THE JSA FACT FILE
Residence: Gotham City
Occupation: Independently Wealthy, later Police Commissioner
First Appearance (Golden
Age): Flash Comics #1 (January 1940)
First Appearance (Silver Age): The Flash vol. 1 #123 (September 1961)
Bruce Wayne was born in 1915 (America vs. the Justice Society #1) to Dr. Thomas Wayne and his wife Martha, two wealthy Gotham City socialites. Young Bruce was raised in an environment of wealth and privilege and enjoyed a happy childhood until the age of seven. One evening in 1922, Bruce and his parents were walking home after seeing a Rudolph Valentino movie. When they crossed what would later be known as Crime Alley, they were accosted by a mugger named Joe Chill. Chill demanded Mrs. Wayne's jewelry and any cash they may have on hand. When the elder Wayne resisted, Chill shot him. In the excitement, Martha Wayne suffered a heart attack and died shortly thereafter. Stunned by the deaths of his parents, Bruce Wayne stared intently at the criminal, memorizing every detail of his face. Unnerved, Chill beat a hasty retreat before the authorities arrived (Detective Comics #33, Batman #47, Secret Origins vol. 2 #6).
The deaths of his parents traumatized young Bruce and marked
a turning point in his life. He later swore to pursue all criminals to avenge
the deaths of his parents and devoted himself to attaining physical and
intellectual excellence. He underwent rigorous physical training and educated
himself in criminal science and police techniques. By the late 1930s, Bruce
Wayne was an affluent Gotham City businessman and socialite. One night in his
study, Wayne reflected on his oath to avenge the deaths of his parents and how
his oath would best be fulfilled. He decided he needed to leave the traditional
avenues of justice and become a symbol of something that would inspire fear and
awe in the criminal populace. As if an omen, a bat flew into the window of the
study and inspired Wayne. He decided that he would adopt the guise of a bat and
developed the identity that made him the scourge of Gotham's underworld: The Batman.
Disguised as an elderly designer, Wayne hired Gotham's finest tailors to craft a costume in the form of a bat: a flowing dark cape and cowl, and a body suit with a black bat emblazoned on the chest. In his first case, Batman broke up the Chemical Syndicate and won the admiration of Commissioner James W. Gordon. (Secret Origins vol. 2 #6, Detective Comics #27). Ultimately, he would develop a tight relationship with the Gotham Police Force that would shield him from the turmoil that shook the established community of mystery-men during the McCarthy years (Adventure Comics #466).
In the spring of 1940, Batman was investigating the
activities of Boss Zucco and his corruption in a small neighboring town. While
there, he attended a performance of the Haly Circus, one of the few hold-outs
against Zucco and his minions. During the act, a group of family trapeze
artists, the Flying Graysons, were gunned down before the eyes of the terrified
crowd. Their son, Richard, survived, witnessing his parents' brutal murder. The
boy's vengeful wrath inspired Wayne, reminding him of his own rage at the
deaths of his parents. Batman, with the help of the boy, gathered enough
evidence to send Zucco and his cohorts to prison. Wayne took the young Grayson
on as his partner and shared his secret life with him. The boy also took on a
costumed identity and created the guise of Robin, the Boy Wonder (Detective
That summer, Batman encountered the man who would become the
most dangerous criminal of his long career. The Joker had been a common
criminal involved in an attempt to steal enough money to retire at an early
age. He had adopted the identity of the Red Hood and, during his final case in
that identity, robbed the Monarch Card Company. As he fled the scene, he was
forced to swim through a vat of dyes and chemicals used in the manufacture of
the cards. When he emerged, he found that the compounds had permanently altered
his face and hair, dyeing them the colors of the joker in a deck of cards. The
chemicals had possibly affected his mind as well, for the result of this
experience left the Joker quite insane (Detective Comics #168). The Joker's
true identity has never been revealed.
Batman's first tangle with the Joker occurred when the Clown
Prince of Crime committed a spree of murders by announcing the demise of the
intended over the radio but not being present with the event occurred. A
chemist in his former occupation, the Joker had invented a venom which killed
quickly, had a time-delayed action, and caused a contraction of the facial
muscles after death, resulting in a morbid grin. After a series of these
murders, the Joker was ultimately captured by Batman and Robin (Batman #1).
Criminally insane, the Joker eluded the death penalty but became Batman's most
Another important adversary was Selina Kyle, a jewel thief.
Originally a battered wife, Kyle turned to crime to avenge herself on her
abusive husband (Brave and the Bold #197). Eventually her criminal forays,
first as the Cat and later as Catwoman brought her into conflict with Batman
(Batman #1). Batman and Catwoman clashed repeatedly over the years, all the
while nurturing an unspoken attraction that would ultimately become much more.
She eventually reformed in 1954.
Batman routinely encountered a veritable menagerie of
criminals. The Penguin (Detective Comics #58) was a brazen felon who based his
thefts on birds and umbrellas. The Scarecrow (World's Finest #3) was secretly
phobia psychologist Jonathan Crane, who used his specialty to commit crimes
based on fear. Gotham City District Attorney Harvey Kent turned to crime as
Two-Face after a gangster scarred half of Kent's face with acid (Detective
Comics #68). Ultimately Kent's face was restored with plastic surgery, and he
foreswore a life of crime (Detective Comics #80, Superman Family #211).
In late 1940, Batman was contacted by the federal government
to become part of a covert strike force against Nazi operations in Great
Britain. During this case, he and fellow mystery-men Flash and Green Lantern
were captured. They were rescued by an even larger force of mystery-men, and
after defeating Hitler's attempted assassination of President Roosevelt, the
team formed the Justice Society of America (DC Special #29). Although a charter
member, Batman's participation in JSA cases was minimal; he served only in a
reserve capacity (All-Star Comics vol. 1 #3, 7). Batman also joined the
All-Star Squadron, a loosely-organized group of mystery-men formed after the
bombing of Pearl Harbor (All-Star Squadron #3).
Throughout World War II, Batman remained primarily on the
home front, defending his beloved Gotham City. Since he had no magic-based
powers, he was unaffected by the "Sphere of Influence" erected by
Axis forces to shield Axis-held territory from American mystery-men (All-Star
Squadron #4). This allowed Batman to venture occasionally into war-torn Europe
to assist in cases with American Forces there. During these occasions he had
the opportunity to work with famous Allied agents like Sergeant Frank Rock
(Brave and the Bold #84, 162), the Unknown Soldier (Brave and the Bold #146),
and the Blackhawks (Brave and the Bold #167).
After World War II, Batman participated in the a critical
case of the Justice Society involving a man named Calvin Stymes. Stymes had
used the river of Koehaha, Colorado's legendary Stream of Ruthlessness, to
induce several prominent businessmen to become criminals and discredit
themselves to his benefit (All-Star Comics vol. 1 #36). Batman joined the JSA
in this case and assisted in capturing Stymes, but the effects of Koehaha would
return to haunt the JSA long after the Dark Knight's death (Infinity Inc.
#3-10). Afterward, Batman rarely became involved in JSA casework and was not an
active member when the JSA disbanded in 1951.
Unlike most of the JSA, Batman was able to remain active
after the HUAC hearings, thanks to his special relationship with the Gotham
Police. In the late 1950s, he battled the Scarecrow once more. To capture him,
he joined forces with the Catwoman in return for a promise of early parole for
her. During the course of this case, the two finally acknowledged their
feelings for one another (Brave and the Bold #197). When Selina Kyle was
released from prison, Bruce Wayne was waiting. They wed (Superman Family #211)
and Selina gave birth to a daughter, Helena, in 1957. Over time, Batman became
less active, making few public appearances. When James Gordon retired, Wayne
assumed the post of Gotham City Police Commissioner.
In the late 1970s, a former henchman of the Catwoman's,
Silky Cernak, appeared and claimed to have proof that Catwoman had committed a
murder in the 1950s. He would provide this information to the police unless she
helped him commit one last crime. Selina acquiesced and Batman came of
retirement to stop her. During the course of events that followed, the former
criminal shot and killed Selina Wayne. Subsequent to this, her daughter Helena
became the Huntress and avenged her mother by capturing Cernak (DC Super-Stars
Upon the death of his wife, Bruce Wayne hung up his cowl. He
learned shortly thereafter that he was dying of cancer and had less than a year
to live. At this time, Wayne had begun to piece together a decades-old crime
committed by Per Degaton, a persistent enemy of the Justice Society. He used
his suspicions to construct an elaborate code designed to direct the attention
of the nation and the JSA on Degaton's activities and his murder of Professor
Zee, a mentor from whom he had stolen time travel technology. This code, the
"Batman Diaries," were later used to catch Degaton in the act of a
40-year-old murder (America vs. the Justice Society #1-4).
In 1978, Wayne came under the influence of the Psycho-Pirate. Wayne's mind was turned to hatred of the JSA, a condition aggravated by the Pirate's simultaneous manipulation of members of the JSA. Ultimately the Pirate was defeated and, after a battle among the JSA members themselves, Wayne was freed from the Psycho-Pirate's control (All-Star Comics vol. 1 #66-69). Bruce Wayne's final act as Batman came when Gotham City was threatened by an ex-convict named Bill Jensen, who had been granted super-powers by the sorcerer Frederic Vaux. Wayne attempted to arrest Jensen, and when he failed, took a Batman costume from the Gotham Museum and confronted Jensen as Batman. The two grappled and, in a final burst of power, Jensen destroyed both himself and Batman (Adventure Comics #461-462). Wayne was laid to rest beside his wife Selina on the grounds of Wayne Manor, and, after the defeat of Frederic Vaux, Doctor Fate erased from human memory the knowledge that Batman and Bruce Wayne were the same (Adventure Comics #463).
The Batman's legacy was carried forward by his daughter Helena Wayne and his heir Dick Grayson as the Huntress and Robin. The mantle of Batman has yet to be assumed by anyone else on Earth-2.
Power and Abilities
Batman's skills came from his intense training throughout his life. He possessed a high (but still human) level of strength, agility, and speed. He augmented his skills with a arsenal of specialized tools and weaponry made available by his wealth and scientific acumen. Prominent among these were his specialized automobile, the Batmobile; and his utility belt, which contained specialized chemical pellets, grappling hooks with retractable lines, and the Batarang (a specialized boomerang of his own design).
Weakness and Limitations
The Batman, deprived of his armaments, is an ordinary mortal and could be slain as such.