What are you, dense? Are you retarded or something? Who the hell do you think I am? I'm the goddamn Batman!!
Young Bruce Wayne had it all: the only son of respected physician Thomas Wayne, and heir to the Wayne family fortune. But Gotham City is full of tragic stories, and young Bruce’s is one of them. While on their way back from a family outing to a movie, the Waynes took a shortcut through seedy “Crime Alley.” There a petty thief named Joe Chill attempted to rob them. When Thomas Wayne protested, Chill murdered Bruce’s parents before his eyes. Over his parents’ graves, Bruce Wayne shouted an oath into a raging storm that he would avenge their deaths, becoming the scourge of all criminals.
Raised and cared for by the Wayne family’s loyal butler, Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce became obsessed with his chosen mission. As a young man, he left Gotham and traveled the world, seeking out the best teachers in all the various disciplines he would need in his mission, from martial arts to criminology and escapology. By the time he returned home, years later, the young heir to the Wayne fortune and business empire was ready to begin. Bruce was still left with a dilemma. He possessed considerable skills and resources, but lacked a final, vital, element in his war on crime. Gotham’s criminals were not simply going to roll over for one man, no matter how capable. He was brooding on the matter one night in the study of Wayne Manor, when a bat flew into the window and startled him. It was then that Bruce realized the missing element was fear. “Criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot,” he reasoned, and so he adopted the costumed identity and cowl of the Batman.
Initially, Gotham’s largely corrupt police force viewed “the Bat” as a dangerous vigilante, and pursued him as forcefully, if not more so, than they did the city’s criminal element. Batman’s exploits eventually earned him allies in the Gotham police department, particularly Lt. James Gordon, who rose to become Police Commissioner and took the unorthodox step of working with the Caped Crusader, even setting up a Bat-Signal to contact him by projecting his emblem into the sky with a powerful spotlight. Batman’s presence in Gotham also seemed to attract crazed and costumed criminals, from the Riddler and the Penguin, to the infamous jewel thief Catwoman. The most insane and deadly of these foes is the Joker, the Clown Prince of Crime and Batman’s archnemesis.
Although he embarked on his mission as a one-man crusade against crime, Batman quickly gathered a new adoptive family around him. He took in young Dick Grayson, the son of circus acrobats murdered by mobsters, and trained him as his crime-fighting partner, Robin, the Boy Wonder. Commissioner Gordon’s daughter Barbara adopted the costumed identity of Batgirl. Eventually, Grayson outgrew the Robin role to become Nightwing, replaced by a new Robin, Jason Todd. The Joker murdered Jason and shot Barbara Gordon, leaving her paraplegic. Batman worked without partners for a time as a result of these events, until the resourceful Tim Drake cracked the secret of Batman’s identity and convinced him to take Tim on as the new Robin. Others inspired by the Batman’s example include Batwoman (Kate Kane) and several young women who have taken the identity of Batgirl after Barbara Gordon, who continues to fight the good fight as the information-broker Oracle.
Batman is the sole founding member of the Justice League of America without any metahuman powers, but his brilliant mind, unbreakable will, and talent for improvisation using the wide array of technology at his disposal makes him the equal of any hero, widely respected and even feared.