Thursday, September 05, 2013
It wasn't Robin who changed Batman
In addition to Batman's letting the Cat go in the third story in Batman #1, something else weird happened. While fighting a second gang of jewel thieves, Batman pauses to make the strange statement above. It's odd because he's alone on a boat with just the crooks and Robin.
Obviously, Batman's breaking the fourth wall here and he does it even more directly after Robin wipes the floor with the bad guys.
I thought that was interesting, but not as much as the Bat/Cat relationship, so I wasn't going to mention it until I got to the fourth and final story in Batman #1 (again by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, and Jerry Robinson). It's a second Joker story that picks up two days after the first one and doesn't shed any new light on the Joker or his motivations, but it does have this extra panel at the very end.
This was 14 years before Seduction of the Innocent was published, but clearly DC was not only aware of their young audience, but also catering directly to them. It wasn't that Robin toned down Batman's grimness, it was that Robin and the lighter tone were both inspired by younger readers.
That's not nearly as much fun to think about as possible in-story explanations, but when Batman's directly addressing the children in the audience, it's not possible to ignore.