Batman's Body Count
By Ray Tate
I've always felt the Punisher, not the original but the remake, was something of a wuss, and rereading the Dark Knight Archives supports my opinion. Batman in his early days made the Punisher look like a bleeding heart and something of an amateurish boob. The Punisher is the poster child for the NRA. Batman used guns to kill only once. He instead preferred to slay his foes through brute strength. Observe, and be amazed at his astounding knack for execution.
In Detective Comics #27, his debut, Batman breaks a thug's neck with a "deadly headlock" then tosses the body over his shoulder and onto a rooftop. Following this incident, Batman with a solid left cross whacks Styles, and in anticipation of the 1989 Batman movie, the murderer falls into an acid vat. Batman does not lift a finger to save him. Instead, he chills with the line: "A fitting end to his kind."
In Detective Comics #28, a fool attempts to knife Batman who briskly hoists him over the roof and to the welcoming concrete below.
In Detective Comics #29, he snaps the neck of Jabah, Dr. Death's goon. In a later scene you can still see Jabah's cooling on the floor.
Doctor Death returns in Detective Comics #30 with a brand new goon who finds his neck broken beneath Batman's boot. Batman really liked to break necks in the old days.
For the next two issues, Batman battles against, even when judged today, one of his weirdest foes. The Monk was half-vampire/half-werewolf and perhaps the first creature of mixed heritage apart from Hercules to appear in comic books. I think he even beat out Aquaman and Namor. Using silver bullets and a .45 Smith and Weson automatic Batman dispatches the Monk and Dala his female vampire servant. They were already dead, and technically they don't add to Batman's impressive scorecard. I mention them only for archivists. Though, he does not even question whether or not they are alive or dead. You can easily make the argument that both Angel and Spike are alive, but this Batman was more pragmatic than philosophical and in many ways more pure in his quest to eradicate crime, avenge his parents and prevent others to suffer his loss.
In Detective Comics #33, Batman destroys the dirigible of a would-be Hitler named Krueger. I don't actually know how many men were on the airship nor is the number indicated, but the range must be at least between ten to twenty even when accounting for science fiction additions to the design of the craft. As an encore, Batman tosses a knock-out pellet from his utility belt into the cockpit of Krueger's escape-plane. Just one for the big brain. No more escape planes nor politically correct parachutes. No survivors. Batman got them all. Kruger, now unconscious, smashes his plane into the river, and "the body of Krueger was recovered from the water."
In Detective Comics #34, Batman chokes Duc Docteru--there's that predilection for necks--then lets his car fly off the cliff. Crispy.
In Detective Comics #35, Batman propels a swordsman onto his partner's sword. Batman then throws a statue at the mastermind to knock him out the window. Naturally, you think perhaps a flagpole or a copse of trees broke his fall. Ha-Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! We see blood pouring out his cracked skull in the next panel.
Think Robin's arrival lightened the Darker Knight's demeanor? Think again. Robin actually is no angel. His slingshot has done more than simply knock out his foes. Batman and Robin during the Boy Wonder's introduction in fact calmly watch Boss Zucco toss one of his men off a girder at a mob bought construction site. Robin even takes a snapshot. One for the police and one to pin to his wall. I made that last bit up. Robin didn't pin the photograph to his wall. He probably kept it in his wallet.
In Detective #39, Batman pushes a giant jade idol and a heavy throne onto six, count them, six members of the Tong of the Green Dragon.
Not at all afraid of repetition, Batman uses a heavy marble statue to kill three of the Joker's men. The Joker incidentally miraculously escaped a car crash that the Batman tried to orchestrate. Hey, cut the guy some slack. Batman probably single-handedly killed every mobster in Gotham City. Perhaps, he greeted any newcomers at the train depot and snapped their neck.
In Detective Comics #47, Batman whacks a hood over the head and lets him plow his car into a phone pole. What I believe to be Batman's final act of killing occurs in a classic battle against Hugo Strange. Batman after slipping a noose around the neck--the neck again--over one of Strange's Monster Men whisks the poor creature off the ground and uses the machine gun mounted on the Bat-Plane to riddle him with bullets. It should be noted that this is the only death over which Batman has felt any sorrow. His thoughts aloud went something like this: "It saddens me to take an innocent human life, but in this case, I have no choice." It should also be noted that his thoughts do not contradict his previous characterization. Simply put, criminals are not innocent, and I doubt the original Batman envisioned by Bob Kane and Bill Finger believed they were even marginally human. The Punisher? More like the Pussycat.
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