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When We First Met - When Did Bruce Wayne Become a BILLIONAIRE Playboy?

In this feature 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. Here is an archive of all the When We First Met features so far! Check 'em out!

Readers Alex J. and Tim H. both e-mailed me the same question recently, namely when did Bruce Wayne move from MILLIONAIRE to BILLIONAIRE? I figured I'd just go through all of those debuts (millionaire, billionaire and even the first time he was referred to as a playboy)!

When we first meet Bruce Wayne in 1939's Detective Comics #27 (by Bill Finger and Bob Kane), we only know that he is a socialite. We can obviously PRESUME that he is rich, but we don't know that for a fact...

It wasn't until two issues later, in Detective Comics #29 (by Gardner Fox and Bob Kane) that we learn that he is definitely wealthy...

We get an idea of HOW wealthy he is in his origin story in Detective Comics #33 (by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff)...

He is only referred to as a socialite until 1940's Batman #3 (by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson and George Roussos), where we first see Bruce Wayne referred to as a playboy...

Although I like the phrasing a month or so later in Detective Comics #47 (by Finger, Kane, Robinson and Roussos) the best...

It was not until 1943's Batman #19 (by Joe Samachson, Dick Sprang and Norm Fallon) that Bruce is first referred to as a millionaire, as he is kidnapped along with a bunch of other millionaires in a plan to kidnap millionaires and replace them with duplicates who will do the bidding of the bad guy...

It would be another FIFTY years before Batman's wealth was bumped into billionaire status in 1994's Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #61 (by Denny O'Neil and Eduardo Barreto).

It only makes sense that Batman's editor at the time, O'Neil, would be the one to make such a momentous increase in Wayne's wealth.

NOTE: Mark Millar correctly noted to me on Twitter that at the end of Batman: The Dark Knight, Frank Miller has Bruce Wayne listed as a billionaire. That was set ten years after Bruce Wayne retired, though (and was technically out of contnuity), so I don't think that necessarily counts for this exercise, but it definitely should be mentioned here...

Mark and I had a laugh about the fact that Bruce is referred to as a millionaire in the first issue of the series, though, which is set soon after the events of the final issue, so that's weird. Mark suggested that it was Reaganomics. ;)

NOTE #2: Some commenters have mentioned that Bruce was referred to as a billionaire in the Mask of Phantasm film that came out a few months before Legends of the Dark Knight #61. I'm only talking about comic book stuff here, but sure, that's definitely worth mentioning.

So there ya go, Alex and Tim!

If anyone else has a "When did we first see ____?" question, feel free to drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com

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