I wonder if the same Bat-Mite visits all of them.

§ August 10th, 2022 § Filed under batman, dc comics, multiverse talk § 14 Comments

Tim noted

“My first real introduction to alternate universes was reading the classic ‘To Kill A Legend’ in a collection I had as a lad. The idea of Batman going to another universe with the chance to save the lives of his parents BLEW MY LITTLE BOY MIND.”

The comic that story originally appeared in was Detective Comics #500, released in late 1980/early 1981 when I was about 11 years old. Here’s the great jam cover that wrapped around this extra-sized funnybook:

Very early on here on this site, I did a series of posts about anniversary issues, including an entry on this very issue giving an overview of all the contents.

In “To Kill A Legend” by Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano, the Phantom Stranger shows up to lay all this on the Caped Crusader:

He’s obviously referring to the Earth-2 Batman as the Bruce Wayne whose parents were murdered 40 years ago (at then-press time), pictured there with an image evoking Batman’s first appearance on the cover of Detective Comics #27 back in 1939. The Bruce Wayne of “twenty years later” is Earth-1 Batman, the star of this particular show. (As an interesting side-note, assuming Bruce was somewhere between 5 to 10 years old at the time of the Waynes’ murders, that would put Earth-2 Batman at about 45-50 years old, and Earth-1 Bats at 25-30.)

The interesting implication of this story is not only that there is a new, apparently unnumbered parallel Earth in the DC Universe that may or may not have a Batman (not spoiling the story, you should read it!), but that there is a 20-year-cycle to these events duplicating in alternate universes. Going by that, we should’ve had another couple o’Batmans since then…and in a way, maybe we have, what with all the Crises and Rebirtheries, if perhaps not on a strict 20-year timeline.

It is a very good story, and one of the rare multiversal excursions in the DC Universe that doesn’t involve travel to one of the recognized Earths in the company’s established cosmology. To my knowledge this is the one and only trip to this particular Earth. There’s another parallel Earth that I think was only visisted once, in Justice League of America #38 where they go to…Earth-A? I haven’t read that yet, but I suspect I’ll be reporting on it here very soon.

Overall, this comic is excellent, so, Tim, and everyone else reading this, if you get a chance, give it a gander. I hope DC eventually releases a nice hardcover edition…there’s too much good material in this book as a whole for it to languish in back issue bins or be partially reprinted across trade paperbacks. But then, there are a lot of DC Comics of the past I wish they’d do that to.

14 Responses to “I wonder if the same Bat-Mite visits all of them.”

  • DavidG says:

    The 500th Anniversary issue! Celebrating the first issue of Detective Comics from 1481 I guess. I bet that Gutenberg branched out into comics once the Bible market was slowing down.

  • Marc says:

    “To Kill a Legend” itself was reprinted in a nice hardcover edition of Alan Brennert’s Batman stories, including “Interlude on Earth-Two” from The Brave and the Bold #182 and “The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne!” from Brave/Bold #197 … along with that Deadman story possibly featuring the erased, pre-Crisis Supergirl (“Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot”).

    It’s not the whole Batman #500 at all, mind you, but certainly one of its gems. And for someone with such a short comics resume, Brennert sure did write some good Bats stories.

    Brennert has also written for The Twilight Zone, Stargate Atlantis, LA Law (won an Emmy), and Star Trek Enterprise, and novels and shorts stories (won a Nebula).

  • I would put this comic up there with JLA #200 in the top ten of comics floppies, books that were “just” a published monthly but transcended that.

  • Chris Gumprich says:

    “To Kill a Legend” is my favorite Batman story of all time, in any medium.

    It was also reprinted in the 1981 YEAR’S BEST COMICS STORIES digest, but everyone here already knew that.

  • Daniel T says:

    It’s unreal that they never revisited that world in one of the dozens of Elseworlds they did in the 90s.

    Didn’t Brennert introduce the idea that Batman was all scarred up from his years of heroics?

  • That Crisis on Earth-A was crazy. But looking at the cover, I think that explains who everybody thought was Perry White Superman in FINAL CRISIS.

    For me, reading the book when I was about 12, the JLA of Earth-A were half my neighbors dressed in costumes. Worked for me, man.

  • Brad Walker says:

    The JLA did not travel to Earth-A; rather, Earth-1 was changed by magic into Earth-A (for Alternate).

  • Joe Gualtieri says:

    I always took the Earth in “To Kill a Legend” to be Earth Prime, although I guess that doesn’t work with the contents of DC Presents #86.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “A New Batman Every Generation!”

  • Marc says:

    Daniel T., I don’t know if it was Brennert who introduced the idea of a war-scarred Batman, but that moment was one of many magic bits in “The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne!” (Brave/Bold 197) — albeit with Earth 2 Batman, not Earth 1.
    Brennert, penciller Joe Staton, inker George Freeman, colorist Adrienne Roy and letterer John Costanza all did such a knock-up job on that story, it almost gives me chills.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Walaka of Earth Two –yes, agreed that JLA no. 200 was a fantastic comic! Aparo, Austin, Bolland, Broderick, Giacoia, Giordano, Infantio, Kane, Kubert, Perez–amazing art by top tier artists! Conway’s script was very good as well!

    Speaking of anniversary issues, I also quite enjoyed Legion of Super-Heroes no. 300 “The Future Is Forever!” (especially the chapters which formar LOS-H art greats Dave Cockrum and James Sherman illustrated–it would have been nice to get some Mike Grell art, too…); Showcase no. 100 “There Shall Come a Gathering” (loved Kupperberg and Levitz’s plot and Staton’s art, and the fact that they managed to shoehorn 60 characters who had previously appeared in Showcase into the story–this might also be DC Comics’ most densely populated pre-COIE superhero story!); and I also recall thinking Batman no. 300 “The Last Batman Story–?” (script by pulp legend David V. Reed and nice art by Simonson and Giordano) was very cool when it came out. I liked the fact that we got to see an older Earth-1 Robin in the stylish Earth-2 Robin costume designed by Neal Adams(as this comic came out a few years before Marv Wolfman
    changed Dick Grayson into Nightwing).

    Marc, Daniel T. et al, agreed that Brennert is an amazing writer. Beyond “To Kill a Legend,” and “The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne,” I also found his Brave & the Bold script for no. 181 “Time, See What’s Become of Me” featuring Batman with the original Hawk and Dove/Hank and Don Hall to be a very poignant story. It still bums me out that COIE killed off Don Hall. All the subsequent Hawk and Dove iterations have missed the point.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Re: Detective Comics no. 500 — I read it and enjoyed it back in the day–and should track down a copy of it again! I do wonder why Batgirl and Martian Manhunter didn’t get featured at all on the back cover illustration (I mean, I know that every character that ever had a feature in Detective Comics since its debut in 1937 wasn’t going to be featured–but Batgirl and Martian Manhunter would have been cool (at least M.M. is referenced in flashback in the Hawkman story…). Actually, a Paul Kirk Manhunter/Martian Manhunter team up story could have been intriguing…

    I think DC Comics now refers to the unnumbered Earth in “To Kill a Legend” as Earth-Five.

    And yeah, if DC could have pulled off creating new iterations of their characters every twenty-to-twenty-five-years it would have made sense. Even if the timescale is off, I still think it would be intriguing to see classic Earth-2 JSA and classic 1980s Satellite-era Earth-1 JLA meet the current Rebirth (or whatever the most recent iteration/reboot of the DC Universe is being called now)Justice League–or even up-and-coming Justice Leaguers Jon Kent, Damian Wayne, Jackson Hyde, Yara Flor, etc., for a story arc.

  • DK says:

    Put me on the team where basically versions of a character have a 20-30 year expiration date. Sean Magreean has it exactly right.

    1940-1955 (Jay Garrick)
    1956-1986 (Barry Allen)
    1986-2016 (Wally West)
    2016-Now (Someone else gets to be the Flash)

    Keeps everything fresh for new readers and lets the legacy of the characters grow. Put them on different Earths and they can meet up for fun crossovers.

    There is always a YOUNG NEWBIE learning the ropes, a MENTOR FIGURE who is dead or retired, and a WISE OLD GRANDPARENT TYPE to mentor the young folks in a way the others can’t.

    I love the JSA, but keeping them tied to World War 2 was no problem in the 60’s-80’s where thye were just middle aged and kinda old but they are hitting maximum human lifespan now. You can kill them off (booo!), give them magic life extension (just puts more attention on their age) freeze them in ice (it’s been done) or put them on Earth-JSA where it’s 1986. and Jay Garrick is a spry 66 year old devoted to training new speedsters.

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