DC Comics LEGACIES: A Field Guide Pt 1: Superman, Batman
Exclusive DC Preview: SUPERMAN/BATMAN 72
With the DCU Legacies series in full swing and the impending “Franchise for the Cowl” going down in the Batman books, it’s high time to take a look at some of the lines of legacy, lineage, and succession in the DCU. Let’s start with the original . . .
The original Superman (later designated the Superman of Earth-2, where all of the original, Golden Age versions of the heroes were said to reside) married Lois Lane, but they remained childless. However, that Clark’s heroic legacy was carried on by his cousin, Kara, who adopted the identity of Power Girl.
“Our” Superman also had a cousin named Kara arrive on Earth; however, she took the name Supergirl. After the “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, Supergirl was dead (but would be re-introduced later) and Power Girl lived on the new combined Earth. Though efforts were made to keep her story separate, to the point of even creating various new origins for her, the character was given her original origin again after the “Infinite Crisis” series allowed the various Earths back into the DC lexicon.
That said, “our” Superman has inspired a number of characters that could be considered legacies in a way. Superboy, the clone created from DNA taken from both Superman and Lex Luthor, has an identity as another Kent relative. There’s Supergirl, of course (there were alternate versions of Supergirl in there a few times, but that’s a little deeper than we’re getting today). You can also include Steel (hi-tech hero John Henry Irons) and his niece Natasha (who briefly operated as Steel, as well as under other heroic aliases). There were the Supermen of America, a team of young heroes that took inspiration from Superman, but they haven’t been really seen since the aforementioned “Infinite Crisis”. And, really, we shouldn’t forget Krytpo.
In terms of “our” Batman, his legacy consists mainly of the veritable army of sidekicks, students, and allies he’s inspired. First is Dick Grayson, the original Robin; Dick graduated to the identity of Nightwing before recently assuming the mantle of Batman himself. The second Robin, Jason Todd, was killed by the Joker, revived during “Infinite Crisis”, and became the nefarious Red Hood. Robin number three, Tim Drake, has adopted the identity of Red Robin. The fourth Robin, Stephanie Brown, started out as young heroine Spoiler; after a period where she was believed dead, Steph re-emerged and eventually became the current Batgirl. The current Robin, Damien Wayne, is the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia Ah Ghul, the daughter of his enemy Ra’s Ah Ghul.
The most famous Batgirl, Barbara Gordon, was shot by The Joker and confined to a wheelchair. She assumed the identity of Oracle, and later assembled her own group (frequently featuring Batman-connected heroines, such as this Earth’s Huntress, who was the daughter of a mobster seeking retribution on crime rather than being the daughter of Batman) known as the Birds of Prey. Cassandra Cain notably served as Batgirl but was saddled with a “she’s a villain now” twist coming out of “Infinite Crisis” that substantially damaged the character. By 2009, the creators had Cain hand off the Batgirl cowl to the aforementioned Stephanie Brown.
We won’t forget Batwoman, either. The original Batwoman was more or less consigned to Earth-2 continuity years ago, but the year-long “52” series introduced a new Batwoman for modern continuity. Batwoman even held the lead spot in original Batman home “Detective Comics” for a time and is primed for a new ongoing series.
Many other associated characters exist in Batman’s orbit. Certainly you can count Alfred, The Outsiders, Azrael(s), Orpheus, Onyx, the Birds of Prey (including Oracle, Huntress, and arguably Black Canary), the Club of Heroes (Knight and Squire, El Gaucho, Man-of-Bats and Red Raven, Musketeer, Dark Ranger, etc.), The Question (Vic Sage was definitely an ally, but Montoya has closer ties to the Batverse), Sasha Bordeaux, Ragman, the reformed Riddler, and more. While Batman isn’t necessarily the predecessor of these characters (and in some cases, like Alfred, they actually mentored Batman), the connection between them and the Dark Knight as a centerpiece is undeniable.
Next time out, we’ll take a look at more Legacies, possibly including some more crime fighters that do battle alongside their own children or that inspire their own little communities to the cause of justice.