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American legend

Published: Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 22:07



Inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the graphic novel Batman: Noel features a holiday story spanning Batman’s 70 year history. Lee Bermejo, whose cover image is pictured above, takes on the double job of writer and artist for the first time in his career.

What kind of a man dresses as a bat? A dark, gothic symbol of tireless heroism for more than 70 years — that's who.

Created by writer and artist Bob Kane, Batman first appeared in Detective Comics No. 27 in 1939. In the decades since, the character continually adapted to the changing times.

Need a World War II propaganda tool? Batman's your wartime crusader, fighting Japanese agents in black and white serials.

Or how about a tongue-in-cheek TV show? Holy 1960s, Adam West! Don't forget your shark repellant spray and endless go-to gadgets.

Then there's the Batman of our modern age, transformed by visionary writers like Frank Miller (Sin City, 300). Miller's hardened detective is serious and brooding — the hero we need, but one that could never exist in real life.

It's through example — not pop culture entertainment — that the bat signal keeps shining into society's consciousness.

"People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy, and I can't do that as Bruce Wayne," actor Christian Bale said in 2005's Batman Begins. "As a man, I'm flesh and blood. I can be ignored, I can be destroyed. But as a symbol … as a symbol, I can be incorruptible. I can be everlasting."

America's Dark Knight is exceedingly cool, almost to the point that nothing could seem better than being Batman. We want to don the cape and cowl; we want to scour the rooftops of Gotham and beat the living hell out of criminals.

Through all of Batman's versatility, his ever-present courage embodies the kind of person we want to become. He's ours and we're not giving up on him anytime soon.

"Batman may have come to us through the comic book, but he belongs to American mythology now, and it is as hard to imagine him having been created by Bob Kane as it is to imagine Jesus having been created by Mark," wrote author and Grantland columnist Tom Bissell.

Next summer will see the release of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises, the highly anticipated trilogy-clincher that promises to give Batman a definitive cinematic conclusion. Outside the theater, there's a wealth of graphic novels, a best-selling video game and volumes of cartoons dating to Super Friends in the 1970s.

Your Batman is out there — you just have to find him.   

"If you don't like Batman, you don't like ice cream," Batman writer and artist Lee Bermejo told gaming website IGN. "You can just do different flavors of the character and they work."

Jared Baxter is a senior media studies major and managing editor for The Battalion.


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