This is An Idiot's Guide to Superheroes. It contains a quick, informative, and not 100% factual look at various superheroes throughout the ages. Should be read at your own risk and for amusement purposes only.
The point of this...thingamajiggie is to educate the masses on comic books, mainly those of the superhero variety. For all the literature out there on comic books and superheroes, there's shockingly little (outside of Wikipedia) that gives readers a handy outline on who the kooky characters running around in capes, cowls and costumes are. And honestly, those Wikipedia pages just miss the whole heart and soul of what makes comic book characters so cool.
So what is this exactly? This is An Idiot's Guide to Superheroes. It's part fact, part opinion, and part bullshitting my way through 75 years worth of literature that is both entertaining and slightly ridiculous. An Idiot's Guide to Superheroes is not meant to be taken 100% seriously nor is it 100% factual.
So, final thoughts: If you come away learning something new, I applaud you. Knowledge is power and knowing is half the battle...or something like that. Otherwise, I apologize for wasting the next five to ten minutes of your life.
Week One: Batman
The comic book world can be an incredibly daunting pool to dip your toe in. There's two major companies, a slew of newer upstart publishers and literally millions of different comic book issues to choose from. Luckily for you, I have arbitrarily picked out the best starting spot to begin this foray into the comic book medium. That place is Batman.
Batman is simply the most awesome, most kickass superhero that will ever exist. Why? Because his only superpowers are wealth and unresolved childhood issues. And he's all the more badass because of it.
So what's Batman's story? Basically, Bruce Wayne saw his parents get shot as a child and decided to take his anger out on the poor unsuspecting criminal population of Gotham City. After travelling the world learning every method of asskicking known to man, he came back to Gotham and starting pounding the tar out of every vandal, thief and mugger he could get his hands on. People started calling the dude cleaning up the streets BadassMan, which eventually somehow got shortened to Batman, and Bruce Wayne decided to go with it and started to dress like a bat, which somehow made him look even more badass.
After picking a name, Bruce started accessorizing everything he could into bat-stuff. He bought a utility belt from the local department store, and filled it with Batarangs, Batcuffs, Bat-Smoke Bombs and Bat-Condoms. Batman then made the Batmobile, the Batplane, the Batcopter, the Batcycle, the Batcomputer, and a Batcave to put all his Batshit in. He also picked up an impressionable young child named Dick Grayson, dressed him up in spandex and nicknamed him Robin and started using the poor kid as a human shield for when gunplay was involved. Batman even took the time to sew a big R right over Robin's heart so the bad guys knew where to aim.
Batman also has a butler named Alfred. Alfred performs important tasks such as cleaning the Batcave, performing first aid when necessary and bringing Batman his Bat-sandwiches at Bat-tea time. Batman also enjoys a love/hate relationship with the local police force, which rivals the Keystone Cops for the most ineffective police force in the history of mankind. This police force, headed by one Commissioner Gordon, often summons Batman to the police station by pointing a giant spotlight (called the Bat-Signal)into the air and hoping that Batman is looking at the night sky without any obstructions in his way.
Over time, some of the crooks of Gotham started dressing up too, hoping that dressing up in bright spandex wouldn't attract attention. That's how supervillians like the Penguin, Catwoman, the Riddler and the Joker started putzing around in Gotham. Batman got pissed at all the posers running around Gotham (think what would happen if Bela Lugosi ever met Robert Pattinson), and started to beat the tar out of them. However, between the questionable legality of being arrested by someone who dresses like a bat and the shoddy Gotham prison system, Batman's supervillians tend to return to Gotham's streets in record times.
While we're on the subject of Batman's supervillians, we have to take a moment to discuss Batman and the Joker's special relationship. The Joker is the vinegar to Batman's baking soda. He's the PC to Batman's Mac. He's the George W. Bush to Batman's rest of the civilized world. So they really don't get along. No one quite knows how it started but it might have something to do with the fact that the Joker might have killed Bruce's parents and Batman might have pushed the Joker into a vat of chemicals that bleached his skin, turned his hair green and caused him to go insane. It's all a little vague. But the point is, they really do not get along.
Not only can Batman kick peoples' asses physically, he mentally kicks ass too. He's considered to be the world's greatest detective. Want to know how good he is? Think Sherlock Holmes only less British and dressed as a bat. The man practically invented the art of CSI, complete with standing over dead bodies and spouting poignant one-liners right before the Who begins to play in the background. He also has the ENTIRE internet stored on the Batcomputer for quick reference and has files on everyone, just like Big Brother (the fictional British government, not the TV show). Between the internet and his Bat-Files, he can plan for just about anything that could ever happen. This gives Batman a formidable edge on his opponents, making any fight against him almost unfair. And by almost unfair, I mean totally unfair because they ARE fighting Batman.
Batman is considered to be the most badass fictional character ever. No one can beat him because he's a giant badass and plans for everything. This is one of the accepted laws of the internet. If someone asks you who wins a fight between Batman and another person, the answer is always Batman, as long as he has enough prep time. (This is the first rule of internet debating. Rule two is never compare your opponent to Nazis, otherwise you lose.)
For example: Batman versus Spiderman, who wins? Batman.
Batman versus Superman, who wins? Batman.
Batman versus God, who wins? MOTHERF@#KING BATMAN!
To summarize, Batman is basically the most awesome thing to happen to the world since water. Anything that Chuck Norris can do, Batman can do better. Your mom didn't fall in love with your father, she only settled because Batman wasn't available. No joke is funny enough for Batman and no story is too sad. Batman was the reason you were born and will be the reason you die. In fact, the only reason you're alive right now is because Batman doesn't kill.
Over the years, Batman has saved Gotham and the world multiple times. He's also routinely made Superman his bitch, beat off countless women with his Bat-Stick, and gone through a slew of Robins and a couple of Batgirls (human shields with boobs). Two of those Robins died and a Batgirl got crippled. Both of the Robins ended up coming back to life later. The Batgirl, however, remains crippled. (Sexist much, DC?)
Some of Batman's more notable stories include Arkham Asylum (Batman proves that the best cure for mental illness is multiple punches to the head), A Death in the Family, (featuring Dead Robin I and an escalation of the Batman v. Joker rivalry), Hush (basically a twelve issue plotline showcasing all the ways that Batman is better than everyone else. Also featuring the best Batman beatdown of Superman of ALL TIME) and The Killing Joke (featuring crippled Batgirl, naked Commissioner Gordon and more Batman v. Joker shenanigans). These are considered to be must-reads and are far superior to this shitty column. If you're too lazy to read, watch the Batman: the Animated Series or The Dark Knight, which are both superior representations of the Dark Knight on film.
So what's Batman doing now? Well, ol' Bruce shot a god (not to be confused with THE God, who knows better than to mess with Batman) and got thrown back in time as some sort of revenge. Now Batman's running around proving that he's the most badass caveman/pilgrim/pirate/cowboy that ever was. Since Bruce isn't around to wear the Bat Cowl, Dick Grayson (aka Robin I, aka Human Shield I) put on the Bat-costume and signed up Bruce's ten year old cloned bastard son (not making this up) to be his new Robin. Now that you're up to date, go read Batman and Robin, available at your local comic book store. It's good comics.