"The Bat-Man" debuted in "Detective Comics" No. 27 in 1939, meaning the now hypen-less character is 75 years old. And Warner Bros., parent company of Batman's publisher, DC Comics, is holding a yearlong party.
Which he surely deserves. Not only are Batman comic books generally bestsellers, but the character is undoubtedly the most successful superhero in other media, like movies and video games.
The Bat-birthday bash is already in full swing. In April, a new weekly comic book titled "Batman Eternal" joined DC's lineup of roughly a dozen monthly books that chronicle Bruce and his amazing friends. And the first issue of "Grayson" recently hit comic shops, a book featuring the first Robin, the former Nightwing, as an adult espionage agent.
Speaking of Robins, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment released "Son of Batman" on May 6, an animated film featuring voice work by Jason O'Mara ("The Good Wife"), Stuart Allen ("Grey's Anatomy"), David McCallum ("Man from U.N.C.L.E."), Morena Baccarin ("Homeland") and Thomas Gibson ("Criminal Minds"). In this story, adapted from the comics, Batman discovers he has a 10-year-old son named Damian (via stolen DNA samples and Talia al Ghul, daughter of his arch-foe Ra's al Ghul) who has been raised to be the world's greatest assassin. So Bruce brings Damian into the Wayne household, not only to teach him how to behave in a civilized way, but to channel his aggression into a hopefully nonlethal role as Robin. But Ms. Al Ghul launches a "custody battle" as only the mistress of the League of Assassins can — and terrible things happen.
July brings two coffee-table books: "Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years" and "Joker: A Celebration of 75 years" (DC Comics, $39.99 each). These slick hardcovers contain dozens of important stories involving the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime, presented chronologically with short essays noting a change in style, tone or presentation. Many of these stories have been reprinted a lot — they're either good, or significant, or both — so veteran Bat-fans may give the books a pass. But as primers or reference works, they're invaluable.
There's more Bat-fun to come:
"Batman: Assault on Arkham": Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the new animated movie "Batman: Assault on Arkham" Aug. 12, set in the world of the "Batman: Arkham" video game, in which the Dark Knight tackles a virtual army of criminals.
"Batman: The Complete Television Series": The original "Batman" TV show from 1966-69 will finally be released in November. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the details on a panel at Comic-Con International July 24, with special guests Adam "Batman" West, Burt "Robin" Ward and Julie "Catwoman" Newmar.
"Gotham": Warner Bros. Television is in production on the pilot episode of the new TV series, which will premiere on Fox this fall. The one-hour drama focuses on young Gotham City Detective James Gordon (played by Ben McKenzie of "Southland"), the man who eventually becomes police commissioner and Batman's staunchest ally. Expect to see young versions of familiar characters.