Batman – The Mentor, Father and Founder of the Bat Family
Batman – the Dark Knight of Gotham is often described as a vigilante who likes to work alone. Although Robin was introduced as his sidekick, the subsequent stories of each of them abandoning Batman further strengthened the fact. But the true comic fans would know that Batman is probably the only superhero who was also a mentor, trainer and a father figure for so many crime-fighters. Here are some of the most important members of the ‘Bat Family’.
The Bat Family
One person who’s been part of the family even before Batman is Alfred Pennyworth. As a loyal aide, guardian and a father-figure, the Bat Family has to begin with Alfred. He is such an important character that the DC Comics changed his origin story. In the pre-Crisis era, Alfred is a retired Secret Service agent who comes to Wayne Manor to work as a butler as per the wishes of his father, Jarvis. Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson hire him reluctantly. He eventually learns that Bruce and Dick are vigilantes Batman and Robin. However, in the post-Crisis era, Alfred – still a retired intelligence agent – was hired by Thomas Wayne. He goes on to bring Bruce up after the death of his parents and help him become the Dark Knight.
Richard Grayson or Dick Grayson is the very first addition to the Bat family after Gotham’s billionaire Bruce Wayne took Dick under his wing following the brutal murder of his circus acrobat family. Bruce eventually shared his dark secret and moulded him into the first Robin – The Boy Wonder, his partner in fighting crime in Gotham. He went on to lead the Teen Titans, a group of young superheroes. Having grown tired of Batman’s stern ways, Dick decided to don the role of ‘Nightwing’. He also took up the mantle of Batman when Bruce Wayne was believed to be dead, before returning to the role of Nightwing once Bruce resurfaced.
After Dick Grayson took up the moniker of Nightwing, Jason Todd was scouted by Batman to be the second Robin. However, the fans didn’t favour Jason as the Robin and DC Comics decided to put an end to the character. The second Robin was killed by Joker, leading to subsequent issues where Batman is seen blaming himself for his death. Resurrected by Talia al Ghul, Jason Todd comes back to life and returns to Gotham as the second Red Hood after his training by the League of Assassins.
Unlike Dick and Jason, Tim Drake was the one to track down Batman and discover his true identity along with Nightwing’s (Robin back then). Tim recognized one of the somersaults of Dick from a performance of the Flying Graysons when Tim was a child. He convinced Batman to take him in as the third Robin, which the Dark Knight did. No other member of the Bat Family has been as loyal as Tim to Batman. After Batman’s disappearance, Tim took on the role of Red Robin, an identity earlier used by Jason Todd.
Daughter of the Police Commissioner James Gordon, Barbara crafted her own costume to become one of the strongest female characters in the DC Comics. However, after Joker shoots her through her spinal cord, leaving her paraplegic, she adopts a new identity – Oracle – and assists the Caped Crusader as a technical advisor and computer expert.
Cassandra Cain is a child prodigy who was conceived with the sole purpose of making her a killing machine. She was trained by the League of Assassins and her father, David Cain, who also made her kill a businessman under the guise of a game. After she realized what she did, she ran away only to be scouted by Oracle and become the second Batgirl. She vanishes after Batman’s death unable to cope with the loss of yet another father. Tim Drake tracks her and convinces her to return as Black Bat.
The son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul, Damian is turned into a tenacious fighter and is believed to be more skilled than his predecessors. He is genetically perfected and grown in an artificial womb. Bruce learns of Damian’s existence when Talia introduces him to his 10-year old son in a bid to disrupt his vigilante work. He fights Robin (Tim Drake) to replace him as Batman’s sidekick. He eventually dons the role of Robin – the fifth and the current. Although a formidable fighter, Damian lacks empathy and displays self-importance owing to his training by the League of Assassins.
Daughter of a small-time villain, the Cluemaster, Stephanie Brown tailors a costume and calls herself ‘Spoiler’ to get back at her father for returning to the world of crime. She meets Robin (Tim Drake), who falls for her, while helping cops in finding her father. He keeps his identity – both as Robin and Tim Drake – a secret from her. Batman, however, reveals them to her when he recruits her to be the newest member of the Bat family. She eventually becomes the first female Robin after Tim gives up the identity, only to be stripped of it for disobeying Batman. Later when Cassandra vanishes, she takes on the mantle of Batgirl.
A wealthy heiress – similar to Bruce Wayne, Katherine Kane becomes the vigilante superhero Batwoman after her sister and mother were killed by terrorists. Kane is a cousin of Bruce Wayne from his mother’s side and appears after Batman’s death and while Dick assumes the role of the Dark Knight.
David Zavimbe – Batwing
David Zavimbe becomes Batwing in Congo’s fictional city Tinasha as a part of Batman Incorporated, an initiative by Bruce Wayne to put Batman representatives across the globe.
Luke Fox – Batwing
Son of Lucius Fox, Luke used the technology of Wayne Enterprises to fight crime in Gotham after his father was nearly killed by the Heretic. He later joins the Bat Family.
Jean-Paul Valley – Azrael
When Bane breaks Batman’s spine, Jean-Paul Valley – who Bruce has been training to replace him – takes up the identity of Batman. Bruce forcibly removes him from the position after he turns violent and irresponsible.
Helena Bertinelli – Huntress
Born into a mafia family, she witnesses her family being murdered by a rival mafia group. This forces her to become a vigilante under the name ‘Huntress’. Batman reluctantly allowed her into the family as she reminds him of Barbara, the crippled daughter of Commissioner Gordon.
Ace the Bat-Hound
Ace the Bat-Hound was created inspired by the success of Krypto, Superman’s super pet dog. Previously owned by an engraver, who Batman and Robin rescue, Bruce adopts Ace after the engraver takes up a new job elsewhere.
Who is your favourite character from the Bat Family? Tell us in the comments below.
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