Friday, July 25, 2014

Who wrote Batman’s origin?

Batman’s origin was a seminal moment in comics history.

At times you will see it credited to Gardner Fox, such as in this 2014 comment from DC Entertainment historian/librarian Steve Korté:

The first time Batman’s origin story appeared was in Detective Comics #33 in 1939 in a story called “The Batman Wars Against the Dirigible of Doom.” In The Batman Chronicles, Volume 1, DC Comics credits Gardner Fox for writing that story. A later, revised version of that origin story appeared in Batman #1 in 1940, and that story was written by Bill Finger.

To clarify, the two-page origin in
Detective #33 was not part of the dirigible story that followed. Fox was so instrumental in so much greatness in the DC Universe, and he is credited for the dirigible story, but at least seven sources, including three DC-sanctioned publications and Bob’s autobiography, attribute the heartbreaking—and groundbreakingorigin to Bill:

#1) Batman: The Complete History by Les Daniels (authorized DC book), page 33: “…when Bill Finger returned in Detective #33 (November 1939) it was with the most famous Batman tale of all time, the origin story”

) DC Comics: A Celebration of the World’s Favorite Comic Book Heroes (authorized DC book), page 34: credits origin jointly to Bob and Bill 

#3) The DC Vault, page 34 and 35:
Batmans origins were revealed in November 1939, when Fingers hastily penned origin story was grafted onto Detective #33's lead story

) Batman & Me (Bob Kane’s autobiography), page 104: “Bill and I collaborated on the origin”; we know that Bob took credit for as much as he could, so when he did credit anyone else for anything, it is especially worth paying attention to

) Grand Comics Database (heavily researched by longtime comics scholars): “Contains a 2 page origin sequence, the ‘original’ origin. Written by Bill Finger (credit from Craig Delich and Martin OHearn, October, 2005).”

) Men of Tomorrow by Gerard Jones, page 350: attributes origin to Bill

) “November 1939, Bill Finger writes a two page origin of Batman which is pasted on to the beginning of Gardner Foxs story in Detective 33.”

#8, in effect
) Batman Chronicles, Volume 1 does indeed (as noted above) credit Gardner Fox for “Dirigible” but does not credit Fox or anyone else with writing the separate two-page origin preceding it; the second printing of the origin in Batman #1 is credited to Finger; however, since that second printing is (aside from minor re-lettering and re-coloring) identical to the first, DC surely would’ve credited Fox and Finger if Fox wrote the first version; in any case, such speculation seems moot given the above, particularly #s 1-3

10/23/15 addendum: In the wake of the announcement that Bill Finger will now be credited on Batman, I revisited the article at the above link to find that the statement from Steve—plus comments from me and othershave been deleted.

1 comment:

J. L. Bell said...

I've been wondering for a long time what your take on Gardner Fox's early Batman work was.