Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Much as Batman hates to take human life...

A couple of things about this Man Monsters story from Batman #1 (by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, and Jerry Robinson):

First, it was originally intended as a Detective Comics story. At the end of Detective 37, a panel showed Batman facing a couple of giants and declared that "Next month, huge, terrifying Man-Monsters stalk the streets." What next month actually brought, however, was the Sensational Character Find of 1940: Robin, the Boy Wonder. DC bumped the Man Monsters story, so it ended up in Batman #1, which - like the Superman solo series - was an anthology comic in its early days. The Man Monsters story also featured the return of Hugo Strange, who created the beasts to use as a distraction while his henchmen robbed banks.

The second thing worth pointing out in the Man Monsters story is this:

First of all, Batman has never shown any reluctance for taking human life in his stories so far. In fact, he punches Hugo Strange out of a tower window less than an hour before this scene takes place and follows it up by lassoing one of the Man Monsters around its neck and hanging it from the Batwing.

Secondly, if Batman did hate killing, why mount a machine gun on the Batwing? Clearly Batman has no issues at all with taking human life, but he apparently feels the need to justify it to himself. Which makes me wonder some more about Robin's influence on him.

This story was obviously written before Robin's introduction, but its publication after Robin adds an interesting element. Is Batman starting to feel remorse over killing so many bad guys? Does the responsibility of raising Robin make him rethink his tactics? It hasn't changed his behavior yet, but this may be the first step in that direction.

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