What Ruined Doctor Who: Part 1

Image result for Jodie Whittaker

Well its official now, Jodie Whittakers era has been a disaster. DVD sales are down, merchandise is virtually non existent, and the shows viewers have dropped almost every week since her first episode to under 4 million.

That’s with all the publicity, support and promotion the show could have, and it being placed in the best time slot. (Not only is Sunday night less competetive, but the show is also being shown in January, the best month for any tv show.)

Naturally fans have begun to hurl accusations at certain individuals and groups for ruining this once most wonderful of series.

Chris Chibnall, Jodie Whittaker and the SJW boogey men tend to get the most of the blame. I used to hold the SJWs solely responsible, but in truth now I think they were merely a symptom of the greater problems with the entire 21st century version of Doctor Who.

Ulltimately the 21st century version of Doctor Who never showed any respect to the original. It never attempted to carry on its story arcs, characterisation of the Doctor or other characters like the Master, the Daleks etc.

It was always in essence a remake, which would have been fine, except that it insisting on being a sequel in order to cash in on the originals huge success.

Sadly however unlike other fandoms that generally tend to reject unfaithful adaptations, Doctor Who fans have been quite unique in rolling over and taking the vandalisation of their favourite series.

Over the course of the next two articles, we will see how a particular fandom incrowd were able to dominate all areas of the Doctor Who franchise, not just the television series. We will see how this incrowd didn’t have the shows best interests at heart, how they nurtured a kind of self loathing fanboy mentality and spread lies, such as “Doctor Who is all about change, so all change is good”: and how these lies ultimately destroyed the very core concept of Doctor Who.

The Fitzroy Crowd and their takeover of the franchise

Image result for paul cornell steven moffat

Throughout the 90s when Doctor Who was off the air, a fandom incrowd began to take over all forms of Doctor Who related media. The book range, the magazine, the audios. This incrowd have often been referred to as the Fitzroy Crowd, as they all used to congregate at the Fitzroy pub. They included Russell T Davies, Steven Moffat, Paul Cornell, Nicholas Briggs, Mark Gatiss and Chris Chibnall.

The Fitzroy Crowd, contrary to popular belief were not the only people interested in reviving Doctor Who throughout the wilderness years. Terry Nation the co-creator of the Daleks pitched a version, as did Leonard Nimoy, the actor and director best known for playing Spock in Star Trek. Steven Spielberg even expressed an interest in the brand at one point.

See here.

“Leonard Nimoy is a very pleasant, courteous, soft-spoken and generous man, who had already invested a great deal of time in researching Doctor Who. He had accumulated a fairly extensive collection of videotapes, covering all seven incarnations of the Doctor. We spent a fruitful couple of hours discussing the very basis of the show – what makes Doctor Who Doctor Who – as well as the psychology of its hero, companions, and various off-the-wall casting ideas.”

-From the Nth Doctor book.

The Fitzroy Crowd however I feel had a slight advantage over the others as they had connections within the BBC. (Steven Moffat’s mother in law is Beryl Vertue, whilst Russell T Davies was close friends with Julie Gardner before making the revival.)

Of course that’s not to say it was entirely nepotism as to why they were handed the brand. Davies and Moffat had both produced award winning, successful shows prior to working on the new series. As Terrance Dicks himself said, getting ahead is both who you know, and what you know.

Still ultimately I think its fair to say that Davies and Moffats connections might have given them more of an edge than say Leonard Nimoy, who though more famous; would have undoubtedly been looked down on by the heads of the BBC, as the star of a silly sci fi series. (The heads of the BBC were known for their disdain for the genre in the 90s and 00s, which also undoubtedly contributed to Doctor Who’s long hiatus.)

Still the Fitzroy crowd in hindsight I don’t think were really the right people to bring the show back, despite the massive succes of the revival at first. To me the Fitzroy crowd have always been too cliquey and refused to ever allow contrary voices to get a look in.

This article from Lawrence Miles about Paul Cornell sums up the Fitzroy Crowd’s attitude towards their critics.

“But if all this monkey-posturing sounds absurd, then let’s put in the context of the late ’90s / early 2000s. You may remember a time, in the days before “Doctor Who fans” meant thirteen-year-olds, when the Virgin / BBC novels actually seemed important. The authors certainly thought they were important, and pride was their most valued possession. After all, the reason I gained a reputation as an unhealthy influence was that I broke what Keith Topping called “the unspoken code”, the Omerta-like law which held that New Adventures writers should all stick together in the face of fandom and not publicly criticise each others’ work. I say “Omerta”, but in practice, they behaved more like Medieval overlords than mafiosa: the elite have to form a united front, because otherwise, they’ll be revealed as weak, flabby individuals and the peasants will get ideas above their station. Oh, and you’re the peasants, by the way. When the new series began, those authors who were promoted to scriptwriter-level went from “overlords” to “royalty”, which is why my heartless attack on Mark Gatiss was received with the same shock as if a small-time landowner in the Middle Ages had just referred to the Prince of the Realm as a big spaz.

You think I’m exaggerating…? Then consider this. When Paul Cornell took me to task for the social faux-pas of having opinions, he seemed appalled that I was incapable of respecting the natural hierarchy, and asked whether there was anybody I ‘bent the knee’ to. Bent the knee…? What is this, geek feudalism? When I told him that I had no interest in serving or reigning, he asked me: ‘Do your followers know that?’ I found it horrifying that anyone could even think that way, and I still do.”

Now Lawrence Miles is in all fairness a biased source against the Fitzroy Crowd. He had a very big public falling out with most of them in the 00s, but still when you look at their interactions with people on twitter, or what the likes Davies himself has to say about his critics it becomes obvious that there is at least a grain of truth to Miles statements.

Here

“I do worry about being surrounded by yes-men. You’re right, it happens. […] I don’t think it’s happened to me yet. In the end, just as good writers are hard to find, so are good script editors, good producers and good execs. When you find good people like Julie and Phil, their sheer talent cancels out the risk of them yes-ing. I suppose the danger is not RTD And The Yes-Men, but a triumverate of people who are so similar that contrary opinions don’t get a look-in.”

Russell T Davies- The Writers Tale

With this in mind it becomes obvious that Doctor Who has become the vision of one fandom elite in all areas. The show, Big Finish, the books. Anyone who dislikes anything these people have to do with the show is cast out as a pariah from the fandom. Worse these people will never give up the brand it seems. When one of them stops working on the show, they will hand it over to one of their friends (who all think the same, as can be seen with Moffat and Chibnall.) As a result of this for all their talk of the show is all about change, it has become stagnated over the past 30 years to a greater extent than ever before.

Still a bigger problem lies in the fact that this fandom elite who everybody must “Bend the Knee too,” don’t actually care much for the original series at all. They have prevented it from returning as itself, peddled lies about the original that no one dare question, and have changed what the Doctor is in popular culture.

Anyone who disagrees with their opinions, like Doctor Who is all about change, a female Doctor is the best idea since Hartnell changed into Troughton etc. Then you are cast out of the fandom and franchise as a heretic.

The Fitzroy’s Crowd’s disdain for the original

Image result for 13th doctor missy

Steven Moffat and Chris Chibnall claim to be lifelong fans of the original, yet they turned Jon Pertwee and Roger Delgado’s characters into what you see above. Note: I’m not having a go at the person who did the drawing which is fine, just the men who made it possible for lesbian porn to be inspired by the man behind Worzel Gummidge and the Noodle Doodle Man.

Now I don’t think that the Fitzroy Crowd hated the original series and wanted to actively destroy it. I think they all probably did watch the classic era as children and have a nostalgic love for it, but ultimately I don’t think any of them have ever watched it since it was first aired.

Chris Chibnall outright admits in this interview here that he has never watched the classic era since it was on tv.

Chris Chibnall interview

I think the same is probably true for the rest of the Fitzroy Crowd. You can tell by their opinions of the Doctor, and their analysis of the show that they clearly don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re trying to piece Doctor Who together from memory when they were children, and because nobody dares to question their opinions on anything then it becomes received wisdom.

For instance take a look at Moffat’s analysis of the character of the Doctor.

“We know him to be a sort of academic aristocrat who one day, on a simple moral imperative, erupts from the cloisters and roars through time and space on a mission to end all evil in the universe, unarmed and,if possible, politely.

Consider for a moment — as you would have to if you were casting this part — what kind of man makes a decision like that? He’s profoundly emotional (it’s a profoundly emotional decision), he’s idealistic (unarmed?? Not even a truncheon??), he feels the suffering of others with almost unbearable acuteness (or he’d have stayed at home like we all do when there s a famine or a massacre on the news), he’s almost insanely impulsive (I don’t think I need explain that one) and he is, above all, an innocent — because only an innocent would try to take on the entire cosmos and hope to persuade it to behave a little better.”

No one who has even a basic understanding of the Doctor would come to that conclusion. The Doctor it is said multiple times left Gallifrey because he wanted to explore the universe. He wanted to discover new life forms, new planets, learn the secrets of the universe as a scientist. He did NOT set out on a mission to save the universe. Furthermore far from being someone who feels the suffering of others, there are many times where the Doctor has to be forced into helping others. The Third Doctors entire era is practically him being forced to help others.

The Time Lords exile the Doctor to earth because they see it as being vulnerable to attack. He is put there to protect it as much as it is a punishment. The Doctor however still tries to leave during his exile, even though he knows the earth needs him. He even tries to leave during two crisis’! The Fourth Doctor similarly has to be forced and threatened with death into solving problems such as during the Key to Time story arc.

GUARDIAN: There are times, Doctor, when the forces within the universe upset the balance to such an extent that it becomes necessary to stop everything.
DOCTOR: Stop everything?
GUARDIAN: For a brief moment only.
DOCTOR: Ah.
GUARDIAN: Until the balance is restored. Such a moment is rapidly approaching. These segments must be traced and returned to me before it is too late, before the Universe is plunged into eternal chaos.
DOCTOR: Eternal chaos?
GUARDIAN: Eternal as you understand the term.
DOCTOR: Look, I’m sure there must be plenty of other Time Lords who’d be delighted to
GUARDIAN: I have chosen you.
DOCTOR: Yes, I was afraid you’d say something like that. Ah! You want me to volunteer, isn’t that it?
GUARDIAN: Precisely.
DOCTOR: And if I don’t?
GUARDIAN: Nothing.
DOCTOR: Nothing? You mean nothing will happen to me?
GUARDIAN: Nothing at all. Ever.

(The Tardis materialises amongst the ruins and the Doctor rushes out. Thunder rolls.)
DOCTOR: Come out, meddlesome, interfering idiots. I know you’re up there so come on out and show yourselves!
(Sarah sneaks out cautiously with a torch.)
DOCTOR: Messing about with my Tardis. Dragging us a thousand parsecs off course.
SARAH: Oi, have you gone potty? Who are you shouting at?
DOCTOR: The Time Lords, who else? Now, you see? You see? They haven’t even got the common decency to come out and show their ears.
SARAH: They’re probably afraid of getting them boxed, the way you’re carrying on.
DOCTOR: It’s intolerable. I won’t stand for any more of it.
SARAH: Oh look, why can’t it have just gone wrong again?
DOCTOR: What?
SARAH: The Tardis.
DOCTOR: What? Do you think I don’t know the difference between an internal fault and an external influence? Oh, no, no, no. There’s something going on here, some dirty work they won’t touch with their lily white hands. Well, I won’t do it, do you hear

The next segment is from Spearhead From Space where the Doctor already knows aliens have landed on earth.

(Liz give the key to the Doctor.)
DOCTOR: I’m afraid he’s going to be awfully cross with you.
LIZ: Well, if you’re quick, he mightn’t even miss it.
(The Doctor opens the Tardis door.)
LIZ: It didn’t turn when the Brigadier tried to open it.
DOCTOR: Well, that’s because the lock has a metabolism detector.
(The Doctor enters the Tardis. The Brigadier enters the lab.)
BRIGADIER: Miss Shaw, where’s that key. You’ve given it to him.
LIZ: He needed some equipment.
BRIGADIER: Equipment I had no idea you could be so gullible. That’s an excuse. We shan’t see him again.
LIZ: Oh, what do you mean©
BRIGADIER: Listen.
(The Tardis dematerialisation sequence starts, but it is stuttering.)
BRIGADIER: He’s going.
(There is the sound of a small explosion inside the Tardis, some smoke comes out and the noise grinds to a halt. The Doctor emerges, coughing.)
DOCTOR: Just testing. I wanted to see if the controls
LIZ: Doctor, you tricked me.
DOCTOR: Yes. The temptation was too strong, my dear. It’s just that I couldn’t bear the thought of being tied to one planet and one time. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.
BRIGADIER: It won’t. Give me the key, Doctor.

Ultimately the Doctor is a hedonistic character. Someone who just wants to live life by his own rules and hates being forced to do anything he doesn’t want to. He does still have a strong moral sense, so if he sees a problem, most of the time he will interfere. (Though many times the Doctor is also just trying to help himself after his curiosity has gotten him into trouble.) Still he is not someone on a mission to save the universe.

As for being unarmed, this is yet another gross misunderstanding of the Doctors character. The Doctor is a scientist first and foremost who wants to simply explore, so he naturally doesn’t like weapons. Still far from being idealistic, the Doctor is practical and understands that sometimes he has to use weapons to protect himself and the people around him.

Case in point.

DOCTOR: Professor, you don’t happen to have an elephant gun, do you?
LITEFOOT: Elephants? Why on Earth do you want an elephant gun?
DOCTOR: We’re about to embark on a very dangerous mission.
LITEFOOT: Well, I’ve a Chinese fowling piece if that’s any good. Used for duck, mainly.
(The Doctor looks at the long-barreled weapon.)
DOCTOR: Made in Birmingham. Yes, that’s the main requirement. Could you get me a small boat?

Steven Moffat also said that he wanted to recapture the dynamic of Pertwee’s Doctor and Delgado’s Master with Gomez/Capaldi (I’ll give you a minute to laugh at that) by depicting the Doctor and the Master as friends.

Moffat said that not once did Pertwee and Delgado play the Doctor and the Master as anything but friends.

Here’s the quote.

“I was looking back at the old Jon Pertwee/Roger Delgado ones and what’s fascinating about that is that they only ever play it as friends. They never, ever play it as enemies at all. They’re just two gentlemen having fun with each other. The Doctor’s best friend is a murdering psychopath, that’s actually quite fun.”

Here are some actual interactions between Pertwee and Delgado.

MASTER: I hope I’m not interrupting anything important.
DOCTOR: No, no, indeed not. You’ve come here to kill me, of course.
MASTER: But not without considerable regret.
DOCTOR: How very comforting.
MASTER: You see, Doctor, you’re my intellectual equal. Almost. I have so few worthy opponents. When they’ve gone, I always miss them.
DOCTOR: How did you get in here.
MASTER: Oh, don’t be trivial, Doctor. I see you’ve been working on the Nestene autojet. My own small contribution to their invasion plan.
DOCTOR: Vicious, complicated and inefficient. Typical of your way of thinking.
MASTER: Now, come, come, Doctor. Death is always more frightening when it strikes invisibly.
DOCTOR: Tell me, how do you intend to activate these flowers.
MASTER: Oh, by a radio impulse which the Nestenes will send. I shall open the channel for them. We’ve distributed four hundred and fifty thousand of these daffodils, so when four hundred and fifty thousand people fall dead, the country will be disrupted.
DOCTOR: And in the confusion the Nestenes will land their invasion force.
MASTER: Exactly. It’s a shame that you can’t be here to enjoy the chaos and destruction with me. Goodbye, Doctor.
(Jo walks in just as the Master was about to shoot the Doctor. As the Master is distracted, the Doctor grabs something from the bench.)
JO: You were quite right
DOCTOR: Wait! Don’t shoot.
MASTER: Doctor, you do disappoint me. We Time Lords are expected to face death with dignity.
JO: Oh, no!
DOCTOR: Don’t worry. He’s not going to kill me.
MASTER: That is your last mistake.
DOCTOR: If you fire that thing, you will never be able to leave this planet.
MASTER: You’re bluffing on an empty hand, Doctor.
DOCTOR: I’m not bluffing and my hand, as you can see, is not empty. If you kill me, you will destroy the dematerialisation circuit from your own Tardis. You recognise it, I feel sure.
MASTER: Where did you get that.

See how the Master is willing to kill him and the Doctor has to genuinely bluff his way out? Hey maybe this is just one out of character moment for Delgado?

The Daemons

MASTER: You realise, of course, that you’re a doomed man, Doctor?
DOCTOR: Oh, I’m a dead man. I knew that as soon as I came through that door, so you’d better watch out. You see, I’ve nothing to lose, have I?
MASTER: Enough! Azal, destroy him!
AZAL: Who is this?!
MASTER: My enemy and yours, Azal. Destroy him!
AZAL: This is the one we spoke of. He too is not of this planet.
MASTER: He is a meddler and a fool.
AZAL: He is not a fool, yet he has done a foolish thing coming here. Why did you come?
DOCTOR: I came to talk to you.                                                                                                                   
DOCTOR: To try and make you listen to me.
AZAL: Why should I? I see no consequence of value.
MASTER: Then kill him. Kill him now!
AZAL: Very well.
(Azal aims his hand at the Doctor.)
JO: No!            

The Time Monster                                                                                                                                             

DOCTOR: Greetings to you, Krasis. Any friend of the Master’s is an enemy of mine.
MASTER: Oh come, Doctor, must we play games? I take it you have something to say to me before I destroy you?
DOCTOR: Yes, I most certainly have.

MASTER: Miss Grant?
JO [on scanner]: What’s happened to the Doctor? You must help him!
MASTER: Ah, he’s beyond my help, my dear. He’s beyond anybody’s help.
JO [on scanner]: You mean that thing, that, that creature really swallowed him up?
MASTER: Ah, that’s a nice point. Yes and no. Yes, it engulfed him. No, it didn’t actually eat him up. He’s out there in the time vortex and there he’s going to stay.
JO [on scanner]: Then he is alive?
MASTER: Well, if you can call it that. Alive for ever in an eternity of nothingness. To coin a phrase, a living death.
JO [on scanner]: That that’s the most cruel, the most wicked thing I ever heard.
MASTER: Thank you, my dear. Now, what are we going to do about you, though? You’re an embarrassment to me. As indeed is that antiquated piece of junk of the Doctor’s. Now let me see
JO [on scanner]: I don’t really care anymore. Do what you like, but just get it over with.
MASTER: Your word is my command. Goodbye, Miss Grant!
(The two Tardises move in and out of each other in the vortex. On the scanner, Jo’s image sways then blurs as the two time machines finally separate.)

Episode Five

The Sea Devils

DOCTOR: How do you know about them?
MASTER: Oh, from the Time Lord’s files.
DOCTOR: More stolen information?
MASTER: Naturally.
DOCTOR: Well, why do you want to contact them?
MASTER: Those reptiles, Doctor, were once the rulers of this Earth. And with my help, they can be so again.                                                                                                                                                   
DOCTOR: I still don’t see why you want to help them. What can you possibly gain?
MASTER: The pleasure of seeing the human race exterminated, Doctor. The human race of which you are so fond. Believe me, that’ll be a reward in itself.

The Mind of Evil

JO: But I don’t see why you’re so upset. If you give him back the circuit and he hands over the missile
DOCTOR: You just don’t understand, do you, Jo? Once he gets that circuit back he’s free to roam through time and space. We’d never catch him.
JO: Then you’ll just have to give in. The Master’s got the missile and all we’ve got is this wretched machine.
DOCTOR: Jo, will you stop stating the obvious. What did you say?
JO: I said all we’ve got is this machine.
DOCTOR: Well, that’s it. That’s the answer. We’ve got the machine and we’ve got our friend, Barnham.
JO: I don’t understand.
DOCTOR: With a little help from you, old chap, we can destroy this machine and the Master at the same time.

[The Master’s Tardis]

MASTER: Ah, Doctor. I was afraid you’d be worried about me, so I thought I’d let you know that I’m alive and well.

[Prison Governor’s office]

DOCTOR: I’m extremely sorry to hear that.

Colony in Space

DOCTOR: Now you stay here! I’ve got to try and stop this senseless killing.
MASTER: It won’t do any good, Doctor. They won’t listen to you. It’s always the innocent bystander who suffers eventually.
DOCTOR: And what’s that supposed to mean?
MASTER: (leveling a gun) I’m afraid you’re both about to become the victims of stray bullets

Frontier in Space

(The Master is in the cage with Jo.)
MASTER: Why? What’s his plan?
JO: He wanted to get to the flight deck. He was outside the ship when you made your course correction!
MASTER: Was he now. How very unfortunate (laughs). By now he’s probably thousands of miles away, swimming around in space by himself. But just in case he isn’t, you come with me, Miss Grant. Come on.

Claws of Axos

MASTER: Stop him! Don’t you understand. He’s committing suicide and he’s taking us all with him! He’s doing this for Earth, not for you. He’s putting you all in a time loop and you’ll never get out of it! Never!

DOCTOR: Well, it’s perfectly simple, Brigadier. A time loop is, er. Well, it’s a time loop. One passes continually through the same points in time. Passes through the same. Yes. Well, the Axons said they wanted time travel and now they’ve got it.
FILER: What about the Master.
DOCTOR: Well, I sincerely hope he’s with them.
FILER: Hope.
DOCTOR: Well, I can’t be absolutely sure. I was pretty busy at the time. But I’m ninety percent certain though.
FILER: How much.
DOCTOR: Well, pretty certain. Well, I suppose he could have got away. Just.

Yep the Master and the Doctor were never portrayed as enemies in Delgado’s time. Except in literally every single Delgado story!

It is true that the two were meant to have been friends years ago, and the Doctor does express some regret at how the Masters turned out. Also in Colony in Space the Master offers to let the Doctor help him build his better world.

However the Doctor and Masters past friendship is actually only mentioned in a grand total of one story of the entire classic era, the Sea Devils. It is never presented as interfering in eithers feud with one another in the present. Both may have regrets, but both are perfectly willing to kill the other if need be from the start and the more their feud goes on, the more they develop a genuine hatred for each other that eclipses their former friendship.

Furthermore in Colony in Space the Master’s offer to the Doctor is less about the Doctor and more about his beliefs in building a better galaxy.

The Master throughout the Delgado era wants to rule over planets like the earth because he believes that under his rule he can make them a better place.

See here.

AZAL: I answered your call because the time was come for my awakening. The time has come for the completion of the experiment or its destruction.
MASTER: Then fulfill your mission by granting the ultimate power to me. Who else is there strong enough to give these humans the leadership they need?
DOCTOR: I seem to remember somebody else speaking like that. What was the bounder’s name? Hitler. Yes, that’s right, Adolf Hitler. Or was it Genghis Khan?
MASTER: Azal, I have the will. You yourself said so.

At first he thinks that the Doctor can help him build this better world, as he is on a similar wavelength (another renegade Time Lord.) When he finds out that the Doctor will not only never help him, but is actually a bigger threat. The Master becomes determined to destroy the Doctor, which leads to their feud intensifying.

Moffat however has clearly never watched these stories since the early 70s but remembers vaguely that Delgado and Pertwee were friends in real life and assumes it must have been that way on the show. This explains his ridiculous reading of their relationship. Two guys who regularly tried to shoot each other, blow each other up, stab each other etc, were just two old gentlemen having a laugh!

Similarly the Doctors phobia about guns as we have seen is something that no one who actually watched the show could possibly think. Chris Chibnall openly said in a recent interview that the Doctor never throws punches or fires bullets.

Its not like these are isolated incidents. Part of Jon Pertwee’s entire Doctor was that he was an excellent fighter.

Then there was the moment the Fitzroy crowd actually came third in a Doctor Who trivia quiz.

Steven Moffat Comes Third in Doctor Who Quiz

Clearly the Fitzroy crowd have no knowledge of or interest in the Classic Show. They liked it as children, and they like some of the ideas and characters such as the Daleks, but ultimately they see Classic Who as a boring, embarassing, dated old show that they fixed.

See here for Moffat’s opinions of the show in the 90s.

Back when I was in my early twenties, I thought Doctor Who was the scariest programme on television. I had one particular Who-inspired nightmare which haunts me to this day — except it wasn’t a nightmare at all, it was something that happened to me on a regular basis. I’d be sitting watching Doctor Who on a Saturday, absolutely as normal… but I’d be in the company of my friends!!

Being a fan is an odd thing, isn’t it? I was in little doubt — though I never admitted it, even to myself — that Doctor Who was nowhere near as good as it should have been, but for whatever reason I’d made that mysterious and deadly emotional connection with the show that transforms you into a fan and like a psychotically devoted supporter of a floundering football club, I turned out every Saturday in my scarf, grimly hoping the production team would finally score.

Of course my friends all knew my devotion to the Doctor had unaccountably survived puberty and had long since ceased to deride me for it. I think (I hope) they generally considered me someone of reasonable taste and intelligence and decided to indulge me in this one, stunningly eccentric lapse. And sometimes, on those distant Saturday afternoons before domestic video my nightmare would begin. I’d be stuck out somewhere with those friends and I’d realise in a moment of sweaty panic that I wasn’t going to make it home in time for the programme—or worse, they’ d be round at my house not taking the hint to leave — so on my infantile insistence we’d all troop to the nearest television and settle down to watch, me clammy with embarrassment at what was to come, my friends tolerant, amused and even open-minded.

And the music would start. And I’d grip the arms of my chair. And I’d pray! Just this once, I begged, make it good. Not great, not fantastic —just good. Don’t, I was really saying, show me up.

And sometimes it would start really quite well. There might even be a passable effects shot (there were more of those than you might imagine) and possibly a decent establishing scene where this week’s expendable guest actors popped outside to investigate that mysterious clanking/groaning/beeping/slurping sound before being found horribly killed/gibbering mad an episode later.

At this point I might actually relax a little. I might even start breathing and let my hair unclench. And then it would be happen. The star of the show would come rocketing through the door, hit a shuddering halt slap in the middle of the set and stare at the camera like (and let’s be honest here) a complete moron.

I’d hear my friends shifting in their chairs. I could hear sniggers tactfully suppressed. Once one of them remarked (with touching gentleness, mindful of my feelings) that this really wasn’t terribly good acting.

Of course, as even they would concede, Tom Baker (for it was he) had been good once — even terrific — but he had long since disappeared up his own art in a seven-year-long act of self-destruction that took him from being a dangerous young actor with a future to a sad, mad old ham safely locked away in a voice-over booth.

Which brings us, of course, to Peter Davison (for it was about to be him). I was appalled when he was cast. I announced to my bored and blank-faced friends that Davison was far too young, far too pretty, and far, far too wet to play television’s most popular character (as, I deeply regret to say, I described the Doctor). Little did I realise, back in 1982, that after years of anxious waiting on the terraces in my front room, my home team were about to score — or that Davison was about to do something almost never before seen in the role of the Doctor. He was going to act.

Let’s get something straight, because if you don’t know now it’s time you did. Davison was the best of the lot. Number One! It’s not a big coincidence or some kind of evil plot, that he’s played more above-the-title lead roles on the telly than the rest of the Doctors put together. It’s because-get this!-he’s the best actor.

You don’t believe me? Okay, let’s check out the opposition, Doctor-wise (relax, I’ll be gentle).

1. William Hartnell. Look, he didn’t know his lines! (okay, fairly gentle. It wasn’t his fault) and it’s sort of a minimum requirement of the lead actor dial he knows marginally more about what’s going to happen next than the audience. In truth, being replaceable was his greatest gift to the series. Had the first Doctor delivered a wonderful performance they almost certainly would not have considered a recast and the show would have died back in the sixties.

2. Patrick Troughton. Marvellous! Troughton, far more than the dispensable, misremembered Hartnell, was the template for the Doctors to come and indeed his performance is the most often cited as precedent for his successors. Trouble is, the show in those days was strictly for indulgent ten-year-olds (and therefore hard to judge as an adult). Damn good, though, and Davison’s sole competitor.

3. Jon Pertwee. The idea of a sort of Jason King with a sillier frock isn’t that seductive, really, is it? In fairness he carried a certain pompous gravitas and was charismatic enough to dominate the proceedings as the Doctor should. Had his notion of the character been less straightforwardly heroic he might have pulled off something a little more interesting. His Worzel Gummidge, after all,is inspired and wonderful.

4. Tom Baker. Thunderingly effective at the start, even if his interpretation did seem to alter entirely to fit this week’s script. (Compare, say, THE SEEDS OF DOOM and THE CITY OF DEATH. Is this supposed to be the same person?) I think I’ve said quite enough already about his sad decline so let’s just say that it’s nice to see him back on top form in Medics. Well, is was while it lasted.

5. Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy. Miscast and floundering. Neither made much impression on the role and none at all on the audience. Or at least on me.

Is it because Davison doesn’t fit the established, middle-aged image of the Time Lord — even though, with twelve regenerations the Doctor must be a rather young Gallifreyan with, we know, a definitively youthful, rebellious outlook? Is it that some fans had actually latched on to tackier, more juvenile style of the earlier seasons and actually missed that approach? Whatever the explanation, if it’s possible for anyone to watch something like KINDA and not realise the show was suddenly in a whole different class then I find that slightly worrying. Perhaps — no definitely — there’s something about being a fan that skews your critical judgements.”

Now in all fairness to Moffat he did refute some of these criticisms. People’s opinions change over time (my opinion of New Who has become more negative for instance in the last few years.) Still I can’t help but think that Steven Moffat deep down still feels this way towards the Classic era.

Look at his depiction of the First Doctor in Capaldi’s last story. Here he rewrote the First Doctor to be a sexist, sexual braggard!

This is a shameful misrepresentation of the character to 21st century audiences. The first Doctor was never depicted as a sexist. His era actually featured many strong, brave female characters such as Barbara and Sara Kingdom, both of whom the Doctor never treated as inferior or less than the men around him.

The Doctor could be condescending to Susan, but that was because Susan was his grand daughter and 15 years old! The Dalek Invasion of Earth depicts the Doctor as still viewing Susan as a child only to realise at the end that she is now a woman, and has outgrown him. The line about how she needs a jolly good smacked bottom, is meant to be embarassing as it shows the Doctor still viewing Susan as a troublesome little girl.

Moffat however completely takes it out of context and has the Doctor say the same thing to Bill, a 20 something woman he has never met before! This almost makes the Doctor look like a dirty old man. Its one thing to still view your teenage grand daughter that you raised as a little girl, its another to walk up to an obviously adult woman you don’t know and threaten to spank her! (The fact that he earlier boasted about the members of the fairer sex he’s known, like Al Bundy would, just makes it worse.)

Steven Moffat is far from the only member of the Fitzroy crowd to trash the original.

Russell T Davies outright said that the original was an utter joke until he and David Tennant came along.

See here.

It’s hard to express the joy of that. For 20 years, this thing was a joke. It was slightly embarrassing admitting liking it. In fact, very embarrassing. You’d see comedians taking the piss out of it. It would crop up on I Love the 60s shows, where they would make it look like rubbish. And to see it being what it always was in our hearts is just amazing. You mentioned it in the same sentence as James Bond. My God, that’s impossible!

Can you feel the love Russell T Davies has for the original series?

Mark Gatiss similarly said in a recent interview that if the revival had not come along, then the original would have been forgotten about as it didn’t hold up to modern audiences.

With “fans” like this, who the fuck needs haters? Seriously what can a hater do to the original that the Fitzroy Crowd haven’t? Say it doesn’t hold up? Insult its characters and the actors who played them? Create a narrative that the original was a total joke that has been accepted by the press?

I think most of the Fitzroy Crowd simply saw the show as being a potential cash cow that could further their careers. Russell T Davies for instance originally pitched Torchwood as a series before Doctor Who called Excalibur, but when it was rejected he decided to spin it off from Doctor Who.

Now the narrative is often that the Fitzroy Crowd were all big shot writers who were taking a risk in producing an embarassing old show like DW.

Sadly the rest of fandom buys into their lies, but the truth of the matter is that whilst Doctor Who in the 90s was no longer a mainstream series, it was still a huge brand.

I myself grew up in the 90s. I was born in 1991 after the original series finished. I was introduced to it through video releases and I was far from the only person my age who enjoyed it. Plenty of my friends enjoyed the original series and I was never teased for liking it. Obviously everyone’s experience is different and I don’t doubt some people were ridiculed for liking it.

Doctor Who is a sci fi and fantasy series, and sci fi and fantasy sadly have a negative stigma attached to them. Even today with the record breaking success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, sci fi is still seen as a niche genre in some respects.

Yes shallow morons on panel shows (tv made by idiots for idiots) laughed at Doctor Who in the 90s, but that doesn’t mean that millions of other people didn’t like it.

Incidentally even today people on panel shows and other comedy series still ridicule Doctor Who. Look at this clip from the Australian version of Gogglebox where they absolutely ridicule the 21st century Doctor Who.

If this above clip was from a 90s show then it would be used as proof that nobody ever liked Doctor Who during that decade by the Fitzroy Crowd. Face facts the type of people on these shows are never going to love Doctor Who. If its a fad for a short while, like during the Dalekmania craze, or when it was first brought back during the Tennant era, they might say they like it for a short period, but ultimately they will always view sci fi as a silly, childish genre.

During the 90s Doctor Who still had a larger following than the overwhelming majority of genre series (save possibly Star Trek.) In 2002 when the British public were asked which old series they would most like to see come back, Doctor Who topped the poll with the majority of the vote( beating out Blackadder, Fawlty Towers and Dad’s Army.) Most of the people who voted were under the age of 20, and therefore born during the time of Doctor Who’s supposed decline.

See here.

Jump to 5:20 to see the Radio Times poll.

In 2002 the Doctor was also voted the greatest tv character in a poll for SFX magazine, beating out various characters in then current, popular series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Farscape among others.

See here.

The Doctor Transcends Time To Be Voted The Best Character

Doctor Who is Sci Fi Favourite

Furthermore every single Doctor Who story that existed was released on video during the 90s and the 00s. If there had been absolutely no demand for them, why would the BBC (who had no love for the series) release obscure and poorly recieved stories like Underworld?

Even compilation videos like the Pertwee Years were best sellers. See here. Jump to 4 minutes in to see Pertwee talk about its success.

Its worth noting that even today Classic Who still maintains a devoted audience. Every single year Classic Who outsells New Who on DVD.

See here, the best selling tv series on DVD and Blue Ray in the United Kingdom for both 2015 and 2017. Classic Who ranks considerably higher than New Who for both years.

Classic Who Outsells New Who 2017

Classic Who Outsells New Who 2015

Once again its clearly mostly young people who are buying Classic Who DVD’s as the rest of the top ten tv series are all modern programmes.

Furthermore anything Doctor Who related on television was a massive success during the 90s too. Dimensions in Time, the notoriously reviled Eastenders crossover shown in 1993, pulled in over 13 million viewers. The 96 movie contrary to popular belief was not a flop either. It received a positive critical reception at the time and pulled in over 9 million viewers (almost as many as Rose, the first episode of the revival.)

Its also worth noting that until Voyage of the Damned, the first episode of the 4th series of the Russell T Davies era; Rose the first episode of the new series was also the highest rated.

So clearly Classic Who still had a massive following and does still hold up to modern audiences. Obviously I’m not saying that Classic Who could still be a mainstream series (What show from even the 90s could still be shown on primetime mainstream television?) Still to people who love sci fi and fantasy of which there are millions, Classic Who holds up as much as any other genre classic.

Furthermore given how fondly in was remembered by the general public, who’s to say that a more updated version of Classic Who with better practical effects couldn’t have pulled in millions of viewers too?

Far from being a dead show that Russell T Davies was taking a risk bringing back, it was a sleeping giant that he and the rest of the Fitzroy Crowd monopolised for themselves, used to boost their own careers and launch their own projects such as Torchwood/Excalibur.

Among the other ways the Fitzroy Crowd have attempted to down Classic Who’s success is claiming that it never had an overseas following, and that women never enjoyed Doctor Who until they came along.

The narrative is that Doctor Who was NEVER popular abroad until the Steven Moffat era. Critics and fans will often make out that Doctor Who was totally obscure in places like America until Matt Smith, which is demonstrably not true.

Doctor Who first caught on in popularity in the late 70s, early 80s. At one point in the 80s its popularity in America was greater than it was in Britain! In America DW’s viewers from 1984 on were over 9 million, whilst they generally tended to hover at 7 million in the UK  (until the 86 cancellation where they dropped.)

The Doctor Who fanclub of America was also the largest in the world throughout the 80s.

The shows popularity faded in the late 80s due to the BBC raising the prices of the stories to the point where no one could afford to buy them. This was part of the BBC’s calculated attempt to finish the show in the late 80s. (Which also included slashing its budget, giving it no publicity, putting it opposite Coronation Street etc.)

See here.

Still it nevertheless remained a cult favourite in America on a par with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or Lost In Space. The character of the Doctor (or rather the 4th Doctor) became recognisable to the general population, as did other icons from the series such as the TARDIS and the Daleks.

There were many loving references to the series on American tv in shows such as the Simpsons and Futurama throughout the 90s and 00s. (The character of Leela was partially inspired by and named after Leela from Doctor Who.)

Even to this day whenever an image of the Doctor is used on America tv it’s almost always Tom Baker rather than any of the New Doctors.

See here.

Even when Sheldon is talking with his girlfriend called AMY, then its still Tom Baker they use as he is more recognisable.

Image result for the big bang theory Sheldon 4th doctor

Image result for the simpsons 4th doctor

Its hilarious that even with these references we routinely get told that Doctor Who only caught on in America from the New Series onwards.

See here.

Aside from America, Doctor Who also had large cult followings in Japan, Australia and New Zealand. It was in fact shown in over 80 countries around the world.

The revival has not actually enjoyed more popularity in America than the classic era. Both are cult series in America that have enjoyed success by the standards of cult series, but neither are what you would call mainstream hits. (New Who’s viewing figures at the height of its popularity in America were barely over 2 million.) However New Who’s success is beefed up by the media, whilst Classic Who’s is done down to the point where fans who don’t know any better, assume the classic series was completely obscure Stateside until Moffat came along.

It was harder to sell series to other countries and develop followings abroad during the time of the Classic series too. No streaming service, no internet, and no channels like BBC America. A series had to actually be sold back then, and for Classic Who to be seen in 80 countries and make the millions it did for the BBC.

As for female fans, well its true that the classic era of Doctor Who was overall more of a guys show. On average men prefer sci fi to women. The reason for this is most likely because sci fi is generally perceived in popular culture to be an action genre, and men on average prefer action movies.

Actual genre fans know that sci fi can come in various different forms, but still the stigma persists and so women on average are not drawn to the genre as often as men.

Still women do need escapism and fantasy too. I think that whilst there is a grain of truth to it, the idea of women not liking sci fi is greatly exaggerated and is perhaps more of a self fulfilling prophecy.

Doctor Who meanwhile I think was able to overcome the stigma of being just an action series for women, due to the fact that its leading man was certainly not a conventional action lead. Even in Pertwee’s time. At a first glance, Pertwee who is much older is not going to seem like a conventional leading man. Doctor Who’s massive mainstream popularity from the 60s to the 80s also ensured that it became a part of British popular culture like few other genre series, and thus was more accessible to women.

Throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s, Doctor Who was a family show, watched by fathers, mothers and little boys and little girls. On the 1970s Documentary, Whose Doctor Who, which is collected on the DVD release of The Talons of Weng Chiang; just as many young girls are interviewed as young boys, and just as many mothers are spoken to as fathers as representatives of DW’s core audience.

The competition winner from Doctor Who magazine was on set today, a 15-year-old girl. When I was a kid, 15-year-old girls didn’t watch Doctor Who.

-David Tennant

A surprising number of American Whovians are women. Joan Paquette a legal secretary from Boston is attracted to Doctor Who’s bumbling charm and mastery of the impossible. Says Graphic Designer Jan Scuza of Cambridge Mass, the Doctor is a humanist hero who fulfills a need in our technological society. Notes Barbara Shewchuk 28, a stenogropher from Bridgeport, Pa “The fact that Doctor Who cares about all life forms shows that you can trust him”

-Extract from Time Magazine in the early 80s.

Throughout the 90s when DW became more niche, then most of its fanbase did tend to be men in the UK. In America however throughout the 80s and the 90s, over 80 percent of its fanbase were young women. (Remember that in America it was more popular in the 80s than it was in the UK.)

Once again however these female Classic era fans are erased from history just as often as 90s era fans like me are because we don’t fit the Fitzroy did it all narrative.

Now just to be clear I am not trying to do down the Fitzroy Crowd’s success. Classic Doctor Who had a huge audience in the 00s, and Doctor Who was still a big brand. Still had the revival not captured the publics imagination on its own steam, then the nostalgia for the original would have faded within a year or so. Added to that the revival has managed to develop its own cult following in places like America, made up of many people who never saw the original series. It also has to be said that Matt Smith is unquestionably the second most recognised Doctor in America too after Tom Baker. Chances are if its not an image of Tom Baker they will use for the Doctor, it will be one of Matt Smith.

I’m more than happy to give the revival the success its due. The problem is however that the Fitzroy Crowd have not been happy to give the original credit for its success. The narrative that they have created is that the original was only ever a niche thing, liked by nerdy men (not that there is anything wrong with that!) Until they came along.

It would be like if Chris Nolan came along and said that nobody had ever heard of Batman until he directed The Dark Knight.  The reason for this however is because it helps the Fitzroy’s lies to become more accepted by the fandom, as it becomes a case of “Well if it wasn’t for us then the show would just be an embarassing little niche thing, only liked by nerds, so you have to go along with everything we say.” Which leads onto my next point.

Self Loathing Fanboys

Image result for Paul Cornell

The curse of any fandom is the self loathing fanboy.

The self loathing fanboy will usually be from a more upper middle class background, and will have been teased by people when he was younger for liking sci fi. As a result he will be desperate above all else for it to be accepted and the most popular tv show on earth.

Now fair enough we are all like this to some extent. We all seek acceptance, and we all want the things we love to get their due.

Still the self loathing fanboy is so desperate for acceptance that he will be happy to make any concessions to what he thinks are the it crowd, just to see his favourite show, character, be popular.

Whilst there are self loathing fanboys in every fandom, Doctor Who is sadly rife with them for many reasons.

Ironically a large part of that is because Doctor Who was more successful than most other genre series, and because it later received a far worse treatment from the media.

Most genre series are lucky to last a few years. Firefly, Dollhouse, Randall and Hopkirk deceased, were all axed after one year, whilst even the likes of Star Trek, Lost in Space and Blake’s 7 all only lasted three or four years.

The likes of Buffy, and Xena meanwhile were able to have decent runs, but they were shown on very small channels and only ever became big cult series. Joss Whedon even said that if Buffy were shown on a mainstream channel, its viewers would have seen it cancelled (as was the case with Firefly that was shown on a larger network.)

Classic Who however was shown on the mainstream British tv channel in the best time slot. It was one of the most popular British televisions series in general throughout the 60s and the 70s and even the early 80s. Unlike other sci fi series, which sadly are depicted as being just a thing for young men in the media. Doctor Who broke down all barriers. Mothers, fathers, little boys and little girls, and old grannies and grandfathers all gathered round to watch it.

When the show became more niche in the 90s, its fans weren’t equipped to handle it. All big franchises popularity waxes and wanes over the years. No one can remain at the top forever. This is why the most important audience to get are the cult audience who are going to stick with you no matter what.

Again take a look at Batman. Batman was a huge sensation in the 60s, only to drop back to obscurity until the 1989 film after which it was a sensation until the late 90s, only to fade again until the Nolan movies. It then went through another bad patch after the Nolan movies until the Joker in 2019.

Throughout it all however the character has remained a recognizable part of popular culture and maintained a devoted fanbase who have kept him alive.

Doctor Who was exactly the same throughout the 90s and the 00s, but sadly unlike Batman fans, DW fans weren’t equipped to deal with it. Batman had after all begun as a more niche character, so when he went back to being one, Batman fans attitude was “well we were fine before, we’ll be fine now.”

The same applies for Star Trek fans. Star Trek until the 80s was a niche thing, and after its mainstream popularity died in the 00s, their attitude again was “we got by in the 70s we can do it again.”

With Doctor Who however because it never had a period of being niche before its cancellation, they just couldn’t cope. They couldn’t bare it just being another cult series (even if it was the most popular cult series alongside Star Trek!) They couldn’t bare the thought that more casual viewers might not be as interested in it anymore, now that it wasn’t current.

In all fairness to Doctor Who fans however, the show also did have a harder time from the media in the 90s and 00s than say Star Trek ever did.

You see from the 90s on, most comedians, particularly in Britain were cowards. They only ever went after targets that the media said were safe to go after, from celebrities that the papparazzi were harrassing, to religious groups that were safe to poke fun at, to unpopular political leaders.

In order to appear edgy however, these comedians would be ridicously nasty to these easy targets.

I have already written an article exposing these comedians cowardice and bullying nature.

If you have the time please check it out. I talk about their shameful treatment of Doctor Who towards the end, but I’d recommend reading the other sections to get an idea of how these bullies work.

Why Modern Comedians Are Cowards

Sadly due to how much the BBC and the media hated the classic series, then it became an easy target for these hack comedians. Their treatment of it, much like their treatment of other vulnerable targets such as Amy Winehouse went beyond the pale. Its one thing to make a light hearted joke about a show being nerdy, or cheesy as is often the case with Star Trek. Its another to get the person who actually killed the show on to laugh and sneer at it, and make out that it was just a laughing stock.

I totally understand why a lot of Classic Who fans felt bad at this awful treatment, but you have to always look at things in a measured way. Yes these bastards may have been able to sneer at True Who in the 90s, but 30 years after it finished, Doctor Who is still one of the best selling series on DVD, whilst almost all of these panel shows that mocked it are long forgotten.

Sadly however it seems that Doctor Who fans let the bullies win. They were so desperate for the show to not ever be niche again, that they were willing to go along with any trend that they thought might make it popular.

Obviously all fans want their franchise to be successful, but there is a fine line between updating something in a practical way, and selling it out, which sadly the makers of New Who crossed from the beginning. Sadly however they were able to bully a lot Classic era fans into going along with it under the justification of “if you don’t support this we’ll go back to the 00s/90s”

As a result Classic Who fans didn’t defend the show’s traditions and lore until it was too late. Jodie Whittakers Doctor represents the final straw. There is absolutely nothing of the original left in her anymore, so fans have finally started to complain (then there is also the fact that Jodie isn’t popular either.) Still its come too little, too late..

From the start Who fans should have held the Fitzroy Crowd accountable for fucking with the lore and traditions of the character, but we didn’t.

When you look at how fans of other franchises reacted when their characters and traditions were being messed with compared with Doctor Who fans, its embarassing.

Star Trek fans complained when a Beastie Boys song was used in the trailer, because they felt it wasn’t staying true to the tone of the series.

Doctor Who fans meanwhile actually supported turning the Master, the Doctors archenemy from this.

Into this.

Again not having a go at the person who made this video. I never like to punch down, which picking on a random fan whose never done anyone any harm, and just makes videos as a hobby would be, but I think this vid is the best example of what Moffat did to the character, to contrast with the True Who portrayal of the Master. I suppose the maker of the video should be happy, that this is the best representation of Missy/12’s relationship I could think of online.

That would be like if Khan had been played by Sarah Silverman, and had been rewritten into being in love with Captain Kirk and sang “I’M FUCKING CAPTAIN KIRK” in the style of her I’m fucking Matt Damon song.

Do you think for one second that Star Trek fans would be happy with that? Do you think they’d say such ludicrous things as “Sarah Silverman channelled Ricardo Montablan when she sange about fucking Kirk” or “There was always a sexual subtext between Kirk and Khan, only homophobes don’t acknowledge it.”

As it was Trekkies were unhappy with Benedict Cumberbatch being cast. Cumberbatch gave a good, serious performance, and didn’t turn the character into a joke like Missy, but Trekkies were still unhappy with him in the role simply because he wasn’t a natural fit for the role of Khan.

Similarly look at the shit Jared Leto got from Batman fans for his performance as the Joker. Leto’s Joker whilst certainly not one of my favourites, was at the worst bland and fairly unremarkable.

That’s still better than Missy, who as I have been over before literally threw out absolutely everything about the character of the Master.

The Masters main motivation is to conquer the galaxy and make it fit his vision, hence why he calls himself THE MASTER, the clues in the fucking name Moffat. Having a version of the Master not want power is like having a version of the Joker who isn’t a clown, or a version of Magneto who doesn’t bend metal

Yet Moffat knew so little about the character he did just that.

Delgado Master

DOCTOR: (About the Masters plan to take over the galaxy.) You’re risking the total destruction of the entire cosmos.
MASTER: Of course I am. All or nothing, literally! What a glorious alternative!
DOCTOR: You’re mad! Paranoid!

MASTER: There, Miss Grant. I think we’ve seen the last of the Doctor. Buried for all time under the ruins of Atlantis. You know, I’m going to miss him.
JO: He’s not finished. I just know it.
MASTER: Of course he is.
JO: No, you’re the one who’s finished! Do you think that, that creature out there will ever let you control it?
MASTER: I do so already. He came when I called. You saw that yourself.
JO: Like a tiger comes when he hears a lamb bleating.
MASTER: Nicely put, my dear. You know, that was worthy of the late lamented Doctor himself. You know, I could kick myself for not having polished him off long ago. Just think of the future. Dominion over all time and all space. Absolute power forever. And no Doctor to ruin things for me.

MASTER :Think of it, Doctor, absolute power! Power for good. Why, you could reign benevolently, you could end wars, suffering, disease. We could save the universe.

Burned Master

MASTER: Rassilon’s discovery, all mine. I shall have supreme power over the universe. Master of all matter!

Ainley Master

DOCTOR: You’re quite right. One mistake now could ruin everything.
MASTER: I know that, Doctor, and it could happen so easily.
DOCTOR: What do you mean?
MASTER: The universe is hanging on a thread. A single recursive pulse down that cable and the CVE would close forever. Even a humble assistant could do it.
DOCTOR: You’re mad!
(The Master produces his weapon, then switches on the tape recorder to broadcast his message to the universe.)
MASTER [OC]: Peoples of the universe, please attend carefully. The message that follows is vital to the future of you all. The choice for you all is simple. A continued existence under my guidance, or total annihilation. At the time of speaking, the
DOCTOR: Blackmail.
MASTER: No, Doctor, I’m merely reporting the state of affairs. I have it in my power now to save them or destroy them.
DOCTOR: You’re utterly mad.
MASTER: Back, Doctor. The proceedings must not be interrupted. It’s mine. The CVE. It’s all mine.
DOCTOR: Only while that cable holds.

MASTER: A turbulent time, Doctor, in Earth’s history.
DOCTOR: Not one of its most tranquil, I agree.
MASTER: A critical period.
DOCTOR: You could say that.
MASTER: Oh, I do. The beginning of a new era.
PERI: Doctor, do you get his drift?
DOCTOR: I’m afraid I do, Peri.
PERI: He wants to pervert history.
DOCTOR: Not that the Prince of Darkness here would see it as perversion.
MASTER: Maudlin claptrap. The talents of these geniuses should be harnessed to a superior vision. With their help, I could turn this insignificant planet into a power base unique in the universe.
DOCTOR: And you intend to use the Rani’s bag of tricks to achieve this egocentric scheme.
MASTER: You are indeed a worthy opponent. It’s what gives your destruction its piquancy.

Now take a look at Missy, the female version of the Masters attitude to gaining ultimate power. In her first story Dark Water/Death in Heaven, she gives up an indestructable army of Cybermen to the Doctor (without a failsafe) and says.

DOCTOR: All of this. All of it, just to give me an army?
MISSY: Well, I don’t need one, do I? Armies are for people who think they’re right. And nobody thinks they’re righter than you. Give a good man firepower, and he’ll never run out of people to kill.
DOCTOR: I don’t want an army!
MISSY:
Well, that’s the trouble! Yes, you do! You’ve always wanted one! All those people suffering in the Dalek camps? Now you can save them. All those bad guys winning all the wars? Go and get the good guys back.                                                                                                                                                                
DOCTOR: Why are you doing this?
MISSY:
I need you to know we’re not so different. I need my friend back.

In what universe is that the same character? One is willing to destroy the universe to gain ultimate power, the other says she doesn’t need an army? Missy never makes any other attempt to gain power over the galaxy in her entire time on the series.

That alone is enough to make her stand out from the others (leaving aside the whole sex change.) Moffat also fucked up the Doctors relationship with the Master.

See here

True Who story, The Deadly Assassin

MASTER: Escape? Escape is not in his mind. Now he is hunting you.
GOTH: It was a mistake to bring him here. We could have used anyone.
MASTER: No, we could not have used anyone. You do not understand hatred as I understand it. Only hate keeps me alive. Why else should I endure this pain? I must see the Doctor die in shame and dishonour. Yes, and I must destroy the Time Lords. Nothing else matters. Nothing

New Who story, Dark Water.

MISSY: You know who I am. I told you. You felt it. Surely you did.
DOCTOR: Two hearts.
MISSY: And both of them yours.

DOCTOR: Clara. Clara. Clara. I’ve got to get Clara!
(The Doctor runs to the lift door.)
MISSY: Oh, Clara, Clara, Clara! You know I should shoot you in a jealous rage. Now, wouldn’t that be sexy?

On top of that, Missy embodies NONE of the Masters other character traits like his hypnotic nature, his manipulative streak, his signature weapon the TCE that shrinks people.

I’d say she is the Master in name only, but even then she’s not.

Yet poor old Jared Leto and Benedict Cumberbatch get raked over hot coals for simply not being as charismatic as Ricardo Montablan, Mark Hamill, Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson, and Cesar Romero? Meanwhile some Doctor Who fans actually praise Steven Moffat for properly capturing the Masters character, and the writer himself was even able to single out Missy as one of his greatest triumphs?

The reason for that is again because a lot of Doctor Who fans are self loathers. All they care about is that the show is popular. Back in 2014, before the backlash against identity politics really began, a lot of fans felt that was what the kids were into, so they went along with it. (The makers of New Who are still under that delusion, hence why the show is crashing and burning.)

The Fitzroy Crowd are the ultimate self loathing fanboys. They were all embarassed to admit they liked Doctor Who to their snobby friends in the industry. (Moffat more or less admits in the quote I posted above.)

None of them had any respect or confidence in the format, and all were more interested in telling their own stories.

Sadly however they were able to dupe fans by playing on their collective self loathing and overwhelming desire for Who to be successful, and the result is ironically that the show is now in a worse position than ever before.

Not only did it sell out to the wrong fad, but now its hard to say what Doctor Who is anymore because its identity has been broken and twisted.

In the next article we will dissect the final lie the Fitzroy Crowd perpetrated “Doctor Who is all about change” and examine just how their lies damaged the brand, and any possible way back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Favourite Heroes: Batman: Part 2: The History of Batman

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Batman has a long and varied history spread out across multiple different mediums and universes. There has never been just one Batman per se, even within the continuity of DC. He’s been rebooted, (both in and out of universe) killed off, replaced with alternate counterparts, as well as his children and even in one instance his deceased father.

Across his many iterations, the Batman has been everything from a gritty crime fighter, to a gothic anti hero, to a sci fi superhero, to a loving father.

Both in universe and from a real world perspective the history of the Caped Crusader is a fascinating and somewhat tragic story. Whilst the modern image of Batman may be one of the most beloved fictional characters, that image was the work of many great artists and writers over the course of several decades, many of whom’s contributions have sadly been overlooked.

Creation and Controversy

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Bob Kane with Bill Fingers Batman.

For decades the official story about Batman’s origins was that he was created by cartoonist Bob Kane in 1939 for National Comics (later known as DC.) Kane was the only person ever to be credited on any form of Batman media for the first 70 or so years of the characters history. In the majority of interviews throughout his life, Kane would only ever credit himself with creating Batman and his supporting characters and enemies like the Joker and Catwoman.

In recent decades however it has been revealed that writer Bill Finger contributed far more to the Batman character and mythos than Kane ever did.

Kane came up with the name Batman, but his initial sketch bore little resemblance to the Batman we know today. Kane’s Batman had no cape, a dominos mask and dressed in red.

See here.

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It was Bill Finger who not only came up with the Caped Crusaders look, but much of his character too. Finger suggested that Kane give Batman a cowl with bat ears, that he change the wings to a cape, and that he make Batman’s eyes white to suggest an air of mystery. He also suggested giving the Batman a grey and black colour scheme too.

Finger also came up with Gotham city, Commisioner Gordon, Alfred Pennyworth and the Batman’s civilian identity of the billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne. (He apparently named Bruce Wayne after the famous Scottish king Robert the Bruce.) Finger also came up with Batman’s tragic origins of being motivated to fight crime by the death of his parents.

Finger also created, or co-created most of Batman’s famous enemies including the Joker, Catwoman, the Riddler, the Scarecrow and the Penguin. Other artists and writers also contributed to the creation of many of Batman’s iconic rogues and supporting characters too, such as Jerry Robinson, Dick Sprang and Gardner Fox.

In all fairness to Kane back in the 40s the standard policy was for one person’s name to be stamped on the cover. The likes of Finger and Robinson were also hired as ghost artists and writers too. It wouldn’t be until the 60s when Marvel pioneered crediting all involved in the comic, with the famous Marvel bull pen.

Disputes over who created an iconic character are also common in the comic book and television mediums, where unlike a novel several people are always involved in a characters creation.

Stan Lee though pioneering the bull pen method, still always argued that he was the sole creator of the likes of Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, as he came up with the initial concepts for all characters.

The difference between Lee and Kane however, was that Lee always credited the likes of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko with designing the characters, and always said that the characters would not have been successful without the artists contributions. Lee was also always happy for his artists to refer to themselves as co-creators too.

Kane however not only took credit for things we now know he didn’t do, like Batman’s final design, but he also tried to silence Bill Fingers claims to helping create the Batman.

In the 1960s when Bill Finger mentioned his contributions to the Batman character at one of the first comic conventions, Bob Kane was quick to discredit him in a Batman fan magazine.

See here.

Now, Biljo, I’d like to emphatically set the record straight, once and for all, about the many “myths” and “conjectures” that I read about myself and my creation, “Batman,” in your “Fanzine” and other publications. I can only call all the stories I read about myself “conjectures,” because most of them are written without my advice or consent, and, therefore, cannot be entirely the truth, because how can an article about me or the Batman be the true story, when I am not consulted or interviewed?

Here, for the first time, straight from the “horse’s mouth” is the real inside story about myself and “Batman,” with no holds barred, and I intend to explode the myths about myself and get down to the real truth about the legend that is “Batman,” so, fasten your seat belts, Batmanians, as the fireworks begin.

We can call this story, “Inside Bob Kane,” or will the real creator of “Batman” sign in, please!

The Myth: Bob Kane is not the sole creator of “Batman.” (I’ve heard this a thousand times in my lifetime), that “Batman” was really created by Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, Carmine Infantino, Jack Schiff, Julie Schwartz, my publisher, etc., etc., and my housekeeper!

The Truth: All hogwash! I, Bob Kane, am the sole creator of “Batman.” I created “Batman” in 1939, and it appeared, if memory serves me correctly, in Detective Comics as a six or eight page story, and I signed the first strip, “Robert Kane.”

I read your article that you sent to me, “If the Truth be Known,” ”A Finger in Every Plot,” and it seemed to me that Bill Finger has given out the impression that he and not myself created the ”Batman”,  as well as Robin and all the other leading villains and characters. This statement is fraudulent and entirely untrue. That is ”myth” and I quote an excerpt from the article written by Jerry G. Bails, “The Cowl and Cape, the utility belt and gauntlets were all Bill’s contribution.”

Also, further down in the article and again I quote , “Bill also created Robin, of course, but also Commissioner Gordon, (who appeared in the first Batman story), Alfred the Penguin, The Catwoman, etc., etc.

I challenge Bill to repeat those statements in front of me. I am sorry that I was absent from the comicdom’s convention so that I could have answered him. The truth is that Bill Finger is taking credit for much more than he deserves, and I refute much of his statements here in print The fact is that I conceived the ”Batman`’ figure and costume entirely by myself’ even before I called Bill in to help me write the “Batman.” I created the title, masthead, the format and concept, as well as the Batman figure and costume. Robin, the boy wonder, was also my idea, . . . not Bill’s.

The only proof I need to back my statement is that if Bill co-authored and conceived the idea, either with me or before me, then he would most certainly have a by-line on the strip along with my name, the same as Siegel and Schuster had as creators of Superman. However, it remains obvious that my name appears on the strip alone, proving that I created the idea first and then called Bill in later, after my publisher okayed my original creation.

Now, Biljo, in all fairness to Bill, I will admit he was influential in aiding me in shaping up the strip, and there are certain characters Bill created, aside from my main characters’ and many other characters that I created, including the Batmobile. It’s been 25 years now, and truthfully, time sometimes blurs the memory and it is difficult to separate, at times, the myth from the truth, so that I cannot blame Bill too much if at times his memory “clouds.”

Aside to Jerry G. Bails: I ought to sue you for misrepresentation and distortion of the truth about your “Finger Article” that blatantly intimates that Bill Finger was the true creator behind Batman, and not Bob Kane. Your article is completely misleading, loaded with untruths fed to you by Finger’s hallucinations of grandeur.

May I say to you, Mr . Bails, that before you wrote so smugly and assuredly about Bill Finger being the real creator and ”tour de force” behind the Batman for publication, don’t you think that you should have double-checked your information back to me, so that I could verify and clarify Bill Finger’s comments? After all, I was involved with the Batman, don’t you think? But, of course, you minimized my part in the creation and maximized Bill Finger’s part, only because you listened to one side of the story – Finger’ s side. I am sure that you have heard that there are “two sides to every story”? At any rate, now you’ve heard my side. Are you still convinced about Finger’s immortality?

I am sick and tired of opinionated people, like yourself, who throughout the years have written distorted and untrue stories about how Batman was created and by whom, receiving their information from unreliable sources, when it would have been much easier to get the true story simply by contacting me, the one and only creator of Batman, that could be proven so easily by merely asking my publisher or simply by looking at the lone by-line of “Bob Kane” on the strip.

I’d also like to state here, Mr. Bails, that although Bill Finger literally typed the scripts in the early days, that he wrote the scripts from ideas that we mutually collaborated on and that many of the unique concepts and story twists also came from my own fertile imagination and that I was not just a puppet cartoonist alone, following a writer’s script and contributing nothing more than the art work.

Finger never received the credit he was due during his lifetime as a result, and died in both obscurity and poverty in the 1970s. Contrary to popular belief he was not buried in an unmarked potters grave. He was cremated, with his only son Fred Finger scattering his ashes in the shape of a Bat on a beach in Oregon, as per his wishes.

Bob Kane would later express regret for the way he had treated Bill Finger. In 1989 after the release of the first Batman film starring Michael Keaton, Kane said.

In those days it was one artist and he had his name over it [the comic strip] — the policy of DC in the comic books was, if you can’t write it, obtain other writers, but their names would never appear on the comic book in the finished version. So Bill never asked me for it [the byline] and I never volunteered — I guess my ego at that time. And I felt badly, really, when he [Finger] died

Now that my long-time friend and collaborator is gone, I must admit that Bill never received the fame and recognition he deserved. He was an unsung hero … I often tell my wife, if I could go back fifteen years, before he died, I would like to say. ‘I’ll put your name on it now. You deserve it.

However many saw this as too little, too late, and argued that Kane was only recounting now that Finger had passed away and could not recieve any royalties. It would not be until 2015, following a campaign by author Marc Tyler Nobleman and Fingers grand daughter Athena, that Finger would be officially credited as the co-creator of Batman, beginning with the film Batman vs Superman and the television series Gotham.

Kane’s reputation has naturally dropped considerably as a result. Many others in the industry have come forward with less than favourable stories about Bob Kane in recent years, with arguably the most infamous being comic book author Jim Steranko’s near physical confrontation with Kane, who Steranko derided as both a coward, and back stabber who took advantage of Finger.

Its ironic in a way, as now I feel that people perhaps don’t give Kane the credit he deserves.

Kane did play a vital role in the creation of Batman and various other important characters in the Batman canon. One thing people often overlook about Kane’s initial drawing of Batman is that even there, the character lacks superpowers. Kane’s Batman couldn’t fly like Superman. He had artificial wings instead which he had designed to help him fly.

This would ultimately prove to be a vital component in Batman’s character, that he has to rely on gadgets rather than super powers and it was there in Kane’s initial concept.

Bob Kane also did play a role in the creation of the Joker, Catwoman, the Scarecrow and the Penguin too. Jerry Robinson, who spoke very unfavourably of Kane’s treatment of Bill Finger, (going as far as to say he never forgave him for it) nevertheless said that Kane can be considered a co-creator of the Joker. It is also known that Kane played a key role in fleshing out the Catwoman’s character. He apparently based much of Catwoman’s personality on his cousin Ruth Steel.

The real Catwoman.

Kane also created the final design for the Penguin and was the sole creator of Two Face, one of Batman’s most iconic foes. Finally it was also Kane who personally assembled the original team of artists and writers on the Batman comics, Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson.

Had Kane not been so desperate to hoover up all the credit, he would be revered as the man who helped kick off, and flesh out the Batman mythos. The lesson here is to never try and take too much credit or else when the truth comes out, people will be loathe to give you any credit at all, as seen with Kane.

Whilst its tragic that Finger was never given the credit he was due, at the very least his reputation among fans and critics is considerably stronger today than Kane’s.

The Early Years

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Batman first appeared in Detective Comics 27. In his first few appearances Batman was depicted as being willing to murder his enemies and use guns. It was also a policy of earlier comics to make sure that none of Batman’s enemies would recur, so as not to undermine his status as a hero. Despite this however there were two recurring enemies in Batman’s earliest days with Detective Comics, The Mad Monk, a hypnotic Vampire, and Doctor Death, a mad scientist. Death’s origins of having his face scarred in an accident and developing a grudge against Batman as a result, would later be reused for the Joker.

Whilst Bruce Wayne was best friends with Commissioner James Gordon in the earlier stories, the police still viewed Batman as a dangerous psychopath who needed to be put down. Bruce Wayne also had a fiance too in the early years, Julie Madison, who has been seldom seen in most adaptations.

Whilst featuring many larger than life concepts from death rays, to robot Dinosaurs to Vampires, the earliest Batman comics still took the stories and character very seriously, and were very dark in tone.

During Batman’s first year with Detective Comics, several key elements of the Batman mythos would be established, such as the characters tragic origins in Detective Comics 33, his utility belt in issue 29, and his famous Batarang as well as the first ever Bat themed vehicle, the Bat plane in issue 31.

Finally in Detective Comics 38, Batman’s sidekick Robin was introduced. Created by Jerry Robinson, Robin, whose real name was Dick Grayson, was a young boy whose parents had been murdered just like Batman. Robin’s popularity would lead to a surge in similar kid sidekicks. Robin has remained a somewhat controversial figure in the decades since, with many feeling that he made Batman too light a character. Robin has nevertheless remained one of the most enduring icons of the Batman mythos.

Batman proved to be such a big hit that he would soon get his own series, whilst continuing to star in Detective Comics. The first ever solo issue of Batman saw the character face both the Joker and the Catwoman (then just referred to as simply the Cat.)

The Joker in his first appearance was depicted as a true monster clown, murdering his victims in gruesome ways simply because he thought it was funny. His origins were shrouded in complete mystery. Whilst more details have been revealed about the Jokers past in the ensuing decades, to this day the villains identity and real name have never been revealed.

From the start the Joker was depicted as Batman’s most dangerous and evil adversary, being ten steps ahead of the Batman and the police, and in a stark contrast to his later appearances; he was even depicted as being able to best the Caped Crusader in a fight.

Catwoman, whose real name was Selina Kyle, meanwhile was depicted initially as more of a manipulative villain who was no match for the Batman physically, and was far more unsympathetic than later depictions. From the start however the two were shown to have a romantic interest in one another, though this would become more prominent after Julie Madison was written out.

The Penguin meanwhile would be introduced in 1942. Though initially a more comical villain than the Joke, The Penguin would go on to be one of Batman’s most recognisable and recurring foes. Over the decades the Penguin’s character would be fleshed out more, and he would go from a campy supervillain obsessed with birds, to a gritty and brutal crime lord.

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The King and Queen of crime?!

The first appearances of the Penguin and the Catwoman, two of Batman’s main enemies. The papa spank line isn’t one of the Caped Crusaders finest moments.

Another major enemy of Batman introduced during the early years was Doctor Hugo Strange. Originally intended to be Batman’s archenemy, Strange was more of a match for Batman in terms of intellect than his other enemies, being a genius scientist in his own right. Ultimately however the more colourful Joker, Penguin and Catwoman would soon eclipse Strange, though Strange would continue to recur over the decades, and has even appeared in many adaptations such as the recent tv series Gotham.

The Joker was originally to have been killed off in his second appearance, but a last minute decision by editor Whitney Ellisworth ultimately spared the character, and the Joker would quickly cement himself as Batman’s arch foe, appearing in 6 out of the first 9 Batman issues.

The first appearance of what would quickly become Batman’s greatest enemy, the Joker.

Ellsworth would also make another major contribution to Batman’s character, deciding after an issue of Detective Comics which featured the caped crusader murdering mutated giants with a machine gun, that Batman would never use a gun or kill his enemies again.

This has gone on to be a vital aspect of Batman’s character ever since, not just in the comics, but in most other adaptations too. In universe the reason Batman hates guns it would be established is obviously because they were used in the brutal murder of his parents. Some versions of Batman however, such as Michael Keaton’s in the first two Burton Batman movies have returned to using weapons and lethal force, but generally speaking, most versions of Batman have stuck to Ellsworth’s policy.

In addition to starring in his own series and Detective Comics, Batman would go on to appear regularly in World’s Finest in 1940, a series which featured stories starring both Batman and Superman, DC’s other most popular character. It would not be until 1952 however that World’s Finest would bring both characters together in the same story. Batman and Superman would quickly be established as being best friends, and would remain so until the modern age, when the darker Batman’s methods often clashed with Superman.

Batman would also be established as an honorary member of the first ever superhero team, The Justice Society of America early into his career. First appearing in All Star Comics 3 in 1941, Batman and Superman however unlike with the later Justice League were not allowed to appear in with the Justice Society in a regular basis, as they already had their own titles, unlike most of the other members. Still one of the Justice Society’s base of operations was in Gotham City.

Batman would remain one of DC’s best selling characters throughout the 40s, though as the decade waned on, Batman would be made into a much lighter character, and more of a traditional father figure to Robin.

The End of the Original Batman

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From an in universe perspective the original Batman’s adventures would come to an end in the 50s. DC would later establish in the early 60s, that all of their stories from the 1930s to the mid 50s took place in another universe to those from the mid 50s to the then present.

The original 30s-50s stories took place on Earth 2, whilst the then modern stories from the mid 50s-present took place on Earth 1.

DC did this to explain away the major continuity issues that had emerged over the decades, chiefly concerning the Justice League and the Justice Society, which had each featured their own version of the Flash, Jay Garrick and Barry Allen, whilst Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman had been members of both teams. (Barry and Jay had been established as the only versions of the Flash in their own titles leading to some confusion.)

The multiverse idea was introduced in the story Flash of Two Earth’s which saw Barry Allen, the modern Flash travel to Earth Two where he met Jay Garrick the original Flash (who had visibly aged since we last saw him.)

The meant however that the then current Batman of the 60s was not the same character as the original from the 30s-mid 50s. It was never made clear when the adventures of the original Batman had come to an end, and the adventures of the new Batman began, as the multiverse was a retcon, but it would later be established in universe that the Earth Two Batman had retired at some point in the 50s.

The original Earth Two Batman’s final fate would be revealed in the late 70s. At some point in the mid 50s, Batman married a reformed Catwoman, and the two soon had a daughter, Helena Wayne. Years later however Catwoman would be blackmailed into carrying out another crime, and Batman would inadvertantly cause her death.

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The marriage of Batman and Catwoman.

Vowing to never don the cape and cowl again, Bruce was left a broken man by his wife’s death, but his daughter Helena Wayne would later become a masked crime fighter, The Huntress who would bring the criminal who had blackmailed her mother to justice.

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Helena Wayne vows to avenge her mothers death.

The Huntress would go on to become a popular character throughout the 70s, continuing her father’s legacy on Earth 2, joining the Justice Society, and later crossing over to Earth One where she’d work with its version of her father.

The Earth Two Bruce Wayne meanwhile despite his vow would later become Batman one last time to battle the Wizard, Frederick Faust which resulted in his death.

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Following Batman’s death ironically the Joker would take it hardest of all. Furious that he had beaten his long time enemy, simply by outliving him, the Joker refused to believe Batman was gone and would go on a massive rampage to try and draw The Batman out. An older Dick Grayson would be forced to pretend to be Batman in order to convince the Joker that his foe was still alive. Happy that Batman was not dead, the Joker willingly surrendered, and continued to plot his final duel with the Batman that would ultimately never come.

This classic scene from Batman the animated series where the Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill) believes Batman has been killed and grieves, not over Batman, but simply of being deprived of his revenge; was inspired by the original Earth Two Joker’s reaction to his Batman’s death.

Whilst some critics felt the multiverse format was needlessly complicated, personally I think that it was a brilliant formula that ultimately allowed DC to finish their characters stories, whilst not having to stop producing Batman stories altogether. In contrast Marvel, whose characters all live in one floating timeline’s stories can never end, or even develop in any meaningful way that upsets the status quo. Take a look at Peter Parker and Mary Jane’s wedding for instance that had to be retconned in the most ridiculous way, to restore Spidey to being single. The original Batman and Catwoman’s marriage meanwhile remained final and even produced another superhero, the Huntress.

Personally I enjoy reading the earliest Batman comics knowing that he and Catwoman one day end up getting married, and that their legacy continues on through the Huntress, who is one of my favourite heroes.

Ultimately whatever your opinion on the multiverse, its important to remember that your Batman is NOT your grandfathers Batman. The Batman we read about in any story from his introduction to the mid 50s died decades ago, and has been replaced since by three alternate universe counterparts.

50s: Sci Fi Hijinks

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From a real world perspective the 50s would mark a radical change in Batman’s character. Batman had been completely watered down by this stage from his darker past into being a totally family friendly hero, but as the decade rolled on the character would be turned into more of a sci fi hero. The 50s would see Batman regularly travel to other worlds, travel through time, battle aliens, giant robots, and other atomic age monsters and strange creatures.

Sci Fi had been a vital component in Batman’s character from the very beginning. His gadgets and Batcave were often presented as being far in advance of contemporary technology. (One of the most famous and longstanding trophies in the Batcave is a gigantic robot Tyrannosaurus Rex.)

Added to that many of Batman’s most iconic enemies such as Doctor Hugo Strange were firmly rooted in sci fi too. The 50s however ultimately took it too far and had Batman spend more time in outerspace, or the future or on other worlds, than in Gotham.

As a result the 50s is often seen as a low point in the characters history. Nevertheless there would be a few important developments during this decade. The Jokers origins would be finally be revealed in the story The Man Behind The Red Hood.

Originally the Joker had been a criminal known as the Red Hood who planned to steal a million pounds and then retire, but during his final robbery of the Monarch Card company, Batman accidentally knocked the Red Hood into a vat of chemicals, which bleached his skin chalk white, dyed his hair green and distorted his mouth into a permanent hideous grin, driving him insane in the process

Whilst presented as a light hearted story at the time, this development ended up having major repurcussions on the Batman/Joker dynamic. Now Batman was made responsible for creating the Joker, and was therefore accountable for all of his crimes. By this stage however the Joker had been turned into more of a harmless prankster, carrying out wild, over the top schemes, but rarely ever killing anyone. It would not be until the 70s, when the Joker was restored to his old murderous persona that writers would explore the ramifications of Batman’s role in the Joker’s origin, as well as his role in the creation of his other major villains too.

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The 1950s also saw the introduction fo Mr Freeze, then referred to as Mr Zero. Freeze would go on to be one of Batman’s most famous foes in popular culture, thanks to his appearances in the 60s Adam West series and the 90s Batman the Animated series.

Justice League of America

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In 1960 Batman, along with Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash (Barry Allen), Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and Aquaman would form one of the first superhero teams, The Justice League in The Brave and the Bold issue 28.

Initially however Batman and Superman would be relegated to more minor roles in the strip with DC not wanting to overexpose their two most famous characters, though the two heroes did still go on several adventures with the league, and even played key roles in saving the day in some of the earlier strips. Eventually Batman and Superman would be allowed to play more major roles in the Justice League.

Batman despite having no superpowers of his own, would still be able to keep up with his allies in the league through his gadgets and fighting skills. (Batman had already been shown to tackle super powered and paranormal threats on his own, such as Manbat, and Mr Freeze.)

Batman would often end up being the key to many of the Justice League’s success’ as his scientific genius would enable him to disarm the villains weapons, or rewire their technology in a way that the other heroes couldn’t, whilst his deduction skills would often allow him to figure out the villains weaknesses, hideouts, or their plans when the other members of the League could not.

An example of Batman’s usefulness to the rest of the League despite his lack of powers.

In spite of this Batman’s history with the league has not always been smooth. In the 2000 miniseries, Towel of Bable, Batman’s archenemy, Ra’s Al Ghul steals files Batman as gathered on the rest of the League in case they ever went rogue and uses them to very nearly kill the League.

Though Ra’s plan is stopped, Batman is forced to leave the League afterwards, with Wonder Woman, Plastique Man and Aquaman being unable to trust Batman afterwards.

Batman has often clashed with other members of the League due to his secretive and somewhat paranoid personality. Still he has nevertheless always remained a prominent member of the team, and in many versions has even helped found the League.

The Bat-Family

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Towards the end of the 50s and the early 60s, two more sidekicks would be introduced for the Caped Crusader. Kathy Kane aka Batwoman, and her niece Bette Kane who became the first ever Batgirl. Both were introduced as love interests of Batman and Robin respectively. In addition to this Batman would also inherit a trusty hound known as Ace during this period, and another sidekick in the form of Batmite.

Batmite was an imp from the 5th dimension, similar to Superman foe Mr Mxylptzlik, though Batmite in contrast was shown to idolise Batman and would frequently help him out.

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By the mid 60s the Bat family would be phased out, with editors feeling that there were too many characters detracting from Batman. Kathy Kane would nevertheless be revived many decades later as Kate Kane, whilst the concept of Batgirl would similarly be revived towards the end of the 60s.

Many critics and comic historians have argued that Batwoman and Batgirl were introduced simply to offset complaints that Batman and Robin were gay lovers. Ironically the later version of Kate Kane would be depicted as one of the first openly lesbian heroes in comics.

The Silly Years

Batman’s sales declined rapidly throughout the 60s to the point were there was talk of cancellation. Ultimately however the character would reach new heights of popularity during the later half of the decade thanks to the live action Batman television series starring Adam West.

Premiering in 1966, Batman was a comedy series that spoofed the characters. Though undoubtedly one of the greatest comedy series of all time, the show did change the pubic perception of Batman to being a campy, silly character which made it difficult for later more serious film pitch’s for the Dark Knight to be taken seriously.

Still overall the 60s show had a positive impact on the franchise. Bob Kane himself credited the show with saving the comic, with the 66 Batman helping to kick off a craze that would become known as Batmania. The 60s show would also elevate the characters of the Riddler and Mr Freeze into being among Batman’s most iconic enemies. Prior to the 60s serise Mr Freeze had appeared just once, whilst The Riddler had made only a handful of appearances.

The 60s series would also be responsible for the creation of the second Batgirl. This version of the character named Barbara Gordon was the daughter of Commissioner Gordon, and generally worked on her own. The new Batgirl proved to be very popular with readers and would go on to become one of the most successful female heroes for DC comics.

In order to emulate the success of the 60s show, the Batman comics would start to adopt a campier, more light hearted tone, but after the show came to an end attempts would be made by writer Dennis O’Neil and artist Neal Adams to take Batman back to his darker roots.

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Classic examples of campier Batman stories of the 60s.

The Night of the Stalker

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Throughout the 70s Batman would be depicted as a much darker character. Now operating alone, with Robin having since grown up and established himself as a hero in his own right. The Batman of the 70s still retained many of the lighter elements that had been developed in the decades since his introduction. The 70s Batman still had a sense of humour, was friendly to those closest to him, and genuinely enjoyed his life.

Still the stories took themselves more seriously than ever before, and explored much darker content.

A classic example of the more mature and sophisticated stories of the 70s, can be seen in the strip “The Night of the Stalker.” Here Batman witnesses the murder a couple in front of their child by common criminals who he then pursues through the woods of Gotham. Batman is absolutely vicious in dispatching the criminals, as he is forced to relive the horror of his parents death yet again. Night of the Stalker was widely praised by fans and critics alike for its depiction of Batman as a dark, ruthless anti hero, whilst at the same time touching on the tragic elements of his character in a moving way.

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Batman’s enemies would similarly be given a makeover during this era. The Joker having been portrayed as a silly prankster throughout the last two decades, would be returned to being a vicious, sadistic, mass murderer in O’Neil’s “Joker’s 5 Way Revenge”. This story saw the villain murder his former henchmen in gruesome ways, with Batman only managing to rescue the last, who the Joker attempts to feed to a shark!

This version of the Joker however was different to the original in that he was still comical, and his plans still more outlandish, but the humour was instead very dark. Unlike later depictions of the Clown Prince of Crime, the 70s, early 80s Joker also still despised the Batman and genuinely wished to kill him. Later versions of the Joker would instead enjoy fighting with Batman, viewing him as the straight man in their double act. The 70s Joker however had a more traditional hero/villain relationship with Batman.

 

Classic examples of the Jokers sick sense of humour from the 70s-early 80s.

The 70s would also see the introduction of the only villain to ever challenge the Jokers claim as Batman’s archfoe. Ra’s Al Ghul. Ghul was a warlord who had been kept young for several hundred years, through the Lazarus pits.

Leader of the league of assassins, Ghul had countless resources all over the world to use against the Batman. He was also Batman’s equal in terms of intellect and physical prowess, and was able to deduce Batman’s secret identity when he first met him. Ghul initially saw Batman as his heir to the position of the Demon’s head, but the two would soon come into conflict which would be made all the more personal by Batman’s feelings for Ghul’s daughter, Talia.

The 70s would also see Batman work with many other DC heroes to a far greater extent than ever before through The Brave and the Bold which saw Batman work with a different DC hero every issue.

The Brave and the Bold was originally conceived as an anthology series, before becoming a team up series.

From issue 50 however The Brave and the Bold came to revolve entirely around Batman working with a different hero each week. This decision was made to cash in on the popularity of the Batman series, but the strip would remain a Batman team up series, even after the show had been cancelled. Throughout the 70s The Brave and the Bold would become the most popular Batman title.

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Image result for brave and the bold covers

The series helped to put Batman into more fantastical and outlandish settings, but unlike in the 50’s comics it didn’t stop the Batman from going on more traditional crime stories in the main title. The Brave and the Bold also helped to examine Batman’s greater role in the DC universe and flesh out his relationships with other DC characters to a far greater extent than ever before. We got to see Batman’s strange friendship with Deadman, his partnership with Wild Cat (which unlike with Robin was on a more equal footing) and his rivalry with Green Arrow. One strip even saw the Caped Crusader trapped in a love triangle with Wonder Woman and Batgirl!

Wonder Woman Love Batman

Batgirl Loves Batman

One of the most ridiculous stories ever written.

For me the late 60s to the early 80s represents the best period of Batman’s history. There is a much wider variety of stories during that decade than any other. The silly, light hearted approach is not entirely jettisoned as seen above, but at the same time there are darker, more serious stories such as Night of the Stalker. The 70s still saw Batman battle ordinary criminals in his own series, yet through the Brave and the Bold it saw the character go on sci fi and fantasy adventures too. The 70s also featured more Batman team ups than any other decade. Brave and the Bold would come to an end in 1982, and when it was revived in 2007 it would be restored to a team up series, rather than a Batman comic.

Batman in my opinion is a better fit for team ups than any other hero. His lack of powers means that he can be vulnerable to any other heroes enemies, whilst his gadgets and deduction skills enables him to be of use to even the most powerful super heroes too. In contrast Superman or Wonder Woman or even The Flash are all too powerful to help out a hero like say Wild Cat, as they’d deal with his problem in a matter of minutes. Its a shame that no other decade would make use of Batman’s adaptability in working with other heroes as well as the 70s did.

For me the 70s best shows off all of the different sides to Batman’s character and it has gone on to be widely praised as a golden age by many critics and comics historians. The 70s would go on to have a large influence on Batman the Animated Series in particular. Sadly however despite its popularity with fans, Batman sales would actually decline greatly throughout the 70s.

End of the Earth One Batman’s adventures

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In 1985 DC would produce a multi crossover story called Crisis on Infinite Earth’s which saw a vastly powerful and evil cosmic entity known as the Anti Monitor destroy every universe, with only one universe, New Earth, created from the ruins of the last 5 universes surviving.

As a result of this the Earth One Batman’s adventures came to an end, and all main DC stories from 1985-2011 would take place on New Earth.

The Huntress, daughter of the Earth 2 Batman’s life would come to a tragic end too. Though she survived the erasure of her own world, she would later be murdered by minions of the Anti Monitor during a final stand against the Anti Monitor’s minions. The Huntress would die a heroesdeath saving some children from falling rubble. The Huntress was one of many heroes to die during the Crisis, alongside Barry Allen (who would be succeeded by Wally West) and Supergirl.

Crisis on Infinite Earth’s had been designed solely to wipe the Multiverse from canon. DC felt that the Multiverse, which had since expanded to include hundreds of earths aside from earth’s 1 and 2 was too overly complicated and in danger of putting new readers off. Therefore New Earth was designed to serve as a single timeline that readers could easily follow.

Ultimately the multiverse would be brought back gradually over the next few decades. The 2005 crossover Infinite Crisis saw one of the final survivors of the multiverse, a heroic alternate version of Lex Luthor, create 52 new universes, whilst a 2015 crossover event called Convergence erased the events of Crisis on Infinite Earth’s restoring the multiverse.

Still from 1985 to 2011, it would be the adventures of the Batman of New Earth that readers would follow.

The Dark Knight Returns

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Batman sales declined in the early 80s, but the character would be given a major boost through a number of much darker, more violent works which fully helped to restore Batman’s reputation as an anti hero.

The first of these was Frank Millers mini series The Dark Knight Returns which depicted an aging and bitter Bruce Wayne come out of retirement. Set outside of the New Earth continuity, The Dark Knight Returns was most notable for featuring Batman and Superman clashing with one another, and its final brutal showdown between Batman and the Joker.

The Dark Knight Returns proved to be a massive success and finally helped Batman shake off the campy image from the Adam West series. The levels of violence in the story far exceeded those of previous Batman adventures. According to Frank Miller, Bob Kane himself hated the miniseries, feeling that it was too nasty. Still The Dark Knight Returns made an immeasurably huge impact on the industry, and similar darker Batman stories followed.

The 1988 graphic novel, The Killing Joke written by Alan Moore and with art by Brian Bolland, expanded on the Jokers origins, whilst taking the feud between the Clown Prince of Crime and the Dark Knight to a whole new level.

The Killing Joke reveals that the Joker was original a failed comedian, who attempted to rob the Ace chemicals plant to support his pregnant wife. On the night of the robbery however, the Jokers wife is killed in a freak accident. The criminals then force him into helping to carry out the robbery, during which the Joker falls into a vat of chemicals, finally pushing him over the edge.

In the present the Joker attempts to prove that one bad day can drive anyone to lunacy. He targets Commisoner Gordon and shoots his daughter Barbara through the spine and then tortures the Commisoner by showing him pictures of Barbara’s bleeding, naked body!

The Jokers origins and his heinous crimes against Jim and Barbara Gordon from the 2016 adaptation of The Killing Joke, starring Mark Hamil as the Joker.

Barbara Gordon who had earlier retired as Batgirl would be permanently crippled as a result. Originally Alan Moore had intended the Killing Joke to be a one off, outside of DC canon, but DC would incorporate it into the New Earth timeline nonetheless. Barbara Gordon would still continue to appear regularly however, as the character of Oracle, a computer expert and skilled hacker. Ironically as Oracle Barbara would go on to have greater significance than she ever did as Batgirl.

Later that same year the Joker would be responsible for another tragedy in Batman’s life in the mini series Death in the Family. Here the Joker murdered the second Robin, Jason Todd in cold blood. Todd had replaced Dick Grayson in 1983. Though popular at first, the character’s more aggressive personality quickly caused readers to turn on him, so much so that in the final panels of Death in the Family, readers were given a choice to vote on Robin’s death or survival, with readers ultimately choosing to kill him.

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The Joker’s murder of Jason Todd, the Second Robin, as voted for by contemporary readers.

These stories, combined with the 1989 Batman movie, directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton as Batman, and Jack Nicholson as the Joker; helped to cement the darker portrayal of Batman in popular culture.

From this point on Batman would always be depicted as a darker, more violent, tortured anti hero, paranoid, untrustworthy and in some ways as disturbed as many of the villains he faces.

The Modern Age

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Throughout the 90s Batman would continue to enjoy new levels of popularity. Burton’s Batman film had been a record breaking success and a bigger cultural phenomenon than even the 66 series. The character would go on to enjoy greater success in animation with the classic Batman the Animated Series which would kick off the entire DC Animated Universe. Much like the Burton movie, the DCAU would treated the source material seriously. The DCAU would also influence the comics themselves, just like the 66 Batman series.

The character of Harley Quinn, Jokers sidekick and lover who first appeared in Batman the Animated series would later be incorporated into the comic books, becoming one of Batman’s most recognisable enemies in popular culture. Another character from the DCAU who would later be incorporated into the comics would be Terry McGinness, the second Batman.

McGinness was introduced in the series Batman Beyond, which was set 50 years into the future. McGinness was originally a street hoodlum who would stumble upon the Batcave after Bruce Wayne helped save him from the Jokerz Gang. Terry would later steal the Bat suit to avenge his fathers murder, and though Bruce disapproved of his actions at first, Bruce would later take Terry on as his protege, training him to be the new Batman proper.

It would later be revealed that Terry McGiness was in fact Bruce Wayne’s biological son.

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The second Batman, Terry McGiness. Despite his popularity, Terry would not be incorporated into the mainstream comics until 2014 with the new 52 crossover series.

In 1993 one of Batman’s most iconic enemies, Bane would be introduced in the Nightfall arc. Bane would be responsible for breaking the Dark Knights back. For the first time someone other than Bruce Wayne, Jean Paul Valley would be forced to don the suit until Bruce Wayne was able to recover.

Batman would continue to enjoy further acclaim with the No Man’s Land and Hush story arcs, both of which would go on to influence further stories and adaptations.

21st century

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Throughout the first decade of the 21st century Batman would continue to enjoy mainstream success due to the Christopher Nolan trilogy, which reached its peak with The Dark Knight, the second entry in the series. The Nolan trilogy presented audiences with a more realistic, gritty interpretation of the Caped Crusader than any before.

Despite Batman’s popularity however, DC would seemingly kill the New Earth version of Batman in 2008 in the major crossover story Infinite Crisis. Batman seemingly died in action against Superman’s enemy Darkseid, with Dick Grayson taking his place as the new Batman, and Damian Wayne, Bruce’s son taking over as the new Robin.

It would later be revealed however that Batman had simply been sent backwards in time by Darkseid’s Omega beams, and Bruce Wayne would make his return in 2010. Just over a year later however the New Earth Batman’s adventures would come to an end in 2011 when DC rebooted its titles with the New 52 crossover series.

Since 2011 DC has followed the Batman of Prime Earth’s adventures, though as the full multiverse has been restored then the Batmen of Earth One, and New Earth now both still exist, as does the Huntress of Earth 2.

As of the writing of this article Batman still maintains a large presence in popular culture, and with no signs of slowing down its doubtless that we will continue to see more adventures from the Batman of Earth Prime and dozens of other universes for decades to come.

In the next entry of the series we will examine the influences on Batman and the influence the character has had on popular culture.

 

 

My Favourite Heroes: Batman: Part 1: Why Do We Love Batman

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Batman is arguably the most popular superhero of all time. Originally created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger in 1939 for National Comics (later known as DC Comics.) Batman is a masked crime fighter who operates in Gotham, a city rife with corruption and crime.

Batman’s civlian identity is billionaire Bruce Wayne, who uses his vast wealth to fund his crime fighting career. He has no actual super powers of his own and instead relies on his gadgets, and fighting and deduction skills to tackle criminals.

Bruce Wayne is motivated to fight crime by a personal tragedy from his past. At the age of 8, Bruce’s parents were gunned down in front of him by a mugger. Vowing to never let the same thing happen again to anyone else, Bruce honed his body and mind to become the perfect crime fighter. He adopted the mantel of the bat to strike fear into the hearts of “cowardly and superstitious” criminals.

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Over the decades Batman has amassed a large array of colorful villains and supporting characters. The most notable of his enemies is the evil, psycopathic clown, the Joker, whilst his most famous sidekick is Robin, the Boy Wonder. Much like Batman, the various versions of Robin over the years have often been inspired to fight crime due to the loss of their parents.

Over the decades Batman has been adapted to film, television, animation, video games and even a broadway musical. He has managed to conquer just about all mediums and is alongside Superman one of the two quintessential comic book characters, though recent decades have seen him arguably eclipse even the Man of Steel in popularity.

In spite of the recent record breaking success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, no individual Marvel character can match Batman’s dominance in popular culture either. The only Marvel movies that have been able to match or eclipse the most successful Batman films, such at the Burton Batman, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises in terms of commercial success and cultural impact are the Avengers movies; which feature multiple Marvel heroes (practically an entire universe’s worth in Endgame.)

There are many reasons for Batman’s enduring popularity which we will explore in this article as we look at why we love the Caped Crusader.

First and foremost Batman has one of the most effective designs of any hero. He has a strong outline that is instantly recognisable, even in a crude drawing.

Batman’s design also in comparison to other heroes such as Superman and Spider-Man has a more menacing and dangerous aspect that instantly draws you in. Spider-Man’s costume is just to conceal his identity, whilst Batman’s is designed to strike fear into his enemies hearts, which lets you know more about the man underneath.

At times Batman can look even more frightening than the criminals he catches. This can best be seen in the opening to the classic Batman the animated series where the Dark Knight drops from the sky like a Demon and pounces on several helpless criminals.

At the same time however Batman’s design is not without its colourful and appealing aspects too. With a little readjusting, some versions of Batman can look as friendly and as colourful as your average superhero.

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As a result Batman can still be a character kids can dress up as, can still be slapped on lunch boxes and turned into a toy. His design is the perfect balance of being inherently more fearsome than the average superhero look, but not actively monstrous so that children are too scared to even look at him.

Batman despite his status as a millionare was also somewhat more of an underdog than other super heroes. Whilst the likes of Spider-Man, Wolverine, and even Superman regularly face enemies that are more powerful than they are, Batman in a way is always vulnerable due to his lack of super powers.

Even when facing ordinary muggers, though the Batman can often easily take them down, there is still a chance that he can be killed. (One issue of The Brave and the Bold does see Batman get shot and killed by an ordinary crime lord, only to be revived by the Atom who literally runs around his body fast enough to revive his brain stem!)

Batman’s motivation for fighting crime was also perhaps somewhat more flawed, yet more human than many of his contemporary superheroes, all of whom fought crime simply because it was the right thing to do. Batman in contrast arguably fought crime more because he wanted revenge. He does still ultimately want to see justice carried out, but there are times where you wonder if Batman cares more about doing what’s right, or simply getting back at the criminals who took his parents.

In these respects, Batman’s more flawed personality and greater vulnerability compared to the rest of DC’s rooster made him more of a precursor to the later Marvel heroes than any other DC character.

Batman’s tragic origins also give him a tremendous edge over other comic book or even genre characters. Sadly comic books even with the popularity of the MCU are still somewhat looked down as childish and silly. Obviously I am not going to deny that a lot of comic book stories are primarily aimed at children. Still ultimately comic books are a medium, not a genre, and there is no reason they can’t be used to tell adult stories, or even just stories that can be enjoyed by adults as well as children.

Characters like Superman, Spider-Man, or the X-Men are no more ridiculous or fanciful than characters like Robin Hood, King Arthur or Hercules. If the likes of Hercules and Robin Hood can appear in both childish and more mature stories then so can any classic comic book hero like Wonder Woman or Iron Man. Its just complete snobbery to suggest otherwise.

Sadly however the stigma does exist, but Batman was perhaps always able to overcome it to some extent, by having one of the most tragic origins of any popular hero. Its not just a question of Batman loses his parents. He sees them die right in front of him, when he is utterly helpless as a child, and in the most brutal way possible.

Even the most skeptical critic of comic books has to acknowledge the potential for drama in Batman’s origins. Superman in contrast loses his entire planet, which though effective, is not something that anyone can really imagine. To those who aren’t sci fi fans and used to larger than life stories and concepts, it might come off as being too fanciful. (Superman also never knew anything about his planet either having been sent away as an infant.)

Wonder Woman’s origin’s from an island where women have isolated themselves from men meanwhile can come over extremely goofy if not handled delicately. Other superheroes origins tend to be linked to larger than life scenarios of being caught in an accident and gaining superpowers, like the Hulk or the Fantastic Four, or the Flash. Again to those who aren’t interested in sci fi, it might be easy to dismiss these origin stories as being too over the top.

Spider-Man does have an element of tragedy in his origin through the death of his Uncle Ben (which he is partly resonsible for), but even then Uncle Ben’s death is not quite as brutal and up front as Batman. Spider-Man at least doesn’t actually see his Uncle Ben’s murder happen before him, and he is a lot older and can process it better. When you’re a child your entire world revolves around your parents.

Even most other folk heroes don’t have quite the same level of tragedy to their origins as Batman. Sherlock Holmes for instance is just a lovable eccentric. Robin Hood in most versions is just a skilled archer. The Doctor meanwhile in Classic Who was an eccentric scientist who wanted to explore, whilst New Who attempted to give him a tragic origin of his planet being destroyed, which again is too large a tragedy for viewers to comprehend.

With Batman everyone can imagine themselves in his position to some extent. Sadly those who have lost parents or loved ones as a child can relate to the feelings of loss Bruce experiences, whilst even those who haven’t can still imagine the horror of losing people so important to them. Finally Batman’s origins aren’t linked to aliens, or monsters or super powers. Its a very real human tragedy that befalls Bruce, and the monster responsible is an ordinary human too.

These scenes alone destroy the myth that comic books can never be used to tell stories with more depth to them, as the tragic origins for Batman were present in the very earliest Batman strips.

Another key reason for Batman’s enduring popularity is his massive rogues gallery.

Batman’s most iconic enemies are not just colorful and exciting characters in their own right. Many of of his most prominent villains present Batman with a unique kind of challenge, and as whole they span different genres which in turn gives Batman a broader appeal.

The Joker, Batman’s archnemesis is essentially a horror movie character. He was based visually on the title character from a classic horror movie “The Man Who Laughs”. (This character Gwynplaine was ironically not evil. He was a tragic character whose mouth had been cut into the shape of a grin as a boy. Still his terrifying visage would prove an inspiration to the Joker.)

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Whilst some versions of the Joker attempted to downplay the horror aspects of the character (out of fear of frightening children.) Others have positively revelled in it, and given the Joker a much more gruesome and terrifying appearance.

Examples of this include the Heath Ledger version of the character who had a Glasgow smile carved into his face, or the proto Joker, Jerome Valeska from Gotham whose face was cut off and then later stapled back on, only to be punched off by Commissioner Gordon!

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The Joker is the precursor to all monster clowns from popular culture such as Pennywise.

No matter what the version, the Joker is always depicted as a thoroughly iredeemable character. In some interpretations the Joker is given a more sympathetic backstory such as the Killing Joke, whilst others such as the Tim Burton movie, and the DCAU depict him as having always been a ruthless mobster who was simply pushed further into madness. Some depict him as a mysterious character whose origins are shrouded in mystery which in some ways makes him more frightening.

Whatever his reason for going insane, the Joker always presents Batman with the biggest challenge simply because of how evil he is. There is no low the villain won’t stoop too and Batman is often pushed to his limits not just by the threat of the Joker, but in whether or not he will have to actually commit murder to stop him.

One of the Jokers most heinous crimes, the crippling of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl in front of her father Commissioner Gordon who he later attempts to drive insane by showing pictures of Barbara’s bleeding, naked body.

Its no surprise that the Joker is the villain Batman and Robin have killed the most in other adaptations. Examples include in Batman 1989, where Batman throws the villain to his death from a building, an Elseworlds comic called The Nail, where Batman beats the Joker to death after the Joker uses stolen alien technology to flay Batgirl and Robin alive right in front of a captive Batman.

Finally in Batman Beyond Return of the Joker, Robin shoots the villain through the heart (after enduring months of torture at the Jokers hands until he was driven insane and turned into the Jokers twisted idea of a son, Little J.)

Even more surprising is that Batman and Robin have almost always killed the Joker not in self defence, but out of revenge! Whilst the earliest comics did feature Batman killing his enemies, this aspect of his character was dropped very early on, (though a few versions have returned to it.) Generally speaking Batman never kills, and if he does its almost always in self defence.

The Joker is the only villain that can push almost any version of Batman to murder out of sheer rage. For this reason confronations between Batman and the Joker are always the more exciting than those with any of his other foes. I’d actually go as far as to argue that Batman and the Joker have the most intense and exciting feud of any two characters.

Almost any combination of Batman and the Joker is guaranteed to be exciting. We have seen the Joker confront Bruce Wayne as an ordinary civilian, Batman encounter a pre Joker, Jack Napier in the Burton movie, Batman and the Joker fight each other as the only two non super powered beings in a team full of aliens, gods and metahumans in Justice League. We’ve also seen the two face each other as old men in Frank Millers The Dark Knight Returns, and finally even as teenagers in Gotham, via Bruce Wayne and Jerome.

Any variation of these two characters is a winning combination as their core personalities are so strong they shine through at any age and in any situation.

The two have also been depicted as everything from warring brothers in Gotham, to love rivals in the 89 Batman, (in the Jokers twisted mind) to father figures battling it out over a son in Batman Beyond Return of the Joker (again in the Jokers mind) to representatives of two warring ideaologies in The Dark Knight.

There’s no other villain/hero combination that can be cast into quite as many different combinations and be just as effective each time. Holmes and Moriarty for instance could not be recast as teenagers, neither could the Doctor or the Master. The original Green Goblin, Norman Osborne, meanwhile could never be made the same age as Peter Parker. He only works as a middle aged or older man, whilst the Harry Osborne version similarly has to be younger like Spider-Man.

Superman and Luthor do work in many different roles too, but even then they lack quite the same viciousness that the Joker and Batman do in most of their confrontations. There have been some classic Luthor/Superman showdowns, and in one instance in the Justice League animated series Superman was even driven to kill Lex in an alternate universe. Still generally speaking we won’t see as many gritty confrontations between the two where Superman cuts out Luthors eye, or punches his face off!

Batman and the Joker are perhaps the greatest example of the archenemy trope, and the Joker overall has to stand as one of the most nightmarish and frightening villains of all time.

In complete contrast to the Joker is Mr Freeze. Freeze is more of a sci fi character than the Joker. He is a classic mad scientist, who is mutated in a lab accident and turned into an ice man. Whilst originally introduced as nothing more than a goofy B-movie character, the animated series gave him a tragic origin which was later incorporated into the comics.

Here Freeze was depicted as a loving husband who simply sought revenge against Ferris Boyle, a ruthless businessman who was responsible for the accident that not only turned Freeze into a monster, but also seemingly killed his beloved wife Norah.

Unlike with his other enemies, Batman can actually empathise with Freeze. Both lost people they cared about, and both initially sought to kill the monster responsible. However whilst Batman never went as far as Freeze who was willing to hurt innocent people, ultimately Batman lost less. Freeze didn’t just lose his wife, but his ability to ever have a normal life as well. In this respect Batman doesn’t judge Freeze the way he would his other enemies and feels genuinely sorry for him.

Ra’s Al Ghul, often regarded as Batman’s archenemy after the Joker is a totally different type of villain yet again. Ghul is a fantasy character. He is a warlord who has been kept alive by exposure to magic pits, known as the Lazarus Pits for hundreds, sometimes thousands of years. He and his League of Assassins have helped shape human history, and the character is the biggest threat of all of Batman’s enemies. His endgame is often to use the Lazarus pits to destroy most of human civilisation and then rebuild it from scratch.

Ra’s is also a match for Batman in every way. He is as skilled a detective (and is able to deduce Batman’s secret identity before he even meets him) and he can match him in physical combat as well, unlike most of Batman’s other enemies.

Despite all of this however Ra’s is somewhat more sympathetic than say the Joker. Though he is a far bigger threat, Ra’s does at least have a code of honour, and genuinely respects and admires Batman.

A classic example of the key differences between Ra’s and the Joker can be seen in the animated movie, Under the Red Hood. Here Ra’s hires the Joker to distract Batman. The Joker however naturally goes too far and brutally tortures Robin to death with a crowbarr. Ra’s is so overwhelmed with guilt, that he engineers Robin’s resurrection with the Lazarus Pit and vows to never cause trouble for Batman or Gotham again to make amends for his role in the boys death.

Ra’s reveals his shame to Batman at having caused the pointless death of an innocent child through working with the Joker.

Ra’s Al Ghul gave Batman a new type of enemy in every way. He brought in magic and the supernatural to the franchise to a greater extent than ever before. He was an enemy that on the one hand was a global threat (and even regularly took Batman out of Gotham) yet on the other was actually capable of showing clemency and even respect to the Batman.

Two Face meanwhile represents another totally different type of enemy. Two Face is a more low level gangster, but has a deeper personal connection to Batman. In all versions Two Face was once a close friend of Batman, before being horribly scarred down one side of his face.

Batman has more of a vested interest in rehabilitating Two Face and carries a tremendous sense of guilt at not being able to help his friend.

 

The Scarecrow presents yet another type of challenge to the Batman. The Scarecrow’s main weapon, a special kind of gas that makes people see their worst fears gives us a deeeper insight into Batman’s personality than any of his interactions with other villains.

The Scarecrow’s fear gas makes Batman see his worst nightmare.

The Scarecrow was able to attack Batman in a more psychological way than any of his other enemies.

The Riddler presents a more comical enemy for the Batman. Though some portrayals have been darker such as in Gotham, the Riddler is generally depicted in a more humorous way. His entire gimmick and persona is ripe for comedy.

Here we have a man so insecure about his own intelligence that he has to prove his superiority to Batman by giving away vital clues to his crimes, which he could probably carry out otherwise successfully. There’s plenty of humour that can be exploited from his ridiculous Riddles, his stupidity in giving away clues, and his own neurosis at proving he is smarter than Batman (which always blows up in his face in humiliating ways.)

The Penguin meanwhile as an enemy is a return to Batman’s roots as a crime fighter. He is an ordinary gangster overall. No super powers, no plans for world domination, no desire to prove his genius to Batman or Gotham. He is a much more practical villain and one who can be used, despite his flamboyant nature, for grittier more down to earth stories.

Penguin stories have involved wars between crime families, and corruption in high places. The 60s series and Gotham both featured the Penguin running for Mayor. (As did Batman Returns which featured a more monstrous version of the character.) The character is also often depicted as presenting himself as an honest night club owner, who uses his wealth to cover his tracks. Batman often isn’t able to simply arrest the Penguin as easily as his other enemies.

Once again the Penguin not only represents a different challenge to Batman, of a villain who can cover his tracks, rather than flaunts them, but he covers a different genre too; with the Penguin allowing Batman to star in more traditional crime stories.

Bane on the other hand represents yet another type of challenge to Batman. Bane is able to bring Batman to his knees. Ra’s Al Ghul was a match for the Batman, but Bane completely dominates the dark knight and humiliates him in combat. We aren’t used to seeing Batman in such a vulnerable position physically. Despite his lack of powers, Batman is usually able to thrash his enemies in combat easily. Most of Batman’s enemies don’t even try to fight him one on one because they know it would be pointless.

Bane on the other hand laughs at Batman’s attempts to frighten him before delivering the most humilating and painful curbstomp to the Dark Knight.

Its a testament to how strong a character Bane was that he could emerge in such a well established rogues gallery and become so prominent in such a short space of time.

Finally the Catwoman represents yet another type of enemy with a completely different relationship with Batman. Catwoman is in love with Batman and therefore takes the Batman universe into the realm of romantic fiction. Batman and Catwoman are undoubtly one of the most famous modern love stories.

Catwoman is also the only one of Batman’s enemies who is not evil at all. In fact in many stories Catwoman has even helped Batman take on a greater threat, such as in The Dark Knight Rises, where Catwoman actually kills Bane just as he is about to finish the Batman and helps the Caped Crusader save Gotham.

Still most of the time Catwoman is on the wrong side of the law. Whilst her crimes are less vicious than say the Joker or Penguin, she is ironically a greater match for Batman physically than most other villains. She can also ironically hurt Batman in some ways more because she is closer to him.

An example of this can be seen in The Dark Knight Rises when Catwoman betrays Batman to Bane, or in Batman Returns when Bruce is devastated to discover that the same woman he has fallen in love with, also helped to frame him for murder!

Over the decades Batman and Catwoman’s relationship has gone through many significant changes, from enemies, to frenemies, to lovers, to finally even husband and wife.

The earth 2 versions of Batman and Catwoman (who were the original versions) got married in the 70s, and even had a child, Helena Wayne.

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Batman and Catwoman’s getting married.

Helena Wayne would later become the heroine known as The Huntress following her mothers death.

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Its sad how little known the Huntress, an engaging hero in her own right, and the daughter of two of the most famous fictional characters of all time is. I guess having famous parents isn’t always a guarantee for fame.

Catwoman has certainly shown us a different side to the Batman than villains like The Penguin ever possibly could. Through his relationship with the Catwoman we have not only seen a more romantic side to the Batman, but we’ve also seen him question his devotion to the law, suffer heartache, become a devoted husband and later a loving father!

When you look at the major villains from most other heroes rogues galleries you won’t find as much variety in terms of genres or the different type of threats they pose to the hero.

Take Spider-Man for instance. Spider-Man has one of the greatest rogues galleries of any hero, but ultimately most of Spidey’s enemies are rooted in sci fi as opposed to Batman’s who cover everything from horror, to sci fi, to crime, to romance, to psychological thrillers, to spy and espionage stories. Many of Spidey’s enemies are also experiments gone wrong, such as the Lizard, Morbius, Scorpion, Doctor Octopus, etc. Others are ordinary men with access to hi tech weapons or a super powered suit like the Hobgoblin, The Vulture, Mysterio, Chamelion, Shocker, Rhino, Scorpion etc.

There are some villains who don’t fit the mould. Kingpin is not a sci fi villain, nor is Kraven the Hunter. Still ultimately the villains all mostly threaten Spider-Man in the same way. The Scorpion, Rhino, Doc Ock, Carnage, Shocker, Electro, Hobgoblin are all a danger to him from a purely physical point of view. In contrast, very few of Batman’s enemies like the Joker, the Penguin or the Scarecrow can threaten Batman physically. Instead they all have to find their own unique ways to threaten the Batman.

Spider-Man’s relationship with his various enemies are for the most part straight forward. He tends to view the likes of Kingpin, Shocker, Electro, Hobgoblin etc as just villains. There are no villains who respect him like Ra’s Al Ghul, who he feels sorry for like Mr Freeze, who he is love with like Catwoman etc. (Black Cat who has often been compared to Catwoman is not an enemy of Spider-Man’s)

There are a few of Spider-Man’s enemies who find unique ways to challenge him and have a more unique dynamic. Venom knows more about the wall crawler than anyone else, Harry Osborne much like Two Face was once one of his friends, whilst Norman is the father of his best friend. Carnage meanwhile much like the Joker pushes Spider-Man to his limits because of how evil he is.

Still overall Spider-Man’s enemies to tend to fit into a pattern, and cover similar themes more than the Batman’s enemies do.

Similarly most of Superman’s enemies are rooted in sci fi and most of them are simply his enemies too. Luthor who in some interpretations is his former friend aside, there are no villains like Mr Freeze or Ra’s Al Ghul in Superman’s rogues gallery that he can genuinely respect and even have empathy for.

The Doctor meanwhile similarly though having one of the greatest rogues galleries, his enemies tend to fit a pattern more than Batman’s too. The Daleks, the Cybermen, the Sontarans, and the Ice Warriors, though all unique characters, still all fit the role of alien invaders, all dedicated to their cause above their own individual lives; whilst his single enemies such as Davros, the Master etc, tend to be megolamaniacal would be conquerors.

The Doctor similarly views all of his enemies with contempt. There are no villains that he could be said to have affection or sympathy for. (The 21st century version of Doctor Who did try and have the Doctor develop affection for the Master, but it was very clumsily handled and ended up making the Doctor look like a total hypocrite. The Master historically is a totally ireedemable villain on a par with the Joker, so to have the Doctor who normally kills his enemies go easy on him undermined both characters. I’d go as far as to say how the revival handled the Master was arguably the single weakest aspect of the revival.)

Ultimately there is more variety among Batman’s enemies in terms of the genres they touch upon, the type of threat they pose to the Dark Knight, and their relationships with the hero which range from respect, to neurotic obsession, to empathy, to love, to seething hatred.

The large variety of Batman’s enemies ultimately represents what I feel is the single most important aspect of Batman’s enduring popularity. His versatility.

Batman can be incorporated into a larger variety of stories than any other superhero. In fact I’d argue that Batman can be incorporated into a larger variety of different stories than any other hero, save the Doctor and Xena (who we’ll be examining in later editions of this series.)

Batman can flourish in both drama and comedy. His tragic origins as we have seen can give the character a real sense of gravitas and dramatic integrity.

At the same time however Batman’s ultra serious nature, coupled with his larger than life qualities make him just as ideal for comedy. All superheroes if not handled right can seem silly. (They are by their very nature very over the top.)

Still Spider-Man and many other Marvel heroes have a sense of humour, which gives them a greater self awareness when placed into comedic situations.

Batman on the other hand is totally serious. Whilst some versions may have a more sarcastic streak, generally speaking Batman takes everything completely seriously, which makes it all the more hilarious when he is placed into a ridiculous situation.

This was the key to the Adam West Batman’s massive success. West played his part seriously. At no point did he ever acknowledge how ridiculous he looked, even when he was being pelted with fish by the Joker, or using Shark repellent Bat spray!West always made sure the character had no self awareness.

How many characters could star in two such radically different scenes and remain largely unchanged? West’s Batman at his core is ultimately the same character in that he is just as devoted to fighting crime, takes his job just as seriously, and in his own universe is just as competent.

The comedy in Batman also has a very broad range too. Some of the comedy can be very camp as seen with West whilst a lot of the comedy can also be very dark.

Black comedy has actually always been one of Batman’s strengths. Growing up the Joker was always one of my favourite characters because he could do the most horrible things and make me laugh at them.

This scene from an 80s comic called “Dreadful Birthday Dear Joker” I think demonstrates the strength of the black comedy in Batman better than any other.

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Your favourite characters 1314015_original

Jack Nicholson himself said that the Jokers sick humour more was what attracted him to the role, and indeed it ended up becoming the defining and most praised aspect of his performance.

Its not just with the Joker however that there is potential for black comedy.

The Penguin, the Riddler, even more obscure Batman villains such as the Professor Pyg can all be amusing and vicious at the same time.

As Batman and his villains are such extreme characters then the comedy involved with all characters can be as outrageous as it wants.

Arguably the real key to Batman’s versatility is his lack of super powers. Batman can be placed into almost any type of perilious situation because he can be vulnerable enough when need be, yet thanks to his gadgets and fighting skills Batman can still keep up with actual super heroes.

Batman can star in gritty crime stories. He has a real motivation to deal with ordinary, street level threats, and unlike Wonder Woman or Superman, or even Spider-Man who can all deal with criminals in a second. Batman is always still vulnerable to ordinary criminals to an extent.

One of the best Batman stories of all time is Night of the Stalker. This comic sees the Caped Crusader track a group of ordinary muggers who murder a young boys parents in front of him, through the woods outside Gotham.

The story shows Batman at his most vicious in his relentless pursuit of the crooks. In certain moments you wonder if Batman is actually going to kill the criminals. The papers even refer to him as “savage Batman” the next day. Batman is also drawn to be much more menacing and forboding in this story too.

At the same time however we also see Batman at his most vulnerable in this story too. For all his years of crime figthting and trying to make Gotham a better place, Batman ultimately fails to stop another young boy from enduring the same tragedy he swore no one else would ever have to go through and it almost breaks him. We even see Batman cry during two parts of the story.

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You simply could not do Night of the Stalker with Superman, or even Spider-Man. They’d take care of the crooks in 5 seconds with their powers. Neither would have quite the emotional gravitas when dealing with just simple criminals either.

At the same time however there are elements of sci fi in Batman’s character. Batman’s famous Batcave alone features advanced technology that strays into science fiction territory. One of Batman’s most famous trophies is a gigantic robot Tyrannosaurus Rex!

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Many of Batman’s most iconic enemies are sci fi characters. Mr Freeze, Manbat, Clayface, The Mad Hatter, Scarecrow, Doctor Hugo Strange etc. Some of his supporting cast are sci fi characters too. The Huntress, Batman’s daughter comes from an alternate universe, Earth 2 where he married Catwoman. His other child, Terry McGuiness, who becomes the second Batman (and is mentored by an elderly Bruce) comes from the far future and lives in a complete sci fi environment of robots, hover cars, mutants and aliens!

Some of the most celebrated Batman stories are rooted in sci fi such as Heart of Ice, or Batman Beyond Return of the Joker.

Batman has also become a prominent sci fi character through his association with the Justice League, one of the first superhero teams. As a member of the Justice League Batman has helped to battle alien invaders, travelled to other universes, and faced gigantic killed robots!

At a first glance Batman who lacks any kind of superpowers may seem like a bad fit for the Justice League, a team that consists of the likes of Superman, Wonder Woman, the Martian Manhunter etc. Batman however again is able to overcompensate through his scientific genius and deduction skills. He is often able to work out the villains plan, key weakness or hideout first, he supplies the League with their technology, and his gadgets and fighting skills can allow him to go toe to toe with super powered characters. (Which he does regularly in Gotham with characters like Mr Freeze or Manbat.)

A classic example of this can be seen in the Justice League cartoons where Batman is the one who brings down the alien invaders known as the Imperium. The Imperium’s technology is able to cancel out the Leagues super powers, but Batman is able to deduce their weakness, sunlight, and reprograms their machine that blocks out the sun.

Horror and fantasy meanwhile are just as important a part of Batman’s character. Visually Batman drew from classic horror characters like Dracula, whilst Gotham itself always had a gothic look of large forboding cathedrals, creepy looking gargoyles.

The original two Tim Burton Batman movies play out more like old classic, Universal horror movies than anything else, just as much as the Nolan movies embrace the gritty crime fighter elements, and Return of the Joker embraces the sci fi elements.

From the very beginning Batman faced supernatural creatures. One of his earliest recurring enemies was the Mad Monk, a hypnotic Vampire who attempted to sire Batman’s then fiance Julie Madison. Ra’s Al Ghul of course would later bring fantasy straight into the heart of the Batman mythos for all time. Another of Batman’s major enemies with a supernatural twist is Solomon Grundy, a Zombie of a gangster dumped in a mystical swamp outside of Gotham.

Various other Batman stories and adaptations have dealt with the dead being brought back to life such as Gotham and Under the Red Hood.

Batman can also be used for great love stories too. The fact that he is such a closed off, tortured character allows his love stories to be somewhat more intense and tragic. Unlike Spider-Man or Superman, Batman doesn’t want a normal life. He doesn’t want to juggle having a wife and kids with fighting criminals (earlier stories did give him a fiance, but she was quickly written out and the character has remained single more or less since. Whilst he’s had his love interests, there has never been a constant figure in his life like Mary Jane or Lois Lane.)

Batman wants to only focus fighting crime, so if he meets someone who might actually take his mind off his mission then things are going to be more complicated for Batman than they’d be for your average hero in love.

This scene from the Mask of the Phantasm shows Bruce Wayne who has recently fallen in love apologise to his dead parents for taking his mind off of his mission to avenge them. The tragic irony is that they would both have rather their son move on and have a happy life instead.

Batman’s love stories will almost always end in tragedy in some way due to his reluctance to give up on his duties. Even the earth 2 version of Catwoman sadly met a grissly end, though this trend was seemingly broken at the end of The Dark Knight Rises which featured Bruce Wayne and Catwoman eloping to Europe to (hopefully) live a happy life together.

Batman as a character is extremely adaptable overall.

Most superheroes can’t star in gritty crime stories like Night of the Stalker, whilst at the same time most heroes without super powers can’t go on the fantastical adventures Batman does.

Robin Hood can’t stop an alien invasion. Sherlock Holmes similarly can’t star in an adventure where he travels to another universe and stops his evil counterpart from destroying every universe.

Batman meanwhile did in Justice League on Two Earths, which features Owlman, an evil version of Batman who travels to the original world that all universes sprung from. Owlman attempts eliminate all of creation by destroying earth prime, believing it to be the only decision that would matter, as all other decisions have been played out in the multiverse, only for Batman to face him in a one on one duel for the sake of every universe!

And Batman thought the Joker was crazy!

Even other comic book characters without powers such as Green Arrow are not quite as adaptable as Batman. Green Arrow does not possess the scientific genius Batman does, and his gadgets are not quite as advanced as Batman’s. Its one thing to have some fancy arrows, its another to have a cave full of fighter jets, and robot T-Rex’s. Sci fi and fantasy generally don’t have as much of a place in Green Arrow’s world. When Arrow, the live action version of Green Arrow attempted to bring in magic and have the character take on a global threat it was met with a negative response. Many fans and critics felt that it was straying too far from the purpose of the show, and so later versions brought the character down to earth.

Daredevil similarly can only fight street level thugs. You couldn’t imagine Daredevil single handedly bringing down an alien invasion like Batman either.

Batman’s lack of powers, coupled with his scientific genius and gadgets allow him to star in the widest range of stories from crime noir, to sci fi, to horror, to fantasy. For this reason Batman naturally appeals to much wider audiences than almost any other superhero. There’s everything you could want in a Batman’s story comedy, drama, horror, even romance and that among other reasons is why Batman is so beloved.

In the next article we will be taking a look at the history of Batman.