A year after Superman arrived and brought superhero comics with him, a different kind of superhero emerged from the shadows.

On April 18th, 1938, the first superhero debuted in the the first issue of Action Comics: Superman. To say the character was a sensation is an understatement. There was nothing like Superman before, in print, radio, or the big screen. He was a phenomenon that inspired dozens of imitators in the years following his first appearance. The publisher that owned Superman wanted more, and asked its editors to come up with new characters similar to Superman.

Artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger developed a character based on a sketch Kane did of a character wearing tights and trunks like Superman. The suit was red with black trunks and boots, a small black mask, and blonde hair. The most unique characteristic of the design was a cape that looked like giant bat - wings.

Finger suggested to Kane that the character needed to wear a full face mask to hide his real identity and that the darker colors of black and gray were a better fit for a character called 'The Bat - Man.' Bill Finger was responsible for everything we know about Batman today, from his alter ego as Bruce Wayne to his origin and characters like Robin and the Riddler.

'The Bat - Man' as he was first called made his debut on the cover of Detective Comics #27 on March 30th, 1939. This early version of the character carried a gun, as he was inspired in part by the pulp character, The Shadow, who carried twin pistols that he used to wipe out criminals. Batman used his gun a few times, but the publisher realized that kids were reading comics and wanted its heroes like Superman and Batman to protect life instead of taking it.

It wasn't long before Batman gained his sidekick, Robin, and went up against his most notorious villain, the Joker. Eighty years later and Batman is more popular than ever, featured in over a thousand issues of the comic he first appeared in as well as countless other comics, movies, TV shows, video games, and every kind of merchandise you can imagine. Today sees the release of Detective Comics #1000, marking the 80th anniversary of Batman's first appearance.

Detective Comics #1000 retails for $9.99 and is available at Acadiana Comics & Collectibles and And Books II, both here in Lafayette.


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