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75 Greatest Friends and Foes of Batman: Allies #5-1

by  in Comic News Comment

In honor of the seventy-fifth anniversary of Batman, we’re doing four straight months of polls having to do with Batman. Future installments will deal with Batman creators and stories, but this month will be about Batman’s allies and his villains.

You all voted, now here are the results (40 bad guys, 35 good guys for a total of 75)! Here is a list of all the characters revealed so far. We conclude with Allies #5-1…

Enjoy!

NOTE: There’s so many images in these pieces that I’ll be breaking them up over multiple pages. I threw in an extra page for dramatic effect.

5. Robin/Red Robin (Tim Drake)

Created by Marv Wolfman and Neal Adams (Pat Broderick first drew him in an actual comic), Tim Drake was introduced as essentially the personification of a fanboy. Check it out…



Attention to minutiae, obsessive fan behavior and, of course, a desire to have things go back to the way they were when he was a kid.

Instead, young Tim found himself as the new Robin himself. Not before training for seemingly twelve years before Batman let him go into action as Robin (and yet Batman let Jean-Paul Valley become BATMAN with pretty much no extra training).

One of the most interesting aspects about Tim Drake was that he was one of the few superheroes with both parents still aliv…oh wait, never mind, his mom was just killed by the Obeah Man (the Obeah Man should never play a significant part of your character’s back story. That should be a rule) Okay, so Tim was one of the few superheroes with at least one living paren…oh wait, never mind, his dad was just killed by Captain Boomerang. Tim Drake, like every other superhero ever, lost both of his parents to tragedy.

Tim as Robin became basically the best sidekick a guy could ask for, probably even more so than Dick Grayson, in the sense that Tim never had the temper tantrums that Dick was having constantly (the only time Tim ever gave Batman any crap was when Batman was a super jerk to him – like the time that Batman made up some elaborate ruse involving time travel just to screw with Tim as a “test.” Sure, Batman, a “test”).

Tim had a series of impressive moments as Robin, so it is hard to pick out a single moment, but how about the time that he took on KGBeast, the same guy who was so tough that Batman had to lock him in a room to starve him to death rather than face him head on, all while trying to protect a badly injured Harvey Bullock…




Over time, Tim’s prowess extended beyond the Bat-circle, as well, as he became the leader of first Young Justice and then the Teen Titans.

During a period that Bruce Wayne was believed to be dead, Tim decided to take on a new identity, Red Robin, as he needed to do some slightly unsavory things in his mission to prove that Bruce was not really dead (while at the same time, protect Bruce’s legacy against bad guys like Ra’s Al Ghul, who Tim had a dramatic confrontation against)…





Then the new 52 happened and Tim is basically an entirely different character now, so why bother discussing it?

4. Batgirl/Oracle (Barbara Gordon)

Created by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino, Barbara Gordon created a Batgirl costume for a masquerade party but on the way there she encountered Killer Moth attacking Bruce Wayne. She helped save Bruce and it got her to thinking of maybe becoming a vigilante full-time. When she went to Bruce Wayne’s house to deliver a rare book to him (back in those days, Batman’s research had to be done in books!) and discovered Bruce seemingly murdered, she made her final decision regarding whether she wanted to become a superhero…





Barbara continued to be Batgirl for many years, as she slowly raised her own profile as Barbara Gordon to the point where she was actually elected to Congress! She eventually loses her re-election, though. Eventually, she decided to retire as Batgirl. This came right before tragedy struck, as she was shot and paralyzed by the Joker in an attempt by the madman to drive her father, Commissioner Gordon, insane.

Soon afterwards, in the pages of Suicide Squad, the team encountered a new computer expert…


Eventually, it was revealed that this “Oracle” was, indeed, Barbara Gordon…


She grew to new heights in Suicide Squad, even taking over as leader for a time. She also had it out with Batman over the events of the Killing Joke (she was especially displeased about reports she heard of Batman and Joker laughing together). When the Suicide Squad was canceled, she soon was brought over by Denny O’Neil to be the information expert for Batman and his friends…


It was Chuck Dixon who solidified her role in the Bat-books. He also expanded it when he came up with the idea of Oracle using operatives to fight crime. She teamed up with Black Canary to form the Birds of Prey…



Eventually the Birds of Prey expanded to a number of other operatives working for (and later, with) Oracle.

Recently, in the new 52, Barbara is no longer paralyzed and has become Batgirl once again…



Go to the next page for #3!

3. Commissioner James Gordon

Commissioner Gordon is a rarity among Batman characters in that he is the only other Bat-character to have been around since the very first Batman story! Yes, Commissioner Gordon was right there in Batman’s first appearance in Detective Comics #27 (so he was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane)…




The friendship between Gordon and Bruce Wayne is a weird one, isn’t it? We don’t learn of Bruce’s secret identity until the end of the story…


Gordon continues as basically “the” representative of the Gotham Police Department for the next fifty years, but besides his involvement with his daughter, Barbara, and a short-lived plotline in the 1980s where the Mayor of Gotham is out to get him, Gordon did not get a whole lot of character development over the years.

That changed with Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One, where the story is told as a dual narrative between Batman and Gordon. Early on, we see Gordon, a new arrival to Gotham, find himself at odds with the corrupt cops he works with…





In addition, Alan Moore told the Killing Joke, which is about the Joker trying to break Gordon and drive him mad, but Gordon manages to hold on to his sanity and sense of order…



After these stories, Gordon became an integral part of the Bat-line of books and had many plots on his own (again, like I noted, he had his own plots before, but they were more frequent during Post-Crisis).

In the new 52, Gordon is pretty much the same, except he has been de-aged like everyone else (because clearly the one thing that was holding Batman’s sales back was that people felt that Commissioner Gordon was too old)….


Go to the next page for #2-1!

2. Robin/Nightwing/Batman (Dick Grayson)

Created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson, Dick Grayson made his debut in Detective Comics #38, just eleven issues after Batman first appeared. His origin was about as succinct as you would like…




He served as Batman’s partner for nearly four decades before their relationship began to deteriorate a bit, mostly over Robin’s role with the Teen Titans…


Eventually, Dick decided to give up the Robin identity entirely and debut a brand-new one, based in both his history with Batman as well as his history with other superheroes, spotlighting Dick’s rare (at the time) role in having one foot in both worlds…




Man, they couldn’t even give Nightwing’s debut his own freakin’ page? Seriously?

After time, though, Dick decided to give up on the world of over-the-top superheroing and became a part of the Bat-books once again, with a new costume reflecting his darker role…



He took up residence in a town near Gotham where he could make his own way, while still being close by if Batman needed any help. He solidified himself as Nightwing, but when Bruce Wayne was seemingly killed, Dick had to step up and take over the Batman mantle…



He even remained Batman for a time when Bruce Wayne returned, but eventually he decided to return to being Nightwing in the new 52…


Recently, his identity was revealed to the whole world. He is now thought to be killed, but instead he will use the fact that everyone thinks he is dead to work as a secret agent for Batman. That is certainly going to be the status quo going forward and will never change at any point in the future.

1. Alfred Pennyworth

Introduced by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson, Alfred initially was a rotund goofy little man…




Then, as I noted in a Comic Book Legends Revealed, they decided to make Alfred thin to match the then-current portrayal of Alfred in the Batman film serials…



Eventually, we learned of Alfred’s last name (he originally called himself Alfred Beagle on the rare occasions when he used a last name at all)…


Up until the 1980s, though, Alfred was someone that did not come into Bruce Wayne’s life until much later. It was first the Super Powers cartoon but then most notably Frank Miller’s Year One that changed this, and it was Miller who established Alfred’s new sarcastic wit, which Miller patterned after the butler in the film Arthur. Up until this point, Alfred was very much just the loyal servant, offering criticism only when asked. Now he served as a dissenting voice to Batman’s crusade. His role as Batman’s field doctor also expanded.

In his last regular issue of Batman (before moving on to Batman and Robin and then Batman Incorporated), Grant Morrison has Alfred explain his role in the life of Batman beautifully…