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.
Longtime blog reader, T, asked me the other day when, exactly, Bruce Wayne trained to become Batman outside of Gotham City. Nowadays, that’s what Batman is all about, but in the old days, that really wasn’t what Batman’s deal was at all.
The first time we really got a look at Batman’s training came in Detective Comics #226 (by Edmond Hamilton, Dick Sprang and Charles Paris), when we saw that Batman once was Robin. Well, that is he dressed up in a Robin costume to learn how to become a detective. That is when he met Harvey Harris…
What a weird story, by the way. “Oh, I didn’t mention to you that I used to dress up in your exact costume? Didn’t you wonder why I had a costume for a kid in my home before I happened to meet you? Wouldn’t the fact that I already had a kid superhero costume in my house ready for you make you think that I killed your parents?”
Over the years, we learned a bit more about Batman’s training, but the funny thing is that it was all still in Gotham City. It is sort of crazy how big Gotham City apparently is in the comics that Bruce Wayne could seem to travel all over the world but really just stays in one seemingly gigantic city. This was somehow the case for YEARS. Honestly, I think it was the case for all of the pre-Crisis of Infinite Earths stories.
For instance, Len Wein told the story of Batman’s origins in Untold Legend of the Batman #1, with art from John Byrne (I believe the first comic book story that was drawn by Byrne) and this really followed the past comic book history of Bruce Wayne very well. And notice that all of this happened in Gotham City, somehow…
I love that Bruce Wayne didn’t even go outside Gotham City to go to college (“Oh, you’ve never heard of the great Gotham University? Everyone knows that it is one of the top schools in the country”). I actually once did a story about Bruce Wayne’s college friends and how they moronically couldn’t figure out that their old college friend was Batman even though he kept giving them tons of clues. Anyhow, I guess the fact of the matter is that Gotham City has everything that anyone could possibly want. No wonder all of these people still live despite there seeming to be multiple murders every day. It’s just that cool of a city!
However, as the years went by, obviously writers have thought, “Wait, wouldn’t a guy like Batman travel to places outside of Gotham City if he wanted to become an expert in everything?” So following Crisis on Infinite Earths, we finally got to see Batman getting training outside of Gotham City. You might be surprised, however, to learn which comic book writer it was who came up with the idea in the first place.
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