09/17/16
Batman in Detective Comics #27

What Is Batman Day?

 

 

What Is Batman Day?

Is it Really the Anniversary of Batman’s First Appearance?

Batman, Robin, and Batgirl

Batman, Robin, and Batgirl

 

According to DC Comics, Batman Day is September 17.  Ok, that is nice, but what is it supposed to really mean? While any event celebrating the Dark Knight is worthy of celebration, September 17 is not, in reality, the anniversary of Batman’s First Appearance.

First, let us look at what DC Comics is saying about Batman Day:

From DC Comics official Batman Day announcement:

Get ready for the celebration of a legendary superhero who we all love, the Dark Knight himself, Batman. DC Entertainment has made it official, Saturday, September 17th 2016, will be BATMAN DAY.

The annual fan-favorite event, now in its third year, was first introduced to honor the iconic character’s 75th anniversary. 

 

Based on that statement, you typical Batman fan would naturally assume that Batman first appeared on a September 17 long, long ago.  Unfortunately, reality, and historical evidence, does not support this idea.

Batman’s first appearance was in the pages of a comic book called Detective Comics. In issue #27 of that title, DC Comics (then called National Comics), introduced a frightening vigilante in a Bat costume who called himself The Bat-Man.  The cover date on this comic is May, 1939.  So, does that mean that Batman Day should be in May? 

Detective Comics #27 Cover

Detective Comics #27 Cover

No, since the official cover date on comics is more an indicator of when the comics should be pulled from the shelf, rather than the actual publication date.  Multiple sources (including the Library of Congress Copyright Office’s Catalog of Copyright Entries for Periodicals for 1939), show the actual publication date of Batman’s first appearance as March 30, 1939!  That is the date that this now-historical issue of Detective Comics was copyrighted.

Detective Comics #27 -Real Date of Publication March 30, 1939

Detective Comics #27 -Real Date of Publication March 30, 1939

Thanks to Mark Seifert at Bleeding Cool for the original research on this topic.

 

So, while the geek in us loves the idea of Batman Day, the historian in us wishes that DC had picked a date that actually meant something.  Oh well, at least they got the year right!

 

Happy “Batman Day!”

 

03/11/16
Wayne of Gotham Book Cover

Wayne of Gotham: A Batman Novel Reviewed

Wayne of Gotham Book Cover

Wayne of Gotham Book Cover

Wayne of Gotham: A Novel, is a full-length novel written by Tracey Hickman.  Published in December of 2012, Wayne of Gotham is a book takes an original look at an older Batman (not explicitly said, but he seems to be in his mid-fifties), and the “real” story of his father, Thomas Wayne.

As a long-time Batman fan, I rate this book as a resounding OK.  Not great, not bad, just OK.  My main peeve is the writing style.  Hickman uses far too many narrative descriptions of things like the Batmobile, the Batsuit, the BatCave,and so on.  This makes the prose boring and makes it difficult for the reader to stay interested.  I found myself flipping through pages of dull narrative description to get to the meat of the story.  Having said that, though, the plot itself is interesting.  We have an older Batman, an older Joker, and plenty of references to other villains and characters.  The relationship between Bruce Wayne, Alfred, and how their fathers interacted is quite interesting.  The villainous plot is original, and the revelations about the past lives of Thomas Wayne and Jarvis Pennyworth (the aforementioned fathers), is well done.

An interesting point that I would like to mention is the homage to the old Golden Age and Silver Age Batman stories and characters that Hickman inserted into the story.   Curious about some of the characters I was unfamiliar with (Lew Moxon in particular), as well as some of the events in the “flashback” sequences, I dug out my Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes: Batman – VOL 01 (Original Encyclopedia), and looked up Lew Moxon and some of the events described.  Lo and behold, Hickman used “real” characters and events from the “real” past of Batman comics.  I liked that part very much.

 

While clearly, this story cannot be part of  DC’s Batman Canon, (it changes far to many past details in Bruce Wayne’s life), it is an interesting read for fans of the Batman.  Overall, this is a worthwhile read for Batman fans, I can recommend it.