Bartholomew "Bat" Aloysius Lash is a Western character in the DC Universe. A self-professed pacifist, self-professed ladies' man, and Professional Gambler, Bat Lash's adventures have been published by DC Comics since 1968.
In 1968, Carmine Infantino, newly installed editorial director of DC Comics, and his editor, Joe Orlando, came up with the name and basic premise of the loner whose family had been wiped out by murderous thugs, and then brought in former DC ditor Sheldon Mayer and Sergio Aragonés to further flesh out the concept. Shelly Mayer would write the first appearance (Showcase #76). Infantino claimed to have greatly rewritten it. The assignment was then handed to Aragonés, with Denny O'Neil doing the dialogue over Aragonés' plots, and Nick Cardy providing the art.
Bat Lash's own series only lasted seven issues. Bat Lash made several other appearances after his cancellation in issues of Weird Western Tales and other titles. He had a story in DC Special Series #16 and a brief backup series in Jonah Hex #49 & 51-52 in 1981. A 1998 mini-series, Guns Of The Dragon set in 1927 China, teams an elderly Bat Lash with Biff Bradley and Enemy Ace on an adventure that sends them to Dinosaur Island. In 2008, Bat Lash appeared in a self-titled, six issue mini-series from DC, written by Aragones, with dialog by acclaimed western novelist Peter Brandvold, art by John Severin and covers by Walt Simonson. It was reprinted in trade paperback as Bat Lash: Guns and Roses in 2008.
Bartholomew Lash was the son of Texan farmers, Lemuel and Martha Lash. Martha raised Bart to be a well-spoken and intelligent individual, but his hard-working father preferred to see his son grow up to appreciate the solid efforts of a good day's labor. Taking cues from both of them, Bart grew into the sort of unconventional individual neither parent could have predicted.
As Bart grew older, he demonstrated an apathetic attitude towards violence, preferring instead a life of pure self-indulgence. He was always well mannered and well groomed, and even took to fastening a flower inside of the band of his hat.
Soon after however, Bart's life took a darker turn. Corrupt county officials had swindled the Lashes out of their farmland forcing them to vacate. While Lemuel, Martha and Bart's siblings sought shelter elsewhere, Bart went to the authorities. His efforts to seek justice failed however, and he earned himself the enmity of a corrupt Sheriff's office. An argument ensued one, which led to a duel between Bart and a local deputy. Unable to talk himself out of the affair, Bart was forced to gun the officer down.
Lash soon found himself a fugitive from justice. Wanted by the authorities, he sought refuge in a small cabin that his family had taken as shelter. However when he arrived, he found that the building had been put to the torch. Both Lemuel and Martha Lash died in the blaze. He gathered his surviving friends and family and brought them to the sanctuary of a convent. From that moment onward, Bart (now calling himself Bat) sought to avenge the deaths of his parents.
Do not mistake for English indie singer Bat for Lashes.
Tropes associated with Bat Lash include:
- Affectionate Pickpocket: In #1, Bat lifts a gold pocket watch off an itinerant monk as he is affectionately farewelling him after the monk has shared his meal with him.
- Amazon Chaser: In a Justice League Time Travel story into The Wild West, the most significant reaction to Wonder Woman's incredible power is from Bat Lash, a self-styled ladies man who notes admiringly, "That's a healthy gal!"
- Author Avatar: Several times in the first series of Bat Lash, Bat runs into a comical Bandito named Sergio: a caricatured version of the series writer Sergio Aragonés.
- Badass Pacifist: For a man who constantly professes his dislike of violence, Bat is remarkably good at it. In his defence, he always attempts to talk his way out of dangerous situation. But, if you push him, you will regret it.
- Bad Habits: In #1, Bat disguises himself as a monk in order to infiltrate a monastery. It turns out that the monastery has already being taken over by outlaws, and all the monks there are outlaws in disguise.
- Bandito: Multiple times Bat crosses paths with the flamboyant and comical Mexican bandit Sergio (an Author Avatar of series writer Sergio Aragonés). And every time they meet, Sergio somehow manages to make Bat's complicated life even more complicated.
- The Casanova: Bat is a drifter who uses his considerable personal charisma to charm his way into the heart of every pretty girl his meets, and always moving on before things have a chance to get serious.
- Coffin Contraband: In Bat Lash #2, an undertaker is secretly selling rifles to the local Indians and smuggling them in coffins.
- Dirty Cop: Bat's trouble with the law starts when discovers that a Clueless Deputy is in league with the Con Man who duped his family out of their farm. He gets into a fight with the deputy and is forced to kill him in self-defence. However, with no witnesses, it looks like he has gunned down a lawman in cold blood.
- The Drifter: Wanted by the law, Bat keeps moving; never staying in any one place for too long.
- Girl of the Week: Bat inevitably finds himself involved with a pretty girl whether he washes up. He equally inevitably winds up abandoning her, willingly or unwillingly, at the end of the issue.
- Giving Them the Strip: In Bat Lash #2, Bat flees from a Shotgun Wedding. His would-be bride tries to keep hold of him as he jumps out the window, and Bat winds up leaving behind his coat and his right boot in her grip.
- Hidden Weapons: Bat keeps a derringer hidden in a pocket watch case. One at least one occasion when an opponent gets the drop on him, he takes out the 'watch' so he can note the exact time of his death, and shoots the gunman with the derringer.
- Humble Goal: In Bat's first appearance, all he wants is to make a nice meal of the pheasant he shot, but as he's shopping for ingredients, the bandits that took over town keep harassing him.
- Iconic Item: Bat always wears a flower tucked into his hatband.
- Killing in Self-Defense: In Bat's origin story, he goes to town to report to the marshal how con men had swindled his family out of their land. The marshal is out of out of town, so he makes his report to a seemingly Clueless Deputy. Bat later discovers that the deputy is Dirty Cop in league with the con man. The hotheaded Bat confronts the deputy and in the subsequent struggle the deputy pulls a gun on Bat. Bat grabs a gun that was dropped earlier and shoots the deputy. However, without witnesses, it appears that Bat shot the deputy in cold blood, forcing him to go on the run.
- Nothing Up My Sleeve: Bat Lash had a small gun hidden up his sleeve in Justice League Unlimited that came into play during a scuffle after a poker game.
- Odd Couple: Many stories contrast the taciturn Jonah Hex with the significantly friendlier Bat.
- Outlaw: Bat is wanted by the state and federal authorities, and cannot stay long in once place lest anyone discover there is a price on his head.
- Pocket Protector: In Bat Lash #2, a young girl is saved from a bullet when it hits the doll she is carrying. Earlier, her father (who was a U.S. Marshal) had hidden his metal cigar case inside the doll; the case containing proof that the local undertaker was running guns to the Indians. The bullet bounces off the case.
- Professional Gambler: Bat most commonly earns his living playing cards, despite the trouble this invariably lands him in.
- Quick Draw: Bat always referred to himself as a "peaceable man", but this did not detract from his skills with a pistol. Bat was extremely fast on the draw, and could oftentimes outdraw multiple opponents.
- Shotgun Wedding: Bat escapes from a shotgun wedding in Bat Lash #2. Apparently the father of the bride had 18 daughters and he had found husbands for all of them via his shotgun.
- Smuggling with Dolls: In #2, a U.S. Marshal stashes his metal cigar case containing the proof that the local undertaker is smuggling guns to the Indians inside his daughter's rag doll just before he is killed.
- Taking the Veil: After their parents are killed, Bat stashes his sister Melissa in a convent for safety while he embarks on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. When he returns for her after he has killed the men responsible, he finds that she has decided to take vows and stay in the convent rather than return to the farm with him.
- Torches and Pitchforks: #1 opens with a torches and pitchforks wielding mob planning to break down the jail door and lynch Bat Lash.