The Green Lantern Villain Based on Batman's Co-Creator

In "Meta-Messages," I explore the context behind (using reader danjack's term) "meta-messages." A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator (or sometimes even themselves) in their comic. Each time around, I'll give you the context behind one such "meta-message."

Today, we look at a villain who was based on a famous comic book creator!

The villain Black Hand became a major part of the Green Lantern mythos under writer Geoff Johns, as Black Hand was a key component of the smash hit "Blackest Night." Johns created a new origin for the character.

What’s amazing is that the ORIGINAL origin for the character was basically that he was Bill Finger, co-creator of Batman (as well as the original Green Lantern)!

People have long known that Black Hand’s real name was a reference to Finger (Black Hand’s real name was William Hand…get it, William Hand…Bill Finger…), but I always just thought that that was a fairly inconsequential in-joke. You know, like naming a background character after your next door neighbor or coming up with a joke name for a villain (like naming the Rainbow Raider “Roy G. Bivolo”).

However, the connection was much deeper than that. You see, the Black Hand, as introduced, was basically meant to be “What if Bill Finger was a super-villain?”

Finger, you see, was a well-known idea man. He would always carry around “gimmick books,” little notebooks that he would jot down interesting ideas. When he later went to write a story, he would consult his notebooks for ideas he could use for the story. He was famous among creators for his gimmick books.

Well, check out Black Hand’s introduction, in 1964’s "Green Lantern" #29, by John Broome, Gil Kane and Sid Greene…

Julius Schwartz confirmed the connection at a San Diego Comic Con panel with John Broome (moderated by Mark Evanier) in 1998, stating:

I’ll tell you who Black Hand really was! Black Hand was Bill Finger, who created Batman. Literally created him – and the Green Lantern. Bill Finger would always carry around a notebook and make notes, and Black Hand is really Bill Finger.

So there ya go! It's really a compliment to Finger, honestly.

Thanks to Don Ensign, who transcribed the panel for Alter Ego #60.

If anyone else has a suggestion for a future Meta-Message, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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