BatmanThe Batman is a night shadow, blending, striking swiftly, violently, then gone. Most people in Gotham City have never truly seen him, he is regarded by many suburban Gothamites as an "urban legend" built on superstition and fear of the city's darkened streets. Even his prey, the city's criminals, are vague and confused when it comes to the Batman, all they know is a fist's impact and a cape's whisper. At best, the only thing that can be truthfully said about the Batman is that he exists, all else falls under the realm of speculation and legend.

The facts regarding Gotham City's Dark Knight are few. We know he first appeared almost a decade and a half ago, around the same time as Superman made his first appearance. Initial reports of a bat-like creature attacking criminals were ignored by authorities. Within a month, however, the Gotham City Police Department began to take notice as the mysterious Bat-Man began moving his up through the criminal echelons and began targeting individuals with the power and connections to influence the city's corrupt officials. Through the Batman's actions the office of Gotham District Attorney Harvey Dent was able to indict many of the corrupt municipal officials including then-Police Commissioner Gillian Loeb.

The BatmanThe Batman remained a wanted fugitive throughout his first year of operation. By the second year of Batman's presence in Gotham much of the ranks of the police department had been cleansed and the department was now headed by Commissioner James Gordon. Gordon ended the warrant for the Batman's arrest and entered into an unofficial partnership with the vigilante. Commissioner Gordon even went as far as installing a Bat-Signal which would shine a beacon into the Gotham night sky, summoning the Batman when he was needed. It was during this period that much of the world outside Gotham first learned of the Batman when he joined the Justice League under as-yet unrevealed circumstances. It was (and still is) the Batman's membership in this high-profile organization that is the most compelling evidence that he exists at all. Shown here is one of the few known clear pictures of the Batman. This photo was taken by Daily Planet photographer James Olsen at a gathering of heroes just after the "Zero Hour" incident.

Though the exact time is uncertain, examination of police reports point to the Batman's third year as the time when he first acquired his "kid-sidekick", Robin the Boy Wonder. As with his mentor, the most compelling evidence of Robin's existence was his membership in the Teen Titans, a team consisting of teen sidekicks of several Justice League members. Many believe that current Titans member and occasional Batman ally Nightwing is in fact the original Boy Wonder grown to adulthood. Rumors persist of a new Robin but there has yet to be any definitive proof of his existence.

The Bat SignalThrough the years Batman has fought several bizarre criminals, many of whom are incarcerated in nearby Arkham Asylum, judged criminally insane for their actions. Some, like the Penguin and the Riddler, are merely criminals who use elaborate and thematic methods. Others are truly mad, some with metahuman powers, others merely empowered by their madness: the Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Two-Face (former D.A. Harvey Dent, driven mad by the attack that scarred half his face), the various Clayfaces, the Mad Hatter, and perhaps the Batman's greatest nemesis, the homicidal Joker. Some Gothamites give thanks for the Batman's presence to defend them against the likes of these. Others, including many in the psychiatric field, feel that the Batman is to blame for the existence of these madmen, that his very presence is what has driven them to commit their innumerable crimes and atrocities.

Though he is counted among the world's finest heroes, there is one major difference between the Batman and his peers. While many of them, even those associated with a particular city {such as Superman and Metropolis, the Flash and Keystone City, and Wonder Woman and Gateway City) operate on a national or even global scale, the Batman is a creature of Gotham. It seems that only the direst Justice League emergencies can draw him away from his mission to defend the city. Through the plague that decimated the population and the earthquake that nearly destroyed it, Batman remained in Gotham City. Even after the federal government cut off the city, reports emerged that the Batman still patrolled the No Man's Land that Gotham had become, protecting those that had been unable or unwilling to leave. Now that the city has been restored, a new Gotham built from the ashes of the old, the Batman remains the city's Dark Knight.

Back to Part II - Year One