This week saw the release of Batman #41 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo and we found ourselves looking at an all new Batman. Gone are the cape and cowl, instead to be replaced by a mech suit piloted by none other than Jim Gordon. I’m not going to lie, i went into the book wanting to hate it, the new suit looks rediculous, with its bunny ears and Jaeger stylings. However, it wasn’t terrible? I mean i still hate the suit, but the amount of self references in the book where Snyder clearly knows what he’s doing by self mocking, mean I’m giving the team benefit of the doubt for now at least.
Anyway, I digress, Gordon isn’t the only one who’s worn the cowl over the years. So here’s a few of the characters we’ve seen take up the mantle of the bat over the years.
During the Knightfall storyline, where Batman got his back snapped by Bane (it’s ok, he got better) John-Paul Valley took over the cape and cowl. Valley was an assassin with “The Order of Saint Dumas” and was very much a product of the 90’s and DC’s bid to make Batman more “XTREME!” He had a pointier costume, body armour, MORE POUCHES, wrist gauntlets that fired projectiles, and I’m pretty sure there was a flamethower? Valley was a more ruthless Bats, that didn’t take no for an answer, kicked ass and asked questions later, and I’m ashamed to admit, not only did I get the action figure, I loved it.
Ultimately, Bruce got better, and Valley got schooled in what it really means to be The Batman and all went back to normal, until….
After the success of Batman:The Animated Series, Warner Bros wanted to keep the cash cow going by jumping into the future and having an all new-all futuristic Batman take the spotlight. Terry McGinnis was your average failing school kid, who ended up becoming the Batman of the future, under an aging Bruce Wayne’s tutelage. there was a glossy black suit, witty one liners, jet boots, and re-imaginings of all of Bruce-Bats foes, like The Joker, Royal Flush Gang, and Scarecrow. McGinnis was an instant hit, and the series even got an animated movie, which was even a critic success! The series was continued in comic form after it’s animated run ended, and Future Bats was one of the the lead characters in DC’s recent Future’s End event.
Terry hasn’t been the only younger character to wear the cowl though, and this one’s a doozy…
So Bruce Wayne Died (again, don’t worry, he got better) and after the “Battle For The Cowl” mini, Grayson came out on top as the one to replace Bruce. With Legendary writer Grant Morrison at the helm, the Batman & Robin series was the best it had been in years, as had Scott Snyder and Jock over on Detective Comics. This was very much a new Batman, that bridged the gap between the witty one liners of Batman Beyond, and the stoic master planner Bruce Wayne. Dick had honed his craft under the watchful eye of Wayne ever since he was Robin, and with Damien in tow as his Robin, the dynamic of the Dynamic Duo shifted, but Robin being the serious crime fighter, and Batman having a sense of jovial humor.
The series were sadly not to last though. Even after Bruce was brought back, there was 2 Batmen, a Batman Incorporated, and some truly fantastic stories. However, DC went into their Flashpoint Series, which established Tomas Wayne as Bats, then The Nu52, which streamlined the whole line down again, and reestablished Bruce as the One True Bat.
It’s a theory that has been toyed with for years, that batman is just the costume, that whoever wears the mantle of the Bat, is he. Going by the way that the characters have been portrayed this is fairly true. While Dickbat, has been my favourite in recent years, and I think it will stand the test of time as some of the best stories the character has ever had, I think we all know who is the one true Bat.