On Batman

The Dubious Origins of the Batman

Who Did What–And Does It Really Matter?

By Alan J. Porter

It started with the sound of gunfire echoing across a dark and deserted alleyway. Sudden violence and death. According to some, it happened around the corner from the Monarch Theater as a happy family made their way home after watching Douglas Fairbanks swing across the screen as the inimitable Zorro. Others suggest that it may have been by the opera house, as a concerned father tried to console a young boy disturbed by visions of Die Fledermaus.

Perhaps it was a simple mugging gone wrong. Maybe there was a more sinister motive. The gunman could have been a punk named Joe Chill, or a mobster on the rise who went by the name of Jack Napier. To a large extent, the details of what and who are irrelevant, the end was the same. In that dirty place, a place that would, from that point onward be known as Crime Alley, Thomas and Martha Wayne lay dead, the whole grisly deed witnessed by their only son, Bruce Wayne.

The legend says that on that night the boy swore an oath over the dead bodies of his parents-an oath that he would do everything in his power to ensure that no one else would suffer as he did, that no more innocents would die.

On that night, Bruce Wayne set out on the path that would lead to the creation of the Batman.

The origin story of the Batman is an essential part of his mythos. The small details may vary with each interpretation, but  …

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