The Essential Batman Encyclopedia

The Essential Batman Encyclopedia


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The ultimate guide to the man behind the mask . . . and the mythology behind the man.

“Criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot. So my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. I must be a creature of the night, black, terrible. . . . I shall become a bat!” So declared millionaire industrialist Bruce Wayne, orphaned as a boy by a murderous thug and driven as a man to battle the scourge of crime by becoming Batman. Batman swooped into popular culture in 1939–and for nearly seventy years has thrilled audiences in countless comics, live-action and animated television programs, and seven feature films. Prowling the darkened rooftops of Gotham City, roaring through the teeming streets in the sleek, high-powered Batmobile, and leaping into action when the iconic Bat-Signal pierces the night sky, the Caped Crusader is a larger-than-life legend. And now, for the first time in more than thirty years, everything there is to know about Batman–from the beginning to the present, and from A to Z–is collected in one comprehensive new sourcebook. More than 500 pages of entries and illustrations include:

• fascinating details and the complete background on Batman’s origins
• biographies of every major character in the Batman universe–including his closest allies, from Robin the Boy Wonder and faithful butler Alfred Pennyworth to Commissioner Gordon; and his countless enemies, from the Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, and the Riddler to Scarecrow, Two-Face, Ra’s al Ghul and Poison Ivy
• classic black-and-white comic book artwork throughout
• two sixteen-page full-color artwork inserts

Even an all-access pass to the Batcave couldn’t rival former DC Comics editor and Batman scholar extraordinaire Robert Greenberger’s exhaustive ultimate archive. The Essential Batman Encyclopedia is a must for every Batman fan’s bookshelf.

BATMAN, the DC Logo, and all related names, characters and elements are trademarks of DC Comics © 2008. All rights reserved.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345501066
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/10/2008
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 584,231
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 10.64(h) x 1.02(d)
Age Range: 16 - 18 Years

About the Author

Robert Greenberger is the creator of Comics Scene, the first national magazine covering comic books, comic strips, and animation. He has worked for DC Comics and Gist Communications, and he served as director of publishing operations for Marvel Comics. Greenberger is the author of numerous novels, including adventures set in the Star Trek universe, and is the news editor for the trendsetting online popular culture site ComicMix. He lives with his wife, Deb, in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Read an Excerpt

Serial killer Arnold Etchison grew up convinced that his family members were evil. He eventually murdered them in the belief that their deaths would protect the world from further perils. Etchison also believed that he absorbed the life force from each victim after his or her death. Taking the name Abattoir, he continued his murderous spree until Batman apprehended him. Etchison was declared criminally insane and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in Gotham City’s Arkham Asylum. When the international criminal Bane freed the Arkham inmates while carrying out his plan to weaken the Dark Knight, Abattoir immediately returned to tracking down and killing members of his extended family. Etchison was eventually found by Jean—Paul Valley, who at the time was substituting for Batman after the latter was crippled in a fight with Bane. Their confrontation took place at a Gotham refinery where Valley, who lacked Bruce Wayne’s unwavering moral scruples, allowed Abattoir to fall to his death. However, Valley later learned that Etchison had left an innocent victim, his cousin Graham Etchison, hidden away in an undisclosed torture chamber. With Etchison dead, the victim remained undiscovered and eventually died.

Some time later Etchison’s spirit returned to plague Bruce Wayne, who had healed and wore Batman’s cape and cowl once again. Abattoir’s spirit attempted to cause his last surviving relative, an unnamed cousin, to miscarry, thereby providing him with a mortal vessel to possess in his plan to return to human form. Instead, Abattoir animated Valley’s armored Batsuit and fought Batman until the Dark Knight convinced Etchison’s spirit to abandon his vengeful mission and return to his proper place in the spirit realm. (Detective Comics #625, January 1991)
Little is known about Kyle Abbott, whose first recorded appearance saw him in the employ of ecoterrorist Raø’s al Ghuøl. He later swore his allegiance to al Ghuøl’s former employee, Whisper a’Daire, who injected him with a serum made by Raø’s that gave Abbott the ability to shape—shift into a werewolf and eternal life. The serum needed to be taken on a regular basis, thereby granting a’Daire control over Abbott, who became her much—feared second in command. (Detective Comics #743, April 2000)

Abbott was also a’Daire’s whipping boy, and was punished every time one of her power—grabbing schemes failed. As a result of the many beatings he received, he was left partially blinded and disfigured until a’Daire used the serum to restore Abbott’s health, although he remained blind in one eye. Despite his suffering, Abbott remained unswervingly loyal to his vicious master. When a’Daire took over HSC International Banking, a legitimate company fronting for the criminal group Intergang, Abbott remained by her side.

Eventually regaining total sight, Abbott–now able to change form from human to semi—lycan to full werewolf–led a team of shape—changers against the Question and former Gotham City Police Department detective Renee Montoya, who were tracing illegal alien weaponry to Intergang. Abbott and his men engaged Intergang in a vicious fight that left all of Intergang’s agents dead. Abbott later managed to track Montoya and the Question to Khandaq, framing them for the slaughter that had occurred at the Intergang HSC warehouse. (52 #1, 2006)

When he returned to Gotham, Abbott was alarmed at the fervor Bruno Mannheim, Intergang’s leader, displayed for the task of destroying the city to fulfill a prophecy from the Crime Bible. As a result, he turned his back on a’Daire and proved crucial in leading Montoya to the kidnapped Batwoman, about to be sacrificed by Mannheim. He was last seen accompanying Nightwing in disabling devices designed to turn the city into a charred lump of rock. (52 #48, 2007)
On Earth—2, Batman and Robin, sometimes accompanied by Superman, would be hypnotized by Professor Carter Nichols and manage to pierce the time barrier. One such adventure landed the World’s Finest team in tenth—century Baghdad. The swarthy giant Abdullah led the notorious Forty Thieves and traded a youth named Aladdin a useless oil lamp in exchange for a fortune, and then tried to frame Aladdin as a member of the thieves. The time—traveling trio not only helped the lad regain his fortune, which had been swindled from him by Abdullah, but also stopped Abdullah’s planned crime wave through a Baghdad bazaar. (World’s Finest Comics #79, November/December 1955)

Organized crime in Gotham City has taken many shapes over the years, but none so blatantly mirrored the efforts of law enforcement as the Academy. A secret training facility for criminals, it also doubled as the headquarters for the underworld group that most benefited from the training. Standards for admission were high, the Academy accepting only those men with an IQ higher than 135 who were physically at their peak. Upon learning of the Academy’s existence, Batman was determined to shut down the facility for good. The Caped Crusader disguised himself as a recruit and went through all the training courses upon acceptance. His well—developed mind and body ensured that he advanced rapidly, and eventually he became a nominee for the next leader of the organization. Batman took the leadership role and subsequently brought about the Academy’s downfall, with the help of the Gotham City Police Department. The Academy’s hoard of stolen property and its current membership roster were taken into custody, and the facility was shut down for good. (Batman #70, April/May 1952)

The small town of Accord was said to be located "two hundred or so miles north of Gotham City." Accord was founded by the great—grandfather of its local physician, Lynn Eagles, who aided the Batman during a case involving the Joker. (Legends of the Dark Knight #67, January 1995)

When would—be counterfeiters kidnapped en-graver John Wilker, Batman and Robin launched an investigation. They saved Wilker’s abandoned German shepherd, Ace, from drowning in a river, and used the dog’s innate tracking abilities to help locate his master. During the search, Bruce Wayne also placed an ad for Ace’s master. Given the distinctive diamond—shaped mark on Ace’s forehead, Wayne hoped someone would recognize the dog and provide some useful information. Sure enough, one of Wilker’s neighbors gave Bruce a vital clue.

Wayne was also concerned that people might associate Ace and his distinctive diamond mark with Batman and his true identity; as a result, he quickly fashioned a black hood and bat—symbol collar, and Ace joined the Dynamic Duo. A criminal tracked by the cowled canine soon dubbed him Ace the Bat—Hound.
Wilker’s kidnappers were attempting to steal ink from the Eastern Printing—Ink Company when the crime fighters caught up to them, only to be subdued during the fight. Fashioning a crude Bat—Signal from cloth and a flashlight, Batman managed to summon Ace, who gnawed through Robin’s bonds, freeing the heroes and allowing them to defeat the counterfeiters. (Batman #92, June 1955)

Wilker loaned Ace to Batman for numerous cases over the next few months. When Wilker took a new job that required him to travel frequently, Wayne finally adopted the dog. By then Batman had added a receiver to Ace’s collar that used an ultra—high—frequency sound to summon the canine. (Batman #125, August 1959) Ace went on frequent adventures with the Dynamic Duo, and worked alongside Batwoman as well. Bat—Mite, the magical imp from another dimension, once bequeathed Ace temporary superpowers, with disastrous results.

In the reality created by the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Batman encountered the German shepherd when the dog was pet to a 130—year—old Native American shaman named Black Wolf. Batman was drawn to a bat—shaped patch on the dog’s shoulder, and followed the dog. Batman was led to and rescued Black Wolf from members of his own tribe, who wanted to silence his protests at their evil plans. Batman and Black Wolf worked together to stop the tribe from committing atrocities that they felt would balance the heinous crimes committed by European settlers in 1863. After their mission, Black Wolf died and Batman brought Ace back to Gotham City. Ace aided Batman on several occasions, including tracking the monstrous and elusive Killer Croc. (Batman #462, May 1991) Once ensconced in the Batcave, Ace was drawn to the mute hunchback Harold, who had also come to live in the cave and build tools for the Dark Knight. Harold, in return, built Ace a mechanical mouse to play with. Ace was last seen prior to events known as No Man’s Land.

Ace has not appeared in the reality created after the events of Infinite Crisis.

As a way to commit crimes without interference from Batman, the Penguin once recruited an unnamed actuary. This actuary observed that the best way to commit a crime without being foiled by Batman was to do so in broad daylight. As the Penguin made his plans, he was unaware that Batman had already targeted one of his current gang members, Nico Vanetta. Batman learned from Vanetta that the Penguin intended to rob the annual Gotham Flower Show. The Dark Knight then engineered events so that the show was plunged into darkness, and the Penguin’s latest scheme was foiled. Evidence gathered at the crime scene prevented Batman from linking the near robbery to the Penguin. In his role as a casino owner, the Penguin not only had an alibi, but could explain away circumstantial evidence as well. Still, to settle the possible criminal charges, Penguin maneuvered the actuary into pleading guilty to the flower show robbery. The actuary was subsequently sentenced to Blackgate Penitentiary. (Detective Comics #683, March 1995)

Little is known about Whisper a’Daire, whose first recorded appearance had her working for ecoterrorist Raø’s al Ghuøl. (Detective Comics #743, April 2000) At the time, Raø’s had developed a serum that enabled humans to change at will into one of several animal forms. She took the serum and became a snake woman, while her loyal bodyguard, Kyle Abbott, became a werewolf. One effect of the serum was prolonged life, and a’Daire was estimated to be at least eighty years old at the time Batman first encountered her, despite appearing to be in her late twenties at most. Her youthful visage was maintained by regularly shedding her skin, much like her snake counterpart. When Batman attempted to free a’Daire and Abbott from Raø’s clutches, a’Daire refused, as she liked her new form and her abilities. She then disappeared and used the serum on several other former followers of Raø’s, creating a small army of half—human/half—beast creatures. All were controlled by a’Daire’s considerable mental powers. She learned that this telepathic link had limitations, however: Those under her command with superior willpower often sought their freedom.

A’Daire has demonstrated the ability to hypnotize by locking her slit—like eyes onto her victims. However, she often gets her way without employing this skill. A’Daire’s fiery temper surfaced whenever her plans went awry, and she once spat a powerful acidic poison at Kyle Abbott, which blinded him.

The redheaded seductress later surfaced as the manager of HSC International Banking, a legitimate company fronting for the criminal group Intergang, with Abbott once more by her side. When the Question and former G.C.P.D. detective Renee Montoya were tracing illegal alien weaponry to Intergang, she ordered them killed. During the battle between the detectives and her minions, led by Abbott, a’Daire vanished. (52 #11, 2006) She resurfaced in Gotham City more than six months later, aiding Bruno Mannheim in performing spells as outlined in the Crime Bible. When that plan crumbled, she was severely burned and went her own way. (52 #48, 2007)

A citizen of eighteenth—century Gotham City who was better known to the masses as a criminal highwayman, Captain Lightfoot.

A criminal who fought the Batman under the name Ogre.

On Earth—2, Agatha was Bruce Wayne’s aunt, although her exact relationship to the Wayne and Kane families remains unknown. Some time after Wayne began his career as Batman, Agatha arrived for what was to be a two—week visit, to ensure that her orphaned nephew was being well cared for by Alfred Pennyworth, the family butler. To Wayne, the two weeks felt prolonged and on numerous occasions proved challenging for him and his ward, Dick Grayson, in their fight against crime as Batman and Robin. The timing of Agatha’s visit could not have been worse, as Alfred was on a two—week vacation and there was no one present to distract her.

The bespectacled, white—haired Agatha was kindhearted and somewhat overprotective of her family. Unfortunately, the visit complicated the Dynamic Duo’s war on crime, especially when she fell asleep in front of the grandfather clock that doubled as the entrance to the Batcave. After they changed into their costumes in the Wayne Manor kitchen, Agatha discovered Bruce and Dick prior to their leaving the mansion, and she believed them to be dressed for a costume party. Instead the pair tackled the Rotor—Robbers as they were committing a crime, the confrontation conveniently "delaying" the costume party by a day. While this gave Batman and Robin a second chance to use the costume party excuse, they found themselves overwhelmed by the Rotor—Robbers . . . that is, until the Joker arrived and pointed a gun at the Robbers, ordering them to free the Caped Crusaders. Removing the Joker mask, Agatha revealed herself and nearly gave away Batman’s alter ego in the process. The confusion allowed Batman and Robin to subdue the Robbers, and the remainder of Agatha’s visit went without incident. She was never seen again and is presumed no longer a part of Batman’s life after the reality—altering events of various recent crises. (Batman #89, February 1955)

Maureen Breen was a meta—human on retainer to the Yakuza, Japan’s underworld. As Aiko (a name that translates to "patronage or favor"), she first encountered Batman when she was sent to Gotham City to handle an Intergang stoolie. Breen demonstrated incredible strength and fast reflexes when she confronted the Dark Knight. A trained fighter, she managed to go toe—to—toe with the Batman, resulting in a draw during their first confrontation. When his next mission took him to Japan, Batman encountered Aiko a second time, where he manipulated her into ending the life of a deviant criminal who liked cosplay (costumed role playing). Aiko unfortunately proved an embarrassment to her superiors, and her ultimate fate went unrecorded. (Legends of the Dark Knight #213, February 2007)

Michael Akins originally served the citizens of Gateway City as a police officer before relocating to Gotham City. As a member of the Gotham City Police Department, Akins achieved a sterling record and was eventually named as Commissioner James Gordon’s replacement. Gordon retired after Gotham City was reopened in the wake of No Man’s Land. The African American officer bravely endured all of Gotham’s relentless problems, which gradually diminished optimistic Akins’s belief in human nature. This was exacerbated when he asked Internal Affairs to investigate detective Harvey Bullock. At the time, Bullock was suspected of shooting a man who had tried to kill Gordon. Bullock retired from the force under a cloud of controversy, and Akins found himself mistrusted by the officers for going after one of their own. (Batman: Turning Points #5, January 2001)

Unlike Gordon, Akins disliked the reliance the G.C.P.D. placed on its costumed protector, Batman. The reticence began during his Gateway days, when Akins had first encountered a vigilante and had approved of his efforts until a hostage situation went bad, leaving both the vigilante and the kidnapped victim–a child–dead. However, constant exposure to the psychotic and costumed criminals preying on Gotham’s citizens eventually made Akins recognize that there was a place for Batman and those like him.

That changed during the events known as War Games, when Batman usurped Akins’s command and started issuing orders to Gotham’s police forces. The officers charged into a volatile gunfight between criminal gangs, which resulted in heavy casualties among the uniforms. There was a major loss of trust on both sides, and Akins ordered the Bat—Signal removed from the G.C.P.D.’s rooftop, declaring that all costumed vigilantes were to be considered in violation of the law.
Shortly after these events, Batman, Robin, and Nightwing left Gotham City for six months, and Akins subsequently tendered his resignation, clearing the way for Gordon to come out of retirement. Rumors of fresh police corruption had circulated, and there was speculation that Akins resigned under pressure, given that the rumors stretched all the way to the commissioner’s office. Since his resignation, Akins has not been seen in Gotham.

Edgar Albrek was desirous of his uncle’s vast wealth and crafted a complex scheme to murder him and avoid conviction for the crime. The plan involved convincing law enforcement officers that while out of the country, Edgar had lost both hands to a gangrene epidemic in Africa. Through modern medicine, his claim went, new hands were grafted on, but they would prove to be the hands of an English murderer. Albrek would then contend that the murderer’s hands acted on their own accord, against his will. Batman and Robin learned of the proposed crime and exposed the preposterous scam before Albrek’s uncle could be killed. He was arrested. (World’s Finest Comics #41, July/August 1941)

Alcor was a distant world with a prospering civilization. The citizens were protected by Tal—Dar, a crime fighter not unlike Batman. When the Dynamic Duo visited the world, they aided Tal—Dar in overcoming his vicious enemy, Zan—Rak. (Detective Comics #282, August 1960)

The first name of Bruce Wayne’s longtime butler and confidant, Alfred Pennyworth.

Alfred Pennyworth died on Earth—1 while protecting Batman and Robin from the Tri—State Gang. He was trapped and perished under a massive pile of boulders, and in his memory Bruce Wayne opened the Alfred Foundation. A charitable organization, it would further Alfred’s efforts to better all humankind.

When Alfred later returned to life as the villainous Outsider and was subsequently restored to his old self, the foundation was renamed for the Wayne Family. The Wayne Foundation continued its mission of good works while also expanding, thanks to the vast Wayne Family fortune. (Detective Comics #328, June 1964)

Ali’s Health Resort in Gotham City–a front for a criminal enterprise–was run by a corpulent Arab named Ali. As wealthy patrons visited the resort, selected victims were kidnapped and imprisoned within secret sections of the facility. Carefully prepared impersonators emerged from the resort and resumed the victims’ lives, using their private access to funds to enrich Ali. For a brief time Bruce Wayne was numbered among the kidnapped, but Dick Grayson discovered the impersonator. The scheme was eventually foiled by Batman and Robin. (Batman #19, October/November 1943)

Crispus Allen was a Metropolis police officer before relocating to the Gotham City Police Department’s Major Crimes Unit. (Detective Comics #742, March 2000) Allen was a disciplined officer, finding strength from his family and believing that the role Batman played was a necessary component in the fight against crime. Allen was partnered with Renee Montoya, and the two had a long string of successes working together. He was a loving and devoted husband and father to two children, and placed their safety above all else. Despite his family’s strong religious beliefs, Allen remained an agnostic, refusing to believe in a God who could let so much evil exist in the world.

Allen’s life took a tragic turn when he and Montoya tracked gang members into a deserted building. Without waiting for backup, per police procedure, they split up and trailed the criminals. Black Spider II suddenly appeared and shot Montoya, who avoided serious injury thanks to her bulletproof vest. The costumed criminal took aim at Montoya’s unprotected head, but Allen arrived before he could fire and fatally shot Black Spider.

As Internal Affairs officers began their routine investigation, the corrupt crime scene officer, Jim Corrigan, pocketed the bullet Allen had fired that killed Black Spider. Corrigan kept it to sell on the collectors’ black market, but without it IA was unable to complete its investigation. Tipped off by IA, Montoya tracked Corrigan and beat him to retrieve the evidence before he could sell it. While this freed Allen from suspicion, it fouled IA’s separate investigation into Corrigan, and marked the partners as enemies in Corrigan’s eyes. This news also placed a strain on Allen and Montoya’s partnership.

Obsessed with obtaining evidence against Corrigan, Allen began putting in extra hours on his own, hiding his work from Montoya. Eventually learning of Allen’s efforts, Corrigan had an informant who was about to speak out against him beaten to death. Subsequently Corrigan lured Allen into finding the body before cravenly shooting Allen in the back. In his role as an investigator, Corrigan tainted the crime scene, thereby avoiding arrest. Montoya, unable to nail Corrigan, suffered an emotional breakdown, left the force, and set off on a self—destructive path. (Gotham Central #38, February 2006)

Allen left behind his wife, Dore; his sons, Jacob and Mal; his mother, Violet; and two brothers.

As Allen’s body lay in the city morgue during the events known as Infinite Crisis, the Spectre was forced by God to take Allen’s corpse as its new human host. Allen’s spirit was unwilling to accept this divine intervention, however, and initially tried to reject it. Nevertheless, the Spectre was summoned to Stonehenge by Earth’s practitioners of magic to help usher in the Tenth Age of Magic. This new incarnation of the Spectre meted out justice by killing the villainous Star Sapphire for her past misdeeds. (Infinite Crisis #4, April 2006)

Allen and the Spirit of Vengeance later came to an agreement that would give Allen’s spirit a year to roam the Earth and study humanity before accepting the Spectre’s presence. Without a human to anchor the Spectre, all humankind was threatened. Allen’s spirit remained largely in Gotham, watching over his family and witnessing the fruitless investigation into his own death; he even discovered Batman’s true identity. As the year ended, the Spectre returned and Allen finally accepted his fate.

By this time Allen’s younger son, Mal, had determined on his own that Corrigan must have killed his father. Seeking revenge, Mal murders the corrupt cop, only to be confronted by the Spectre immediately after. Allen had no choice but to condemn his son to death for committing the crime. Because of this, Allen recognized his role as the Spectre’s moral compass and always ensured that the punishment fit the crime. (Infinite Crisis Aftermath: The Spectre #1—3, 2006)

Tod Allen was a wealthy friend of Bruce Wayne’s, and through their many social interactions at the Sportsmen’s Club, Allen eventually deduced that Wayne and his ward, Dick Grayson, were secretly Batman and Robin. Indulging his fondness for practical jokes, he began taunting Wayne with letters purportedly from a Mr. X, indicating that Batman’s alter ego was in danger. Investigating the letters, Batman determined that Mr. X was Allen, and prepared to confront him about the ruse. Before he got the chance to do so, Allen died in a plane crash, his knowledge of Wayne’s secret dying with him. (Batman #134, September 1960)

Harold Allnut suffered all through life with muteness and a hunchback. (The Question #33, December 1989) After being thrown out of his home by his cruel parents in Hub City, he found his way north to Gotham City. There he came to the Penguin’s attention, and when the criminal learned of Harold’s innate genius with mechanical objects he provided shelter in exchange for Harold creating new devices to be used in the Penguin’s crime sprees. However, anytime Harold tried to object to what the Penguin asked, he threatened his life. Batman fought the Penguin’s gang on many occasions, and eventually rescued Harold from the stout felon. (Batman #458, January 1991)

Grateful for his reprieve, Harold turned his skills to helping the Dark Knight build new crime—fighting gear; eventually he maintained everything Wayne used, from the Batmobile to the Batcave’s computer systems. Shortly after Harold came to live in the Batcave, Batman’s back was broken during a confrontation with the villain Bane. As Bruce Wayne began his long recuperation process, he turned the mantle of the Bat over to his recently acquired ally, Jean—Paul Valley–aka Azrael. Valley lacked Wayne’s strict moral code, however, and quickly devolved the Caped Crusader into an armored avenger, barring Harold from the Batcave. Harold found a new way in and worked in secret, ultimately supporting Nightwing, Robin, and a recovered Wayne in their attempts to stop Valley.

Little has been recorded of Harold’s activities between the restoration of Wayne as Batman and the arrival of the mysterious villain called Hush. Dr. Tommy Elliot, a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne, sought revenge against Wayne for a long—ago slight, and used his miraculous surgical skills to transform Harold from a misshapen man into what passed for Ònormal.Ó To repay the scheming surgeon, Harold agreed to hide microcircuits inside the Batcave’s computer systems. The circuits then transmitted subliminal cues into Batman’s mind, throwing the Caped Crusader off balance as Hush pressed forward his plan. Hush eventually killed Harold, whom he felt was nothing more than a loose end to be tied up. As he died, Harold confessed to Batman that he continued to look up to the hero, despite his own betrayal. (Batman #618, October 2003) A sympathetic Batman buried Harold overlooking Wayne Manor.

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