Have you ever looked at your old high school yearbook and wanted to bury it somewhere, or do you wish you could run and hide when a really embarrassing memory shows up on your Timehop? We all have those humiliating moments and the Batman family is no exception. When you’ve been around for 80 years there’s bound to be a bit of cringe along the way. Not every story can be The Dark Knight Returns or Hush, sometimes you get “Batman Becomes Bat-Baby.” This Batman Day, let’s celebrate and honor the Dark Knight the same way we do with all of our best friends—by telling embarrassing stories about their past! Here are a few of the less stellar moments he and his allies have had throughout their rich and diverse history.
The Time Bruce Wayne Was Caught Cheating and Said Batman Made Him Do It
This one has always astounded me so much that I’m not even sure how to introduce it. During the Golden Age, Bruce Wayne was dating a nurse named Linda Page, but that didn’t stop him from romancing Catwoman (who was calling herself Elva Barr at the time) in Batman #15. Bruce’s reasoning was that it wasn’t really cheating because he was only pretending to romance Elva so she’d give up her life of crime.
I mean, it almost makes sense until you realize that there are about a billion better ways you could go about doing that. It didn’t take long for Bruce and Elva to announce their engagement, but there was one big problem—he forgot to tell his girlfriend Linda. Bruce tried to smooth things over by telling Linda that he was cheating on her as a favor to Batman…which went about as well as you’d imagine, but not for why you’d imagine. It turned out that Catwoman had actually disguised herself as Linda to test Bruce’s love for her, so when she heard that “Batman made me do it,” she was none too pleased. The story ends with both Linda and Catwoman mad at Bruce, and let’s be real…he kind of had it coming. Still, you have to think the whole thing helped with Bruce Wayne’s usually carefully cultivated playboy persona, and saying “Batman made me do it” is one of the most creative responses you could give when you’re caught cheating. But if Batman himself couldn’t make it work, we don’t suggest you try it.
The Time Alfred Spanked Catwoman
Have you ever had one of those times when you and someone you know do something that neither of you are proud of? In Batman #22, Alfred and Selina share a moment that both still probably pretend never happened.
To rob some rich people, Catwoman disguised herself as a girl named Belinda and flirted with their hired help. Unfortunately, this also included Alfred, who wound up falling head over heels for Catwoman’s disguise, and in a moment of lovesick fever, tried to impress Belinda by telling her he’s best friends with Batman.
Oh, it gets worse. Alfred then swiped one of Bruce’s costumes and showed up to meet Belinda pretending to be Batman. It’s interesting to see Alfred’s courtship style—it’s not as impressive as his cooking or cleaning skills. The disguise doesn’t prove to be effective (see the image above), but Catwoman mistook Alfred for the real Batman and captured him. Needless to say, the real Dynamic Duo eventually got involved, and after some confusion Catwoman slipped away only to be found by Bat-Alfred who promised to spank her.
Fortunately, the spanking doesn’t happen on-page, but it’s clear from the page above that it did happen. Look at the sheepish expression on Selina’s face! Alfred, what the heck?! Even Bruce thinks that Alfred went too far—and this is the guy who tried blaming his unfaithfulness on Batman! I still have a hard time believing any of this actually happened. I wonder if Alfred and Selina ever have awkward silences at Wayne Manor when Bruce leaves the room.
The Time Gordon Vowed to Keep Batman’s Identity a Secret…and Totally Didn’t
In an offbeat story from Batman #71, Jim Gordon decided it might be fun to discover Batman’s secret identity. The opportunity arrived when Batman asked to use Gordon’s private bathroom to wash up, and Jim decided to peek and get a glimpse of him unmasked. Fortunately, Gordon fessed up and admitted to Batman that he spied on him changing in the bathroom, which sounds like the start of a much different story than this one. Fortunately, all that happened in this case was that Batman was annoyed (can you blame him?), but Gordon vowed to never let anyone know that he was privy to the Dark Knight’s secret identity.
I think he managed to last about a panel before breaking that promise. And then doing it again. And again.
The first time we can cut him some slack because he was talking in his sleep. But then Gordon started compulsively writing “I know Batman’s secret identity” on pieces of paper. (What’s that about, Gordo?) The whole thing climaxed when the Commissioner crashed his car and started wandering the streets mumbling “I know Batman’s secret identity” to anyone that would listen. This got the attention of…well, probably a lot people. But a few of them were criminals who threatened him, which caused Gordon to sing like a canary.
Fortunately, it was revealed that Batman had been using a false face for an undercover assignment when Gordon spied on him, so the secret was still safe…but dang we sure learned a lot about Golden Age Gordon! It’s hard to read this story and walk away with an impression other than “the Commissioner cannot be trusted.” In the decades since this story was published Jim Gordon has held Gotham together and become one of Batman’s greatest allies. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Batman still refuses to wash up over at his office.
The Time Batman Turned Into a Bat-Baby and Just Went with It
I’m sure some of you have seen the cover above, and I can promise all of you that the actual story is weirder!
In Batman #147, a criminal zapped Batman with a scientific gizmo (because those were in large supply during this era of comics) and it de-aged Batman to a toddler. Unfortunately, as a Bat-Baby, the Dark Knight can’t exactly fire up the Batmobile and drive home, so he…uh…let Robin carry him.
“Robin, I never thought there’d be a time when you’d have to carry me in your arms like a baby,” Batman goes so far as to say, which…is fair. He probably didn’t.
To Batman’s credit, though, he decided to own his newfound affinity for nappies and embraced the whole baby thing. He designed a Bat-Baby costume, and as you can see, he added overalls for no reason other than the fact that they’re adorable. It’s not all cuteness and sunshine, though. At one point in the story, Bruce had to use shadow puppets to make Kathy Kane think he was kissing another woman. That way she would be too mad to try to see Bruce and wouldn’t discover that her rich boyfriend had suddenly become the world’s gurgliest superhero.
I mean, it’s a plan. Maybe not a good plan, but a plan. Of course, Bruce didn’t help himself at all (seriously, get this guy a relationship coach) when he told Dick, “When I’m adult size again I’ll explain that the girl she saw was a cousin.”
So, instead of cheating on Kathy with a random woman, he's cheating on her with a family member?! I DON'T THINK THAT MAKES THINGS BETTER, BRUCE! Fortunately, like in most Silver Age “hero gets transformed stories,” Batman was back to normal by the end, but can one ever truly be considered normal after wearing a costume like that?
The Time Batman Reminded Us That When You’ve Gotta Go, You’ve Gotta Go
All of the other stories have been from Batman’s early days, but for our final entry we’re going to switch things up and pluck this goody from 2010’s Batman: The Widening Gyre #6 because no matter how much we grow and evolve, you’re never too old to say something you instantly regret. Batman was training another hero named Baphomet and decided that the best way to inspire this new vigilante would be to tell him about the time he had a little accident in front of a bunch of criminals. Apparently, during Batman’s early days (in a scene taken from Batman: Year One) the Dark Knight suffered a “bladder spasm” after scaring Gotham’s criminal elite with an explosion during their dinner party.
Maybe Batman wanted Baphomet to learn the importance of going before you go on patrol?
Sure, Batman has had some embarrassing moments, but haven’t we all? Besides, I feel better knowing that one of the world’s greatest superheroes has said even dumber things to his past girlfriends than I have. It helps make a man who seems far greater than the rest of us mere mortals a little more normal. Also, these moments stand out because there really aren’t that many of them in the grand scheme of things. So, laugh at Batman turning into a baby, but remember, this is the same guy who took down Bane. For every embarrassing moment, there’s hundreds of epic ones. Happy Batman Day, Bruce! Thanks for all the memories!
Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DCComics.com and DCUniverse.com, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.