Batman (Earth-One)


Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger

Written by Aaron Severson

Earth-1 Batman

Bruce Wayne, aka Matches Malone, Robin, Flying Fox

Thomas and Martha Wayne (parents, deceased); Philip Wayne (uncle, presumed deceased); Dick Grayson (former legal ward); Talia al Ghul (putative wife); Jason Todd (adoptive son)

Justice League of America, Outsiders, Legion of Super-Heroes (honorary)

Historical: Detective Comics #27 (May 1939).
» SEE: Batman: Earth-One vs. Earth-Two

When DC first created its multiverse in the early sixties, the Golden Age versions of DC's continuously published characters were assigned to Earth-Two while the contemporary (Silver Age) versions were said to exist on Earth-One. Although there was no specific point where the Earth-Two Batman's history left off and the Earth-One character's began (see here for a more involved discussion of this issue), the history of the Earth-One Batman encompassed most "modern" Batman stories published between about 1956 and the end of the Crisis in 1986 (as well as some earlier adventures).

Unlike his post-Crisis counterpart, the Earth-One Batman was a founding member of the original Justice League of America (and the Outsiders) and a close friend of Superman, with whom he regularly teamed up in the pages of World's Finest Comics.

Secret Origins

As on Earth-Two, Earth-One's Bruce Wayne was the son of affluent Gotham City physician Thomas Wayne and his wife Martha.

When Bruce was still a small boy, his father, wearing a masquerade "bat-man" costume, overcame and apprehended a gang of bank robbers led by Lew Moxon, whom Wayne's testimony subsequently helped send to prison. After Moxon was released 10 years later, the vengeful gang boss hired a hitman named Joe Chill and concocted a plan to avenge himself on Wayne without drawing suspicion to himself. (Detective Comics #235) Pretending to be a mugger, Chill confronted the Waynes as they walked home from a movie and then shot and killed Thomas and Martha before fleeing into the night. (Detective #33)

Bruce, the only witness to his parents' deaths, was comforted by a compassionate social worker named Leslie Thompkins (Detective #457) and a young police lieutenant named James W. Gordon (Untold Legend of the Batman #1) The Gotham police never found Chill and Bruce's account of the "robbery" meant that Moxon's involvement was never suspected. (Detective #235)

After his parents' funeral, Bruce swore to avenge them by waging war on crime, an oath witnessed by his uncle, Philip Wayne, who had been appointed Bruce's new guardian, and Philip's housekeeper, Mrs. Chilton, who would become the principal maternal figure in Bruce's life following his mother's death. (Batman #208)

As a teenager, Bruce began to relentlessly train himself both physically and mentally. Taking advantage of his uncle's frequent absences, Bruce convinced famed police detective Harvey Harris to become his mentor, although the boy attempted to disguise himself with a red, yellow, and green costume that prompted Harris to dub him "Robin." (The costume did not prevent Harris from discovering who Bruce was, but Harris decided to humor him so as not to undermine his confidence.) (Detective #226)

On several occasions, Philip Wayne's travels brought Bruce to Smallville, where he encountered Superboy, first attempting to discover the Boy of Steel's secret identity (World's Finest Comics #84) and later briefly working with him as the costumed Flying Fox. However, Superboy, having learned that through his experimental "time-telescope" that he and Bruce were destined to one day become friends, used hypnosis to cause them to forget one another. (Adventure Comics #275) When Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne met again a few years later, neither remembered their previous encounters. (Superboy Spectacular) It was not until they were adults that they were able to reconcile the confusing chronology of their early meetings. (World's Finest #271)

Bruce attended Gotham University, where he majored in criminology with a minor in psychology. However, he later decided not to pursue a law enforcement career, concluding that the law was too often at odds with his personal concept of justice. (Untold Legend of the Batman #1) He decided instead to become a costumed crimefighter, The Batman, taking inspiration from a bat that flew into his study window one night and from his father's old masquerade costume.

Batman eventually learned the identities of Joe Chill and Lew Moxon and discovered the real story behind his parents' murders. However, Chill was shot by his own men (Batman #47) and Moxon was hit by a truck (Detective #235) before either man could be arrested or brought to trial.

Chill's death inadvertently spared Bruce from an even harsher realization: Joe Chill was the elder son of Mrs. Chilton, Bruce's beloved "second mother." Her younger son, Max Chill, also became a hitman and died after attempting to avenge Joe by killing Batman. (Brave and the Bold #79) After her sons' deaths, Mrs. Chilton realized that it had been Joe who killed the Waynes. She also deduced that Bruce had eventually become Batman as a result. (Batman #208) At some point prior to her death, she apparently shared that information with Bruce's butler, Alfred Pennyworth, but they agreed it was best that Bruce never find out. (Untold Legend of the Batman #1)

Friends and Allies

Early on, Batman decided that while he might work outside the law, he would not work against it. After several initial overtures, he struck a truce with Jim Gordon, who by then had become Gotham City's police commissioner. (Detective #234, Untold Legend of the Batman #2) Gordon later formally deputized Batman and created the Bat-Signal and Bat-Phone to contact him. The city's official support for Batman fluctuated from administration to administration, but while his deputy status was periodically revoked, Batman could always count on at least tacit cooperation from Gordon, if not necessarily the uniformed rank and file.

Batman later encountered a young circus acrobat named Dick Grayson, who had also been orphaned by criminals. Batman revealed his true identity to Dick, arranged for the boy to become his legal ward, and trained Dick as a crimefighter. (Detective #38) Batman later presented Dick with a red, green, and yellow costume like the one he himself had worn as a teenager and gave the boy the name Robin. (Batman #213, Untold Legend of the Batman #2)

Throughout his career, the Earth-One Batman shared adventures with a diverse array of other heroes, from Metamorpho to the Metal Men. After Dick Grayson became Robin, Batman also became the close friend and frequent partner of Superman. (World's Finest Comics #94, Superman v.1 #76) Other regular allies included Batwoman, secretly heiress and former circus performer Kathy Kane (Detective #233); Bat-Girl, really Kathy's young niece Betty (Batman #139); and Batgirl, who was secretly Commissioner Gordon's daughter Barbara (Detective #359). For several years, Batman also had an ardent — if frequently obnoxious — supporter in the form of Bat-Mite, an other-dimensional imp with seemingly limitless magical powers. (Detective #267) The Earth-One Batman never met his Earth-Two counterpart, but later became friends with his counterpart's daughter Helena, The Huntress.(Batman Family #17)

On Earth-One, Batman was a founding member of the Justice League of America (Justice League of America #9), although he later resigned in a fit of pique and organized his own team, the Outsiders. (Batman and the Outsiders #1) During the Crisis, the Outsiders became fed up with constantly being treated as Batman's pawns and decided to go their own way. (Batman and the Outsiders #32) Batman subsequently rejoined the Justice League, whose newer members received similar treatment. (Justice League of America #250–254) Around the same time, personal conflicts also ended Batman's partnership with Superman. (World's Finest Comics #323)

Later Career

For much of their careers, Batman and Robin made their headquarters in the Batcave beneath Wayne Manor in the suburbs of Gotham City. They were eventually joined by butler Alfred Pennyworth, to whom they revealed their secret identities. (Batman #110) When Alfred apparently died while saving his masters from the Tri-State Gang, his place in the Wayne household was briefly taken by Dick Grayson's aunt, Harriet Cooper, who was not privy to their secret. (Detective #328) Alfred, who had actually been transformed into the villainous Outsider, was later revived with no memory of his "death" and the charitable foundation Bruce had established in Alfred's name was quietly renamed the Wayne Foundation. (Detective #356)

After Dick Grayson graduated high school and entered Hudson University, Bruce and Alfred left Wayne Manor for a newly created apartment in the penthouse of the Wayne Foundation building in downtown Gotham. (Batman #217) Bruce originally intended to mothball most of his former equipment, but he ultimately found it too useful to abandon and established a new Batcave in an abandoned, never-completed subway tunnel, conveniently located beneath the Foundation building's underground parking garage. (Limited Collectors' Edition #C-44, Detective #469–470) He never felt entirely at home there, however, and finally decided to return permanently to Wayne Manor and the original Batcave. (Batman #348) He later turned over the penthouse apartment to Tatsu Yamashiro (Katana) and Gabrielle Doe (Halo). (Batman and the Outsiders #3)

The relationship between Bruce and Dick became increasingly strained after Dick left Wayne Manor, particularly after he dropped out of Hudson University (Detective #495, Batman #330) and became the leader of the reorganized Teen Titans. (New Teen Titans v.1 #1) Not long after that, Bruce took custody of Jason Todd, a young acrobat whose circus performer parents had been murdered by Killer Croc while acting as informants for Batman and Robin. (Batman #357–359, Detective #523–526) Jason was eager to become Batman's new partner (Batman #360–366, Detective #527–532), but Bruce refused to allow him to become Robin until Dick announced his decision to relinquish the role. (New Teen Titans v.1 #39) Jason then became Robin (II) (Batman #368) and Bruce and Dick were finally reconciled. (Tales of the Teen Titans #50)

Although Bruce had applied to become Jason's legal guardian, administrative delays (and political interference from the corrupt administration of Mayor Hamilton Hill, whose election Bruce had publicly opposed) led Gotham social services to challenge Bruce's fitness for that role. As a result, Bruce lost custody for a time to Natalia Knight, a socialite and former astronomer who, as Bruce was well aware, was also the burglar Nocturna. The court order granting custody to Knight was overturned after Hill was removed as mayor, but both Batman and Robin were left with conflicted feelings about Nocturna, who had learned their true identities and had expressed clear romantic interest in Batman. (Batman #373–381, Detective #540–548)

Bruce briefly lost custody of Jason again after Hugo Strange managed to seize control of the Wayne Foundation and force Bruce into bankruptcy, but Bruce and Jason were reunited after defeating Strange and proving that his control of the Wayne holdings had been achieved through nefarious means. (Batman Annual #10)

The Earth-One Bruce Wayne had an active if often shallow romantic life, dating actress Julie Madison (World's Finest Comics #248); reporter Vicki Vale (Batman #208); socialite Silver St. Cloud (Detective #470); Alfred's daughter Julia Remarque (Batman #370); and Kathy Kane (alias Batwoman), who was later murdered by agents of the League of Assassins (Detective #485). The only one in whom Bruce had any real interest was St. Cloud, who left him after learning that he was Batman. (Detective #476)

More often, Batman was drawn to dangerous women, including Nocturna and Talia, daughter of Batman's nemesis Ra's al Ghul. (Batman #232) (Ra's actually officiated a wedding between Batman and Talia, but since Batman was unconscious during the ceremony, the legality of that marriage was dubious at best. (Batman Spectacular [2]) Batman also had a long-running flirtation with Selina Kyle, the Catwoman, who eventually abandoned her criminal career to date Bruce Wayne (Batman #308) and become Batman's occasional crimefighting partner. To her frustration, his affections seemed to waver after her reform and it's unclear if they could ever have established a lasting relationship as their Earth-Two counterparts had.

The Earth-One Batman survived the Crisis unscathed and seemingly unaffected, but as its effects began to cascade, his history was overwritten and he effectively ceased to exist. His post-Crisis counterpart was defined by Batman: Year One (Batman #404–407) and Batman: Year Two. (Detective #575–578)

Continuity Notes

While the Batman series underwent several major shifts in tone and direction over the years, most of his Silver and Bronze Age adventures — including the ones published prior to his 1964 "New Look" (which added the yellow oval around his chest emblem) — were nonetheless Earth-One stories. It wasn't until Grant Morrison's run on Batman many years later that any writer attempted to rationalize or even mention Batman's odder late-fifties/early-sixties adventures, but there's also no indication that they didn't happen or that they occurred on Earth-Two. In the seventies, it was clearly established that Batwoman and Bat-Girl both existed on Earth-One — although there was also an Earth-Two Batwoman (Brave and the Bold #182).

There was quite a bit of overlap between Earth-One and Earth-Two Batman continuity, and some Golden Age adventures, such as the early appearances of Hugo Strange, the Riddler, and the Scarecrow, took place on both worlds, albeit many years apart. However, not all early stories took place on both Earth-One and Earth-Two, at least not in the same ways. (See Batman: Earth-One vs. Earth-Two for more on this confusing subject.)

Most canonical sources (including Who's Who in the DC Universe) consistently describe the Earth-One Bruce Wayne as an only child. However, two probably apocryphal 1974–1975 stories (World's Finest Comics #223 and #227) assert that Bruce had an older brother, Thomas Wayne, Jr., who was institutionalized after suffering brain damage as a young child and later became a deranged killer. Those stories later inspired writer Grant Morrison to create not one but two new versions of Thomas Jr.: the post-Crisis Owlman (first seen in the JLA: Earth 2 graphic novel; see the Crime Syndicate of America profile for more information) and Simon Hurt, the villain of Morrison's 2007–2010 Batman saga. (As eventually revealed in The Return of Bruce Wayne, Hurt was not actually Bruce Wayne's brother, but that storyline includes several conscious allusions to the World's Finest stories.)

The events of the seventies Super Friends comic book series, which included Batman and Robin, did not take place on Earth-One, but rather on a similar parallel world.


The Batman had no metahuman powers, but he was a highly trained athlete, a formidable martial artist, a brilliant forensic scientist, and Earth-One's greatest detective. His vast fortune also enabled him to develop an arsenal of sophisticated tools and equipment, much of it of his own design. Unlike his post-Crisis counterpart, he rarely wore body armor.

Appearances + References


  • Untold Legend of the Batman #1–3
  • World's Finest Comics #271


  • Batman #47–400, Annual #8-10 (approximate)
  • Batman and the Outsiders, 32 issues, 2 Annuals (1983–86)
  • Batman Special (1984)
  • Batman Spectacular (1978)
  • Brave and the Bold #59, 64, 71, 74-83, 85-142, 144-166, 168-196, 198-200
  • Detective Comics #140-567 (approximate)
  • Justice League of America #1-217
  • Untold Legend of the Batman #1-3
  • World's Finest Comics #71-196, 202, 207, 211, 217-220, 223, 225-227, 232, 234-241, 243-323