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Comic Book / Batman Family

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And who should their first opponent be but an undead, Satan-worshipping Benedict Arnold? Comics, folks.

Batman Family was a DC comic book series that ran from 1975 to 1978, primarily featuring stories starring supporting characters in the Batman comics. The term is often used to refer to the extended cast of characters of comics books associated with Batman.

The series featured solo stories starring Batgirl and Robin in addition to reprints of Golden Age stories, and many issues featured stories about supporting characters such as Alfred, Batwoman, Vicki Vale, the Elongated Man, Huntress, and Ace the Bat-Hound. Man-Bat later became the star of the back-up strip (his OriginStory was reprinted in #1, in order to plug his new ongoing. It lasted two issues.) as a vigilante in New York City (one of the few heroes from DC Comics to do so) who scraped a living off of the rewards the police and the people he saved gave him. Most of the original stories were written by Bob "Answer Man" Rozakis and Elliot S! Maggin.

DC published other Family series concurrent with Batman Family, such as Superman Family (1974-82), Super Team Family (1975-1978) and Tarzan Family (1975-76). As a rule, DC's Family titles contained mostly reprints, and featured a higher page count (and higher price) than DC's normal books. (Years later, Marvel Comics paid homage to DC's Family titles with their mid-noughties anthology title Spider Man Family.)

This comic book series contains examples of:

  • Comics Merger: This is the book that saved the sinking Detective Comics. During the "DC Implosion", DC were on the verge of cancelling Detective Comics, the worst-selling Bat-title, but also their namesake title and longest runner. At the last minute they took all the stories intended for publication in Batman Family #21 and put them into Detective Comics #481 instead, merging the two titles as Detective Comics starring the Batman Family. Sales recovered, and over the next eighteen months they gradually increased the size of "Detective Comics" and decreased the size of "Batman Family" on the covers until finally doing away with the latter altogether in issue #492.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover of issue #18 features Batman, Robin, Batgirl, and Man-Bat being menaced by a half-seen inhuman figure while declaring, "It can't be! Gotham's sewers are haunted by demons!" Gotham's sewers were in fact inhabited by a criminal gang. In addition, Robin, Batgirl and Man-Bat don't appear in that story but instead each headline one of the issue's unrelated back-up stories.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: Duela Dent, the Joker's Daughter debuted in this series, and also called herself the daughter of half a dozen over villains before Robin outed her as Two-Face's daughter. But in a subversion, Duela claimed she hated her father for driving her and her mother away and only dressed up as the offspring of different villains just to mess with Robin as a way to show off her skills.
  • Forced Transformation: Man-Bat in #12. He had gotten his transformation from a man to a were-bat, but a criminal gang managed to turn him into a were-jaguar.
  • Only in It for the Money: Averted with Man-Bat; he genuinely enjoys doing good and helping people, but that's not going to help pay for his crappy apartment, and his wife is going to give birth soon...
  • Retcon: Barbara Gordon's brother, Tony Gordon - the one who showed up in a Golden Age issue of World's Finest and had been lost in Comic-Book Limbo ever since - was revealed in #12 to have been kidnapped by Communists for spying on China. He escaped, but realised that he couldn't reappear in public without creating a major political scandal.
  • Retool: For the comic, that is. During the infamous "DC Implosion" (when DC cancelled a large amount of titles due to economic times), Detective Comics, the title they were named after, was on the chopping block. Not wanting to lose it, someone realized that Batman Family was actually selling a whole lot better than the other Bat-titles. Their solution? Rebrand Batman Family as Detective Comics featuring Batman Family and give it Tec's numbering. Once the popularity waned enough to be safe, Batman Family was phased out and it became just Detective Comics once more.
  • Samus Is a Girl: The title's last supervillain, The Power Sower, turned out to be this.
  • Ship Tease: This title started the idea of the Dick/Barbara pairing... although it was pointed out both in the comic and the letters page that Barb was older than Dick by a good 7 years.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: When Batman became the cover star in the title's last few issues, his stories were the first in the title.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: The Technician, an inventor who specialises in supplying high-tech gizmos to Gotham City's supervillains, including things such as a giant clockwork monkey.