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Detective Comics 235
"The First Batman!"


Story: Bill Finger
Art: Sheldon Moldoff

There is a strangely familiar costume hanging in the trophy room of the Bat-Cave -- that of another Batman! Millionaire Bruce Wayne is the caped crusader known as the Batman, yet there once was another person who donned caped and cowl as ... "The First Batman!" On the spash page, the caped crusader shows the boy wonder the costume of a Batman who fought crime in Gotham City before he became a crime-fighter!

At stately Wayne Manor, Bruce and Dick are cleaning out the attic... when the youngster finds a secret drawer in the desk of his mentor's father! The millionaire finds a strange costume, which Dick sees as some kind of Batman costume! Bruce suddenly recalls having seen his father wearing this garb a long time ago! The youthful ward finds it incredible that Bruce's father was a "Batman" before him! The identity was adopted by the millionaire playboy some years after his parents were killed by a robber! He recalls making the vow of dedicating his life to avenging his parents' death... and bringing their killer to justice! In the years that followed, Bruce learned about criminology and trained his body to physical perfection! The night that he felt ready to begin his crime-fighting career, he saw a bat -- flying in the window! Taking this as an omen, he decided to adopt the guise of a bat -- a Batman! Years later, the caped crusader continued his search for his parents' killer, and began following the criminal named Joe Chill... The man who killed his parents was older now -- but Bruce would never forget his face! (Holy A Face In The Crowd, Batman!)

The criminal was killed by other gangsters who had a grudge against him... and the caped crusader saw that Joe Chill's crimes had finally caught up with him! If this was the origin of the Batman, then how could Dr. Thomas Wayne have become a Batman before his son? A can of movie film and a diary is also found in the secret drawer! After Dick sets up the movie projector, the two watch the images from times past... At the masquerade ball, the first prize for the best "flying creature" costume goes to Dr. Thomas Wayne for his Bat-Man costume! Just as he accepts his trophy, a gang of crooks burst into the costume ball... in search of a doctor! The Bat-Man steps forward and punches one of the gunmen in the jaw!

He relents only upon seeing the other costumed guests being threatened by the other crooks! The movie ends at this point, and while Dick turns on the lights, Bruce begins to read his father's diary! Thomas and Martha Wayne were getting ready for the annual masquerade ball, with their son very interested by his father's costume! The millionaire suddenly realizes that when the bat flew into the window, he was subconsciously recalling seeing his father's Bat-Man costume! The diary tells what happened after the crooks took his father from the ball... Dr. Thomas Wayne was taken to a warehouse where the crooks' boss was in hiding... He recognizes the injured man as Lew Moxon, the wanted bank robber! He wants the doctor to remove the bullet from his shoulder! Knowing that once the bullet was removed, the robber would kill him to keep his hideout a secret... Thomas Wayne comes to a decision!

He hooks his foot around Moxon's chair... sending the injured crook tumbling, while leaving two thugs to deal with! Dick is impressed by the doctor's Bat-stunt, even though he lacked the necessary training in confronting crooks! Bruce smiles and knows that his father was quite a guy! The diary tells of Moxon's trial -- where he was sentenced to ten years for armed robbery... The years passed, and Thomas Wayne made some wise investments to become wealthy! He had almost forgotten about Lew Moxon... until the day he was freed! Having served his ten years in prison -- where the doctor put him, he swore to get him, and he will! The bank robber is too smart to do it himself and be arrested on suspicion by the police! He plans to get someone else to do the job for him! The diary's pages end... and Bruce knows that Joe Chill was actually Lew Moxon's hired killer, not just a hold-up man! He must have ordered Chill not to kill Bruce -- so that he could testify that his parents were killed by a robber!

Dick realizes that Moxon used Bruce as his alibi! Hearing this, the millionaire tells his young ward to put on his costume -- they've just reopened the Wayne murder case! (Holy Unsolved Mysteries, Batman!) At police headquarters, the caped crusader asks Commissioner Gordon for Lew Moxon's whereabouts! The lawman has the file tele-photoed to every police agency in the country! When the information arrives... the dynamic duo learn that Moxon is in the Billboard Blimp business located out west in Coastal City! Soon, the Bat-Plane is soaring through the skies... The boy wonder asks why they've brought along Thomas Wayne's costume... and Batman confesses that it makes him feel that his father is on the case, too! Hours pass, and at the blimp hangar of the Moxon Sky-Hi Advertising Company... two figures move through the darkness like shadows! CLANK The boy wonder's foot accidentally kicks a gasoline can... and a flashlight finds the dynamic duo!

Robin races forward, but a sandbag sends him down for the count! With the force of four thugs, the caped crusader is thrown to the ground... but not for long! The next moment finds all four hoods brought down by the Batman! At the precinct, the caped crusader charges Lew Moxon with the murder of Doctor Thomas Wayne! The businessman smiles... and tells all present that he's never heard of any Dr. Wayne! Moxon is even willing to take a lie detector test to prove it!

Under the lie detector, Lew Moxon denies hiring, much less knowing Joe Chill! He also denies knowing anything about a Dr. Thomas Wayne. When the interogation is over... the caped crusader sees that the needle didn't jump once... and Lew Moxon must be telling the truth! The dynamic duo watch as the businessman is out on bail for assault and battery... The boy wonder can't see how Moxon could be telling the truth if he was involved in the Wayne murder! Batman decides to place a long-distance call to Commissioner Gordon! He learns from the lawman that Moxon was in a car accident after Thomas Wayne was murdered! He suffered a head injury and left the hospital shortly after... Robin wonders what they'll do next, and the caped crusader knows that Moxon must be up to something -- or else his men wouldn't have jumped them!

In the evening, the Bat-Plane shadows a floating billboard blimp! The electric marquee blink off, leaving the blimp unseen against the night sky... The dynamic duo see a man being lowered to a penthouse! They realize that Moxon is using his blimp for sky-high burglaries! (Holy Goodyear, Batman!) After placing the Bat-Plane on auto-pilot, the boy wonder goes after the rooftop robber -- while the caped crusader takes on the gondola! Robin drops in on his quarry, while the Batman swings through the air... and quickly climbs the rope ladder, entering the gondola! Next stop for the blimp's crew... police headquarters! After the crooks are in jail... the dynamic duo are ready to pick up Moxon, but the caped crusader needs to change to his spare Batman costume -- since the last fight has totally shredded it! The crimefighter suddenly realizes that he forgot to pack a spare in the Bat-Plane! (Holy Don't Leave Home Without It, Batman!)

Robin suggests that he wear his father's costume, and Batman finds it appropriate! It would be as if Thomas Wayne were arresting Lew Moxon! At Moxon's office, he looks up and sees a determined figure standing in the doorway! (Holy Doorway To The Unknown, Batman!) He remembers seeing the costume years ago! He remembers a Doctor Thomas Wayne -- who wore the costume! The caped crusader didn't realize that the shock of seeing the costume would return Moxon's memory! The criminal tells his "visitor" to go away! He knows that the doctor is dead since he hired Joe Chill to kill him! The fearful Moxon flees through a side-door, and rushes out into the street... In his panic to escape his "ghostly" pursuer, the criminal doesn't see the truck bearing down on him! There is the sound of the screeching of brakes -- a startled cry -- and Lew Moxon's life of crime ends violently... The Batman had wanted Moxon to stand trial for his crimes... but his own guilt convicted him, instead! In the trophy room of the Bat-Cave, a costume occupies a place of honor..."From The Wayne Murder Case... Case Finally Solved By This Costume Once Worn By The First Batman!"

This story was reprinted in Batman #255 (Mar - Apr, 1974).

The story of the First Batman was re-told in Untold Legends of The Batman by Len Wein, John Byrne, and Jim Aparo.

This story presents an abbrieviated re-telling of "The Origin of The Batman" from Batman #47.

In that story, Joe Chill was murdered by his own men when he told them of his part in creating the caped crusader!

In the Star Trek episode, "City On The Edge of Forever," Edith Keeler met her end in a truck accident.

Steve Chung
"The First Review!