Batman is arguably one of the most popular superheroes right now. You’d be hard pressed to find a person in the western world who couldn’t recognize the caped crusader, or his symbol, and aside from maybe a handful of other superheroes he is largely the first character non comics reading people think of when they hear the words “comic books.”
Ever since his first appearance in the now legendary Detective Comics #27, Batman has captured the imagination of children, and later adults, in ways that other characters haven’t before or since. He has inspired numerous other characters across multiple publishers and decades, yet none have quite reached the same level of popularity and renown as the Dark Knight.
But why is that?
Well, frankly, I don’t know
Myself, I was for a long time almost entirely a Marvel fan. As a young comics reader I would ignore anything that wasn’t Marvel, and even then most Marvel comics that didn’t feature Wolverine in some capacity often went over looked as I perused the racks. But I still knew who Batman was, and I could identify most of the supporting cast, or at least those who had appeared in the Saturday morning cartoons over the years, and from the handful of comics I did read at the time. Not until I moved to Canada ten years ago did I finally start reading Batman comics on a regular basis, and so I dived in to a whole new world that I’d previously ignored. I scooped up graphic novels left and right, and added Batman and Detective Comics to my pull list.
I haven’t looked back since.
As to why Batman has endured for more than seventy five years when other heroes have struggled on through the decades, fallen by the wayside, or have been relegated to the murky depths of memory I couldn’t honestly say. To say that Batman has always been as popular he is now would be false, indeed there were several years where it was more likely that he would fade away than become the nigh unstoppable force that he is now. The post war years of the 50’s saw a decline in popularity that nearly saw the end of Bill Finger and Bob Kane’s creation. I truly believe that were it not for the camp awesomeness of that television show then we would not have had Tim Burton’s Batman, the Joel Shumaker offerings (which although much maligned aren’t that horrible) or the seminal trilogy from Chris Nolan. And that doesn’t even begin to cover the multitude of great comics that have been produced over the years.
Batman means so much to so many, from the hardcore comic fan to the more casual fan; the hundreds of writers and artists who have handled him over the years have told some truly great stories across several different mediums. Bruce Wayne became Batman to be a symbol, and the symbol has transcended the comics that he originated from.
Batman has provided inspiration for children and adults; by showing people that with enough determination and hard work you can overcome anything.
Even not having superpowers.