Image: DC Comics
Batman is very likely one of the most ubiquitous names in pop culture with countless comic appearances, as well as TV shows and movies. A number of actors have portrayed him, but even some bona fide Batman fans haven’t really given much of a thought to the caped crusader’s first appearance in the comic universe. In fact, it’s hard to even imagine a comic universe before his existence.
Though Batman’s first appearance was in the "May 1939" issue of Detective Comics, it hit stands on March 30, 1939. After the success of Superman, National Comics Publications — which would go on to become DC Comics — decided to ride the superhero wave, as well. Bob Kane was inspired by darker heroes like Zorro and Dracula while putting his pen to paper to create “The Bat-Man.”
As with Facebook, the “the” would be dropped fairly quickly. Rather than a cape, he had two stiff wings, and his costume resembled Robin’s, in that he wore red tights and boots.
When coming up with Batman’s real name, Bill Finger, Kane’s creative partner, said, "Bruce Wayne's first name came from Robert Bruce, the Scottish patriot. Wayne, being a playboy, was a man of gentry. I searched for a name that would suggest colonialism. I tried Adams, Hancock… then I thought of Mad Anthony Wayne."
Batman’s first appearance was in the story "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate," in which he tracks down the killers of a chemical manufacturer. The police commissioner tells his playboy friend Bruce Wayne that there’s been a masked vigilante who dresses like a bat who has been puzzling him. Wayne claims to not believe the commissioner before readers realize that Wayne is, in fact, the Bat-Man.
Other crucial aspects of Batman’s storyline and persona that make their first appearances in this issue include the utility belt, Wayne Manor and Commissioner Gordon. In fact, Gordon is even quoted saying, "Bruce Wayne is a nice young chap — but he certainly must lead a boring life… he seems disinterested in everything." If he only knew!
According to The Washington Post, an original copy of Detective Comics No. 27 is considered one of the most valuable comic books in existence. In 2010, a copy of it sold for more than a million dollars in an auction.
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