• Jake Wright

10 Major Characters To Take On The Mantle of Batman

(via: DC Comics)

Batman is not only the most popular character within the DC Comics universe, but possibly all of comic books as a whole. The Dark Knight has committed his entire life to ridding Gotham of crime and corruption, unleashing fear and vengeance on any criminal who dares to do wrong, and the character has a rich 80+ history appearing in comic books, movies, tv series, books, video games and much more.

Whilst it is well-known that Batman is possibly the most versatile character in all of fiction, he often calls upon allies to aid in his war on crime. Bruce Wayne is not the only person to take on the mantle of Batman, whether due to his “death”, major injuries, or disappearance, many of his allies have stepped up the plate to take on the role of the Caped Crusader in his absence. Here are 8 major characters who have taken on the mantle of the Batman.

Jean-Paul Valley

(via: DC Comics)

One of the most famous instances of passing on a mantle, Jean-Paul Valley – often known as Azrael – took over the temporary role of Batman after Bruce Wayne had his back broken by Bane. A close ally of Bruce’s during that period, Jean-Paul was trusted in carrying on the legacy of the Dark Knight whilst Bruce was temporarily incapacitated.

Due to a damaged psyche thanks to his previous brainwashing of the Order of Saint Dumas and time as Azrael, Jean-Paul became a brutal and more menacing Batman, creating his own Batsuit and adding sharp talons to his gauntlet’s to inflict violent pain on any wrong-doers of Gotham.

Jean-Paul had the Robin of that time, Tim Drake, to accompany him in carrying on the Batman’s crusade but Tim instantly became concerned and worried about Jean-Paul’s unnecessary violence. Once Bruce Wayne had completely healed, he and Tim Drake both teamed up to stop the out-of-control Jean-Paul and take back the mantle for its rightful owner.

Jim Gordon

(via: DC Comics)

During the New 52 era of Batman comics, written by Scott Snyder with art by Greg Capullo, a storyline dubbed “Endgame” resulted in the Joker unleashing his deadliest attack on Gotham yet as he infected the entire city with a pathogen known as Joker’s venom. Batman and Joker had their bloodiest showdown yet resulting in what many thought was the death of both parties due to a cave collapsing on both of them.

With Nightwing incognito and spending his time as an undercover spy for Spyral, Red Hood off doing his own thing, and both Robin’s (Tim Drake & Damian Wayne) too young to don the cape and cowl, Gotham was left looking for their next Dark Knight. The most suitable candidate? Jim Gordon. No one else knew the streets of Gotham like Jim which resulted in him being supplied with two new Batsuit’s, a sleek black and yellow cape-less suit & a bigger mech-suit, by Powers International.

Jim’s time as Batman consisted of a trial in which he tested if a Batman who worked within the rules of the law would be just as effective. This test turned out to be problematic as he quickly found out the anonymity of the Batman gave him plenty more leeway in dealing with crime quicker and more efficiently. Though his tenure as the Batman was fairly short, he did eventually get to team up with the returning Bruce Wayne (who had indeed survived) as the two Batmen teamed up to take down new supervillain Mr. Bloom.

Thomas Wayne

(via: DC Comics)

After the Flash, Barry Allen, travelled back in time to save his mother, he created the alternate timeline dubbed “Flashpoint” which resulted in much of DC’s iconic heroes and villains being drastically changed. One of the most popular changes resulted in Bruce Wayne being shot dead by mugger Joe Chill instead of his parents which sent both Thomas and Martha Wayne on very different paths.

Witnessing her son’s death, Martha Wayne became unhinged and insane as she became the Joker of the Flashpoint universe. Thomas Wayne, feeling vengeful and full of rage became the Batman of this universe with no qualms about using guns and inflicting lethal violence on anyone who crossed his path. A dark reflection of the Batman from the main universe’s counterpart, Flashpoint Batman was an alcoholic who left very few of his rogue’s gallery alive.

This tragic story of Flashpoint Batman makes him one of the most popular alternate versions of Batman with many writers infatuated by this version of Thomas Wayne and often bringing him into huge DC Comics stories such as City of Bane by Tom King, Infinite Frontier & Justice League Incarnate by Joshua Williamson, and the upcoming Flashpoint Beyond storyline by Geoff Johns.

Terry McGinnis

(via: DC Comics)

The hero dubbed Batman Beyond, Terry McGinnis lives in Gotham City in the year 2040. Bruce having long retired as the Dark Knight causes him to take in a young Terry McGinnis after aiding him in fighting off a gang dubbed “the Jokerz” outside of Wayne Manor. Seeing potential in the young Terry, Bruce decides he is a worthy candidate for carrying of the legacy of the Batman and becoming Neo-Gotham’s newest protector.

Having first appeared in the 90s highly popular animated series, Batman Beyond, it wasn’t long until Terry McGinnis made his way into DC’s comic book universe as the Batman of the future. Many fans often point to the true successor of the Batman legacy and not anyone in the current Batfamily roster of the present, but Terry McGinnis himself so take that as you will.

Alfred Pennyworth

(via: DC Comics)

Even Bruce Wayne’s longest friend and loyal butler has donned the cape and cowl. Happening quite recently in the Batman Rebirth comic run by Tom King, Alfred was instructed by Bruce to distract newly emerging hero Gotham, after Psycho-Pirate manipulates his emotions to send him on a destructive rampage.

Alfred hops in the Batmobile masquerading as the Dark Knight and has his own badass action moment by driving into the rampaging Gotham at 200mph enabling him to distract him enough to get Batman into position.

Though Alfred is mostly back in the Batcave aiding with the technological side of being Batman, it was a humorous moment to see Alfred called into action on the battlefield as Batman.

Jace Fox

(via: DC Comics)

The most recent character to take on the mantle of the Batman, Jace Fox first appeared as Batman during the Future State storyline back in January of 2021. Jace Fox (real name Tim Fox) is the biological son of close Batman ally Lucius Fox and has a very interesting backstory.

Living his teenage years as a rich, spoilt brat, Jace’s life was turned around when he accidentally killed a person in a hit-and-run. Sent to a strict boarding school by his parents, Jace completely transformed as a person and took his first steps towards becoming the next Batman. He made it his ultimate mission to atone himself for his previous mistakes by protecting his city of Gotham, and when Batman had been reported dead during the Future State event, Jace took it upon himself to become the Batman and capitalise on the opportunity to repent for his sins.

It now appears in main canon that Jace is the true successor of Batman with the current I Am Batman series by John Ridley laying the foundation for his inevitable progression into the next Batman.

Damian Wayne

(via: DC Comics)

Biological son of Bruce Wayne and Talia Al Ghul, Damian Wayne is the 5th person to take on the role of Robin (if you count Stephanie Brown’s short tenure as the Girl Wonder). The Demons son on paper would be the most logical to eventually take over the role of Batman and has done so most notably in Grant Morrison’s famous story Batman #666.

In this version, Damian is all grown up and acts as the current sole protector of a future Gotham. Wrestling with his own morality, Damian struggles to decide whether to inflict vengeance his own way or by his father’s code. Having been on a murderous spree dealing with crime bosses, Damian is hunted by police Commissioner Barbara Gordon and his tenure as the future Dark Knight ends in disaster with the nuking of Gotham City and its citizens.

Though this rendition of the character’s time as Batman ends in disaster, it’s not all doom and gloom for Damian in other versions of taking over the mantle. During the popular DCeased storyline, in which most of the DC universe has been infected by a zombie virus thanks to the Anti-life equation, writer Tom Taylor chose Damian as the successor to Batman after his father tragically died in that timeline which spelt a much more positive few on Damian’s vigilante future. And with plenty of great character development in his current on-going Robin series by Joshua Williamson, a better future for Damian Wayne as Batman may be on the horizon.

Tim Drake

(via: DC Comics)

The third and many peoples favourite Robin has had a few instances in which he took over as the Dark Knight Detective in both the present and the future of the DC universe. Being dubbed as one day being a better detective than Batman by Bruce Wayne himself is an impressing feat and adds to the many reasons as to why Tim is the most suitable candidate to take over.

During the Battle for the Cowl story arc in which Batman was believed to be dead, Tim donned an older version of the cape and cowl to let Gotham know that the city was still under close watch of the caped protector, meaning he has actually taken on the role in the main universe canon for a short time. Another version of Tim as Batman was shown when present Tim meets his future self in which he is Batman after taking over from Dick Grayson (Nightwing) and Damian Wayne (Robin) who first assumed the role before him.

Dubbed the Batman of Tomorrow, Tim is yet another gun-wielding Batman as he tried to tell present Tim that “right and wrong are subjective, you’ll come to learn this when the time comes” explaining that he became conflicted and changed the ways of how he operated. Tim and his fellow Gotham Knights eventually alter the present to stop this gun-toting version of Tim to ever come to fruition.

Jason Todd

(via: DC Comics)

The second Robin Jason Todd has had a tough life. Growing up on the streets as an orphan, killed by the Joker, resurrected and rageful towards Batman for not killing the Joker after his death, he is a truly damaged person. Though he is now most known for being the vigilante Red Hood, Jason was the first person to take action during the Battle for the Cowl storyline and donned a Batsuit to begin spreading his version of true justice on the criminals of Gotham.

Using lethal force, Jason’s version of Batman was kitted with guns and lethal weaponry to permanently eliminate the criminals of Gotham which led the Batfamily to hunt him down and end the violence. Jason even had a show down with Tim Drake’s Batman and almost killed him, which was meant with bad reception from fans due to using Jason as a clear villain to lift the other Robin’s up, but he was ultimately defeated by Dick Grayson who saved his wounded brother and stepped up to begin his own reign as the Caped Crusader.

Though Jason is more than capable of donning the cape and cowl after Bruce Wayne’s time is up, it doesn’t seem like a natural progression for his character to become the Dark Knight in the future but in any instance, it always makes for an interesting story.

Dick Grayson

(via: DC Comics)

Out of all the characters to step up to the title, Dick Grayson has been the most successful. The original Robin later-turned Nightwing began his time as Batman when Bruce Wayne had been “killed” by Darkseid within Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis which led to him maintaining a lengthy comic run and even appearances as the Dark Knight in the Batman animated movie, Batman: Bad Blood.

Operating as a completely different yet effective Batman, Dick Grayson changed the suit to fit his acrobatic fighting style, became a more public Batman and operated with a smile on his face (Batman with a smile on his face? Strange!). Unlike Bruce, he worked closely with the GCPD leading to much higher conviction rates and took on Damian Wayne as his Robin, building a close bond between the two.

Dick Grayson eventually becoming Batman seems like natural progression considering he was the very first Robin, and many comics show that he is just as good, if not better at being Batman than Bruce Wayne. Many stories stating he is faster, stronger and a better fighter than Bruce Wayne himself show Dick would be a fantastic replacement if the opportunity arose, but because of his fantastic character work during his transition to Nightwing, he may only take the mantle again temporarily.

Which mantle passing of the Batman is your favourite? Do you think any of these could truly succeed Bruce Wayne as the Dark Knight? Let us know in the comments.

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