Batman (comic book)
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Batman is an ongoing comic book series featuring the DC Comics hero of the superhero Batman. The character first appeared in Detective Comics #27, published in May 1939. Batman proved to be so popular that a self-titled ongoing comic book series began publication in the spring of 1940. It was first advertised in early April 1940, one month after the first appearance of his new sidekick, Robin, the Boy Wonder.
Though the Batman comic book was initially launched as a quarterly publication, it later became a bi-monthly series through the late 1950s, after which it became a monthly publication and has remained so since. As of July 2, 2008, the series has reached issue #678.
The Batman saga takes place in Gotham City, a city overrun with crime and corruption. Its citizens live in perpetual fear from the vast number of costumed criminals, gangs and common thugs. In an effort to combat the aforementioned villains, Batman preys upon their fear. Secretly, the Batman is billionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne, a young socialite who witnessed his parents' murder during a mugging at the age of 8. Batman utilizes his keen analytical mind and sophisticated technology and gadgetry as well as outstanding physical agility, power and stamina to ensure that criminals never feel safe in Gotham. In the eyes of the public, the Batman is believed to be something more than human: an indeterminable black specter that represents terror. This allows him to become an iconic urban legend, which in turn allows him to do things an ordinary man cannot.
Maturity of content
The first stories appearing in the Batman comic were written by Bill Finger and illustrated by Bob Kane, though Finger went uncredited for years thereafter. These early stories depicted a vengeful Batman, not hesitant to kill when he saw it as a necessary sacrifice. In one of the early stories, he is depicted using a gun to stop a group of giant assailants. The Joker, a psychopath who is notorious for using a special toxin that kills and mutilates his victims, remains one of the most prolific and notorious Batman villains created in this time period. During the period in 1940s and 50s when comic books began reflecting the patriotic views of Americans who supported the Allied efforts in World War II, the Joker was changed from cold-blooded murderer to playful trickster. Later, during the Silver Age, this type of super-villain changed from disturbing psychological assaults to the use of amusing gimmicks.
Typically, the primary challenges that the Batman faced in this era were derived from villains who were purely evil; however, by the 1970s, the motivations of these characters, including obsessive compulsion, child abuse and environmental fanaticism, were being explored more thoroughly. Batman himself also underwent a transformation and became a much less one-dimensional character, struggling with deeply rooted internal conflicts. Although not canonical, Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns introduced a significant evolution of the Batman's character in his eponymous series; he became uncompromising and relentless in his struggle to revitalize Gotham. The Batman often exhibited behavior that Gotham's elite labeled as excessively violent as well as antisocial tendencies. Miller portrayed him with an anti-heroic and near villainous characterization. This aspect of the Batman's personality was also toned down considerably in the wake of the DC-wide crossover Infinite Crisis, wherein Batman experienced a nervous breakdown and reconsidered his philosophy and approaches to his relationships. Currently, the Batman's attributes and personality are said to have been greatly influenced by the traditional characterization by Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams' portrayals during the 1970s.
Numbering & annuals
Issue number issues
- In 1994 #0 was released as part of the post-Zero Hour Zero Month (falling between #511 & 512).
- The issue with a cover date of November 1998 was "#1,000,000" (falling between #559 & 560) part of the DC One Million crossover.
Over the years 26 annuals have been released in association with the Batman title, though not consistently, trends in Comic Book annuals usually lead to them either being published or overlooked on any given year, an example being the gap between the late nineties annuals and the early/late 2000s.