Batman is not just part of the DC Trinity and one of the most recognized fictional characters in the world, he’s MY favorite comic book superhero and — for better or worse — responsible for my love of comic books that endures to this day. I’ve been cataloging my collection in Comic Collector Pro for Mac over the past weeks and it’s given me the opportunity to reconnect with some amazing Batman stories. So here are 5 moments from comic books that demonstrate just how bad-ass Batman is and why other superheroes and supervillians with god-like powers shake in their tights (or should) when the “normal” guy in a bat costume is around.
Batman causes Martian Manhunter to piss his pants with a matchbook
In DC: The New Frontier #3, Batman deduced that Gotham City cop, John Jones, is not human — unknown even to Batman, John Jones is the shape-shifting J’onn J’ozz, aka Martian Manhunter — and confronts him in his apartment when Jones returns from watching the B-Movie Invasion from Mars. Batman makes it clear that though he believes he can be trusted, he knows how to neutralize the Martian should it become necessary. “It took a seventy-thousand dollar sliver of meteor to stop the one in Metropolis. With you, all I need is a penny for a book of matches.” In typical Batman fashion, he then disappears into the night with J’onn J’ozz (John Jones) quivering with fear and probably needing a change of undies. Batman can strike fear in the good guys, too!
Batman stops Superman without an ounce of Kryptonite
Speaking of “the one from Metropolis”, Man of Steel #3 reimagines the first meeting of Superman and Batman after Crisis on Infinite Earths. Superman has come to Gotham City to capture Batman, who is still in the early days of his career and is operating outside the law. Batman evades Superman’s attempts to catch him and then gives the Man of Steel an ultimatum. If Superman comes in contact with Batman, a signal will be sent to a bomb and kill someone in Gotham City. Superman grudgingly agrees to back-off and even helps bring Magpie, a fugitive from We Love the ’80s, to justice. In the end, Batman reveals that the bomb was in his own utility belt. He knew Superman’s super-senses would have detected a lie so he endangered himself to keep him at bay. Superman and Batman part ways on almost friendly terms to wage their very different wars for “truth and justice”.
Batman knocks out a Green Lantern with one punch
This is possibly the shortest Hero vs. Hero fight in comic book history. Guy Gardner, the most obnoxious Green Lantern in the universe, had been challenging Batman’s leadership of the Post-Crisis Justice League for five long issues. In issue #5, events came to a head and Guy finally made his play for leadership. After being taunted into giving up his Power Ring — did I mention a Green Lantern Power Ring is the most powerful weapon in the universe? — he is dispatched with comedic ease by the Dark Knight with a single punch on the schnoz. With this coup d’etat put down, Batman immediately went back to work and called the JL to order. Bats is nothing if not professional.
Batman takes down Jaws with both hands (literally) tied
For a city-based crimefighter, Batman has managed to find himself in mortal combat with the sea’s apex predator with disturbing frequency. You’d expect Aquaman to duke it out with sharks pretty regularly, but the Dark Knight? Counting Elseworlds stories, Batman combated sharks at least three times. In the first, and most awesome, he took on the terror of the deep to save the life of one of Joker’s old — literally old — cronies. During the Joker’s Five Way Revenge (Batman #251), Batman voluntarily jumped into the tank of a man-eater to save the life of a former criminal. Most of us would have walked away without a second thought, but he’s Batman. Was there ever a doubt he’d take the plunge? Even without his utility belt and hands chained, Batman brought nature’s perfect predator to a sad end, saved Hooley and even gave the Joker a one-way (ahhhh…who’re we kidding?) ticket back to Arkham Asylum. If that’s not bad-ass, nothing is.
Batman bitch slaps a New God
Batman has never been afraid of letting heroes (and villains) with higher power levels know when he doesn’t like them. The quintessential example of the Dark Knight’s ire came in Cosmic Odyssey #4. He befriended Forager, a “bug” from New Genesis, to stop the Anti-Life Equation from destroying the Earth. Forager heroically gave his life to save Earth and ultimately the Universe. When Batman was returned to New Genesis with the rest of the heroes who were called to save all of existence, Orion, son of Darkseid, made the mistake of denigrating Forager’s sacrifice in front of Batman. Nevermind that Orion is the son of the DC Universe’s most powerful tyrant and has — literally — god-level powers. Orion deserved a bitch slap and Batman was only too happy to provide it.