Batman was the hero every kid could aspire to be.
Well, at least that was the logic a skinny, geeky kid in Miami used. See, I never expected to be bitten by a radioactive anything, and as far as I knew, I hadn't been born on another planet -- despite sometimes hoping that was the case.
But Batman, yeah -- that was at least doable, you know?
My earliest memories of the character weren't in comics -- Super Friends. The 60s television series reruns. The first Keaton film. All vastly different interpretations of the same core concept -- a man so driven to succeed, he could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the strongest beings on the planet and hold his own. The conceit, which has stuck with me since was always there: if you work hard enough, you'll succeed.
Somewhere around that time, I stumbled upon an old issue of BRAVE AND THE BOLD (#126, "What Lurks Below Buoy 13," by writer Bob Haney and artist Jim Aparo) and I was hooked. Not only did Batman have the coolest costume I'd ever seen, but he wasn't just a muscle-bound bruiser. He was part Sherlock Holmes. Part James Bond.
Whether he was crashing through the ceiling to disrupt a gangland meeting or going toe-to-toe with a mad god, Batman's story was always the most compelling to me as a reader. And it's because of the simplicity of the concept that he's managed to last this long in a myriad number of incarnations and interpretations -- from gun-toting vigilante to whacked-out sci-fi explorer to hippie hero to gritty protector.
Batman was a constant for me -- from middle school, to high school, to college, to, well now -- even while some titles would drop and other, newer ones would find their way into my weekly haul, I couldn't go very long without checking in on my old friend. And as the years passed, it almost felt like I was along for the ride, through the good times and the bad. Jason Todd. Barbara Gordon changed forever. Tim Drake. A broken back. Taking back the cowl. A shattered city. Officer down. Hush. R.I.P. "Death" by Darkseid. The list goes on.
It's not uncommon for someone to pop into my office and remark "Think you have enough Batman statues in here?"
Nope. Never enough.
So, happy 700th issue, Batman. Here's to 700 more.
And those villains? Wow. More on that later this week.