Batman’s second appearance marks the first use of the bat-line, initially carried coiled on his utility belt. Curiously, Batman did not wear gloves in this story.
|Bruce Wayne buys Wayne Manor and discovers the vast caves
that lie beneath it. He will later outfit the cavern as his crimefighting
headquarters, the Batcave. BF/SM/CP
Notes: The Batcave was apparently conceived by the writers of the 1943 Batman serial. The cave in its modern form did not appear in the series until Batman #12 (8-9/42), and was not called the Batcave until Detective Comics #83 (1/44).
|Batman confronts the vile Karl Hellfern, better known
as Dr. Death. After Batman kills the doctor’s Indian henchman Jabah,
Hellfern accidentally immolates himself with a vial of an incendiary chemical,
apparently perishing in the ensuing blaze. GF/BK
Notes: With this story, written by Gardner Fox rather than Batman’s co-creator, Bill Finger, the length of the Batman feature increased from six pages to ten pages. Gardner Fox apparently wrote the stories in the subsequent four issues of Detective Comics, after which Finger once again became the primary writer.
This story featured the first gadgets from Batman’s utility belt: a glass vial of “choking gas” and suction cups that he used to scale the side of a building. It also referred for the first time to the “Wayne mansion;” Detective Comics #27 showed only Bruce’s “room.” This was Batman’s first use of a gun: he holds two of Dr. Death’s henchmen at bay with a captured pistol. It was also the first story in which Batman was wounded in action. Batman kills Jabah by snapping his neck with his silken rope, the first of three occasions on which he used the bat-rope in that fashion.
|“Less than a week” after their previous encounter, Batman
discovers that Dr. Death is still alive, although hideously scarred by
the fire that nearly killed him. After killing another of the doctor’s
underlings, a cossack called Mikhail, Batman apprehends Dr. Death and turns
him over to police. GF/BK/SM
Notes: Dr. Death was the first Batman foe to appear more than once. Dr. Death’s Earth-One counterpart, who had a loosely similar M.O., appeared in Batman #344 (2/82) and Detective Comics #512 (3/82).
|Noted industrial designer Norman Lowell designs a distinctive
autogyro for Batman: the bat-gyro. Batman later saves Lowell from being
kidnapped by a Nazi agent.
Notes: The placement of this story in Earth-Two continuity is arbitrary, but it seems fitting. This story, written by Archie Goodwin and drawn by Gary Gianni, won an Eisner award for Best Short Story in 1997.
|(BAT: B&W 4)||(9/96)|
|Batman meets Australian circus performer Lee Collins, who teaches him to use the boomerang as a weapon and presents him with the first batarang as a gift. BF/SM/CP||(TEC 244)||(6/57)|
|Bruce Wayne’s fiancée Julie Madison falls
under the thrall of the sinister Monk and his accomplice Dala,
who try to hypnotically force Julie to murder one of their enemies. Bruce
sends Julie on an ocean cruise to recuperate. As Batman, he follows her
in the Bat-gyro. In Paris, he narrowly escapes a death-trap set
by the Monk and again rescues Julie from the villain’s clutches. GF/BK/SM
Notes: The Bat-gyro (also called the “bat-plane”), introduced in this story, was the forerunner of the Batplane. Bill Finger later indicated that it was inspired by a similar aircraft used by the Shadow in his pulp adventures. This issue was the first appearance of the batarang (spelled “baterang” in the text) and the first time Batman wears gauntlets rather than wrist-length gloves. This story identified Batman’s home city as New York, the first time the setting of his adventures was explicitly named. Batman’s city was first called Gotham City in Detective Comics #48 (2/41).
|In Paris, Batman captures Dala and forces her to lead
him to the Monk’s stronghold in Hungary, where he learns that the villains
are both vampires and werewolves. He eventually slays both monsters with
a pistol loaded with homemade silver
Notes: This story was the first time Batman killed with a gun. The Monk and Dala had Earth-One counterparts who appeared in 1982. Dala first appeared in Detective Comics #511 (2/82), the Monk in Detective #515 (6/82); their final appearance was in Detective Comics #518 (9/82).
|Batman returns to Paris, where he puts Julie Madison
on a ship for America. Shortly afterward, he aids Charles Maire and his
sister Karel against the sinister Duc D’Orterre, who has burned
away Charles’s face with a deadly ray. GF/BK
Notes: The text suggests that this story took place immediately after the events of issue #32 and probably before those of #33. The faceless features of the unfortunate Charles Maire strongly resemble those of a Dick Tracy villain, the Blank, who first appeared on October 21, 1937. This issue was the final time that Batman was not prominently featured on the cover of Detective Comics.
|Armed with an automatic pistol and wearing a bulletproof
vest, Batman takes on the villainous Scarlet Horde and its leader,
self-styled world conqueror Carl
Notes: This story was the only occasion (other than the splash page of #34 and some DC house ads) on which Batman actually carried a gun in a holster on his utility belt, and the first time he was shown to be wearing a bulletproof vest. The story also made the first reference to a hidden laboratory and workshop, including both scientific equipment and a newspaper clippings file, somewhere in the Wayne house. This issue featured the first, two-page account of Batman’s origin, by Bill Finger and Bob Kane.
|Batman defeats Sheldon Lenox with the help
of his friend Wong, the unofficial mayor of Chinatown, who is later
described as a direct descendant of Genghis
Notes: Batman replaced his red coupé in this and many subsequent issues with a dark blue open car, loosely identifiable as a 1938 or 1939 Lincoln Zephyr convertible coupe modified with external exhaust pipes and a bat-shaped hood ornament.
|January 26, 1940: Famed detective Dana Drye records in his diary that he has accumulated “indisputable proof” that Bruce Wayne is Batman, although he choses not to reveal his knowledge. JSa/JR||(BATMAN 14 )||(12/42-1/43)|
|Batman takes on the villainous Professor Hugo Strange.
Notes: This story was the first to depict the distinctive fins on the sides of each of Batman’s gauntlets, the final detail of the basic costume to be added before 1964’s “New Look.”
|Batman battles an international spy ring led by Count
Notes: This was the last pre-Robin story in Detective Comics. The next issue box announced that it would be followed by the story of Hugo Strange and his man-monsters, but that story instead was moved to Batman #1 (Spr. 40).
|Batman has a second encounter with Professor Hugo Strange,
who has used a special glandular growth formula to transform inmates from
a local insane asylum into feral, 10-foot-tall “man monsters.” Batman is
captured by Strange and his men and injected with the monster serum, but
he manages to concoct an antidote in time to save himself. He subsequently
kills a number of Strange’s henchmen and “man monsters ” with machine-gun
fire from the Batplane, hangs another monster with the bat-rope, and uses
tear gas pellets to cause the last monster to fall to his death from a
Notes: This story was the first appearance of a fixed-wing Batplane, replacing the previous autogyro (and the only time in the comics the Batplane was armed with a machine gun!). The confrontation between Batman and the final monster atop the skyscraper was clearly based on the final scenes of RKO’s 1933 film King Kong. This story prompted an edict from new Batman editor Whitney Ellsworth (who began his tenure with this issue, replacing original Batman editor Vin Sullivan) that Batman should never kill his opponents.
|BATMAN 1 ||Spr 40|
|Circus acrobat Dick Grayson’s parents, John and
Mary Grayson, are murdered by henchmen of gang leader Anthony “Boss”
Zucco. The boy is taken in by Batman, who shares with him the secret
of his true identity and trains him as his partner: Robin, the Boy
Wonder. Together, Batman and Robin bring down Zucco, who is later sentenced to life
inprisonment. Dick Grayson becomes Bruce Wayne’s legal ward. BF/BK/JR
Notes: Robin was the first kid sidekick in superhero comics, and was widely imitated both at DC and its competitors. The origins of the character are unclear; he was apparently suggested by Bob Kane, but designed in large part by Kane’s assistant, Jerry Robinson, who also gave the character his name. Robin’s name was inspired by Robin Hood. His most obvious fictional antecedents are Dick Tracy’s adopted son, Junior (who first appeared in Chester Gould’s seminal detective strip on September 8, 1932), and Terry Lee, the titular hero of Milt Caniff’s great adventure strip Terry and the Pirates (which debuted on October 22, 1934).
Boss Zucco, the man responsible for the deaths of Dick Grayson’s parents, seems to be modeled on actor Edward G. Robinson, who starred in many 1930s gangster films, including Little Caesar (1930) and Bullets or Ballots (1936). The end of the story implied that he would be sent to the electric chair for his crimes, but Infinity, Inc. #6 (9/84), which showed him as a very old man in a prison hospital, revealed that he was instead given a life sentence.
In this first outing, Robin (who was armed with a slingshot in this and many subsequent stories of the early forties) killed at least three of Zucco’s henchmen by throwing or kicking them off of an unfinished skyscraper.
Batman once again drove a red coupé in this story, rather than his dark blue roadster.
|Following the apprehension of Boss Zucco, Bruce Wayne
attempts to get Dick Grayson to retire as Robin, but Dick eventually persuades
Bruce to allow him to remain his permanent partner after helping Batman
apprehend Stick-up Sidney. BF/DS
Notes: This story asserted that Batman made Dick his partner solely for the purposes of apprehending the killer of his parents, which is somewhat at odds with Robin’s original appearance in Detective Comics #38 (4/40), in which Batman and Robin swore “an undying oath” that they would “fight together against crime and corruption and never...swerve from the path of righteousness.”
|(BATMAN 32 )||(12/45-1/46)|
|Batman unsuccessfully pursues a cunning masked thief
called the Red Hood. The Red Hood makes a daring escape by leaping
into the waste chemical catch basin of the Monarch Playing Card Company,
apparently perishing in the attempt. Unbeknownst to Batman, the Red Hood
survives, but his plunge into the chemical wastes turns his hair green,
his skin chalk-white, and his lips bright red. The unnamed thief later
becomes Batman’s deadliest foe: the Joker. BF/LS/GR
Notes: This story was the Joker’s first chronological appearance. The real name of the Earth-Two Joker was never revealed.
|After the brutal murder of Batman’s friend and ally Wong,
the unofficial mayor of Chinatown, Batman and Robin apprehend or kill the
entire Green Dragon tong that has been terrorizing Chinatown.
Notes: This story was one of the final times that Batman and Robin were shown to deliberately kill their opponents, in this case by crushing many of the tong’s members beneath their gigantic Green Dragon idol/statue.
|Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson visit the New York World’s
Fair, where, as Batman and Robin, they defeat the evil Professor Hugo
Vreekill, a mad scientist armed with a steel-destroying ray weapon.
Notes: This issue was the first time Batman and Superman appeared in the same comic book. They appeared together only on the cover, which was drawn by Jack Burnley; inside, they were featured in separate stories.
The New York World’s Fair was held in Flushing Meadow, Queens, New York. It opened on April 30, 1939, closed for the winter on October 31, and reopened on May 11, 1940. It closed for good on October 30, 1940. National/DC published two issues of New York World’s Fair Comics, released to coincide with the Fair’s opening; they were 100 pages, priced initially at 25 cents (later reduced to 15 cents). Batman did not appear in the first issue, although it did feature Superman. The comics, the brainchild of Batman editor Vincent Sullivan, were not a commercial success, and their failure contributed to Sullivan’s departure from DC to be replaced by Whitney Ellsworth. However, in 1941 DC launced a similarly packaged anthology, World’s Best Comics. That series, renamed World’s Finest Comics with its second issue (Sum 41) featuring both Superman and Batman, and survived through 1986.
|Batman and Robin confront the sinister, murderous
Notes: Nothing was revealed about the Joker’s origins or real name in this story, except that he had previously spent time in prison (although it is not clear whether that was as the Joker or in his original identity) — one of his victims was the judge who sentenced him.
The creation of the Joker has been the subject of considerable debate, with Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson each claiming credit for the idea. Robinson said the Joker was inspired by an image on a playing card, Finger by the leering face on the Steeplechase ride at the Coney Island amusement park. In any case, the Joker’s ultimate appearance was inspired by the 1928 silent film The Man Who Laughs, starring actor Conrad Veidt, based on the 1869 Victor Hugo story (L’Homme qui rit) about a young gypsy whose face is cut into a permanent grin.
|BATMAN 1 ||Spr 40|
Two days after his capture the Joker escapes jail and begins a new reign
of terror that ends when he accidentally stabs himself while trying to
kill Batman. BF/BK/JR
Notes: The Joker’s second appearance originally was intended to end with his death. Editor Whitney Ellsworth, however, decided the Joker was too good a villain to lose and ordered the addition of a final panel showing the Joker being taken away by ambulance, with dialogue indicating that he would survive.
|BATMAN 1 ||Spr 40|
|Batman and Robin meet the cunning female jewel thief called
the Cat. They prevent her from stealing a valuable emerald necklace,
but Batman, smitten by the attractive thief, allows her to
Notes: In this story the Catwoman was simply known as the Cat; her real name was not revealed. Although she spent much of the story in disguise, she did not appear in costume. The Cat was already known as a successful thief before the events of this story, but her identity (and even the fact that she was a woman) were not generally known.
In his 1989 autobiography Batman and Me, Bob Kane claims credit for Catwoman’s creation, although most other accounts indicate that she was the brainchild of Bill Finger.
|BATMAN 1 ||Spr 40|
|Bruce Wayne’s fiancée Julie Madison begins a new
career as a film actress with a small part in the Argus Pictures horror
film Dread Castle. She and the rest of the cast are threatened by
the murderous Clayface, who is later revealed as former horror star
Basil Karlo. BF/BK/JR
Notes: Basil Karlo was based on legendary horror star Boris Karloff (1887-1969). In a career spanning more than 40 years and more than 100 films, Karloff starred as such movie villains as the Frankenstein monster, the Mummy, Dr. Jekyll, and Sax Rohmer’s sinister Dr. Fu Manchu.
|Learning that the Joker is still alive, Batman and Robin
attempt to abduct him from the hospital and take him to “a famous brain
specialist” for an operation to make him “a valuable citizen.” They find
the Joker has already been kidnapped by a gang of crooks who hope he will
lead them in stealing the priceless Pharoah Gems. During the search for
the Joker, Batman again encounters the Catwoman and allows her to escape
in exchange for information on the Joker’s whereabouts. Later, the Catwoman
trades the Pharoah Gems to the Joker in exchange for sparing Robin’s life.
She escapes capture by making a daring leap from the
Notes: The Catwoman was called “Cat-Woman” in this story. The “famous brain specialist” may have been pulp hero Doc Savage, who carried out operations of that type at a secret clinic in upstate New York. Doc Savage, the creation of author Lester Dent (writing as Kenneth Robeson), was one of the primary influences on both Superman and Batman. He first appeared in the pulp novel Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze in March 1933 and went on to appear in 181 novels from Street & Smith publications between 1933 and 1949.
The fourth story in this issue marked the debut of inker George Roussos, who helped to establish much of the atmosphere of the forties Batman series.
|BATMAN 2 ||Sum 40|
|Batman and Robin meet painter Pierre Antal, who
achieves unwelcome notoriety when his society patron murders the people
whose portraits Antal has painted. Batman and Robin later remember this
as their “first really big case.” BF/BK/
Notes: Batman and Robin’s recollection of this case was mentioned in a story in Batman #38 (12/46-1/47), also written by Bill Finger.
|Late one night Batman confronts Commissioner Gordon
in his office and tells Gordon that despite working outside the law, his
goal is to fight crime and to aid the
Notes: The placement of this story in Earth-Two continuity is conjecture, as it appears to contradict the early adventures in which Batman was actively sought by police. However, Gordon’s role in enlisting Batman for a secret government mission in November 1940 (see below), and several stories in which Gordon praises Batman despite his official status as an outlaw, suggest that Batman and Gordon may have already reached an understanding by this time. In any case, as established by Untold Legend of the Batman #1 (7/80) (the definitive account of the origins of the Silver Age Batman, by Len Wein and Jim Aparo), these events were definitely part of Earth-One continuity.
|Batman and Robin once again battle the Catwoman, and
once again Batman allows her to escape capture. BF/BK/JR/GR
Notes: The Catwoman, referred to alternately as the Cat and the Cat-Woman in this story, wore a dark blue cat-head mask in this issue, the first time she wore a cat-like costume.
|BATMAN 3 ||Fall 40|
|November 16-17, 1940: Enlisted by Commissioner
Gordon and Sir William Stephenson, Batman joins the Flash and Green Lantern
on a covert mission to Scotland to investigate rumors of a planned Nazi
invasion of Great Britain. The three heroes are captured by German forces
and taken to Berlin, where Batman and his comrades are narrowly rescued
from death at the hands of Adolf Hitler himself by the timely arrival of
Dr. Fate and Hourman. These five heroes, subsequently joined by the Atom,
Hawkman, the Sandman, the Spectre, and Superman, manage to defeat the Nazi
invasion force, prevent an attack on Washington, D.C. by an experimental
German long-range bomber, and thwart the assassination of President Roosevelt
himself. At Roosevelt’s suggestion, the assembled heroes decide to form
a team, with a name suggested by Superman: the Justice Society of America.
Notes: This was the first account of the origin of the Justice Society, not told in their debut in All-Star Comics #3 (Winter 1940) nor in any Golden Age story. Commissioner Gordon is shown using the Bat-Signal to summon Batman in the fall of 1940, nearly a year before he officially deputized Batman in a dramatic courtroom speech (Batman #7 (10-11/41)), which may be an error or may indicate that Gordon arranged a private accomodation with Batman sometime prior to his public deputization.
The Flash was created by Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert in Flash Comics #1 (1/40); Green Lantern by Martin Nodell (with scripts by Batman co-creator Bill Finger) in All-American Comics #16 (7/40); Dr. Fate by Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman in More Fun Comics #55 (5/40); the Hawkman by Gardner Fox and Sheldon Moldoff in Flash #1 (1/40); Hourman in Adventure Comics #48 (3/40); the Sandman by Gardner Fox and Bernard Christman in Adventure Comics #40 (7/39) (although his appearance in New York World’s Fair Comics #1 was published slightly earlier); and the Spectre by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Bailey in More Fun Comics #52-#53 (2-3/40).
Sir William Stephenson (1896-1989), code-name Intrepid, was the head of British intelligence during the war, and also helped to organize the American Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA.
|Batman and Robin clash with Professor Hugo Strange. In
their final battle Strange is sent hurtling off a cliff to his apparent
Notes: The Earth-One Hugo Strange, whose early history was similar, survived this incident unscathed and fled to Europe, next appearing in Detective Comics #471 (8/77). On Earth-Two Strange survived the fall, but was left paralyzed for more than 20 years. He next appeared in Brave and the Bold #182 (1/82).
|Although still engaged to Julie Madison, Bruce Wayne
flirts with beautiful actress Linda Lewis. Batman and Robin are commended
by the commander of Fort Stox after they thwart an attempted robbery of
the gold reserve. BF/BK/JR/GR
Notes: “Fort Stox” is clearly intended to represent the U.S. Army Fort Knox. Fort Knox, located in northern Kentucky, was established in 1917 as a training camp and as a permanent post in 1932, and is the location of the U.S. Depository containing the majority of America’s gold reserves.
This story contained the first use of the term “Batmobile,” although it described the red (sometimes blue) roadster used by Batman and Robin throughout 1940 and early 1941, rather than the more distinctive vehicle introduced in Batman #5 (Spr. 41).
This was the first story to refer to Batman’s home city as Gotham City rather than New York. According to Jim Steranko’s 1971 book The Steranko History of Comics Vol. 1, Bill Finger picked the name after seeing a local jewelry store called Gotham Jewelers. “Gotham,” of course, is a nickname for New York City, first popularized by author Washington Irving in a series of satirical writings in 1807-1808. In the 1940s Gotham was obviously modeled on, and intended to represent, the city of New York, as was Metropolis (in fact, the Adventures of Superman radio series made it clear that Batman and Superman lived in the same city). By 1952, however, the comics (e.g., Superman #76) made it clear that Gotham and Metropolis were separate cities. By the 1970s it was established that in the DC universe Gotham City, Metropolis, and New York all coexist, although DC remains reluctant to clearly state where the fictional cities are located. A number of other DC comics characters, including Starman, Green Lantern, and the Justice Society of America, also made their homes in Gotham City, although this coexistence was not acknowledged in stories published in the Golden Age.
|Batman and Robin have a rematch with the Joker, who has
survived his apparent demise in their previous encounter, battle modern-day
pirates, encounter racketeer Jimmy McCoy, and break up a gambling
Notes: The stories in this issue were the last time Batman wore a bulletproof vest and the last time he used a gun (scooping up a fallen pistol to wing a fleeing gangster). Jimmy McCoy is drawn to resemble actor James Cagney (1899-1986), who played similar parts in a variety of Warner Bros. motion pictures in the thirties and forties, most notably Public Enemy (1931), Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), and The Roaring Twenties (1939). The first three stories in this issue identified Batman’s home city as New York, but the fourth and final story identified it as Gotham City, the first time that name appeared in the Batman series.
|BATMAN 4||Win 1940|
|November 22, 1940: Batman declines an invitation
to the first formal meeting of the Justice Society of America, but
is named an honorary member by those in attendance.
Notes: The Justice Society of America was the first comic book superhero team. It was created by editor Sheldon Mayer and writer Gardner Fox, who wrote many of the group’s adventures. All-Star Comics was published by All-American Comics, a publisher partly owned by National Publications during the mid-forties, whose books, including All-American Comics, Flash Comics, and Sensation Comics, carried the DC logo, but were created through separate editorial offices. The JSA was intended to provide additional exposure for All-American’s superhero characters (limited throughout the war years to those without their own comic books). Although Superman and Batman were acknowledged as existing in the same reality as the JSA, they were only occasionally mentioned, lest they overshadow All-American’s own characters.
|ALL-STAR 3||Win 1940|
|Thanks to the success of her first film, Dread Castle,
Julie Madison decides to continue her film career under the stage name
Portia Storme. Frustrated by Bruce Wayne’s apparent lack of ambition, Julie
reluctantly breaks off their engagement. As Batman, Bruce Wayne protects
her from a new attack by Clayface, but makes no attempt to change her mind
about their engagement. BF/BK/JR/GR
Notes: This was the final Golden Age appearance of both Julie Madison and Clayface. The subsequent fate of Earth-Two’s Julie Madison was never revealed. Batman #208 (2/69) established that there was an Earth-One Julie Madison, whose early history and relationship with Bruce Wayne were similar. According to World’s Finest Comics #248 (11/77-1/78) she later married the monarch of the European nation of Moldacia and became Princess Portia. An Earth-One Basil Karlo appeared in Detective Comics #496 (10/80). Karlo’s post-Crisis origin was retold by Mike W. Barr, Keith Giffen, and Al Gordon in Secret Origins #44 (9/89).
Julie Madison’s stage name was probably inspired by Bill Finger’s girlfriend (and eventual wife), who was named Portia. Curiously, another Portia Storme, with no apparent relationship to Julie Madison, had already appeared in the third story in Batman #2 (Sum 40) a few months earlier.
|Two months after being rescued from Gotham harbor after an
apparently fatal plunge during his last encounter with Batman and Robin, the
Joker opens a gambling ship moored just outside the three-mile limit. When
Batman investigates, he is nearly slain by the Joker, but his life is saved by
Queenie, one of the Joker’s henchmen. Queenie, who has realized
that Batman is Bruce Wayne after spotting a shaving nick on Bruce’s chin, falls
in love with him and ultimately sacrifices her life to save him from her confederate’s bullets.
Notes: Bruce Wayne was shown smoking a cigarette in this story. Bruce smoked in a number of early stories, although he more commonly smoked a pipe than cigarettes.
This issue introduced the distinctive Batmobile that Batman used throughout the forties. Loosely similar to General Motors’ 1941 fastback coupes (such as the Cadillac Series 61 Club Coupe), it was a dark blue, supercharged car with an enormous bat-shaped ram on the nose, external exhaust pipes on the hood, and a tall, scalloped vertical fin extending from the rear edge of the roof to the tail. This model Batmobile remained basically unchanged (except for minor detail and stylistic variations) until February 1950 (Detective Comics #156).
This was the last quarterly issue of Batman, which subsequently became bi-monthly until 1954.
|BATMAN 5 ||Spr 41|
|While helping Batman investigate the racketeer “Smiley” Sikes, Robin is nearly beaten to death by a pair of the
gangster’s henchmen. After leaving his wounded partner in the care of a surgeon,
Batman invades Sikes’s hide-out and, despite being shot three times, brutally
extorts a confession from the now-terrified Sikes. After depositing the defeated
criminal at the local police precinct Batman returns to the surgeon’s home, where, muttering,
“I think I’m going to be a sissy and faint, doc...sorry!” he finally
collapses of his wounds. The surgeon, fortunately, is able to save the lives of
both Batman and Robin, and opts not to remove their masks while they are
unconscious, thus preserving their secret identities.
Notes: A narrative caption in this story asserted that “long ago, the Batman had permanently discarded his bulletproof vest because it hampered freedom of movement.”
|BATMAN 5 ||Spr 41|
|Bruce Wayne renews his acquaintance with socialite and nurse
Linda Page, whom he dates throughout the war years.
Notes: Although this was Linda Page’s first appearance in print, it is clear from the story that she and Bruce had known each other for some time before; Bruce greets her, “Linda Page! Well, well! I haven’t seen you in a dog’s age. The whole crowd has been asking about you!”
|BATMAN 5 ||Spr 41|
|March 1941: Batman and Robin apprehend a gang of criminals in a Gotham City nightclub with a little help from playboy Ted Knight. Inspired by the caped crusaders, Knight soon begins his own costumed career as Starman. RT/PKu/AJ Note: The Golden Age Starman first appeared in Adventure Comics #61 (4/41). His debut story was drawn by Jack Burnley, although the scripter is unknown. Starman never had an origin prior to this story.||(A*SQ 41)||(1/85)|
|Batman and Robin defeat the evil Loo Chung, a Chinatown crime lord who has stolen a jade ring, formerly the property of Batman’s murdered friend Wong, that once belonged to Genghis Khan, Wong’s ancestor. BF/BK/JR/GR||TEC 52||6/41|
|Batman and Robin battle Hook Morgan and his gang of harbor pirates. While pursuing the pirates, Batman lands the Batplane on the water and activates a feature that folds back the wings, transforming it into a speedboat. BF/BK/JR/GR||TEC 53||7/41|
|Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson take a short vacation to Texas so that, as Batman and Robin, they can aid Linda Page’s father, oilman Tom Page, whose business is being thratened by extortionists. BF/BK/JR/GR||BATMAN 6 ||8-9/41|
|College psychology professor Jonathan Crane, stung by
constant criticism of his shabby wardrobe and eccentric habits, begins
a new career as a costumed extortionist, the sinister Scarecrow.
Batman ultimately discovers Crane’s true identity and brings him to
Notes: The text of this story still identified Batman’s home city as New York, rather than Gotham. It is worth noting that although some later tellings of the Scarecrow’s origin point to his dismissal by the university (specifically for firing a pistol in class) as leading to his criminal career, in the original tale he had already become the Scarecrow before losing his job.
|WF 3||Fall 41|
|June 28, 1941: Batman, Robin, and Superman make
a surprise appearance at a JSA meeting to help the JSA’s mission to raise
$1,000,000 for war orphans.
Notes: This tale, written by Gardner Fox, was the first time Batman and Superman appeared together in the same story. Their cameo was drawn by Everett Hibbard.
(A*SQ Ann 3)
|Immediately following the conclusion of that meeting,
Batman and Robin aid the JSA against the villainous Ian Karkull, who has
gathered a group of super-villains, including the Catwoman, to help him
assassinate eight men destined to become future U.S. Presidents. Although
Catwoman is assigned to kill Ronald Reagan, then filming the movie Kings
Row for Warner Bros. in Hollywood, she has a change of heart. She is
wounded saving Batman and Robin from another of Karkull’s henchmen. Karkull
himself is apparently destroyed by Dr. Fate, releasing a burst of “temporal
energy.” Unbeknownst to the JSA, that energy will later enhance the longevity
of everyone present, allowing them to remain healthy and active even at
an advanced age. RT/RHob/JO/RiB/CI/DN/GP/KG
Notes: The villainous Ian Karkull first appeared in the Dr. Fate story in More Fun Comics #69 (7/41), which was written by Gardner Fox and drawn by Howard Sherman.
|(A*SQ Ann 3)||(1984)|
|In a dramatic courtroom speech, Commissioner Gordon hails
Batman as a great hero, and appoints him a deputized member of the police
force, ending Batman and Robin’s days as outlaws in Gotham
Notes: As previously noted, the events of DC Special #29 (8-9/77), the origin of the Justice Society of America, suggest that Batman and Gordon may have made a private accommodation some time before these events.
|BATMAN 7 ||10-11/41|
|Batman and Robin meet the Penguin.
Notes: In his autobiography Bob Kane claimed to have created the Penguin based on the cartoon penguin who appeared on Kool cigarette packs in the forties. Others involved insist that the Penguin was Bill Finger’s invention. Finger’s son said in a 1986 interview that the character was actually suggested by his mother, Finger’s girlfriend and later wife, Portia. It should also be noted that the Penguin’s appearance, including his trademark cigarette holder, bowler hat, and monocle, bears a striking resemblance to the early Dick Tracy villain Broadway Bates, who made his newspaper strip debut on February 26, 1939.
|Batman joins Superman and other current and honorary
members of the Justice Society at an air show exhibition, where he meets
aviator Hop Harrigan.
Notes: This story, a one-page text feature, was Batman’s second published appearance with the JSA. Such text stories were included in most Golden Age comics in order to meet a Post Office requirement for second-class mail. The author of the story is unknown. Hop Harrigan first appeared in All-American Comics #1 (4/39).
|Professor Henry Ross is transformed into the sinister
Professor Radium, who murders several people and clashes with Batman
and Robin before accidentally falling to his death. BF/BK/JR/GR
Notes: This story was retold in somewhat different form in the final continuity of the Batman daily newspaper strip (September 23-November 2, 1946). In that version of the story, Professor Radium’s real name was Professor Zachary Knell.
|BATMAN 8 ||12/41-1/42|
|Batman and Robin are invited to Washington, D.C., where they are publicly
honored by the President and by the director of the FBI, who is subsequently
wounded by the Joker during an attempt on Batman’s life. BF/BK/JR/GR
Notes: The text of the story identified the FBI chief as “G. Henry Mover,” but modern stories have established that Earth-Two’s FBI director at this time was J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972), just like on Earth-Prime.
|BATMAN 8 ||12/41-1/42|
|The Gotham City Police Department erects the Bat-Signal
atop police headquarters, which becomes their primary means of contacting
Notes: According to Bob Kane, the Bat-Signal was inspired by the 1930 film The Bat Whispers, itself based on The Bat (1917-1920), a stage adaptation by Mary Roberts Rinehart of several of her mystery stories. In that film the killer, who disguised himself with a bat-like mask, used a silhoutted bat symbol to announce his crimes. Its role in the Batman feature may also have been inspired by the red, skyscraper-mounted signal used to summon the Phantom Detective, a pulp hero created by D.L. Champion who appeared in his own magazine from Thrilling Publications beginning in 1933. This story was the first Batman adventure written by Jack Schiff, who subsequently became Batman editor through the spring of 1964.
|Comic Happy Hanson, America’s “foremost comedian,” passes
away. His will reveals that his fortune has been hidden, and leaves each
of “the nation’s five favorite comedians” — Freddie Banter, Claude S. Tilley,
Denny Jackson, Ted Allenby, and Buster Parks — a clue to its secret location.
The Joker, furious at having been omitted from Hanson’s list of comics,
escapes from jail and attempts to murder the five comedians so that he
can steal their clues. He murders Banter and manages to steal all five
clues before being apprehended. At one point during his chase with Batman
and Robin, the Joker passes up the opportunity to unmask Batman, declaring,
“It’s too simple--unworthy of my intelligence! And I like these battles
of wits! The hunt...the chase! That’s the breath of life to
Notes: Each of the characters in this story was based on a real-life comedian of the period. Happy Hanson was modeled on silent movie master Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977), Freddy Kanter on Jewish comedian Eddie Cantor (1892-1964), Claude S. Tilley on W.C. Fields (William Claude Dukenfield, 1880-1846), and Buster Parks on Buster Keaton (Joseph Frank Keaton VI, 1895-1966). Denny Jackson was modeled on radio personality Jack Benny (1894-1974), while Ted Allenby was based on Benny’s radio rival, Fred Allen (1894-1956).
|Batman meets international gentleman thief Michael
Notes: Michael Baffle was based on A.J. Raffles, the Gentleman Burglar, the creation of E.W. Hornung (brother-in-law of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), who first appeared in Cassell’s Magazine in 1898. Raffles is often cited as an inspiration for Leslie Charteris’s famous rogue, the Saint, as well as Ian Fleming’s James Bond.
|December 6-7, 1941: While appearing at a USO benefit
rally with Superman, Batman and Robin are captured by agents of the time-traveling
Per Degaton and, with the help of Degaton’s ally, Wotan, imprisoned in
a magical force field on an island off the coast of Northen California.
As a result, they, along with most of the Justice Society and other prominent
heroes, are missing in action when Japanese aircraft attack the Pearl Harbor
naval base on the Hawaiian island of Oahu on the morning of December 7.
Notes: The meeting between Batman and Robin and Superman in this story was inspired by their appearances together on the covers of World’s Finest Comics during the war, in which they promoted the sale of war bonds and performed other patriotic activities. The three heroes did not team up in the stories within the issues until World’s Finest Comics #71 (7-8/54). Per Degaton’s first appearance in print was in All-Star Comics #35 (7/47). Wotan, an enemy of Dr. Fate, first appeared in More Fun Comics #55 (5/40). The events of this date were first described in the 1980s All-Star Squadron series. Although that series made reference to various Golden Age stories, none of these events were ever depicted in the Golden Age.
|Batman, Robin, Superman, and their colleagues are freed from Degaton by the Shining Knight and his friend Danette Reilly. Degaton is defeated and returned to his native era, the year 1947. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt makes a radio speech announcing the formation of the All-Star Squadron, a group of all active costumed heroes, which will report directly to President Roosevelt. RT/RiB/JO||A*SQ 3||11/81|
|December 8, 1941: The All-Star Squadron, including
Batman and Robin, attempts to mount an all-out assault on the Japanese
fleet. They are thwarted by a mystic energy field created by the Japanese
sorcerer called the Dragon King. This “Sphere of Influence,” created
by the Dragon King’s machinery using the power of the Spear of Destiny
and the Holy Grail, causes the most powerful American heroes to fall under
Hitler’s mental domination if they enter Axis-occupied territory. The assembled
heroes realize that they will be confined to Allied territory for most
of the war. RT/RiB/JO
Notes: Hitler’s possession of the Spear of Destiny in DC history was first revealed in Weird War Tales #50 (2/77). For complete information on the Spear’s role in DC continuity, see my Spear of Destiny page. This story contained the first chronological reference to Dr. Daka, the villain of the 1943 Batman serial from Columbia Pictures. Daka himself appears in All-Star Squadron #42-#43 (2-3/85).
|Batman and Robin track a quartet of crooks who have murdered
the fortune teller Jaffeer on a live radio broadcast, but all four
criminals perish in the manner prophecied by the dying
Notes: This story was later rewritten for the Batman Sunday newspaper strip, appearing from August 25- October 13, 1946. The two versions of the story, both written by Bill Finger, were substantially the same, although in the newspaper version the fortune teller’s name was Jandor, rather than Jaffeer. The Sunday strip was drawn by Jack Burnley and Charles Paris. A similar story, entitled “Four Killers Against Fate,” appeared in World’s Finest Comics #40 (5-6/49); the scripter of that story is unknown, but it was apparently drawn by Jim Mooney.
|BATMAN 9 ||2-3/42|
|December 24, 1941: Batman and Robin reunite a young boy named
Timmy with his father, Bob Cratchit, who was wrongly convicted of murder.
Notes: This was the first Batman Christmas story. Bob and Tim Cratchit, of course, are the names of characters from Charles Dickens’ famous 1843 story A Christmas Carol.
|BATMAN 9 ||2-3/42|
|February 2, 1942: After the Joker attempts to
murder Robin by trapping him in a room full of burning sulfur, Batman beats
the villain senseless and leaves him on the steps of the Gotham City courthouse
for the police. BF/BK/JR/GR (Batman #10) / RT/JO/MM
Notes: The date, which would put this story out of sequence with the other stories published during this period, was established by All-Star Squadron #20, which took place concurrently with these events.
|BATMAN 11 
|February 10, 1942: Robin introduces himself and
reveals his true identity to Robotman’s friend and assistant, Dr. Chuck
Grayson, his distant cousin. Dr. Grayson is subsequently kidnapped by agents
of the villainous Ultra-Humanite, after which Batman and Robin join the
All-Star Squadron in battling Ultra. RT/JO/MM
Notes: Chuck Grayson and Robotman first appeared in Star-Spangled Comics #7 (4/42). They were created by Jerry Siegel and Leo Nowak.
A*SQ Annual 2
|February 22-23, 1942: Batman and Robin attend
the first full meeting of the All-Star Squadron in their headquarters in
the Perisphere, on the grounds of the New York World’s Fair. Robin has
a brief altercation with fellow kid sidekicks Speedy, Dyna-Mite, and Sandy
the Golden Boy. RT/RHow/MM
Notes: Speedy, Dan the Dyna-Mite, and Sandy were the sidekicks of Green Arrow, TNT, and Sandman, respectively. All of these heroes were loosely modeled on the winning formula introduced by Batman and Robin. Green Arrow and Speedy, created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp, first appeared in More Fun Comics #73 (11/41). TNT and Dyna-Mite, created by Weisinger and Paul Norris, debuted in Star-Spangled Comics #7 (4/42). The Sandman first appeared in Adventure Comics #40 (7/39) and New York World’s Fair Comics #1 (1939), but he did not acquire a “superheroic” costume and sidekick until Adventure Comics #69 (12/41). (Although Sandman and Sandy are most associated with Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, the characters were revamped by artist Chad Grothkopf and an unknown writer several months before Kirby and Simon took over the strip.)
|February 25, 1942: Batman accompanies Superman,
Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, and Plastic Man to London and then
to Berlin in pursuit of Captain Marvel of Earth-S, who has fallen under
the control of Adolf Hitler and the Spear of Destiny, separating him from
his alter ego, Billy Batson. The heroes of Earth-Two eventually free Captain
Marvel, and his colleagues, Captain Marvel Jr. and Mary Marvel, from Nazi
control, and the Marvels return to their own Earth.
RT/RiB/RHow (#36) / RT/AJ/RHow (#37)
Notes: This was the first clash between Earth-Two’s Superman and Captain Marvel of Earth-S. It established that the heroes of Earth-S appear as comic book characters on Earth-Two, just as the heroes of Earth-Two appeared as comic book characters on Earth-One (as originally shown in Flash #123 (9/61)). Captain Marvel, created by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck, first appeared in Fawcett Comics’ Whiz Comics #2 (2/40). Captain Marvel Jr., created by Ed Herron and Mac Raboy, debuted in Whiz Comics #25 (12/41); Mary Marvel, created by Binder and Marc Swayze, first appeared in Captain Marvel Adventures #18 (12/42). They were acquired by DC Comics in 1972.
|March 3-4 1942: Japanese agent Prince Daka leads
a group of Japanese metahuman agents, including Kung, Sumo, and Tsunami,
in an attempt to steal Starman’s Gravity Rod. Their battle with the All-Star
Squadron ends when Daka’s comrades become frustrated with their leader’s
dishonorable behavior, forcing Daka to flee without his prize.
Notes: Kung was created by Gerry Conway and José Delbo for Wonder Woman #237 (11/77); Sumo by Conway, José Luis García-López, and Dan Adkins for All-New Collectors’ Edition C-54 (1/77); and Tsunami by Roy Thomas and Rich Howell in All-Star Squadron #33 (5/84). This was Sumo’s first chronological appearance and the first chronological appearance of Daka, the villain of the 1943 Batman movie serial from Columbia Pictures (in which he was played by J. Carroll Naish).
|April 1, 1942: Batman and Robin briefly visit
New York to aid the All-Star Squadron in the search for the missing JSA
members and in the battle against the Monster Society of
Notes: This story was badged as a Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover. The Monster Society of Evil, an organization of nemeses of Captain Marvel, debuted in Captain Marvel Adventures #22 (3/43) by Otto Binder and C.C. Beck. This was actually a chronologically earlier version of the Monster Society, created on Earth-Two rather than Earth-S.
|April 12, 1942: Batman and Robin once again attend
a meeting of the All-Star Squadron at the Perisphere in New York. They
later appear in a photograph of all the Squadron’s
Notes: All-Star Squadron #60 was the last appearance of the Golden Age Batman, Robin, Superman, Wonder Woman, and other Earth-Two characters in the All-Star Squadron series. At the end of this issue, the effects of the Crisis on Infinite Earths took hold, causing those characters to vanish.
|Dick Grayson celebrates his 14th birthday. Bruce Wayne
gives him his own miniature version of the Batplane as a gift.
Notes: The mini-Batplane was never seen in any subsequent story.
|BATMAN 10 ||4-5/42|
|Batman and Robin again match wits with the Catwoman, who is masquerading as society figure Marguerite Tone. Catwoman evades capture by startling Batman with a passionate kiss and then making a break for freedom. JSch/BK/JR/GR||BATMAN 10 ||4-5/42|
|The Joker, tired of life as a fugitive, turns himself
into police, confesses his crimes, and is sentenced to die in the electric
chair. After his execution, his body is stolen by his henchmen and revived
by a special serum, restoring him to life. Having paid the price for his
crimes, the Joker is briefly able to walk the streets a free man, although
Batman subsequently implicates him in the crimes carried out by his henchmen,
forcing him to flee the law once more. Gotham City radio station WABX is
shown to be broadcasting an adventure series entitled “The True Adventures
of Batman.” BF/BK/JR/GR
Notes: There were two unsuccessful attempts to create a real-world Batman radio show. The first was in 1943; only the never-aired pilot, entitled “The Case of the Drowning Seal” (with Scott Douglas as Batman), was produced, and no recording is known to have survived. The second, The Batman Mystery Club, planned in 1950, met a similar fate. Despite these failures to secure them their own radio series, Batman and Robin were frequent guest stars on the Adventures of Superman series on the Mutual Broadcasting Network beginning in March 1945.
|Batman and Robin come to the aide of district attorney Lee Benson, whose efforts to apprehend gangster Joe Dolan are hampered by his childhood friendship with Dolan, who once saved his life.
Note: This story was clearly based on the 1934 MGM film Manhattan Melodrama, directed by W.S. Van Dyke, in which Clark Gable and William Powell played boyhood friends who ended up on opposite sides of the law: Gable a notorious gambler, Powell a crusading district attorney.
|BATMAN 11 ||6-7/42|
|Batman encounters state trooper Tom Bolton, who
mistakenly believes that Batman murdered his father, gangster Mike Nolan.
Batman ultimately persuades Bolton that he has made a mistake after Batman
apprehends the real killer. JGr/JB/GR
Notes: This story explicitly states that Mike Nolan was murdered in 1937 and that Batman was already in action at that time. However, the majority of subsequent accounts explicitly indicate that Batman’s career began in 1939, the time of his textual debut, so this account can be considered apocryphal.
The cover of this issue shows Batman and Robin welcoming the Boy Commandos to the pages of Detective Comics, although the characters do not appear in the same stories within the issue. The Boy Commandos, created by the team of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, debuted in the previous issue, Detective Comics #64.
|May 1942: Batman and Robin appear on the program
Racket Busters, broadcast simultaneously on radio and television.
Among those listening in the audience are the Joker, the Penguin, and Catwoman.
Reporter “Scoop” Scanlon makes a concerted effort to prove that
Batman is secretly Bruce Wayne, but Batman ultimately outwits him with
the aid of dying actor Mark Loring, who impersonates Batman long enough
to convince Scanlon that Bruce Wayne and Batman are separate people. Loring
dies shortly afterward, taking Batman’s secret to the
Notes: “Racket Busters” is based on Gang Busters, a popular crime anthology series that ran on radio from 1935 to 1957 and briefly on television in 1952. DC published 67 issues of the Gang Busters comic book from 1947 to 1959. This story was the first time Batman and Robin appeared on television.
|WF 6||Sum 42|
|May 26, 1942: Gotham City holds a ticker-tape
parade in Batman and Robin’s honor. A stone statue of the duo is erected
outside City Hall. BF/BK/JR
Notes: The stories in this issue included the first appearance of Batman’s Hall of Trophies and of “secret underground hangers” beneath Wayne Manor. However, the Hall of Trophies is apparently located aboveground, and the cutaway diagram of the underground hangers suggests that Batman’s “secret laboratory” is located somewhere inside the Manor, not beneath it.
The mayor of Gotham City, depicted briefly in this story and described as “that hustling, bustling little dynamo of energy,” is a caricature of Fiorello LaGuardia (1882–1947), nicknamed “the Little Flower,” who served as the mayor of New York City from 1934 to 1945.
The first story in this issue, “Brothers in Crime” by Don Cameron and Jerry Robinson, showed Batman and Robin in action together in May and June 1939, which is contradicted by various later stories indicating that Robin did not join Batman until spring 1940, the time of his textual debut.
|BATMAN 12 ||8-9/42|
|His mind unhinged after half his face is hideously scarred
by acid, former Gotham City District Attorney Harvey Kent turns to crime
as Two-Face. BF/BK/JR/GR
Notes: At one point in this story Two-Face and his men rob the patrons of a movie theater, who are watching an animated Superman cartoon. This was the first time Superman appeared or was mentioned in the Batman series. Fleischer Studios produced a series of 17 lavishly animated Superman shorts for Paramount Pictures between 1941 and 1943, the first of which premiered on September 26, 1941.
Two-Face owes an obvious debt to Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novel The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, and his appearance to the posters for the 1941 Paramount film version starring Spencer Tracy. His most direct inspiration, however, may have been the Shadow novel The Face of Doom, written by Walter Gibson and published in issue #146 of the Shadow magazine (March 15, 1938). His coin flipping was clearly based on the trademark mannerism of actor George Raft (1895-1980), who first established the habit in the 1932 Paramount gangster film Scarface. Two-Face’s origin may have been partly inspired by the origin of another pulp character, the Black Bat, a heroic district attorney who became a crimefighter after being scarred by acid. The Black Bat, created by Norman Daniels under the house name G. Wayman Jones, appeared in Better Publications’ Black Book Detective magazine beginning in July 1939. He was so similar to Batman in details of his costume and modus operandi that both National/DC and Better Publications threatened legal action. (The similarities were apparently purely coincidental.)
Two-Face’s story was retold in somewhat different form in the June 23 to August 18, 1946 continuity of the Batman Sunday newspaper comic strip (also written by Bill Finger, but drawn by Jack Burnley and Charles Paris). In that version of the story, which incorporated elements from Two-Face’s three previous comic book appearances, Two-Face was an actor, Harvey Apollo, not a district attorney. He was killed at the story’s end.
|After carrying out a new series of crimes based on the
number two, Two-Face is apprehended and jailed by
Notes: The events of this story immediately followed those of Detective Comics #66. The mayor of Gotham City appears briefly in this story, once again depicted as a caricature of Fiorello LaGuardia.
|Batman temporarily fires Dick Grayson from his role as Robin after Robin’s life is threatened by a vicious criminal. BF/JR/GR||BATMAN 13 ||10-11/42|
|November 18, 1942: Batman and Robin attend a convention
of the world’s greatest detectives, including Dana Drye, Ezra Plunkett,
Dr. Tsu, Grace Seers, and Sir John Bart.
They soon find themselves investigating the death of Dana Drye, who is apparently murdered during the meeting. Batman and Robin
ultimately deduce that Drye’s death was actually an elaborately staged suicide. They also learn that
Drye had deduced Batman’s true identity. To honor the great detective, Batman elects not to reveal
the truth about his death, marking this case as (at least publicly) one
of his few failures. JSa/JR
Notes: The detective characters in this story were intended to represent various archetypes of the mystery genre (the café-society sleuth, the rural bumpkin detective, the Oriental manhunter, et al), so as to establish Batman as the preeminent fictional sleuth.
|BATMAN 14 ||12/42-1/43|
|The Penguin offers to plan robberies for other
criminals in exchange for a share of the loot, only to double-cross
his clients by murdering them and taking all the booty for himself. DC/JB/RB
Notes: This story was the last time the Penguin commited murder before the mid-seventies.
|BATMAN 14 ||12/42-1/43|
|A prank by Lois Lane accidentally results in a national
newspaper story identifying Clark Kent as Superman. Among the many readers
of the story are Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. Bruce remarks, “To think
he even had me fooled!” Dick replies, “And it’s no cinch to fool
the Batman!” The paper later prints a retraction indicating that the story
was a hoax. JSi/Ed Dobrotka/John Sikela
Notes: This cameo was the first time Batman and Robin appeared in the Superman series. Bruce and Dick’s hair was incorrectly colored brown.
|While masquerading as beautician Elva Barr, the Catwoman falls in love with Bruce Wayne. Batman recognizes “Barr” as the Catwoman in disguise, but hopes that her love for him will compel her to change her ways. He allows her to escape and then publicly courts her as Bruce Wayne; they soon become engaged. However, the Catwoman becomes suspicious of Bruce’s motives and confronts him disguised as Linda Page, at which point he admits that his engagement is a sham. Heartbroken and infuriated, the Catwoman returns to her life of crime with a vengeance, only to be arrested by Batman — the first time he has ever turned her over to police. JSch/DS/JR||BATMAN 15 ||2-3/43|
|Batman and Robin have a rematch with Jonathan Crane,
the Scarecrow, who has escaped from prison following their last encounter.
Notes: This story was the Scarecrow’s final Golden Age appearance. The Earth-One Scarecrow, whose early history was similar, appeared next in Batman #189 (2/67).
|While pursuing the Joker, Batman and Robin briefly encounter
the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripsey. The heroes promise to “get together sometime and talk shop.”
Note: This was a brief (four panels) cameo by Batman and Robin in the Star-Spangled Kid strip. The main Batman story in this issue, “Crime of the Month Club” by Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, and George Roussos, pitted Batman and Robin against crooked mystery writer Bramwell B. Bramwell. The Star-Spangled Kid and Stripsey were created by artist Hal Sherman and writer Jerry Siegel, the co-creator of Superman, making their debut in Star-Spangled Comics #1 (10/41). In an unusual variation on the kid-sidekick concept popularized by Batman and Robin, the strip featured a young hero (Sylvester Pemberton) with an adult sidekick (Pat “Stripsey” Dugan).
|WF 9||Spr 43|
|Batman and Robin take on crooked twin brothers Deever
and Dumfree Tweed, who become known as Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
Notes: The two villains were inspired by Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, two peculiar characters in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
|Alfred, the son of Thomas Wayne’s former butler
Jarvis, comes to Wayne Manor to fulfill a promise made to his dying father
that he would follow in the family tradition by becoming a “gentleman’s
gentleman.” Shortly after his arrival, Alfred, who fancies himself a great
amateur detective, accidentally stumbles onto the secret entrance to the
Batcave and learns that Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson are Batman and Robin.
Although Bruce and Dick initially plan to send their bumbling would-be
servant away, Alfred convinces them to let him stay on as their butler,
cook, chauffeur, and man Friday. DC/BK/JR
Notes: Alfred initially had no last name. He was given the surname “Beagle” in Detective Comics #96 (2/45). Although the name of his Earth-One counterpart was later said to be Pennyworth, the Earth-Two Alfred, as established in Superman Family #211 (10/81), was Alfred Beagle.
|BATMAN 16 ||4-5/43|
|May 29-30, 1943: Batman joins forces with the
Unknown Soldier to stop a Nazi agent from stealing American atomic secrets.
Notes: The Unknown Soldier first appeared in Star-Spangled War Stories #151 (7/70). He apparently had counterparts on both Earth-One and Earth-Two.
|Batman and Robin encounter the tragic criminal mastermind
Dr. Matthew Thorne, the Crime Doctor. BF/BK/JR/GR
Notes: Dr. Thorne may have been inspired by the title character of the 1937 Warner Bros. film The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse, in which Edward G. Robinson played a doctor who became fascinated with crime after embarking on a project to study the psychology of criminals, eventually becoming a criminal himself.
|Batman and Robin have a rematch with Tweedle Dee and
Tweedle Dum, who are operating an elaborate robbery scheme in a lonely
country inn. JSa/JR/GR
Notes: According to Mike Barr, the plot of this story (entitled “The Secret of Hunter’s Inn”) was borrowed in large part from a 1935 Ellery Queen mystery novella, The Lamp of God.
|BATMAN 18 ||8-9/43|
|Batman and Robin have a second encounter with the Crime Doctor, who
is murdered by one of his own men shortly after saving Robin’s life.
Notes: There was also an Earth-One Crime Doctor, who first appeared in Detective Comics #494 (9/80), and a post-Crisis version of Matthew Thorne, who fought Batman and Robin in Detective Comics #579 (10/87).
|BATMAN 18 ||8-9/43|
|Two-Face escapes from prison and returns to his life of crime. He has a change of heart, however, after accidentally shooting his former fiancée, Gilda, and surrenders himself to Batman and Robin after helping to apprehend his former henchmen. At his trial, Batman’s testimony persuades the court to give Harvey a light sentence, and Harvey learns that the famous plastic surgeon Dr. Ekhart, the one surgeon with the skill to repair his face, has escaped from a German concentration camp. BF/BK/JR/GR||TEC 80||10/43|
|A 21st century lab worker named Rob Callendar is transported to the 20th century by a space-time warp created by a laboratory accident. He attempts to make himself wealthy by stealing a series of objects that are destined to become part of Batman’s famous trophy collection, but he is ultimately returned to his own time empty-handed when the time warp wears off. BF/JR/FR||WF 11||Fall 1943|
|After a Nazi U-boat commander persuades the naive
rulers of the undersea kingdom of Atlantis, Emperor Taro
and Princess Lanya, to allow him to use Atlantis as a submarine
base, Batman and Robin visit Atlantis and convince its monarchs of the
Nazis’ treachery. DC/DS
Notes: This version of Atlantis bears no resemblance to the ruins of Atlantis that figured in the origin of the Golden Age Aquaman (who, unlike his Silver Age counterpart, was not a native of Atlantis), as told in More Fun Comics #73 (11/41), or to the versions of Atlantis that appeared in the Superman or Wonder Woman stories of this period. It is possible that on Earth-Two, as on Earth-One, there was more than one undersea civilization called Atlantis.
|BATMAN 19 ||10-11/43|
|Two months after his trial and conviction for crimes committed as Two-Face, Harvey Kent’s face is finally repaired through the efforts of Dr. Ekhart, a brilliant plastic surgeon. Harvey’s fiancée, Gilda, promises to wait for his release from prison. BF/BK/JR/GR||TEC 80||10/43|
|Batman and Robin meet Mortimer Drake, the Cavalier. DC/BK/GR||TEC 81||11/43|
|Bruce Wayne briefly loses the custody of Dick Grayson when Dick’s unscrupulous uncle, George Grayson, accompanied by a female accomplice posing as his wife, accuses Bruce Wayne of being an unfit guardian. George Grayson’s court challenge is defeated after it is exposed as a scheme to extort $1,000,000 from Bruce, and Bruce regains custody of Dick. BF/BK/JR||BATMAN 20 ||12/43-1/44|
|Concerned that he lacks “a certain dash” as Batman’s
assistant, Alfred takes a vacation to a health farm, “cultivatin’ a new
figure.” When he returns, the formerly rotund, clean-shaven Alfred is rail-thin
and sports a thin mustache, looking so different that Batman and Robin
don’t immediately recognize him. DC/JB/GR
Notes: Alfred’s appearance was altered to resemble that of William Austin, the actor who played the character in the 1943 serial. The first printed appearance of the “skinny” Alfred was in the October 27, 1943 installment of the Batman newspaper comic strip; Detective Comics #83 went on sale about one month later. This story was the first time in the comic book that Batman’s underground headquarters was called the Batcave . The Batcave also appeared in the 1943 serial, and may have been conceived by or in conference with the serial’s writers. It was used in the newspaper strip starting October 27, 1943.
|Batman and Robin match wits with Japanese spymaster Dr.
Daka, who attempts to gain control of a radium mine, transforms a kidnapped Linda Page
into a mindless zombie, and attempts to construct a variety of secret weapons, including
a powerful “radium gun,” before eventually meeting a grisly demise in his own alligator-
Notes: This story appeared only in Columbia Pictures’ 15-chapter Batman movie serial, although, as noted above, its villain, Dr. Daka, later appeared in All-Star Squadron #42-#43 (2-3/85). That story, set in March 1942, took place before the events of the serial, and constitutes Daka’s first chronological appearance. In the serial Bruce Wayne indicates that he is secretly working for the U.S. government, implying that the government was aware of his secret identity. The notion that Batman worked for the government during the war is also implied by several stories in Brave and the Bold featuring the Golden Age Batman in a wartime setting (i.e., Brave and the Bold #84, #146, and #162). There is little in the actual wartime stories to suggest such a relationship, but it would be a logical explanation for how Bruce Wayne avoided being drafted! Lewis Wilson played Batman in the chapter-play, with Douglas Croft as Robin, Shirley Patterson as Linda Page, William Austin as Alfred, and J. Carroll Naish as Dr. Daka. The serial was written by Victor McLeod, Leslie Swabacker, and Harry L. Fraser and directed by Lambert Hillyer. It was originally released in April 1943; it was re-released in 1954, and in late 1965 it was reedited into a feature (omitting the serial chapter breaks) entitled An Evening With Batman and Robin.
|After serving a year in the state penitentiary, Harvey
Kent is released from prison and marries his fiancée, Gilda. He
eventually reestablishes himself in legitimate society and founds his own
law practice. BF/LS/CP
Notes: Harvey’s eventual return to legal practice indicates that he received a pardon for his past crimes, although this was never explicitly stated.
|(BATMAN 50 )||(12/48-1/49)|
|Alfred romances a pretty blond maid named Belinda, unaware
that she is actually the Catwoman, who is masquerading as a maid in order
to ‘case’ wealthy homes. After helping to capture the Catwoman, Alfred,
still dressed as Batman, gives her a sound spanking before turning her
over to police! AS/Mort Meskin
Notes: This story was the first time Alfred masqueraded as Batman.
Batman and Robin have a rematch with the Cavalier. BF/BK/JR
|BATMAN 22 ||4-5/44|
|June 4-5, 1944: Batman travels to France on a
secret mission for the American and British governments, where he encounters
Sergeant Rock and helps to make preparations for the D-Day landing at Normandy. BH/NA
Notes: Sgt. Rock first appeared in Our Army at War #81 (6/59). He had counterparts on both Earth-One and Earth-Two.
|Batman and Robin have their third clash with the Cavalier, this time deducing his true identity as Mortimer Drake. DC/DS||TEC 89||7/44|
|Using the system of time travel by hypnosis developed
by their friend, Professor Carter Nichols, Bruce Wayne and Dick
Grayson make their first trip back in time to visit ancient
Notes: There was also a Carter Nichols on Earth-One (e.g., Brave and the Bold #171 (2/81)), but it is unclear how many of Batman’s Golden Age time travel stories also ocurred on Earth-One.
|BATMAN 24 ||8-9/44|
|Batman and Robin battle Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, who have become
the mayors of the small town of Yonville. Although stymied by their foes’
ostensible legal authority, Batman and Robin ultimately defeat the two
villains, and Batman is elected mayor of Yonville long enough to charge
the Tweeds with fraud, grand larceny, and attempted murder.
Notes: This was the final Golden Age appearance of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Their Earth-One counterparts, whose early history was similar, appeared next in Batman #291 (9/77). This story demonstrated how far Batman and Robin had come from their early days as outlaws; even after they have been arrested and jailed by the Tweeds, Batman remarks, “Whatever their game, Robin, they’ve got the law on behind them--and we never fight the law!”
|BATMAN 24 ||8-9/44|
|The Joker and the Penguin form a fragile alliance in hopes of triumphing over Batman and Robin. Although they succeed in capturing the Dynamic Duo, Batman skillfully sets the villains against each other, leading to their defeat. DC/JR/GR||BATMAN 25 ||10-11/44|
September 19, 1944: Batman joins forces with the Blackhawks to destroy
a German base in the Arctic.
MW/Dave Cockrum/Dan Adkins
Notes: The Blackhawks were created by Will Eisner and Chuck Cuidera, making their debut in Quality Comics’ Military Comics #1 (8/40). Although this story features the Golden Age Batman, it is apocryphal from the standpoint of Earth-Two continuity. There was no Golden Age Batman on Earth-One, and in April 1942 (as shown in All-Star Squadron #50 (10/85)) the Blackhawks of Earth-Two departed for the parallel world of Earth-X, where they later died in action (Justice League of America #107 (9-10/73)). The story is included here for the sake of completeness. This issue depicts the Batplane as a heavily modified Curtiss P-40 Warhawk.
|Autumn 1944: While attending to business affairs
in London as Bruce Wayne, Batman travels to the coast of France, where
he helps Sgt. Rock defeat a plan by the Iron Major to sabotage Allied armor
units. Bill Kelley/JA
Notes: The Iron Major, Sgt. Rock’s greatest wartime nemesis, first appeared in Our Army at War #158 (9/65).
|Batman and Robin match wits with Tweed Wickam,
a corrupt politician and fixer whose crooked administration has been running
roughshod over the town of Twin Mills, and his chief lieutenant, the deadly
marksman Jojo. ASch/BK/CP
Notes: Jojo was drawn as a dead ringer for actor Peter Lorre (1904-1964), who portrayed a variety of sinister characters in films such as M (1931), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), and The Maltese Falcon (1941).
|Batman and Robin are caught up in a confounding mystery
incorporating elements of various children’s nursery rhymes. They soon
discover that the whole bizarre scenario has been staged by Adventure,
Inc., a group that stages costume adventures and mysteries, which has
mistaken the real Batman and Robin for their next clients. BF/JB/CP
Notes: Bill Finger later rewrote this story, incorporating Superman, for World’s Finest Comics #83 (7-8/56). That version of the story was drawn by Dick Sprang and Stan Kaye.
|Batman and Robin finally succeed in apprehending and
jailing the Cavalier. DC/DS
Notes: This was the fourth and final Golden Age appearance of the Cavalier. His Earth-One counterpart, who had a similar early history, was next seen in Wonder Woman #212 (6-7/74).
|BATMAN 26 ||12/44-1/45|
|December 11, 1944: Batman is shot twice in the abdomen by a criminal named “Mad Dog” Biller. DV?/WM/CP?||(WF 50)||(2-3/51)|
|Hoping to impress Batman and Robin with his detective
skills, Alfred takes a month-long vacation in the small town of Middleton,
where he goes into business as a private detective.
Notes: This story gave Alfred’s last name as “Beagle,” the first time he was given a surname.
|After intercepting one of Alfred’s letters to his niece,
Valerie (whom Alfred has never actually met), in which Alfred claimed
to have become “an industrial magnate” in America, a con woman named Gertrude
poses as Valerie in an attempt to swindle him. Batman, Robin, and Alfred
ultimately realize that Valerie is an imposter, and Alfred helps his masters
bring the con woman and her accomplices to justice.
Notes: This story once again gave Alfred’s full name as Alfred Beagle. Alfred describes his niece as being 22 years old at the time of this story, and says that he never met the girl because she was raised in Australia and did not come to England until after Alfred had already left for America.
|March 1945: While pursuing the sinister master spy
Zoltan, Batman is captured and encased in a wax-like shell. Dick Grayson,
knocked unconscious and left drifting in a rowboat by Zoltan’s men, is found by
Superman, who helps Robin rescue Batman and apprehend Zoltan. Superman learns
Batman and Robin’s secret identities, but they remain ignorant of his identity
as Clark Kent. RT/RiB/FM
Notes: This storyline, aired on the Adventures of Superman radio series from February 28 to March 15, 1945, was the first time Superman, Batman, and Robin participated in an adventure together. It was recounted in World’s Finest Comics #271, which established it as part of the comic book continuity.
Superman made his radio debut in a syndicated series that debuted on February 12, 1940. The series ran in syndication through March 9, 1942, and resumed on the Mutual Broadcasting Network, under the title The Adventures of Superman, on August 31, 1942. Superman and Clark Kent were played for most of the series by Clayton “Bud” Collyer. At various times the role of Batman was played by Stacy Harris, Matt Crowley, and Gary Merrill. Robin was played by Ronald Liss.
Interestingly, in 1966 Ronald Liss wrote the scripts for a set of audio adventures on a record album entitled The Official Adventures of Batman and Robin. The record’s four stories included the origins of Batman and Robin; a Penguin story, based on the comic book story “Parasols of Plunder” from Batman #70 (4-5/52), originally written by Bill Woolfolk and drawn by Lew Sayre Schwartz and Charles Paris; and a Joker story, incorporating elements of the Joker’s first two stories from Batman #1 by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, and Jerry Robinson and the story “The Joker’s Utility Belt” by David Vern, Dick Sprang, and Charles Paris from Batman #73 (10-11/52). Liss reprised his role as Robin on the record, with Jack Curtis as Batman and Jackson Beck, narrator of the Superman radio series, providing the narration. The record was produced and directed by Herb Galewitz, and released by MGM’s Leo the Lion Records label (CH-1019).
|April 15, 1945: Batman joins his JSA comrades
in Washington, D.C., where they serve as an honor guard at the funeral
of President Roosevelt. RT/RK/AA (America vs. the Justice Society) /
RT/DR/MGu (Last Days of the JSA)
Notes: Franklin D. Roosevelt died in Warm Springs, Georgia on April 12, 1945.
In an alternate timeline created by the effects of the Crisis on Infinite
Earths and the unwitting involvement of the Spectre, Adolf Hitler, seeing
Germany’s ruin at hand, uses the power of the Spear of Destiny to bring
about the end of the world. Immediately following FDR’s funeral the Justice
Society attempts to invade Hitler’s bunker in Berlin to wrest the Spear
from Hitler, but although several JSA members, including Batman, make it
into the dictator’s inner sanctum, they are too late to stop him from completing
his doomsday spell. Fortunately, a heroic sacrifice by the aging Justice Society
of 1985 prevents this scenario from coming to pass.
Notes: Historically, Adolf Hitler and his mistress, Eva Braun, apparently died by their own hands on April 30, 1945, although their bodies were burned and never conclusively identified. According to Unknown Soldier #268 (10/82) Hitler was actually assassinated by the Unknown Soldier, who was then himself slain in the streets of Berlin. The events of that story (by Bob Haney, Dick Ayers, and Gary Talaoc) presumably took place on Earth-Two (as other stories showed the Unknown Soldier to have survived the war on Earth-One), but were not reflected in Last Days of the JSA.
|Batman makes a radio broadcast and testifies before the U.S. Senate to support legislation aimed at providing greater opportunities for ex-convicts. ASch/JR||BATMAN 28 ||4-5/45|
|May 7, 1945: Grand Admiral Karl Donitz, who declared himself the German Reichsfuhrer after the death of Adolf Hitler, officially surrenders to the Allies, ending the war in Europe. The following day, May 8, is celebrated as V-E (Victory in Europe) Day.|
|Bruce Wayne becomes smitten with a young woman named
Karen Drew. He becomes entangled in a dangerous intrigue when Karen
is blackmailed by ruthless smuggler Wright, who convinces her that
she has killed his business rival, Dan Mitchell. Bruce discovers that Mitchell
is not really dead, and helps Karen and her father bring Wright and his
men to justice. JSch/JB/CP
Notes: Neither Bruce Wayne nor Dick Grayson appeared in costume in even one strip of this 10-week continuity. The too-infrequent presence of the costumed leads was one of the factors that contributed to the early demise of the Batman newspaper comic strip. At the request of writer (and series editor) Jack Schiff, artist Jack Burnley modeled Karen Drew on actress Lauren Bacall (née Betty Joan Perske, 1924- ). The villainous Wright was based on actor Sidney Greenstreet (1879-1954), in particular his roles in the films The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Across the Pacific (1942), while one of Wright’s henchmen was modeled on quintessential movie tough guy Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957).
|While Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, and Alfred are away on a fishing vacation, crooks rob Wayne Manor. Batman and Robin’s efforts to apprehend the thieves are complicated when Hawke and Wrenn, a pair of down-at-heels private detectives, try to shore up their business by masquerading as Batman and Robin. DC/JR||BATMAN 29 ||6-7/45|
|Commissioner Gordon gives Batman and Robin their most
difficult assignment to date: finding an apartment in Gotham City for Phyllis
Parker, the daughter of “Big Ed” Parker, a major contributor to the police
emergency fund. ASch/BK/CP
Notes: Serious housing shortages were a fact of life in most American cities during and following World War Two. The situation was reflected in the popular culture of the time, including films like Columbia Pictures’ 1943 comedy The More the Merrier, starring Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea, and Charles Coburn.
|August 14, 1945: Imperial Japan surrenders unconditionally. August 15 is celebrated as V-J (Victory in Japan) Day.|
|After one of his accomplices, a girl named Dixie
Lamarr, shoots and kills a federal agent, gang leader Dr. Bly
frames Lois Lane, a perfect double for Dixie, for the killing. Batman and Robin join
forces with Superman to apprehend the real Dixie and exonerate Lois of the charges
Notes: This radio storyline, which originally aired from September 4 to September 24, 1945, was written by Ben Peter Freeman. Dixie Lamarr was voiced by Joan Alexander, who also played Lois Lane for most of the run of the Superman radio series.
|After the crooked treasurer of the Wayne Motor Company embezzles a large amount of money from the company, Bruce Wayne decides to personally repay the defrauded stockholders, leaving him penniless. Alfred is briefly compelled to support his masters by mowing lawns to earn enough money to buy gasoline for the Batmobile. The dishonest treasurer is later apprehended by police, and Bruce Wayne’s fortune is restored. DC/WM||TEC 105||11/45|
|Following his battle with Henry Miller, a Nazi agent
transformed into an “atomic monster” by injections of liquified Kryptonite
into his veins, Clark Kent enlists the aid of Batman and Robin to help
him recover the remaining pieces of Kryptonite, which have fallen into
the hands of the sinister Crescent and Star Gang. Clark reveals
to Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson that he knows their secret identities,
and reveals to Bruce that he is secretly Superman.
Notes: This radio storyline, which ran from December 4, 1945 through January 8, 1946, was written by Ben Peter Freeman. Superman learned Batman and Robin’s true identities in their first encounter, but Batman did not learn Superman’s secret identity until the December 7, 1945 episode of The Adventures of Superman. Curiously, they did not share this information with Robin, who remained unaware that Clark Kent was Superman.
|December 7, 1945: The All-Star Squadron disbands
on the fourth anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Notes: This date was established only in the World at War sourcebook written by Ray Winninger for the Mayfair Games DC Heroes Role-Playing Game.
|*WORLD AT WAR*||1991|
|Bruce Wayne buys a star sapphire as a birthday gift for
his girlfriend, Linda Page. DC/DS
Notes: This was the final Golden Age appearance of Linda Page.
|BATMAN 32 ||12/45-1/46|
|Professor Carter Nichols sends Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson back in
time to the early 17th century, where, as Batman and Robin, they meet the
Three Musketeers. DC/DS
Notes: This story treats the Three Musketeers as real historical personages, rather than fictional characters, although they are clearly based on the more famous romanticized images created by Alexandre Dumas.
|BATMAN 32 ||12/45-1/46|
|Batman and Robin round up a gang of car thieves led by
the vicious, mumbling villain Lockjaw.
Notes: The nearly incomprehensible Lockjaw is very similar to a later Dick Tracy villain, Mumbles, who first appeared in the Tracy strip in October 1947.
On to Part Two — The Postwar Years
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