While he is essentially the Golden Age version of the hero, the Batman of Earth-Two is quite the mysterious creature. In truth, he has only made a handful of comics appearances designated as such, and thus makes him even more mysterious. Meet me after the jump, and we’ll explore the friends, the family, the enemies, and the man himself – the Batman of Earth-Two.
When the Golden Age of comics ended, only a few surviving characters remained, among them were Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman and Robin. They were essentially unchanged when the superheroes returned to comics years later in the Silver Age. The Silver Age was marked by the introduction of new heroes with the names and sometimes powers or gimmicks of the originals, but new origins and backgrounds. The Flash was first, followed by Green Lantern, the Atom, Hawkman and so on.
Some readers remembered the old heroes and wanted them back. Writer Gardner Fox figured a way to not only bring them back, but have them interact with the new heroes. He created the DC Comics Multiverse, and brought parallel universes, and specifically Earth-Two into the equation in his legendary story, “Flash of Two Worlds.” In it, the new Flash met his otherworldly predecessor from the Golden Age, a hero he’d only read about in Flash Comics. The original Flash existed on Earth-two while the new Flash was on Earth-One.
The Comics of Earth-One
Team-ups between the heroes became a regular thing as they were so popular. The Flashes met regularly, as did the Green Lanterns, even the Atoms teamed up a couple times. Eventually the Justice League met the Justice Society in an annual team-up that became a summer tradition in the former’s titles for decades. Curious though that in the early days, when most of the team-ups were written by Fox that we never saw Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman. Fox did this for a good reason.
The Golden Age heroes were fictional characters in comic books published on Earth-One. Fox wisely didn’t want to run into the buzzsaw that was that continuity. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were members of the Justice Society, appearing in those comics, and relatively unchanged from the Golden Age, so didn’t that mean that comic book readers on Earth-One knew their secret identities from the comics? Yeah, makes your head hurt, doesn’t it? That’s why Fox stayed away from those characters, for the most part, until fate, and a little thing called Batmania, intervened.
Robin the Ex-Boy Wonder
In 1967, the phenomenon that was the “Batman” TV series was in full swing, and DC did everything to make the comics like the TV show. In this ‘go-go checks’ era, everything was campy and Batman was on the cover of everything, front and center, big as anything. So when the JLA/JSA team-up came along in the midst of this, the powers that be forced Gardner Fox’s hand, and tried something a bit different. Justice League of America #55 introduced the grown-up Robin of Earth-Two.
Garbed in a yellow caped and domino-masked version of Batman’s costume, and calling himself the ex-boy wonder, this Robin was replacing his mentor as a member of the Justice Society, Batman being the first member to officially retire from crime-fighting. Most of the other members still treated him like a kid, and he bonded with other younger members, as well as his counterpart on Earth-One, at one time giving him a red, yellow, and green costume that he himself would someday wear.
Robin became a regularly appearing member of the JSA in their annual team-ups and was featured in All-Star Comics when it was revived as a vehicle for the team. Unlike his Earth-One counterpart, this Richard Grayson stayed in school, became a lawyer, and an ambassador at one point. He unfortunately became overshadowed by the Huntress (I’ll get to her in a bit) when she showed up, and both died in the Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Finally, The Batman
The Batman of Earth-Two has always been shrouded in mystery. Rumor was that he had originally carried guns, operated out of New York, and never put a yellow circle around the emblem on his chest. In his secret identity of Bruce Wayne, he had gone into politics and eventually replaced James Gordon as police commissioner of Gotham City. Still similar to his modern counterpart, there were minor changes, like Superman working for the Daily Star or Wonder Woman never wearing sandals in the Earth-Two versions.
Just as Superman married Lois Lane, and Wonder Woman wed Steve Trevor, the Earth-Two Batman married Selina Kyle, the reformed and retired Catwoman, who bore him a daughter Helena. As Batman, he made one cameo appearance in one JLA/JSA team-up and then came out of retirement for another with Robin in a story that also featured his nemesis the Joker, and the first of many battles between Superman and Captain Marvel. His next appearances would be his last however, and they wouldn’t be pretty.
The Last Days of Batman
In the pages of All-Star Comics, poor police commissioner Bruce Wayne had come under the thrall of the JSA’s enemy the Psycho-Pirate and had begun a one-man war on his former team. Much like a maniacal J. Jonah Jameson, he eventually resorted to recruiting other semi-retired members to fight the current roster. While this battle nearly resulted in the death of Power Girl, it seemed Wayne had a guardian angel, the Huntress, looking out for him.
Later, when the JSA moved over to Adventure Comics, the Batman of Earth-Two had his last adventure. A criminal named Bill Jenson had been empowered by the sorcerer Fredric Vaux, an agent of chaos. He had easily defeated the JSA and demanded to meet with Wayne atop Gotham Tower or he would destroy the city. In his elusion he thought Wayne responsible for his imprisonment. Jensen was stopped in the end, but at the loss of Bruce Wayne’s life, who had taken up the cape and cowl one last time. Robin and the Huntress were at his side as he died. The JSA eventually tracked down and defeated Vaux, but it was far too late for Batman.
So who was the Huntress? Originally she was Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle’s daughter, Helena Wayne. Much like her father decades before her, she had taken a grave side oath to fight crime, but for her, it was because of her mother’s death. Catwoman had been lured out of retirement by one of her henchmen, and unceremoniously murdered. Helena tracked him down and took on the bat-themed persona of the Huntress. By day as Helena, and by night as the Huntress she watched over her father until his untimely death at the Gotham Tower.
She joined the Justice Society alongside Robin, became close friends with Power Girl, and joined her ‘brother’ Richard Grayson in his law firm. At the time she debuted, in DC Super Stars #17, she became one of the company’s most popular characters, so much so she was included in the prime time “Legends of the Superheroes” specials, and has since been successfully translated in animation and live action on series like “Arrow.” As mentioned above, she died in the Crisis, but was later revived as Helena Bertinelli, a Huntress not related to Batman.
Out of the Past
Just because the Batman of Earth-Two was dead didn’t mean he didn’t continue to appear in DC Comics. He made more than a few appearances in All-Star Squadron, Roy Thomas’ retroactive continuity series about the JSA and other heroes during World War II. And in the current day continuity, in the mini-series America vs. the Justice Society, a book purporting to be Batman’s diary is discovered, and its contents accuse the team of treason. There were even a few Earth-Two Batman stories in Brave and the Bold.
The best of Batman’s post-death appearances however, were written by one man, Emmy Award-winning television writer, producer, and novelist Alan Brennert. In Brave and the Bold #197 and #182, Brennert detailed the stories of Batman’s wedding to Catwoman, and how the Earth-One Batman, the grown-up Robin and the never-before-seen Earth-Two Batwoman contended with the ghost of Hugo Strange. Brennert only wrote a handful of comics stories, but every one is a classic. You can check out a terrific interview with the author on the latest episode of The Fire and Water Podcast with Rob Kelly.
With the total reboot of the DC Comics Universe called the New 52, we once again a form of Earth-Two in continuity, called officially, and appearing in the series titled Earth 2. This is a very different parallel world from the one we knew however. This is a world ravaged by a war against the forces of Darkseid, a war, which as the series began, had apparently claimed the lives of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.
On this Earth 2, the Huntress is once again Helena Wayne, but she was formerly Robin, there being no Dick Grayson in this continuity. And the second Batman of this Earth 2 is Thomas Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s father, using the strength and vitality of Hourman’s Miraclo drug. This Thomas Wayne was only wounded and believed dead when Bruce was a child. When the first Batman died, he came out hiding to take up the cape and cowl. Weird…
And that’s a not-so-brief overview of the lost but not forgotten Batman of Earth-Two. Perhaps we’ll see him again, but probably not. At least we have to comics to read…