Friday, January 7, 2011

Famous First Fridays: Man-Bat

Greetings, Groove-ophiles! Today's Famous First Friday shines the spotlight on one of The Batman's most unique and under-appreciated friend-foes, Kirk Langstrom, aka Man-Bat. Ol' Groove can remember veritably ripping my copy of Detective Comics #400 (March 1970) from the spinner rack. That mind-blowing Neal Adams cover with Batman facing off against a monstrous doppelganger was the stuff of dreams (or nightmares)! Man-Bat, with his Hulk-like "I'm a good man trapped in a monster's bod" style-angst and striking visual was an immediate hit, especially when co-creators Frank Robbins and Adams told his tales (as they did with 'Tec #'s 402 and 407, with Robbins handling both story and art in issues 416 and 429). Man-Bat's popularity continued to climb as he teamed with Batman in Batman #254 (October/November 1973, by Robbins and Irv Novick) and Brave and the Bold #119 (March 1975 by Bob Haney and Jim Aparo). Check out his dynamic debut!

Man-Bat was finally given his own title in the fall of 1975, but it only lasted two issues (September/October-November/December 1975). DC gave him some top-notch talent (Gerry Conway, Steve Ditko, and Al Milgrom on the first ish, Martin Pasko, Pablo Marcos, and Ric Villamonte on the second), but not much time to catch on. Man-Bat was deposed to the back of a couple issues of Detective (#s 458-459, January-February 1976) with Pasko and Marcos still at the creative helm. From there, Man-Bat found what would become his "permanent" home during the Groovy Age, Batman Family (beginning with #11, February/March 1977) where writer Bob Rozakis would make the character his own, giving him supporting characters and even a child. Art by the likes of Marshall Rogers, Michael Golden, and Don Newton went a long way in keeping the strip a fave, surviving Bat-Fam's cancellation and landing back in Detective Comics.

By the time the 80s rolled around, Man-Bat found himself being stripped of everything that made him heroic and shunted back to square one as an out-of-control sometimes-foe of The Batman.


  1. Groove, could you fix the link for page 2 of the story? These old eyes of mine just aren't good enough anymore to read it without making it larger! Thanks.

  2. Hey Groovy One, one of these days, if you think about it and are bored, I'd LOVE to see some of those MB stories drawn by Pablo Marcos; now that's a subject and artist that seem like a match made in Heaven!

  3. Count on it, J.J.! The Marcos Man-Bat goes into the Request Line files--and should show up in a couple'a weeks!



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