The Black Bat was a pulp detective hero that appeared in roughly 40 stories from 1939 to 1953. It came out roughly the same time as Batman and both creators claimed the other other was stealing from him, though they may have both been influenced by the same sources. The Black Bat, much like the early Batman, was a descendant of The Shadow and The Spider. What? Dynamite is already publishing The Shadow and The Spider? Go figure.
This marks the third Dynamite title adapted from the “hero pulps” (although the Black Bat didn’t actually have his own titular pulp, he just appeared regularly in Black Book Detective). The Black Bat character, like The Shadow and Spider, is a two-gunned crime fighter who dresses up and hunts down hoodlums outside the reach of the law. The Shadow had the hint of mysticism in his background, The Spider was just (very bad-tempered) man, but The Black Bat had a superpower. After being blinded by a criminal throwing acid in his face/eyes, he first trained up his hearing, smell and sense of touch like a blind man would. Then he secretly had a cornea transplant, so he could see — and also was somehow able to see in the dark.
So we’ve got Batman trappings, an origin similar to Two-Face and a secret identity similar to Daredevil. The character’s adventures tended to be a little more grounded than the Shadow’s occasional bouts with voodoo and assorted horrors, but we’ll see how this version turns out.
They’re announced the writer on this as Brian Buccellato, who’s currently co-writing The Flash over at DC.
BLACK BAT RETURNS AT DYNAMITE!
FROM ACCLAIMED FLASH WRITER BRIAN BUCCELLATO, COMING IN 2013!
October 12th, 2012, Mt. Laurel, NJ – The iconic character, Black Bat, makes his return to comics with a Dynamite series, written by Brian Bucccellato, the current acclaimed co-writer of DC Comics’ The Flash! Black Bat joins a long-line of successful pulp relaunches at Dynamite, and this series guarantees to be just as successful. Look for Black Bat in 2013!
“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to put my stamp on classic character whose origin dates back to the time of such greats as The Shadow, The Phantom, and The Green Hornet,” says writer Brian Buccellato. “The Black Bat is had the misfortune of sharing the same monicker as arguably the most beloved superhero of all time. Interestingly though, he was a contemporary of and not a copycat or “rip-off” of The Dark Knight. Tony Quinn’s origin and motivations were very unique to him. In fact, his origin and costume design influenced some VERY well-known comic characters that came after him.”
In July 1939 Ned Pines’ Thrilling Publications (also known as Standard or Better) introduced a new Black Bat in a series called Black Book Detective. Written mainly by Norman Daniels under the house name G. Wayman Jones, the stories describe the crime-fighting career of former District Attorney Anthony Quinn. In a clear departure from most pulp characters and heroes, this Black Bat was actually an origin story, describing how Quinn became the Black Bat after being blinded and disfigured by acid. DA Tony Quinn is blinded by acid and believes his career is over until Carol Baldwin arrives. She tells him that her father is a small town policeman who is dying from a gangster’s bullet and that a surgeon is willing to perform an operation to graft his corneas onto Tony Quinn’s eyes so that he can see again. The operation is done in secret and when the bandages are removed, Quinn finds that he can not only see normally but can even see perfectly in darkness too. While blind, Quinn had developed the necessary skills of the blind; sharper hearing, more sensitive touch, and a better sense of smell. Like many other crime fighters, Quinn is unhappy about all the criminals who slip through the law’s net on legal technicalities, etc. and decides to work outside the law in another persona to bring them to justice, and so the Black Bat is born, with Quinn deciding to keep the role of a blind man and later acquires the title of “Special District Attorney”. Carol, a “resourceful and intelligent girl” decides to work with Quinn on his secret crusade and next comes Butch O’Leary. None too intelligent but completely loyal and “a hulking giant of a man who was never happier than when his fists were flying in defense of the law and in the aid of the Black Bat”. Last came “Silk” Kirby, a small time crook who had tried to rob Tony Quinn one night and had been persuaded to stay on as “officially” valet to the blind Quinn but in reality a valuable asset to the Black Bat using his underworld skills. Quinn has a secret underground tunnel to a gatehouse at the rear of his house which leads to a quiet street, which he uses as the Black Bat. This is necessary not just because of criminals who want him dead but because of the police too as he works outside the law. Friend to Quinn, the bulky lieutenant, about ten issue later, Captain McGrath (under Commissioner Warner) is also enemy of the Black Bat. He suspects they are one and the same and often tries to prove it, with tricks, even once having a doctor examine Quinn’s eyes. While Quinn can see perfectly, he can also make his eyes appear like those of a blind person and the doctor is fooled. Quinn usually turns the tables on McGrath, making him look foolish in his attempts to prove he is the Black Bat.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.