Crazy Moments In Batman History

Batman first appeared in Detective Comics #27 as a fairly standard pulp era crime fighter, armed with guns and weird purple gloves. Created by a couple of 20-somethings with mediocre drawing skills named Bill Finger and Bob Kane, Batman rode the success of Superman and eventually became one of the most enduring comic characters of all time. By issue #33, Batman's Crime Alley origins are revealed in a few brief panels, because witnessing the murder of your parents is totally no big deal, guys.

1940: Clown Prince and Boy Wonder

It wasn't long before Batman enlisted the aid of a small child to fight a deranged circus clown. While Robin's presence has been normalized to readers by prolonged exposure to Batman's weird life, The Joker was definitely one of Batman's weirdest villains to date, having fought relatively normal baddies like Catwoman, Hugo Strange, and a Dr. Hyde-like guy named Wolf, The Crime Master. This is also the year that Batman decides to stop using guns, so godspeed, little Robin.

1964: Revamp

By the mid-'60s, Batman's sales were at an all-time low, so in an effort to appeal to a new audience, DC Comics brings Batman back to Earth and returns the character to his crime-fighting roots. As with all character remodels, Batman's costume is switched up a bit and he's given the yellow oval logo we all know and love today. It's hard to imagine a time when Batman wasn't a bestselling character, but this marked the start of his slow climb back to the top.

Unless you've spent the last 80 years living in a Batcave, you probably already know a whole lot about Batman: his origins, his fancy gadgets, and his penchant for young sidekicks. What you might not know is that an insane series of events drove Batman to being the dark, brooding vigilante that he is today. Here are some of the craziest moments in Batman's history. 

1954: Seduction of the Innocent

Fredric Wertham publishes Seduction of the Innocent, which criticizes the non-traditional relationship between Batman and his young ward. In order to avoid complete censorship, comic publishers themselves came up with the Comics Code Authority to address Wertham's wildly-misrepresented concerns. Many fans believe that the Code's restrictions against graphic depictions of crime gave rise to the insane science fiction of the Silver Age—which is when things really, really get weird.

1958: Zur-En-Arrh

In the mid-1950s, Batman began to have interdimensional and outer space adventures instead of just fighting street-level thugs and weirdos. So, in Batman #113, our hero makes a strange trip to visit a tattered, multicolored Batman from Planet Zur-En-Arrh who needs Earth's Batman's help fighting an alien invasion. Though given Zur's costume, Batman really should have just arrested him for his crimes against fashion.

If this wasn't strange enough, modern Batman writer Grant Morrison included the formerly forgotten, insane adventure from Batman's zany comics history into being some kind of trip into Bruce Wayne's personal Imagination Land. Apparently, Batman himself created "Zur-En-Arrh" Batman as a "back up personality" in case he ever went insane—because people can be backed up like hard drives, apparently.

1959: Bat-Mite

The following year, in Detective Comics #267, Batman is visited from the Fifth Dimension by an all-powerful imp named Bat-Mite who absolutely worships the Dark Knight. Bat-Mite sets up increasingly strange challenges so he can see his hero in action, including making an enormous statue of Batman himself come to life. Naturally, Batman is annoyed by having another little punk hanging around the Batcave, as if Robin weren't enough, but the little guy persists on and off for the rest of Batman's career.

1962: Bat-Baby

Batman endures dozens of unusual transformations during the Silver Age, including periods of getting super old, turning into an ape and a tiger, and being a genie. However, few changes are so strange as Batman #147's transformation into a baby. Rather than taking the afternoon off, Batman insists on wearing some suspenders and continuing to fight crime, because if you thought a man dressed as a bat was terrifying, a violent baby is truly the stuff of nightmares. Like, can you punch it in self-defense or what?

1970: Earth-Two Batman

Because the '60s revamp of Batman wasn't enough, DC decides to distance itself from his earlier adventures, as well as the early adventures of many of their aging characters, by telling readers that all of that Golden Age junk actually happened in an alternate reality called Earth-Two, and the new stuff was actually all happening on Earth Prime. Readers are left to draw complicated diagrams to sort out which Batman stories are tied to which Batman, but it's all thrown out by 1985 when DC publishes Crisis on Infinite Earths, smashing all realities back together anyhow. Only one Batman survives.

1988: Death of Robin

After the Silver Age ended, the once-carefree Batman of the '60s became darker. Everything reached a boiling point by 1988's A Death in the Family: The Joker kidnaps Robin's estranged, neglectful mother, beats Robin nearly to death with a crowbar, and sets off a bomb. Readers at home were given the chance to call a DC Comics hotline and let them know if they thought Robin should survive or go off to that Batcave in the sky, and a slight majority of overwhelmingly bitter nerds decided that Robin should bite the big one. Robin dies, and Batman sets out on a darker, grimmer path from which he'd never recover. Thanks, geeks.

1988: The Killing Joke

Because the Joker is on a mission to destroy everything that Batman loves, he goes on his most malicious and personal crime spree in Bat-history. In The Killing Joke, the Clown Prince of Crime shoots Barbara Gordon, also known as Batgirl, and paralyzes her permanently, before kidnapping her father, Commissioner Gordon. The commissioner is kept naked in a cage with circus freaks, and forced look at images of his daughter, naked and in agony from a gunshot wound. Batman's entire world continues to fall apart, and his real insanity begins to show through.

1991: Venom

After accidentally letting a little girl drown, Batman starts to use a strength-enhancing drug called Venom, knowing that it's a bad idea, but willing to do anything to prevent another death. After realizing that his addiction is sending him into an irrational rage and doing more harm than good, Batman locks himself the basement for a month and detoxes by sheer willpower, because damn, he's Batman.

1993: Knightfall

Two years later, a criminal named Bane gets ahold of the same drug that Batman was previously abusing and uses it to enhance himself enough to snap Batman's spine, but only after releasing all of the criminals in Arkham to wear down the Caped Crusader into a state of total exhaustion. Batman remains paralyzed for a while, while a violent protege of his takes over the Batman name and causes the wrong kind of chaos for Gotham's criminals, totally messing up the Batman brand.

2009: Batman wets his pants

If there's a single moment in Batman's complete history that has no right to exist, it's Kevin Smith's comic tale in which Batman wets his unitard because he stands too close to an explosion. Because Smith lives in a world where adults regularly cannot control their bodily functions, Smith drags the Dark Knight into unforgivable territory. He only makes it worse by openly discussing Batman's bedroom habits, and making Catwoman have a temper tantrum once she learns that Bruce is getting married. Bob should have stayed silent on this one.

2010: Zapped through time

Batman's time-travel adventures from the Silver Age make a comeback when supervillain Darkseid shoots the hero with his Omega Beams. Normally, these beams erase their victim from existence, but this time they send Batman back to the Stone Age, where he lives as a caveman for a while, before slipping through other eras in which he's a witch-hunter, a pirate, a cowboy, and a 1930s detective. When Bruce Wayne eventually stumbles back into present day after his epic journey, the Justice League has to stop his heart to prevent dangerous Omega Energy from destroying the world..and he survives, because Batman is the most badass superhero ever.

1960: Zebra Batman

Most cite Batman's period of wearing rainbow-colored outfits as his strangest, but his time as a zebra-patterned crimefighter was even stranger. After going up against Zebra-Man, a guy in black and white who can emit rays of magnetic force, Batman and Robin go to investigate the criminal's lab. Because Robin is a Darwin Award waiting to happen, he trips and zaps Batman with the same machine that gave Zebra-Man his powers, also giving him a similar suit in the process. As usual, Batman literally punches the stripes off of Zebra-Man, and everything returns to normal. Well, relatively normal for Batman, at least.