12 DAYS OF THE BATMAN: Boxing Day Postscript

And that was 12 Days of the Batman. Thank you for helping me put some Batman back into this holiday season!

As with Mighty Marvel May, I would like to thank the creators of these characters I’ve been celebrating. Without Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, Dick Sprang, Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino, Bob Brown, Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, Bruce Timm,Grant Morrison, and SO many more, they wouldn’t exist.

They created a Gotham City we can all play in. Let’s keep fighting for justice for all.

12 DAYS OF THE BATMAN! DAY 5: ROBIN

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Raised on the high-wire, the boy who never looks down!

Robin the Boy Wonder, Batman’s most faithful sidekick, was “the character find of 1940!” when he debuted in DETECTIVE COMICS #38 in a story by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson. He was added to give the solitary Batman someone to talk to, a Watson to his Holmes, and was a child so readers- then assumed to be entirely young boys- would have a character with whom they could identify. A circus boy orphaned by crime, he became Batman’s ward, and a chance for Batman to restore to someone the childhood he himself never had.

I like Robin because he’s the son who can never grow up to be his father, but eventually learns what his own unique strengths are. He is light in the darkness. He makes Batman smile.

This is Dick Grayson, the original, my favorite, in Tim (Robin III) Drake’s Neal Adams-designed costume, a la BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (much as I love Robin, that short pants look is just… No).

Tomorrow a killer (for real this time!) installment of 12 Days of the Batman!

12 DAYS OF THE BATMAN! DAY 4: THE PENGUIN

Waddling through a Winter Wonderland, it’s Oswald Cobblepot- The Penguin!

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With his squat stature, tuxedo-and-umbrella motif, monacle and cigarette on a long holder, on paper it seems unlikely that the Penguin is one of the Batman’s more enduring foes.  He was created in 1941’s DETECTIVE COMICS #58 in a story written by Bill Finger and drawn by Bob Kane. Kane was inspired by the Chesterfield cigarettes penguin mascot.

Often depicted as  a gangster with one foot in legitimate enterprises, he’s usually somewhat buffoonish and not very threatening. But my feeling is all Batman’s repeat foes have to be formidable; why else would Batman waste his time? I see the Penguin as deceptively small but physically dangerous, dirty fighter, and  completely ruthless in eliminating his competitors. (Have you ever seen actual penguins? They’ll walk over their own mothers for a scrap of fish.)

I updated his classical look somewhat, swapping out his usual top-hat for a derby and giving him an overcoat with a feathered collar. His slightly more rugged features, still exaggerated, give him a kind of Al Capone look. This is a man who could beat someone to death with an umbrella.

Hope you’ll return for tomorrow’s high-flying installment of 12 Days of the Batman!

12 DAYS OF THE BATMAN! DAY 3: CATWOMAN

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Catwoman: the one that got away.

Batman’s tumultuous relationship with Catwoman began in 1940’s BATMAN #1, written by Bill Finger and with art credited to Bob Kane. Originally a burglar called the Cat, Selina Kyle’s costumes, methods, motivations and origin over the years changed more than any other Batman villain. The only constant has been the mutual, usually unfulfilled attraction between them.

(Usually. In recent years their relationship in the comics has been more explicitly sexual. In DC’s alternate “Earth 2” Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle married and produced a child, Helena Wayne, who became the crimefighting Huntress.)

This piece depicts her in the most-recent version of her costume, designed by Darwyn Cooke and taking a page from Emma Peel, it’s my favorite of her many looks (except for the Doc Marten boots: how’s she supposed to sneak around in those?).

I hope you’ll come back for tomorrow’s black and white installment of 12 Days of the Batman!

12 DAYS OF THE BATMAN! DAY 2: TWO-FACE

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For the second day of 12 Days of the Batman, who else but Two-Face?

A gangster threw acid in the face of crusading district attorney Harvey Dent, horribly scarring his left side. This fractured the psyche of the already-troubled Dent (who was called Harvey Kent in his first appearance). As Two-Face he committed crimes when he flipped his double-headed dollar coin, also scarred on one side, and it landed bad-side-up. Batman is haunted by his inability to save the man who was once his friend.

My version of Two-Face is informed by his portrayal on BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, where he not only looked great, but was voiced perfectly by actor Richard Moll. In reality, Moll stands an imposing 6’8″ and sounds like it. As a result, I picture Two-Face big- Frankensteinian– bigger and stronger than Batman himself. I also wanted his unscarred half to look dead-eyed and vacant, no longer a participant in his own actions.

My friend PJ Shapiro wrote a song about Two-Face which reference BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, Grant Morrison and Dave McKean’s ARKHAM ASYLUM: A SERIOUS HOUSE ON A SERIOUS EARTH, and still manages to work in the phrase “Manichean lapdog.” It’s called E. Pluribus H. Dent. Listen to it here.

Two-Face was also created by Bob Kane and an uncredited Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson in 1942’s DETECTIVE COMICS #66

The curious should return tomorrow for the third installment of 12 Days of the Batman!

12 DAYS OF THE BATMAN! DAY 1: BATMAN

I’m celebrating this holiday season with vengeance, the night… The Batman!

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For the next twelve days- counting down to Christmas- I’ll be presenting a mini-bust of a different Batman character every day.

We begin with the Dark Knight himself:

There are people who insist Batman never smiles. I think he does sometimes. And when he does,  it’s probably very scary.

Edited to add: Batman was created by Bob Kane (artist) and an uncredited Bill Finger for 1939’s DETECTIVE COMICS #27.

I hope you’ll visit tomorrow for the second installment of 12 Days of the Batman!