Today marks the debut of the new “Batman and Robin” comic series, presented by the acclaimed team of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (“All-Star Superman”). Since the conclusion of the Morrison-penned DC crossover “Final Crisis,” Bruce Wayne is believed to be dead by the rest of the world. Now Dick Grayson, Bruce’s adopted son who was the first hero to be called “Robin,” has become the new Batman.
But he's not the first person to become a new Batman. There have been a variety of other Batman alternates over the years. Some were successors and replacements. Some were from parallel worlds. Let’s take a look at some of the coolest.
BATMAN BEYOND: In the animated series “Batman Beyond,” audiences were shown Gotham City roughly 50 or so years in the future, long after Bruce Wayne had retired from heroics. In this future, teenager Terry McGinnis met Bruce Wayne soon before his own father was killed by corporate criminals.
Under Bruce’s guidance, Terry became the new Batman, relying on a high-tech battlesuit that allowed limited flight, night-vision, enhanced hearing, and carried a variety of weapons.
BATMAN 1 MILLION: In the 853rd Century, the modern-day superheroes are considered mythological figures and every planet in Earth’s solar system has been colonized. When a bat-like alien criminal escaped the prison/asylum planet of Pluto and slaughtered all the staffers in front of their children, one young boy swore he would avenge these deaths and become the new Batman.
With technology so advanced we would consider it magic, this nameless Batman could fly, create independent copies of himself, directly interface with computers, and used “data-rangs” to analyze targets.
OWLMAN: In the anti-matter universe, there exists a parallel Earth where evil reigns and good never seems to last very long. On this version of Earth, the Wayne family had two children, Bruce and Thomas, Jr. When a mugger killed Bruce and his mother Martha, Thomas, Jr. blamed his father for not being able to save them. Growing up bitter and convinced that law and order were lies that needed to be exposed, Thomas became the Owlman, seeing himself as a bird of prey hunting policemen.
Physically, he is Batman’s equal in combat. What’s more, Owlman uses drugs to enhance his brain power and cunning, making this sociopath even more dangerous.
AZRAEL: Years ago in the story “Knightfall,” Bruce Wayne’s back was broken by the villain Bane. Unable to continue his war on crime, Bruce turned to a new apprentice, Jean-Paul Valley, a young man who had been raised to be an assassin called Azrael. Jean-Paul proved to be an unwise choice. It wasn’t long before he traded in the traditional costume for armor that would help cause more bloodshed, preferring to rely on brutality rather than detective work.
After Azrael let both a criminal and his hostage die, Bruce Wayne (now healed) forcibly took back the mantle and it was a while before Jean-Paul began to redeem himself.
HOLY TERROR: In “Holy Terror”, the first DC comic to carry the “Elseworlds” label, Batman was completely reimagined. We were shown a parallel Earth where America and Europe were ruled by a racist theocracy. After learning that his parents had been killed by the state because they had helped “undesireables,” Bruce Wayne began a double life.
By day, he was a priest preaching the word of God, believing the message was still good even if the government was not. By night, he played the part of a bat-like demon dedicated to bringing down the theocracy and returning power to the people so they could live free and believe what they wished to without punishment.
Any other alternate versions of Batman that you count among your favorites? Let us know in the comment section!