The Man-Bat from Who's Who in the DC Universe #12,
art by Michael Golden
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceDetective Comics #400
(June 1970)
Created byFrank Robbins (writer)
Neal Adams (artist)
Julius Schwartz (concept)
In-story information
Alter egoRobert Kirkland "Kirk" Langstrom
Team affiliations
Notable aliasesDr. Kirk Langstrom
Abilities(As Kirk Langstrom):
  • Genius-level intellect
  • Proficient biochemist and zoologist

(As the Man-Bat):

Man-Bat (Robert Kirkland "Kirk" Langstrom) is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Introduced in Detective Comics #400 (June 1970) as an enemy of the superhero Batman,[1] the character belongs to the collective of adversaries that make up his rogues gallery. Originally portrayed as a supervillain, later incarnations show the Man-Bat as a sympathetic villain or antihero.

In the original version of the story, Kirk Langstrom was a zoologist who tried to give humans a bat's acute sonar sense. He managed to develop an extract that could supposedly do this, but upon testing it on himself, he transformed into an anthropomorphic feral half-bat hybrid, lacking sentience and acting purely on instinct. Batman managed to reverse the effects, but Langstrom would return as the Man-Bat time and time again, albeit not necessarily as a villain, as Langstrom would sometimes retain enough sanity to use his powers for good. Several other characters have since appeared as similar Man-Bat creatures, including Langstrom's wife Francine and father Abraham.

Since his debut at the end of the Silver Age of Comic Books, the Man-Bat has been featured in various media adaptations, including television series and video games. In 2017, the Man-Bat was ranked as IGN's 16th-best Batman villain.[2]

Publication history

The character made his first appearance in Detective Comics #400 (June 1970) and was created by Frank Robbins and Neal Adams in collaboration with editor Julius Schwartz.[3] The Man-Bat was the star of his own eponymous series in 1975–1976,[4] which proved to be unpopular and was cancelled after only two issues.

Fictional character biography

Batman fighting the Man-Bat in the textless cover of Man-Bat (vol. 3) #3 (August 2006), art by Mike Huddleston

Dr. Kirk Langstrom, a zoologist who specializes in chiropterology, develops an extract intended to give humans a bat's acute sonar sense and tests the formula on himself.[5] The extract works, but it has a horrible side effect: it transforms him into a monstrous human/bat hybrid creature.[6] This side effect makes him so distraught that it temporarily affects his sanity. He goes on a mad rampage until Batman finds a way to reverse the effects.[7] Later, Langstrom takes the concoction again and the Man-Bat returns. He also coaxes his wife, Francine Langstrom, into drinking the serum and she goes through the same transformation, becoming the She-Bat. Together, they terrorize Gotham City until Batman once again restores them to normal.[8]

On some occasions, Langstrom takes the serum and retains enough sanity to work for the forces of good. During one of these periods, he works with the detective Jason Bard. On another occasion, in Action Comics #600, Jimmy Olsen inadvertently puts Superman into a cave occupied by the Man-Bat to protect him from kryptonite radiation that had reached Earth following the explosion of Krypton. The Man-Bat calms the maddened Superman and then summons Hawkman, who helps Superman overcome the radiation. Kirk and Francine have a daughter, Rebecca ("Becky"), and a son, Aaron. Because of the effects the serum has on Aaron's DNA, he is born with a deadly illness. Francine turns him into a young Man-Bat to save his life. This occurs in issue #3 of the Man-Bat (vol. 2) miniseries by Chuck Dixon.

Infinite Crisis and beyond

Francine Langstrom as she appears in Batman and the Outsiders (vol. 2) #9 (September 2008), art by Julian López

The Man-Bat is sighted in Alexander Luthor Jr.'s Secret Society of Super Villains during the events of the 2005–2006 storyline Infinite Crisis.[9]

In the aftermath of that storyline, both Kirk and Francine are shown to be alive in the 2006 "One Year Later" storyline. Talia al Ghul binds and gags Francine, and then threatens to poison her if Kirk does not give her the Man-Bat formula. After Langstrom gives her the formula, she releases Francine as promised. Talia utilizes the Man-Bat to turn some generic members of the League of Assassins into Man-Bat Commandos.[10]

In Gotham Underground, the Man-Bat is apprehended by the Suicide Squad.[11] He is one of the villains seen in Salvation Run.[12] Francine appears in Batman and the Outsiders, serving as the team's technical advisor, and her assistant Salah Miandad operates the "blank" OMAC drone known as ReMAC. In issue #10 of that series, Kirk appears, seemingly healthy and also aiding Francine.

In the 2008 miniseries Final Crisis, the Man-Bat is turned into a Justifier and is shown attacking Switzerland's Checkmate Headquarters.[13] During the 2009 "Battle for the Cowl" storyline, following Batman's apparent death, Kirk is haunted by nightmares of becoming the Man-Bat and killing his wife. When Francine disappears, he takes the serum and tries to follow her. After an altercation with the Outsiders, he returns to his human form and is captured by Doctor Phosphorus, who reveals that the serum is not necessary to trigger the change. Kirk discovers that Phosphorus has also captured Francine and becomes the Man-Bat to save her.[14]

During the 2009–2010 Blackest Night storyline, Francine tracks down Kirk (as the Man-Bat), having created a cure, and revealed that Kirk's next transformation would be permanent if he did not drink it.[15] Kirk attempts to take the cure, but his Man-Bat persona will not let him. Just as Kirk is about to drink it, Francine is wounded in the crossfire of the battle between Black Lantern Solomon Grundy and Bizarro (the latter of whom is already at the scene, trying to prevent Kirk from taking the cure). Distraught at Francine's injuries, Kirk transforms into the Man-Bat, seemingly permanently.[16] In Batgirl (vol. 3) #10-11, the Man-Bat is seen under the control of the Calculator as a techno-zombie.[17] In the "Collision" storyline of Red Robin, following Red Robin's actions against Ra's al Ghul and the League of Assassins, the latter attempts to murder people related to the Bat-Family. The Man-Bat, following Red Robin's orders, protects Julie Madison, a former lover of Bruce Wayne, against Ra's al Ghul's assassins.[18]

The New 52

The Man-Bat in Batman: The Dark Knight (vol. 2) #28 (April 2014), art by Ethan Van Sciver

In The New 52 (a 2011 reboot of the DC Comics universe), the majority of Kirk Langstrom's history is rebooted. The Man-Bat serum first appears in Detective Comics (vol. 2) #18 (May 2013). Ignatius Ogilvy also comes into possession of the Man-Bat serum, which he uses as an airborne virus to spread throughout Gotham City's "900 Block".[19]

In Detective Comics (vol. 2) #19 (June 2013), Kirk Langstrom first appears where he and his wife Francine are escorted by Batwoman to Batman's location. Langstrom reveals that he is the creator of the serum, intending to help deaf people. Taking responsibility as the creator of the serum, he uses a sample of the serum Batman had obtained to inject himself. This creates an anti-virus which also spreads through the air. Langstrom is turned into a Man-Bat (the last remaining Man-Bat) as his anti-virus cures the remaining citizens of Gotham. It was later revealed that Emperor Penguin was the one who released the virus.[20] Emperor Penguin later made use of Langstrom's Man-Bat serum when he combined it with the Venom drug and one of Poison Ivy's plant concoctions to empower himself.[21]

Langstrom re-appears in Batman Inc. (vol. 2) #10 (June 2013) apparently giving Batman the serum. He claims to be working on an aerosol antidote to the serum as well.[22] The back-up feature of Detective Comics (vol. 2) #21 (August 2013), focuses on Langstrom and his wife. He changes from the Man-Bat form into his human form and becomes addicted to the Man-Bat serum, taking it every night. He apparently does not remember his actions from the previous night, yet worries that a string of reported killings are his fault.[23]

During the "Forever Evil" storyline, the Man-Bat is among the villains recruited by the Crime Syndicate of America to join the Secret Society of Super-Villains.[24] The Scarecrow and the Man-Bat attempt to steal the frozen Talons (assassins that are associated with the Court of Owls) from Blackgate while the Penguin is having a meeting with Bane. Bane arrives at Blackgate as the Man-Bat and his fellow Man-Bats are attempting to transport the Talons to Mr. Freeze and is able to keep one from leaving.[25] The final issues of the series Batman: The Dark Knight would establish that Kirk is the son of a corrupt wealthy pharmaceutical businessman named Abraham Langstrom, who considers his son as a failure when compared to Bruce Wayne, the son of his business rival Thomas Wayne. Abraham would steal his son's serum, make some of his own improvements and use it to target the homeless (because no one would miss them) before being stopped by Batman, though he is able to plead temporary insanity to avoid going to prison.[26]

DC Rebirth

In the Watchmen sequel Doomsday Clock, which is part of DC Rebirth, the Man-Bat is featured on the news as an example of the "Superman Theory" where the government has been experimenting on humans to give them superpowers.[27] The Man-Bat later accompanied Black Adam in his attack on the White House.[28]

In Harley Quinn Rebirth, Langstrom's wife goes on a rampage against Harley and her friends, turning Harley and her friend Tony into Man-Bats as part of the Penguin's plan to break Harley's spirit. Their other friends get Langstrom released and he helps them find the antidote before predictably escaping himself.

The Man-Bat later becomes a founding member of the second incarnation of Justice League Dark.

Powers and abilities

By taking his bat gland extract, Kirk Langstrom transforms himself into a bat-like creature. When taking an antidote or if the serum wears off, he reverts back to human form. As the Man-Bat, his strength, resiliency, speed, and agility are all augmented to inhuman levels. He possesses an extra set of digits in his leathery wings that allows Kirk to fly. With his bat-like radar, Kirk can emit high-pitch sound waves and hear those echoes when they bounce off nearby objects, thus enabling him to navigate perfectly in the darkness. If in the Man-Bat form for long periods of time, he loses control over his bestial side that works purely on instinct, plus making him prone to harm friend or foe alike.[29]

As Kirk Langstrom, he is a highly intelligent scientist in the fields of biochemistry and zoology (particularly chiropterology).

Other characters named the Man-Bat

Francine Langstrom

Main article: Francine Langstrom

Man-Bat Commandos

As mentioned above, Talia al Ghul captured Kirk Langstrom and threatened to poison Francine if he did not give her the Man-Bat formula. Kirk gives in to Talia al Ghul's demands where she uses the Man-Bat formula on some generic members of the League of Assassins to turn them into the group's Man-Bat Commandos.[10]

During the "Batman R.I.P." story line, Talia al Ghul sends the Man-Bat Commandos to destroy Jezebel Jet's airplane.[30]

In 2011, The New 52 rebooted the DC Universe. Various Man-Bats have appeared under the control of Talia al Ghul in her plot to destroy Batman.[31] It is later explained that Talia al Ghul had an agent steal the serum from Langstrom's laboratory to use on her soldiers to create the Man-Bat Commandos.[20]

During the "Forever Evil" storyline, some Man-Bat Commandos were used to help the Crime Syndicate hunt down the Rogues. The Mirror Master managed to trap some of them in the Mirror World. When a Man-Bat snatches up the Weather Wizard, the other Rogues members chase after it until it crashes into a solid wall of ice upon arriving in Mr. Freeze's territory.[32]

Abraham Langstrom

Back when Thomas and Martha Wayne were still alive, Kirk Langstrom had a father named Abraham whose company, Patriarch Biopharmaceuticals, competed with Wayne Enterprises. Years after the death of Thomas and Martha, Abraham continued his shady deals, which involved exploiting his son's Man-Bat serum which he planned to profit from. He soon became addicted to the upgraded serum. When he became a Man-Bat, Abraham targeted the homeless people of Gotham City, draining them of their blood. This caused Batman to team up with Kirk Langstrom to fight Abraham.[33] Because the skin of Abraham's Man-Bat form was tough, Batman injected himself with the cure and tricked Abraham into drinking his blood enough to transform back to normal. Batman then handed Abraham over to the police. After evading incarceration by claiming that he had no knowledge on what his Man-Bat form did, Abraham returned to his company, though he was wary of the fact that Batman may catch him if he ever makes a mistake.[34]

Other versions

Countdown to Final Crisis

In Countdown to Final Crisis: The Search For Ray Palmer, an alternate version of the Man-Bat is shown. He is from Earth-19 (Gotham by Gaslight), and has experimented with bats similar to his mainstream counterpart. He is later defeated by the Blue Beetle and Batman.


In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, the Man-Bat is killed by Miranda Shrieve, the granddaughter of Matthew Shrieve.[35] In a flashback, the Man-Bat is invited by Lt. Matthew Shrieve to be a new member of the Creature Commandos and then betrayed. Miranda also kills his entire family.[36] It is revealed that the Man-Bat was working with General Sam Lane, who is responsible for the deaths of Miranda's family.[37]

JLA: The Nail

In the Elseworlds story JLA: The Nail, a captured Man-Bat makes an appearance in Professor Hamilton's Cadmus Labs.[38]

In other media


The Man-Bat as depicted in Batman: The Animated Series
The Man-Bat as depicted in The Batman


Video games

Lego DC series

Main article: Lego Batman

Other games


See also


  1. ^ Cowsill, Alan; Irvine, Alex; Korte, Steve; Manning, Matt; Wiacek, Win; Wilson, Sven (2016). The DC Comics Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to the Characters of the DC Universe. DK Publishing. p. 191. ISBN 978-1-4654-5357-0.
  2. ^ "25 Best Batman Villains". IGN. 1 May 2017. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  3. ^ Schwartz, Julius, ed. (2000). Man of Two Worlds. Harper Paperbacks. p. 129. ISBN 978-0380810512.
  4. ^ McAvennie, Michael (2010). "1970s". In Dolan, Hannah (ed.). DC Comics Year By Year: A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. Thanks to his appearances in Detective Comics and Batman, Man-Bat's popularity soared to the point where writer Gerry Conway and artist Steve Ditko launched the [character] into his own series.
  5. ^ Rovin, Jeff (1987). The Encyclopedia of Supervillains. New York: Facts on File. pp. 203–204. ISBN 0-8160-1356-X.
  6. ^ The DC Comics Encyclopedia. Dorling Kindersley Limited. 2004. p. 194. ISBN 0-7566-0592-X.
  7. ^ Greenberger, Robert (2008). The Essential Batman Encyclopedia. Del Rey. pp. 247–248. ISBN 9780345501066.
  8. ^ Kronenberg, Michael (October 2019). "Fright Night: Batman and the Horror Genre". Back Issue (116). TwoMorrows Publishing: 15–22.
  9. ^ Infinite Crisis #7 (June 2006). DC Comics.
  10. ^ a b Batman #655 (September 2006). DC Comics.
  11. ^ Gotham Underground #1. DC Comics.
  12. ^ Salvation Run #2 (February 2008). DC Comics.
  13. ^ Final Crisis #4. DC Comics.
  14. ^ Battle for the Cowl: Man-Bat #1. DC Comics.
  15. ^ Superman/Batman #66. DC Comics.
  16. ^ Superman/Batman #67. DC Comics.
  17. ^ Batgirl (vol. 3) #10-11 (July 2010-August 2010). DC Comics.
  18. ^ Red Robin #12 (July 2012). DC Comics.
  19. ^ Detective Comics (vol. 2) #18 (May 2013). DC Comics.
  20. ^ a b Detective Comics (vol. 2) #19 (June 2013). DC Comics.
  21. ^ Detective Comics (vol. 2) #20. DC Comics.
  22. ^ Batman Inc. (vol. 2) #10 (June 2013). DC Comics.
  23. ^ Detective Comics (vol. 2) #21 (August 2013). DC Comics.
  24. ^ Forever Evil #1
  25. ^ Forever Evil: Arkham War #2
  26. ^ Batman: The Dark Knight (vol. 2) #28-29. DC Comics.
  27. ^ Doomsday Clock #3 (January 2018). DC Comics.
  28. ^ Doomsday Clock #11. DC Comics.
  29. ^ Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe Vol. XIV (April 1986)
  30. ^ Batman #681. DC Comics.
  31. ^ Batman, Inc. (vol. 2) #1. DC Comics.
  32. ^ Forever Evil: Rogues' Rebellion #3. DC Comics.
  33. ^ Batman: The Dark Knight (vol. 2) #28. DC Comics.
  34. ^ Batman: The Dark Knight (vol. 2) #29. DC Comics.
  35. ^ Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #1 (June 2011)
  36. ^ Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #2 (July 2011)
  37. ^ Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #3 (August 2011)
  38. ^ JLA: The Nail #3
  39. ^ *Ramey, Bill "Jett" (2005-07-28). "Interview: Lee Shapiro". Batman-on-Film. Archived from the original on 2008-09-25. Retrieved 2006-11-13.
  40. ^ Game Informer features a two-page gallery of the many heroes and villains who appear in the game with a picture for each character and a descriptive paragraph. See "LEGO Batman: Character Gallery", Game Informer #186 (October 2008): 93.
  41. ^ Newton, Andrew (31 August 2018). "LEGO DC Super-Villains Season Pass details revealed". Flickering Myth.
  42. ^ "Super Friends #28 - (comic book issue)". Comic Vine. 2008-06-06. Retrieved 2010-12-29.
  43. ^ Injustice 2 #1. DC Comics.