www.cbr.com

When Did 'BatGod' Debut in the Comics?

In "When We First Met," we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, "Avengers Assemble!" or the first appearance of Batman's giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man's face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.

Reader Jeremy wrote in to ask:

Hi! I had a suggestion for When We First Met. I was wondering, when was it first established that Batman is nigh-on unbeatable? I know that, when he was first introduced, Batman was portrayed as a skilled and competent vigilante, but he certainly wasn't a god-tier character. I can't really imagine the original, Kane and Finger Batman being able to take down the entirety of the Justice League, for example. When did writers first introduce the idea that, as Scott Snyder says, "Batman always wins?"

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view.

There is an obvious answer here and I'll get to it, but let me note that it is a BIT more complicated than you would think. I mean, think about it, throughout DC's history, Batman has always been part of superhero teams, from the Justice Society of America (where, okay, he was too famous to actually be an active member and only showed up a couple of times over the history of the team and only once as an actual active team member, as the Justice Society used to be split up into short solo stories and the team stuff was sort of a framing device. Batman appeared in one of those stories and had a cameo in another story)...

to the Justice League of America...

So it's not like the guy hasn't always been placed on basically the same level as other heroes, despite them having superpowers and him not having any. Plus, of course, he was partners with Superman in the World's Finest Comics for decades. So Batman was never treated as a guy who couldn't handle himself.

However, at the same time, the guy WAS a non-superpowered guy on a team of superheroes.

Gerry Conway even went out of his way to write a special issue of Justice League, Justice League of America #170 (art by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin) to show how important Batman is. However, Conway had an unusual way of showing it by having Batman talk about how his teammates are better than him in so many things and how he doubts himself...

While his teammates are stuck on Earth, he saves the day by himself in outer space...

As he wins, the League celebrates him and they're all, "Wow, what would we do without Batman?"...

However, isn't there a bit of condescension there? "Like, wow, for a loser, Batman is pretty good!"

Years later, Conway would give Batman another badass moment in Justice League of America #254 (art by Luke McDonnell and Bill Wray). Conway had had Batman rejoin the Justice League four issues earlier to give the Detroit League a veteran leader. In this story, they are attacked and defeated by Despero, all but Batman, however, who is going mano a mano with Despero!

Even after Despero captures him, he gets some cool moments...

So yeah, Batman was certainly treated well overall. It would not be until a certain writer relaunched the Justice League that the era of "Batgod" began...

1 2
The MCU's 'Phases' Are Inspired By Comic Book 'Mega-Events'

More in CBR Exclusives