Cover to Man-Bat (vol. 3) #3 (August 2006)
Art by Mike Huddleston
|First appearance||Detective Comics #400 (June 1970)|
|Created by||Frank Robbins
|Alter ego||Robert Kirkland "Kirk" Langstrom|
|Team affiliations||Secret Society of Super Villains|
|Supporting character of||Birds of Prey|
|Notable aliases||Robert Kirk Langstrom|
Enhanced sight and hearing
Superhuman strength, agility, and endurance
|Series publication information|
|Format||(vol. 1) Ongoing
(vol. 2) Limited series
(vol. 3) Limited series
|Publication date||(vol. 1)
January – March 1975
February – April 1996
June – October 2006
|Number of issues||(vol. 1) 2
(vol. 2) 3
(vol. 3) 5
|Writer(s)||(vol. 1) Gerry Conway, Martin Pasko
(vol. 2) Chuck Dixon
(vol. 3) Bruce Jones
|Artist(s)||(vol. 1) Steve Ditko
(vol. 2) Henry Flint
(vol. 3) Mike Huddleston
|Colorist(s)||(vol. 2) Eduardo Barreto
(vol. 3) Lee Loughridge
Man-Bat is a supervillain who appears in comics published by DC Comics, usually as a supervillain and adversary of Batman, though occasionally depicted as a heroic character. He first appeared in Detective Comics #400 (June 1970) and was created by Frank Robbins and Neal Adams. Man-Bat was the star of his own eponymous series in 1975–1976, which lasted two issues before being canceled.
Dr. Kirk Langstrom, a scientist specializing in the study of bats, develops an extract intended to give humans a bat's sonar sense and tests the formula on himself because he is becoming deaf. The extract works, but it has a horrible side effect: it transforms him into a hideous man-sized bat. The serum also takes away his intelligence, so he goes on a mad rampage until Batman can find a way to reverse the effects.
Later, Langstrom takes the concoction again, and Man-Bat returns. He also coaxes his wife, Francine Langstrom, into drinking the serum, and she goes through the same transformation, becoming She-Bat. Together, they terrorize Gotham City until Batman can once again restore them.
On some occasions, Langstrom takes the serum and retains enough intelligence to work for the forces of good. During one of these periods he works with the detective Jason Bard. On another occasion, in Action Comics #600, Jimmy Olsen inadvertedly puts Superman into a cave occupied by Man-Bat to protect him from Kryptonite radiation that had reached Earth following the explosion of Krypton. Man-Bat calms the maddened Superman and then summons Hawkman, who helps Superman overcome the radiation.
Kirk and Francine have a daughter, Becky, and a son, Aaron. Because of the effects the serum had on Aaron's DNA, he is born with a deadly illness. Francine turns him into Man-Bat form to save his life. This occurred in issue three of the Man-Bat mini-series by Chuck Dixon.
Infinite Crisis and beyond
In the aftermath of that storyline, both Kirk and Francine are shown to be alive in the 2006 "One Year Later" storyline. In Batman #655 (September 2006), Talia al Ghul ties up and gags Francine, and then threatens to poison her if Kirk does not give her the Man-Bat formula. After Langstrom gives her the formula, she releases Francine as promised. Talia utilizes the mutagen to turn members of the League of Assassins into Man-Bats.
In Gotham Underground, Man-Bat is apprehended by the Suicide Squad. He is one of the villains seen in Salvation Run. Francine has appeared in Batman and the Outsiders, serving as the team's technical advisor, and her assistant Salah Miandad operates the "blank" OMAC drone known as ReMAC. In issue #10 of that series, Kirk appeared, seemingly healthy and also aiding Francine.
During the 2009 "Battle for the Cowl" storyline, following Batman's death, Kirk is haunted by nightmares of becoming Man-Bat and killing his wife. When Francine disappears, he takes the serum and tries to follow her. After an altercation with the Outsiders, he returns to his human form and is captured by Doctor Phosphorus, who reveals the serum is not necessary to trigger the change. Kirk discovers that Phosphorus has also captured Francine, and becomes Man-Bat to save her.
During the 2009–2010 "Blackest Night" storyline, Francine tracks down Kirk (as Man-Bat), having created a cure, and revealed that Kirk's next transformation would be permanent if he did not drink it. Kirk attempts to take the cure, but his Man-Bat persona will not let him. Just as Kirk is about to drink it, Francine is wounded in the crossfire of the battle between Black Lantern Solomon Grundy and Bizarro (the latter of whom is already at the scene, trying to prevent Kirk from taking the cure). Distraught at Francine's injuries, Kirk transforms into Man-Bat, seemingly permanently.
In "Collision" storyline of Red Robin, following Red Robin's actions against Ra's al Ghul and the League of Assassins, the latter attempts to murder people related to the Bat-Family. Man-Bat, following Red Robin's orders protects Julie Madison, a former lover of Bruce Wayne, against Ra's al Ghul's assassins.
The New 52
In The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe), the majority of Kirk Langstrom's history is rebooted. The Man-Bat serum first appears in Detective Comics #18 (May 2013). However, various Man-Bats, not Kirk Langstrom, have appeared throughout Batman, Inc (vol. 2) under the control of Talia al Ghul in her plot to destroy Batman. It is later explained that Talia al Ghul had an agent steal the serum from Langstrom's laboratory to use on her soldiers. Ignatius Oglivy also comes into possession of the Man-Bat serum which he uses as an airborne virus to spread throughout Gotham City. In Detective Comics #19 (June 2013), Kirk Langstrom first appears where he and his wife Francine are escorted by Batwoman to Batman's location. Langstrom reveals that he is the creator of the serum intending to help deaf people. Taking responsibility as the creator of the serum, he uses a sample of the serum Batman had obtained to inject himself. This creates an anti-virus which also spreads through the air. Unfortunately, Langstrom is turned into a Man-Bat (the last remaining Man-Bat) as his anti-virus cures the remaining citizens of Gotham.
Langstrom re-appears in Batman Inc. (vol. 2) #10 (June 2013) apparently giving Batman the serum. He claims to be working on an aerosol antidote to the serum as well.
The backup feature of Detective Comics #21 (August 2013), focuses on Langstrom and his wife. After reverting from the Man-Bat form, Langstrom becomes addicted to the Man-Bat serum, taking it every night. However, he apparently does not remember his actions from the night, worrying that a string of reported killings is his fault.
During the Forever Evil storyline, Man-Bat is among the villains that were recruited by the Crime Syndicate of America to join the Secret Society of Super Villains. Scarecrow and Man-Bat attempt to steal the frozen Talons (assassins that are associated with the Court of Owls) from Blackgate while Penguin is having a meeting with Bane. Bane arrives at Blackgate as Man-Bat and his fellow bats are attempting to transport the Talons to Mr. Freeze and is able to keep one from leaving.
Powers and abilities
By taking his bat-gland formula, Kirk Langstrom can transform himself into a bat-like creature. By taking an antidote he can return to human form.
As Man-Bat, his strength, agility and endurance are all enhanced to super human levels. Kirk possesses an extra set of digits that form leathery bat wings that allow him to fly, super-sensitive hearing, and a natural sonar. He emits high-pitched sound waves and can hear the echoes they make when they bounce off nearby objects, enabling Man-Bat to navigate perfectly in pitch black darkness.
If in Man-Bat form for a prolonged time, he loses control over his animalistic side and works purely on instinct, making him prone to harm friend and foe alike.
Countdown to Final Crisis
In Countdown to Final Crisis: The Search For Ray Palmer, an alternate version of Man-Bat was shown. He is from Gotham by Gaslight (Earth-19), and has experimented with bats similar to his mainstream counterpart. He is later defeated by Blue Beetle and Batman.
In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Man-Bat is killed by Miranda Shrieve, the granddaughter of Matthew Shrieve. In the flashback that Man-Bat was invited by Lt. Matthew Shrieve to be the new member of Creature Commandos, but Man-Bat then betrays him, killing his family. It is revealed that Man-Bat had been working with General Sam Lane who is responsible for the deaths of Miranda's family.
JLA: The Nail
In other media
- Man-Bat appears in the series Batman: The Animated Series. Dr. Kirk Langstrom (voiced by Marc Singer) is a zoologist at the Gotham City Zoo. He appears in the first produced episode "On Leather Wings" where he steals serums from the chemical labs and is mistaken for Batman. The beast then commits other thefts at night and people start to question if it is Batman or some other masked hero. Batman recovers a strand of hair from the lab and takes it to Dr. March (Langstrom's father-in-law) to be analyzed and tells him that is only from a brown bat. But shortly after, Batman discovers that March is lying and travels to his lab. On the same night, Langstrom drinks the serum, when Batman arrives to question him—revealing Dr. March as the thief of the serum from the chemical labs. Langstrom tells Batman that he had discovered a chemical that created a new species that was neither man or bat, which he started taking, but could not control it. Langstrom reveals to Batman that the creature is in him and he transforms into a half-man/half-bat monster before attacking Batman. After a battle across the Gotham City skyline, the Man-Bat is knocked out and taken back to the Batcave. Batman manages to flush the formula out of Langstrom's system after discovering the chemicals that were stolen and he is returned to normal. Langstrom next appears in "Tyger, Tyger" where he analyzes the chemical that Dr. Emile Dorian used for his experiments. In the episode "Terror in the Sky", Langstrom is having a dream that he transforms into Man-Bat and he begins to commit crimes. Then Langstrom is awakened, just to find the remains of a fruit and scratches from a rag. Batman and Langstrom eventually discover that the other Man-Bat turns out to be his wife Francine Langstrom (voiced by Meredith MacRae) accidentally exposed to an alternate Man-Bat serum created by Francine's scientist father who was trying to alter Lanstrom's work. In the end, Batman cures Francine as well and she returns to her husband. He appeared in two episodes.
- Although Man-Bat never appeared in the revamped series The New Batman Adventures, Man-Bat's alter-egos (Kirk Langstrom and Francine Langstrom) makes a cameo during Bruce Wayne's wedding in the episode "Chemistry".
- In Batman Beyond, a new trend dubbed "splicing" involves fusing together animal and human DNA. The new Batman ends up captured by the splicers' leader Abel Cuvier (aka Chimera) and is injected with vampire bat DNA which transforms Batman into a Man-Bat but is later returned to normal by Bruce Wayne.
- In the Justice League Unlimited episode "The Doomsday Sanction", Professor Milo mentions that Langstrom's research has proven useful to his experiments splicing together human and animal DNA for Project Cadmus. This ends in disaster when a mutated warthog is mentioned to have destroyed his lab.
- Man-Bat appears in The Batman with Dr. Langstrom voiced by Peter MacNicol while special sound effects were used to provide Man-Bat's vocal effects. He is an employee at Wayne Enterprises doing research on bats and apparently afflicted with albinism. When Bruce Wayne begins to cut off the funding for his project, Langstrom tells Bruce that he needs the project to cure his niece's deafness. When Bruce discovers that Langstrom is lying, he goes to Langstrom's office to discover the project's real purpose. Langstrom arrived in his vault to find his boss there; he admits that he created the formula so he could be feared like Batman, and drinks a serum, transforming him into Man-Bat. He attacks Bruce at his office, and escapes. Bruce changes into Batman and confronts Man-Bat in the skies of Gotham City. They land on the ground, and Langstrom reverts to his human form. To be safe, Batman destroys one of Langstrom's vials. Langstrom drinks the remaining vial, transforms back to Man-Bat, and kidnaps Detective Ethan Bennett. Batman confronts Man-Bat in a sewer, and Langstrom reverts to his human form, and he is taken away to Arkham Asylum. In "Pets", Langstrom is still in Arkham and trying to recreate the Man-Bat serum, while the Penguin finds a sonar device he wants to use to control a large condor but ends up with a sonar designed to control bats. When Penguin uses the device, dormant remnants of the Man-Bat formula still inside Langstrom reawaken, transforming him to Man-Bat and instinctively leading him to the Penguin's hideout, as he continues repeating the line: "Come to me." With the sonar device, Penguin is able to use Man-Bat to do his bidding for him, returning him to his human form by saying "rest". Langstrom is furious with Penguin when he learns that Penguin plans to use it to turn Langstrom from human to a half-man, half-bat creature for his own gain, and promises Penguin that the minute he loses the sonar device, he will feel Man-Bat's wrath. At the docks, Batman confronts Man-Bat, and, using his own sonar device, induces a reversion back to his human form. Langstrom and Penguin are both taken back to Arkham. Langstrom returns in "Rumors" as one of the many villains captured by the vigilante Rumor. He was shown in his human form and later in his Man-Bat form, implying he has full control over his transformation. Langstrom made one last appearance in "Attack of the Terrible Trio", no longer a villain and renouncing the Man-Bat name. Batman charged Langstrom with creating an antidote for his own mutagen that some college students (the show's version of the Terrible Trio) had stolen from him and were planning on infecting the entire student body with.
- In the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Last Bat on Earth!", Batman travels to a future to stop Gorilla Grodd now leading the apes. When Batman goes into the Batcave with Kamandi and Dr. Canus, he encounters humanoid "Man-Bats" that can talk like the rest of the humanoid animals. Batman and Kamandi manages to drive them out after he defeats their leader. The Man-Bats later assist Batman in an all out war against the apes, having gained respect for the Dark Knight.
- Man-Bat was considered as an antagonist in one of the unproduced scripts for a third Joel Schumacher Batman film. He was due to be played by Mark Linn-Baker or Martin Short.
- Man-Bat was also a possible antagonist in the series' unmade fifth film Batman Triumphant but was dropped in favor of the Scarecrow and Harley Quinn.
- Man Bat was to a central antagonist in Lee Shapiro's Batman: DarKnight script alongside the Scarecrow.
- In the film Batman Begins, Jonathan Crane is under the influence of his own fear-inducing toxin when he sees Batman as a Bat-like monster similar to Man-Bat. When the Narrows is under the influence of Crane's fear gas, the population sees Batman as a monster flying in the sky again similar to Man-Bat.
- In the Super Nintendo game The Adventures of Batman & Robin, Man-Bat is one of the bosses. In this game, he speaks; although in the show, he never spoke in Man-Bat form.
- Man-Bat is a boss and playable character in Lego Batman. He is an enemy of Batman and follower of the Penguin. In the game, he possesses super strength and the ability to glide using his wings. In the Nintendo DS version, Man-Bat is an unlockable character through the "Villain Hunt" minigame.
- Man-Bat appears in Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes with his vocal effects provided by Fred Tatasciore. He appears as a boss fight and an unlockable character.
- Though he does not appear personally, some believe that Man-Bat is referenced in Batman: Arkham Origins. Through various conversations with Alfred in the Batcave, he describes seeing a massive "king bat" in the cave. Some fans speculate that Man-Bat exists in the Arkham universe and is nesting in the Batcave, much to Batman's curiosity and Alfred's chagrin. Additionally, during the final confrontation with The Joker, when Batman is viewed from Joker's perspective, he is seen as a monstrous mutant bat akin to Man-Bat.
- Man-Bat has made several appearances as an action figure as part of Hasbro's Batman: The Animated Series and Dark Knight lines, Mattel's The Batman line, DC Direct's Arkham Asylum line, Art Asylum's minimates line, and the HeroClix line.
- Man-Bat is also one of the action figures from the Secret Files 1: Batman Rogues Gallery line.
- An unproduced prototype figure of Man-Bat for Kenner's Super Powers Collection was unearthed after the line's cancellation.
- Man-Bat was also featured in Mattel's DCSH line. The brown version was scheduled for series 8, but was dropped and replaced by Catwoman. A white version of Man-Bat was featured as a San Diego Comic Convention exclusive in packaging designed by Frank Varela of Mattel Toys. It was revealed at the 2009 New York Comic 'Con that the brown version is now scheduled for Mattel's DC Universe Classics Wal-Mart exclusive series 10.
- In issue #28 of the Super Friends comics, Man-Bat made an appearance as one of the 5 foes that the Super Friends battle.
- In The Batman Adventures (a comic series based on Batman: The Animated Series), another Man-Bat was formed when Dr. Stefen Perry stole the Man-Bat serum from Langstrom. He was defeated by Batman and arrested by the police. In issue #21, Kirk Langstrom was later forcefully transformed into Man-Bat and recruited by Dr. Emile Dorian who hoped to use his assistance to form a "House of Dorian" with Anthony Romulus's Werewolf form, Tygrus (who Emile duped into working for him again), and Man-Bat.
- In issue 4 of Beware the Batman, based on the show of the same name, a new Man-Bat appears in the form of Tim Quan, an acquaintance of Barbara Gordon with a crush on her. He was mutated when he sneaked into the lab of Kirk Langstrom, who is also stuck in his Man-Bat and was looking for a cure. Having become more unstable than Langstrom, Quan goes in a rampage and kidnaps Barbara. Batman teams up with Langstrom to find and cure Quan, though at the expense of Langstrom's own cure.
- McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1970s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. "Thanks to his appearances in Detective Comics and Batman, Man-Bat's popularity soared to the point where writer Gerry Conway and artist Steve Ditko launched the [character] into his own series."
- The DC Comics Encyclopedia. Dorling Kindersley Limited. 2004. p. 194. ISBN 0-7566-0592-X.
- Infinite Crisis #7 (June 2006)
- Gotham Underground #1
- Salvation Run #2 (February 2008)
- Final Crisis #4
- Battle for the Cowl: Man-Bat #1
- Superman/Batman #66
- Superman/Batman #67
- Batgirl (vol.3) #10-#11 (July 2010-August 2010)
- Red Robin #12 (July 2012)
- Detective Comics #19 (June 2013)
- Detective Comics #18 (May 2013)
- Batman Inc. (vol. 2) #10 (June 2013)
- Detective Comics #21 (August 2013)
- Forever Evil #1
- Forever Evil: Arkham War #2
- Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #1 (June 2011)
- Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #2 (July 2011)
- Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #3 (August 2011)
- JLA: The Nail #3
- Ramey, Bill "Jett" (2005-07-28). "Interview: Lee Shapiro". Batman-on-Film. Retrieved 2006-11-13.
- Game Informer features a two-page gallery of the many heroes and villains who appear in the game with a picture for each character and a descriptive paragraph. See "LEGO Batman: Character Gallery," Game Informer 186 (October 2008): 93.
- Man-Bat[dead link]
- "Super Friends #28 - (comic book issue)". Comic Vine. 2008-06-06. Retrieved 2010-12-29.