After nearly 1,100 ballots were cast, YOU the reader ranked your favorite comic book characters from 1-10. I assigned point totals to each ranking and then tabulated it all into a Top 50 list. We're revealing that list throughout the rest of the month (and okay, maybe a little bit into November). The countdown concludes now...
3. Nightwing (formerly Robin and Batman) - 3002 points (66 first place votes)
Created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson, Dick Grayson made his debut in Detective Comics #38, just eleven issues after Batman first appeared. His origin was about as succinct as you would like...
While Batman was following in the footsteps of Superman, Robin was a whole other situation. He was the first true teen sidekick and once he was introduced, the other comic book companies followed suit. If there was no Robin, there would likely be no Bucky, no Toro, no Speedy and no Dusty the Boy Detective (okay, we probably could have survived the loss of Dusty, the Boy Detective).
Also, do note that on the cover of Detective Comics #38, it describes Robin as “The Sensational Character Find of 1940."
It is very rare to see a comic book cover's hype actually pay off, but it might have been the actual truth in this instance (but maybe not, as there were a lot of other characters introduced in 1940, including Joker, Catwoman, Lex Luthor and Captain America). Whether it was precisely true or not, it was still a rare case of a hyped up character avoiding the fate of, say, Poochie the Dog.
In an interesting sort of twist that we discovered a while back, Robin actually appeared in MORE comics during the Golden Age than Batman! You see, once Robin joined up as Batman's sidekick, he appeared in every comic book that Batman appeared in. However, Robin then got his own solo feature for awhile, and while Batman guest starred in Robin's feature occasionally, for the most part, Robin had the feature to himself. So that is how Robin came to be in more comic books during the Golden Age than Batman!
Even when Batman and Superman started teaming up in World's Finest Comics, Robin was always around for the ride.
Robin served as Batman's partner for over three decades, including a notable stint on the Batman TV series in the 1960s where Robin famously began making puns involving the word "Holy," like when bells were going off, Robin would shout, "Holy Tintinnabulation, Batman!" Once the series went off the air, though, the Batman comics wanted to get back to the basics, doing darker stories like those that Batman was involved with in his early days. So Robin was aged for the first time in many years and graduated high school and went off to college, allowing Batman to star in solo stories.
By the mid-70s, Robin was frequently starring in solo backup adventures while in college. At the start of the 1980s, Dick Grayson dropped out of college and Robin once again became a regular fixture in Batman's comic book adventures.
However, at the same time, Robin was part of a brand-new Teen Titans team created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez and to the shock of everyone involved, the book became a smash success. One of the aspects of the book that people liked the most was how Wolfman and Perez spent so much time on the personal lives of the heroes. Since the characters were not appearing in any other titles, Wolfman and Perez could do a lot with them. Well, that was not the case for Dick, who was still officially a "Batman" character. Wolfman and Perez were given a fairly wide berth with the character but he still wasn't really THEIRS.
So they came up with an idea - introduce a brand-new sidekick for Batman and then Dick could officially "belong" to the Titans! In the comics, then, Dick decided to give up the Robin identity entirely and debut a brand-new one, based in both his history with Batman as well as his history with other superheroes, spotlighting Dick's rare (at the time) role in having one foot in both worlds...
Man, they couldn't even give Nightwing's debut his own freakin' page? Seriously?
Nightwing was the leader and the most famous member of the Teen Titans for the rest of the 1980s and into the 1990s. However, eventually, the Bat-Books wanted "their" character back and so Dick decided to give up on the world of over-the-top superheroing and became a part of the Bat-books once again, with a new costume reflecting his darker role. He took up residence in a town near Gotham where he could make his own way, while still being close by if Batman needed any help. He solidified himself as Nightwing, but when Bruce Wayne was seemingly killed, Dick had to step up and take over the Batman mantle...
He even remained Batman for a time when Bruce Wayne returned, but eventually he decided to return to being Nightwing in the new 52. During the crossover, Forever Evil, Dick's identity was revealed to the whole world. Dick was thought to be killed, but instead he used the fact that everyone thought he was dead to work as a secret agent (going just by Grayson). Eventually that came to an end and his secret identity was put back into the proverbial bottle and Dick returned to being Nightwing.
During a battle with the KGBeast, though, Dick was shot and while he survived his injuries, he suffered some major brain trauma and decided to change his name to Ric Grayson and give up being Nightwing. That whole situation was part of a plot by the Court of Owls, a mysterious organization that has been trying to recruit Dick for a long time. The whole thing is coming to a head and Dick will likely return to being Nightwing soon!
2. Superman - 3858 points (134 first place votes)
Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Superman was born on the planet Krypton, which was about to explode. Scientist Jor-El, knowing he and his wife would not make it, decided to save their son, Kal-El, so they shot him off in a rocket to find a new life. Once on Earth, baby Kal-El gained superpowers that he would not have had on Krypton, and soon became one of the most powerful people on Earth.
Adopted by farmers Jonathan and Martha Kent, Kal-El was given the Earth name of Clark Kent, and he grew up in the small town of, well, Smallville. There he became friends with Lana Lang and Pete Ross.
When Clark grew older, he moved to Metropolis, and began working as a reporter for the Daily Planet, under editor Perry White. There, Clark met reporter Lois Lane, who would later go on to become his wife.
Clark also met Jimmy Olsen, cub reporter who would become Superman's best pal.
One person who was certainly NOT pals with Superman was Lex Luthor, who really hated Superman, and became Superman's greatest enemy.
Superman was a founding member of the Justice League of America, where he is still a member.
During All Star Superman, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely showed how awesome Superman is, as he is slowly dying (due to being poisoned by Lex Luthor, slowly turning Superman's body into essentially solar energy) but still finds the time to make a difference in a stranger's life...
At the end of the series, he is near death and Lex Luthor has used a serum he stole from Superman to give himself Superman's powers for 24 hours.
Superman, though, fights back with a gravity gun that he took from his Fortress. It warps time around Lex, making the 24 hours go by faster than normal. Before he loses his powers, though, Lex gets to see the world the way that Superman does...
What a great concept that was.
So anyhow, time is now running out on the world (which is about to lose the sun, as it has been poisoned by a villain allied with Luthor), but in a little bit of irony, Luthor turning Superman into solar energy, while killing Superman, will also allow Superman to save the sun and thus, the world...
Incredible. That's really the power of Superman, as he's such a simple concept that can be used for such tremendous stories outside of continuity. Inside continuity, however, was a whole other situation. You see, in 2011, DC rebooted their whole line of comics with the New 52. Superman now had an entirely different past and he and Lois Lane were no longer married. Superman began to date Wonder Woman instead.
Eventually, the New 52 Superman actually died. Around this time, though, we discovered that the Pre-New 52 Superman was still alive and he was not only still married to Lois Lane, but they actually had a son, Jon Kent. Well, Clark, Lois and Jon traveled to the New 52 and with the Superman of this reality dead, Clark took his place (the New 52 Lois Lane died soon after, leaving an open place for the other Lois to step in, as well). However, it was soon discovered that there was no such thing as a "New 52" and "Pre-New 52" Superman and Lois, but that they were the same beings, just split and then they were recombined and so they merged into a centralized version of themselves, containing all of their respective memories.
Jon recently went into outer space and returned a teenager. Superman, meanwhile, is considering letting the whole world know that he is actually Clark Kent.
1. Batman - 5516 points (276 first place votes)
Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Bruce Wayne is a rich man, but he is a rich man who has led a tragic life. When he was only a boy, Bruce saw his parents murdered in front of him. Bruce dedicated his life then to fighting crime, ultimately becoming the vigilante, Batman, after traveling the world becoming an expert in most fields of study.
His mind and his body at basically peak human condition, Batman waged a one-man war on crime in Gotham City, although eventually, he gained partners, from within the department, like Police Commissioner James Gordon, to partners, like Dick Grayson (first Robin, then Nightwing) and Tim Drake (the current Robin), to other superheroes (Batman was a founding member of the Justice League of America, where he is still a member).
Batman is needed, because Gotham has a LOT of villains, and notable ones, too!
From the Joker to the Riddler to the Penguin to Poison Ivy to Ra's Al Ghul to Killer Croc to Catwoman (sometimes) to the Ventriloquist to Mr. Zsasz...Batman has his work cut out for him!
While Batman has long been a member of superhero teams, and that sometimes strains credulity, because he is "only" a non-powered being while he is teamed up with folks with actual powers. However, Batman has never seemed overmatched.
During his first arc on the Justice League, when the Hyperclan has captured everyone but Batman, Grant Morrison showed how badass Batman was and why it is foolish to think of him as "only human"...
One of the recurring themes in Morrison's work was that Batman was the sort of guy who could never be defeated because he always had an answer for any contingency, no matter how outlandish.
During Batman R.I.P., Grant Morrison has Batman seemingly succumb to the poisons of the servants of the evil Black Glove. Things look bleak.
Until you open up the pages of Batman #681...
We see that Batman has been preparing for the Black Glove for months, all the way back to when Batman's life was threatened by the Black Glove's agents...
Even when Batman was seemingly killed but actually ended up in prehistoric time, Batman was not slowed down and he traveled all the way from the past to the present.
Recently, Batman has gotten into a romantic relationship with Catwoman and the two almost got married. Their wedding was called off, but they are back together and are about to co-star in their own maxiseries together called Batman/Catwoman.
Batman, of course, was also a multimedia star, as he had his own film serial in the 1940s and then a massively popular TV series in the 1960s and a hit series of films in both the late 1980s through the 1990s and then a decade later, in a trilogy of films by Christopher Nolan. Batman is about to return to the silver screen. Batman is also the star of one of the greatest animated series of all-time, Batman: The Animated Series.