WARNING: This article contains minor spoilers for Justice League #39 by Christopher Priest, Ian Churchill, Alex Sollazzo and Willie Schu, on sale now.
There are not many superheroes who have attracted the caliber of artists DC Comics’ Batman has over the decades. You could put together a staggeringly impressive list of top-tier illustrators who have provided their talents to the Dark Knight’s adventures, ranging from the hero’s early years to the present day.
What makes Batman different from other superheroes is that virtually every artist that draws him has added their own unique spin on the protector of Gotham. From exaggerated ears, to the shape of the bat symbol on his chest, though he’s always recognizable, Batman also nearly always looks different and unique from one adventure to the next.
In Justice League #39, artist Ian Churchill homaged some of the greatest artists to ever draw Batman — and all it took was putting the Justice League on trial.
Will The Real Batman Please Stand Up?
Last issue, Batman stepped down as leader of the Justice League, choosing to name Cyborg as his replacement. Part of Cyborg’s new responsibilities includes attending courtroom proceedings over the Batman imposter that killed Congresswoman Hasgrove. Cyborg tries to assure Chairman Thibodaux the true Caped Crusader had nothing to do with Hasgrove’s assassination, but Thibodaux needs more proof. In fact, he would like Batman himself to testify before the court.
Seeing as the Justice League is more like a volunteer firefighter’s club and not a political organization, Cyborg can’t force Batman to appear. However, Cyborg is pretty confident that Batman is not only listening to the committee, but here’s there in person. This is when the chairman turns everyone’s attention to the collection of Batmen protesting outside the building, revealing a stunning Batman tribute to the likes of Frank Miller, John Byrne, Frank Quitely and more — including Bruce Timm’s design from Batman: The Animated Series.
Starting on the left side of the front row, is Miller’s unmistakable grizzled Batman from The Dark Knight Returns, with Byrne’s all-black Batman to his left, followed by Timm’s animated incarnation.
Next we have Jim Aparo’s Batman over the left shoulder of Miller’s; Quitely’s take on the Dark Knight from Batman and Robin; a Tim Sale Batman between Byrne and B:TAS; and Kelley Jones’ long-eared Batman standing in the background.
There are a few more Batmen to try and pinpoint, but they’re so far away that it’s hard to decipher which artist they’re based on. As Cyborg states, Batman is a master of disguise, so any of the Batmen assembled on his behalf could technically be the real deal.
The Batmen panel may have been a passing moment in Justice League‘s story arc involving their obsessed fan, but it stands as a nice tribute to the creators who have helped chronicle Batman’s adventures for nearly eight decades and counting.
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