Mastodon

9 min read

Batman logo disambiguator article

Batman – A guide to Batman writeups

(Disambiguation page)


Context

So, writeups.org has thousands of writeups about super-heroes, right ? That’s in fact why it’s called writeups.org.

Yet there isn’t *quite* a Batman writeup. Which is especially odd considering that it’s what many newcomers will type into the search engine.

The reason is that the DC Heroes tabletop role-playing game stats remain the core of a profile.

Holy game stats, Batman !

Nowadays, we put less emphasis on the stats. So that non-role-players don’t feel that this site isn’t for them. But they still tend to be the reason why a profile is written.

In Batman’s case, we’ve of course always had game stats for him – ever since DC Heroes 1st Edition.

And these stats are something of a keystone. Hundreds if not thousands of characters are benchmarked against Batman’s stats, to have coherent numbers. So they’re not going to change.

(Though the stats are for a sort of timeless, iconic Batman. More specific, concrete versions such as “1970s Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams Batman” can have different numbers than the ur-The original, prototypical, exemplary version of something-Batman modelled by the official stats.)

But though there isn’t *the* Batman writeups, there are Batman and Batman-ish profiles. Let’s explain that.

Advertisement

Mainline DC Comics Batman (Bruce Wayne)

There are two smaller entries about “the” Batman (Bruce Wayne), at opposing ends of his career.

1The Bat-Man in his very first appearance.

This profile only covers the material in Detective Comics vol. 1 #27. It holds historical interest, and it’s a good reference point if you want to make up a version of Batman that starts the same but evolves differently.

Bat-Man earliest (DC Comics) 1939 portrait featured

2Batman in the Kingdom Come future.

An aged Batman, decades in the future. The events in landmark 1996 mini-series Kingdom Come are often treated as the likely future for the DC Universe. So this version of old Bruce Wayne may be the most authoritative one.

Batman (DC Comics) (Kingdom Come version) portrait featured

Other writeups need to be done. The 1964-66 “New Look Batman” era and the “Year One Batman” would be the prime candidates. But then I’ve been saying that since 1998 or so so holding one’s breath isn’t advised.

DC Comics’ Batman echoes

Over the decades DC has featured many “imaginary stories” (aren’t they all ?), possible futures, parallel Earths, etc.. Many such stories featured alternative versions of the Batman. Such as :

1Batman (Flashpoint Thomas Wayne).

Bruce Wayne’s father became a grimdark Batman in another version of history. This character showed up in early 2010s storylines.

Batman (Thomas Wayne) (DC Comics) (Flashpoint timeline) portrait featured

2Batman (Wayne Williams).

This version was seen in a 2001 project were Stan Lee was tasked with making up new versions of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, etc.. His Batman wasn’t the best among those reinventions, but I think there’s enough material for a rework.

Batman (DC Comics) (Stan Lee version) portrait featured

3Batman One Million.

From a big 1998 crossover that took place in a far, far future of the DC Universe. So he’s a super-advanced space Batman, running the Pluto prison.

Batman One Million (DC Comics) portrait featured

4Dark Knight Returns armour.

One of the most famous possible future versions of Batman appeared in Frank Miller’s landmark The Dark Knight Returns. Back then I took quick game notes about the power armourStrength-enhancing body armour, like Iron Man’s he uses to fight Superman in this story.

Batman (DC Comics) Dark Knight Returns power armour featured helmet

5The post-apoc Batman of 2050.

This interesting version appeared when Jonah Hex travelled to the post-apocalyptic future of 2050. Now protecting New York City, this version of Batman has more evident Jewish roots than the main version.

Batman of 2050 (DC Comics) in Hex - portrait featured

Advertisement

Other media versions

Most people’s familiarity with Batman comes from versions in different media. Such as the early 1990s Batman: The Animated Series (where Batman was voiced By Kevin Conry) or Eidos’ action-adventure video games.

1The Tim Burton/Michael Keaton Batman.

The 1989 Batman movie and its 1992 sequel likely were the two most important Batman movies. Directed by Tim Burton and with Michael Keaton playing Bruce Wayne, these were both a huge critical and commercial success. Which considerably reinforced the credibility of super-hero movies as a genre.

Batman (Michael Keaton movie version, 1989/92) portrait featured

Anti-Batman

DC also tried its hand with the anti-Batman concept – an evil version. This is rather hard to do right, though.

1The earliest take on Killer Moth.

This 1951 character was “gangland’s Batman”. It didn’t work, and later versions of Killer Moth tended to be pathetic losers.

Killer Moth (DC Comics) (original version) portrait featured

2The pre-Crisis Owlman.

A villainous Batman-like living on another Earth, where evil always wins. Mostly goofy Silver Age character.

Owlman (DC Comics) (pre-Crisis version) portrait featured

3Morrison’s Earth Two Owlman

A much more modern version of Owlman.

Owlman (DC Comics, post-Crisis version) (Grant Morrison Crime Syndicate) portrait featured

4The Wrath

A warped but extremely capable “opposite number” for the Batman of the 1980s. But he had only one real appearance.

Wrath (Batman enemy) (DC Comics) portrait featured

5Prometheus

Apparently a more modern version of the Wrath, but one who doesn’t *just happen* to have the same abilities as Bruce Wayne. Our notes were taken really early in his career, though.

Prometheus - DC Comics - JLA enemy - portrait featured

Expies

A Batman expy is a character who obviously resembles Batman, but published by someone who cannot use the Batman intellectual property. It could be a parody, but quite often it stems from being fascinated by the bat and wanting a version in your super-hero universe.

1Sergeant Marvel

Sgt. Marvel — a minor Savage Dragon character — is a good example. He reuses a lot of Batman-esque elements in an odd manner, yet the intent is clear.

Sergeant Marvel - Savage Dragon comics - portrait featured

2The Midnighter

A more elaborate example adapting many of Batman’s archetypal qualities to build a different character. Whilst making it clear what the reference is.

Midnighter (Wildstorm comics) of the Authority - portrait featured

3Moon Knight (Marc Spector).

Marvel Comics’ Moon Knight has often been compared to Batman. Personally I don’t quite see it, but heh. Moon Knight went through a lot of changes to find angles that worked, but for now we just have some older notes.

Moon Knight (Marvel Comics) portrait featured

4Hawk-Owl.

A minor character from Marvel’s since-defunct Ultimate universe. I never was too sure what the angle was, but if you want an alternative Batman figure for a parallel universe he can work.

Hawk-Owl (Marvel Ultimate Comics) portrait featured

5Black Panther (T’Challa).

It has been observed quite a few times that Black Panther (T’Challa) occupies in the Marvel Universe a niche not unlike that of the Batman. But it’s more about their abilities (tech, strategy, planning, secrecy, agility, martial arts, stealth and shadows, charisma, wealth…) rather than any equivalence. Plus the whole “super-hero of global import despite not having any big bad super-power” deal.

Black Panther (Marvel Comics) portrait featured 1

6Batman (Joseph Kapowski).

Our contributor Kal El once ran a TTRPG campaign with characters who were original concepts, but shared names with major DC Comics creations. One of the Player CharactersRPG characters played by a player, rather than the gamemaster or the computer. thus went by “Batman”.

7ShadowHawk.

From the founding days of Image Comics, a notable and early-ish “what if Batman but as an out-of-control vigilante but actually it’s complicated” take.

ShadowHawk (Image Comics) portrait featured

Expies – Nighthawk forever

Beyond those, Marvel has an “official” Batman expy – Nighthawk.

He was introduced in 1969, but his status as a parallel Batman was mostly developed during the 1980s in Mark Gruenwald’s Squadron Supreme. Mr. Gruenwald’s original ambition was to work for DC, after all – but instead he became one of the Marvel Universe’s pillars.

Marvel has had many versions of Nighthawk, usually appearing in parallel reality stories. We’ve covered a few.

1Nighthawk (Earth-616 Kyle Richmond)

The 1969 original. This profile covers the early material. As a Batman expy, then as a failed Batman expy… before he evolves into a different character.

Nighthawk (Marvel Comics) (Earliest Richmond) portrait featured

2“Supreme Power” Nighthawk (Earth-31916 Kyle Richmond)

As I said, parallel realities aplenty – so we have to be pretty specific when it comes to naming 😺. This is a different version of Nighthawk in another reality. He debuted in the 2003 Supreme Power series, which was J.M. Straczynski’s take on the Squadron Supreme concept.

Nighthawk (Supreme Power version) (Marvel Comics) portrait featured

3Nighthawk (Raymond Kane)

This is the same character as above. But a/ some years later, b/ in a different take by D. Walker and c/ having changed his name to “Raymond Kane” to avoid confusion. This Nighthawk is still a clear Batman analogue, but by this point he’s also become his own thing.

Nighthawk (Marvel Comics) (Raymond Kane, David Walker take)

4Nighthawk (Champions TTRPG)

Because it wasn’t complicated enough, some bright soul contributing to the landmark Champions super-hero tabletop role-playing game decided that the game would have a Batman expy named Nighthawk. YES I KNOW.

Nighthawk - Champions RPG role-playing game TTRPG - portrait featured

Inheritors

Many DC characters have claimed the Batman mantle — or a close equivalent — at some point.

1Nightwing (Richard Grayson).

The former Robin, who also convincingly acted as Batman during an era when Bruce was missing. Dick has Mayfair game stats, of course, but we did an update during his 2000s solo series – the Blüdhaven era.

Nightwing (Dick Grayson) (DC Comics) 2001 land art - portrait featured

2Huntress (Helena Wayne).

The daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle on pre-Crisis Earth-2. She stepped in her dad’s shoes. This interesting character existed but for 10 years, before the Crisis on Infinite Earths erased her reality.

Huntress (DC Comics) (Helena Wayne) (pre-Crisis Earth-2) portrait featured

3Blackwing (Charley Bullock).

One of Helena Wayne’s allies developed a Batman-like identity to fight crime in Gotham. And his costume oddly resembled… that of Nighthawk of the 1980s Squadron Supreme.

Blackwing (DC Comics) (Charles Bullock) portrait featured

4Batman Beyond (Terry McGinnis).

This successor appeared in the popular 1990s animated series. It is set in a dystopic future where an aged Bruce Wayne reluctantly end up having a young successor.

Batman Beyond costume portrait featured

5Batwoman (Katherine Rebecca Kane).

The Silver Age Batwoman was an odd character, but *this* Batwoman was something altogether different, succeeding Batman when he was missing. Hi-speed, low-drag Jewish lesbian ex-military rich girl rocker badass.

Batwoman (DC Comics) (Kate Kane) portrait featured

6Batman, Jr..

The original Super-Sons stories were weird 1970 weird about two unruly young men — Clark Kent, Jr. and Bruce Wayne, Jr. — who claimed their father’s identities in a possible future. You can’t stop us, super-dads !

Batman Jr. - DC Comics - Super-sons - Portrait featured

Forerunners

Batman wasn’t a wholly original creation, of course. He significantly drew from other 1930s characters that explored the “dark avenger of the night” theme.

1The Shadow.

The main influence was The Shadow. One of our Shadow profiles uses the excellent Matt Wagner as its base, and comes with an explanation about the characters that The Shadow heavily drew from – such as Judex or Ravengar.

The Shadow - Comics - Matt Wagner take - portrait featured

2The Shadow.

The Spider (Richard Wentworth) was a 1933 attempt at capitalising over The Shadow’s mystique, like Batman would. It didn’t work as well, despite many attempts at rebranding the character. But there’s still interesting material among the Spider’s adventures.

Spider Master of Men (pulps character, R. Wentworth) portrait featured

3The Green Hornet.

Another key “proto-Batman” was the Green Hornet, who debuted in 1936. The Hornet did have a robust career – in large part thanks to getting a TV show, which also helped launch Bruce Lee’s acting career.