Batman became an urban legend, a cautionary tale that sent shivers through the city's underworld. This Caped Crusader found a friend in Captain James Gordon a Gotham cop who didn't approve of Batman's methods, but appreciated the results of his nightly crime fighting. Batman's Rogues Gallery grew to include a host of bizarre criminals, such as the Joker, Catwoman, Two-Face and the Penguin. As his enemies increased, help arrived in the form of another young boy left parentless by brutal crime.
Batman is often treated as a vigilante by other characters in his stories. Frank Miller views the character as "a dionysian figure, a force for anarchy that imposes an individual order". Dressed as a bat, Batman deliberately cultivates a frightening persona in order to aid him in crime-fighting, a fear that originates from the criminals' own guilty conscience. Miller is often credited with reintroducing anti-heroic traits into Batman's characterization, such as his brooding personality, willingness to use violence and torture, and increasingly alienated behavior. Batman, shortly a year after his debut and the introduction of Robin, was changed in 1940 after DC editor Whitney Ellsworth felt the character would be tainted by his lethal methods and DC established their own ethical code, subsequently he was retconned as having a stringent moral code. Miller's Batman was closer to the original pre-Robin version, who was willing to kill criminals if necessary.
Batman's butler, Alfred Pennyworth, first appeared in Batman #16 (1943). He serves as Bruce Wayne's loyal father figure and is one of the few persons to know his secret identity. Alfred raised Bruce after his parents' death and knows him on a very personal level. He is sometimes portrayed as a sidekick to Batman and the only other resident of Wayne Manor aside from Bruce. The character "[lends] a homely touch to Batman's environs and [is] ever ready to provide a steadying and reassuring hand" to the hero and his sidekick.
For the most part, Batman's family and friends come to believe that Bruce Wayne is indeed dead. The only exception to this is Bruce's adopted son Tim Drake, who believes firmly that Bruce is still alive. After having the Robin identity taken from him by Dick Grayson, the new Batman, and giving it to Bruce's son, Damian, Tim takes on the identity of Red Robin, and begins searching the world for signs that Bruce Wayne is still alive. While searching in Baghdad, Tim finds a wall painting of the Bat emblem that was painted by Bruce upon the passing of Anthro. Tim realizes that Bruce is not dead, but rather lost in time.
Batman is reawakened by a girl named Harper Row, who he abruptly leaves. Returning to the Batcave, Batman finds the Talon's dead body, which Alfred and Nightwing had retrieved for Batman, who decides to examine it. Later, Nightwing meets up with Bruce, who reveals that the Talon is actually William Cobb, Nightwing's great-grandfather and that Nightwing was destined to be a Talon, a goal stopped by his adoption. The Court recovers from their encounter and decides to activate a small army of Talons they have decommissioned throughout the years.
Batman has no inherent superhuman powers; he relies on "his own scientific knowledge, detective skills, and athletic prowess". Batman's inexhaustible wealth gives him access to advanced technologies, and as a proficient scientist, he is able to use and modify these technologies to his advantage. In the stories, Batman is regarded as one of the world's greatest detectives, if not the world's greatest crime solver. Batman has been repeatedly described as having a genius-level intellect, being one of the greatest martial artists in the DC Universe, and having peak human physical conditioning. As a polymath, his knowledge and expertise in countless disciplines is nearly unparalleled by any other character in the DC Universe. He has traveled the world acquiring the skills needed to aid him in his endeavors as Batman. In the Superman: Doomed story arc, Superman considers Batman to be one of the most brilliant minds on the planet.
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A photographer/reporter, Vicki Vale was initially introduced as a woman smart enough to expose Batman's secret identity. In this quest, she became involved with Bruce Wayne, as she suspected him of being Batman and she was determined to find evidence. Her character has undergone few changes over the years, and many elements of her original characterization have remained.
Batman once again becomes a member of the Justice League during Grant Morrison's 1996 relaunch of the series, titled JLA. While Batman contributes greatly to many of the team's successes, the Justice League is largely uninvolved as Batman and Gotham City face catastrophe in the decade's closing crossover arc. In 1998's "Cataclysm" storyline, Gotham City is devastated by an earthquake. Deprived of many of his technological resources, Batman fights to reclaim the city from legions of gangs during 1999's "No Man's Land." While Lex Luthor rebuilds Gotham at the end of the "No Man's Land" storyline, he then frames Bruce Wayne for murder in the "Bruce Wayne: Murderer?" and "Bruce Wayne: Fugitive" story arcs; Wayne is eventually acquitted.
Batman utilizes a vast arsenal of specialized, high-tech vehicles and gadgets in his war against crime, the designs of which usually share a bat motif. Batman historian Les Daniels credits Gardner Fox with creating the concept of Batman's arsenal with the introduction of the utility belt in Detective Comics #29 (July 1939) and the first bat-themed weapons the batarang and the "Batgyro" in Detective Comics #31 and #32 (Sept., Oct. 1939).
That year Dennis O'Neil took over as editor of the Batman titles and set the template for the portrayal of Batman following DC's status quo-altering miniseries Crisis on Infinite Earths. O'Neil operated under the assumption that he was hired to revamp the character and as a result tried to instill a different tone in the books than had gone before. One outcome of this new approach was the "Year One" storyline in Batman #404–407 (Feb.–May 1987), in which Frank Miller and artist David Mazzucchelli redefined the character's origins. Writer Alan Moore and artist Brian Bolland continued this dark trend with 1988's 48-page one-shot Batman: The Killing Joke, in which the Joker, attempting to drive Commissioner Gordon insane, cripples Gordon's daughter Barbara, and then kidnaps and tortures the commissioner, physically and psychologically.
Batman's body armored costume incorporates the imagery of a bat in order to frighten criminals. The details of the Batman costume change repeatedly through various decades, stories, media and artists' interpretations, but the most distinctive elements remain consistent: a scallop-hem cape; a cowl covering most of the face; a pair of bat-like ears; a stylized bat emblem on the chest; and the ever-present utility belt. Finger and Kane originally conceptualized Batman as having a black cape and cowl and grey suit, but conventions in coloring called for black to be highlighted with blue. Hence, the costume's colors have appeared in the comics as dark blue and grey; as well as black and grey. In the Tim Burton's Batman and Batman Returns films, Batman has been depicted as completely black with a bat in the middle surrounded by a yellow background. Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy depicted Batman wearing high-tech gear painted completely black with a black bat in the middle. Ben Affleck's Batman in the DC Extended Universe films wears a suit grey in color with a black cowl, cape, and bat symbol.
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Following the 2016 DC Rebirth continuity reboot, Batman and Catwoman work together in the third volume of Batman. The two also have a romantic relationship, in which they are shown having a sexual encounter on a rooftop and sleeping together. Bruce proposes to Selina in Batman vol. 3, #24 (2017), and in issue #32, Selina asks Bruce to propose to her again. When he does so, she says, "Yes."