How does one quantify the feelings one has for something she has loved for, literally, as long as she can remember? I have loved The Batman (his proper title, dontcha know) since I was three. It’s all my parents’ fault. They were the ones that plopped me down in front of the boob tube when Adam West’s campy take on the World’s Greatest Detective was in reruns. They were the ones who gave me a little Batmobile to zoom around the house. It’s their fault I’m a such a dork over the Caped Crusader.
Bang! Smash! Boing! Crack! Blam! At three, you don’t know that all that silliness is meant to be tongue in cheek. For me, Batman was super smart and a super nice and just plain super. Robin always needed rescuing, though he was good in a fight. Batgirl was right there, too, ready to kick the bad guys’ butts and she was so smart. Maybe one of the things that made such a huge impression on me was how Batman treated everyone. There was always a chance for redemption in Batman’s world; especially if you were Catwoman. (wink wink, nudge nudge) Oh and that would be Julie Newmar, please, though I loved Eartha Kitt, too. I loved Batman utterly, yet somehow, when the show went off the air, I lost track of him. I missed out on Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore’s Killing Joke, being a bit too young for such fare and having no access to comic books. I was a girl and comic shops didn’t really come into their own until a few years later. My parents were not the type to go into one anyway. For me, the next time I saw Batman was when the Tim Burton movies started coming out. Somewhere along the line, I had grown up a bit, and so had Batman. There was Batman stuff everywhere. Hats, pants, jewelry, stickers, you couldn’t walk three feet without seeing that symbol. Still, Batman and I were not ready to completely reconnect.
I started reading comics when I was 15, at first borrowing my boyfriend’s X-Men, then getting into Vertigo books like The Extremist on my own soon after. The boyfriend is long gone, the comic books stayed. It wasn’t until I got into college that Batman came back into my life. I don’t really know why I hadn’t checked out “Batman” or “Detective Comics” or any of the other Bat books. I think maybe I was too busy trying to be edgy by buying indie books or something. The mainstream superhero books just were not on my radar. There was definitely a perception on my part that Batman was something I did as a little kid and not something the adult I was trying to become should take seriously.
At last, one of my dearest friends and I were in a comic book store (don’t ask me which one, we go to all of them). I was probably done with my own browsing and waiting for her to finish. To keep myself occupied, I starting looking at all the books I had been ignoring, the ones with DC on the cover. And it was then that I found him again. I probably stopped in my tracks. The memory, as you can see, is a bit hazy, though I do distinctly remember thinking ‘Hey, I loved Batman as a kid, why am I not reading him?”. So I started picking up “Batman” and “Detective Comics” (the two main Bat titles). Soon after I started reading the other Batman-starring titles like “Gotham Nights” and “Legends of the Dark Knight”, both now gone, with many others taking their place. It felt like I had come home, whether it was to some innocent, younger part of myself, or simply to something that had resonance for me personally, I’m not sure. All I knew was that, just like The Beatles, The Batman was where it started and ended for me from that moment on. When the main titles were not enough, I threw myself in fully and found “Nightwing”, “Birds of Prey” and “Catwoman”, all featuring Batman’s sidekicks and nemesi. I came to love them all just as much as The Dark Knight, particularly Dick Grayson, the original Robin, and Barbara Gordon, the original Batgirl, both now grown up and with thrilling stories of their own. So here I am now, come full circle, back to the beginning. I read almost every Batman book I can get my hands on, watching as Batman and his family struggle against an un-ending tide of corruption, greed and growing evil, to keep the citizens of Gotham safe and bring criminals to justice.