Welcome to the four hundred and eighty-eighth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and eighty-seven. This week, who came up with Batman’s origin? Bill Finger or Gardner Fox? Which artist’s retirement opened the door for Frank Miller’s legendary Daredevil run? Plus, did the French decide to make William Buckley the Kingpin of Crime?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Gardner Fox wrote Batman’s origin
STATUS: I’m Going With False
A couple of weeks back, reader Carl Cafarelli asked if I could try to get to the bottom of this one, and so I shall!
The issue is with Detective Comics #33, just six issues after the debut of Batman in Detective Comics #27. The issue involved an evil dude with a dirigible. That story was written by Gardner Fox. Fox, as I noted when he appeared on the 75 Greatest Batman Writers and Artists list, was quickly brought on by Bob Kane to write Batman stories once the feature was picked up by National Comics.
Here is how the first three pages of Detective Comics #33 went…
“The first time Batman’s origin story appeared was in DETECTIVE COMICS #33 in 1939 in a story called “The Batman Wars Against the Dirigible of Doom.” In THE BATMAN CHRONICLES VOL. 1, DC Comics credits Gardner Fox for writing that story. A later, revised version of that origin story appeared in BATMAN #1 in 1940, and that story was written by Bill Finger.”
First off, here is the “revised version of the origin story” from Batman #1…
As you can see, the only revision is that it edited out the reference to the other story in Detective Comics #33.
I do not believe that Gardner Fox wrote the origin story for Batman. First off, the origin story is clearly distinct from the rest of the comic, secondly, Bob Kane himself has stated that the origin story was done by he and Finger (and Kane does not give out credit easily). Les Daniels credited the origin story to Finger in his history of Batman.
My pal Marc Tyler Nobleman, who wrote a great book about Bill Finger, details even more reasons why it is most likely Finger who wrote the origin here.
Finger, by the way, was back on the feature for good with Detective Comics #35, so it wasn’t like he wasn’t still involved with Kane at the time.
There are no official records for the story, so this not something that we can prove definitively, but I think it is likely enough to be Finger that I’m willing to go with a false here.
Thanks to Carl for the request and thanks to Marc for the extra info (I like that Marc was on the same exact page with me when it came to how you credit Kane’s attribution – that dude did NOT like to share credit, so him being willing to do so says a lot).
Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: How did an extra in The Avengers get a lead role in Joss Whedon’s following film?
Which comic book artist’s abrupt retirement gave Frank Miller his big break in comics?
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