|First appearance||Detective Comics #400|
|Created by||Frank Robbins (writer)|
Neal Adams (artist)
Julius Schwartz (concept)
|Alter ego||Dr. Robert Kirkland "Kirk" Langstrom|
|Notable aliases||Kirk Langstrom|
|Abilities||As Kirk Langstrom:
Man-Bat (Dr. Robert Kirkland "Kirk" Langstrom) is a fictional character appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. Introduced in Detective Comics #400 (June 1970) as an enemy of the superhero Batman, the character belongs to the collective of adversaries that make up his rogues gallery. Originally portrayed as a supervillain, later incarnations show Man-Bat as a sympathetic villain or antihero.
Man-Bat originated as an anthropomorphic, feral, bat-like creature, lacking sentience and acting purely on instinct; the result of Langstrom testing a serum that could supposedly give humans a bat's acute sonar sense on himself. Batman managed to reverse the effects, but Langstrom would return as 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 Aaron.
Since his debut at the end of the Silver Age of Comic Books, Man-Bat has been featured in various media adaptations, including television series and video games. In 2017, Man-Bat was ranked as IGN's 16th best Batman villain.
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. The Man-Bat was the star of his own eponymous series in 1975–1976, which proved to be unpopular and was cancelled after only two issues.
Dr. Kirk Langstrom, a zoologist who specialized in chiropterology, developed an extract intended to give humans a bat's acute sonar sense and tested the formula on himself. The extract worked, but it had a horrible side effect: it transformed him into a monstrous human/bat hybrid creature. This side effect made him so distraught that it temporarily affected his sanity and he went on a mad rampage until Batman found a way to reverse the effects. 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.
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 had on Aaron's DNA, he is born with a deadly illness. Francine turns him into a young Man-Bat to save his life. This occurred in issue #3 of the Man-Bat miniseries by Chuck Dixon.
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.
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.
In Gotham Underground, the Man-Bat is apprehended by the Suicide Squad. He is one of the villains seen in Salvation Run. Francine has appeared 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 appeared, seemingly healthy and also aiding Francine.
In the 2008 miniseries Final Crisis, the Man-Bat has been turned into a Justifier and was shown attacking Switzerland's Checkmate Headquarters. 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.
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. 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. In Batgirl (vol. 3) #10-11, the Man-Bat is seen under the control of the Calculator as a techno-zombie. 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.
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".
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. 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.
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. The backup 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.
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. 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. The final issues of the Batman: The Dark Knight series 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.
In the "Watchmen" sequel "Doomsday Clock", 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. The Man-Bat later accompanied Black Adam in his attack on the White House.
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.
Man-Bat was later a founding member of the second incarnation of the Justice League Dark.
By taking his bat-gland formula, Kirk Langstrom can transform himself into a bat-like creature. By taking an antidote or if the bat-gland formula wears off, he can return to human form. As the Man-Bat, his strength, speed, agility and endurance are all enhanced to superhuman levels. Kirk possesses an extra set of digits that form leathery bat wings that allow him to fly, super-sensitive hearing, and sonar. He emits high-pitched sound waves and can hear the echoes they make when they bounce off nearby objects, enabling the Man-Bat to navigate perfectly in pitch black darkness. If in the Man-Bat form for a prolonged time, he loses control over his bestial side and works purely on instinct, making him prone to harm friend and foe alike.
In human form, he is a highly intelligent scientist in the fields of biochemistry and zoology (particularly chiropterology and mammalogy).
Main article: Francine Langstrom
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.
During the "Batman R.I.P." storyline, Talia al Ghul sends the Man-Bat Commandos to destroy Jezebel Jet's airplane.
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. 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.
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.
Back when Thomas and Martha 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 plans to make a profit on it. He soon became addicted to the upgraded serum. When he became Man-Bat, Abraham targeted the homeless people of Gotham City and draining them of his blood. This caused Batman to team up with Kirk Langstrom to fight Abraham. 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 regress 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 is weary over the fact that Batman will catch him when he makes a mistake.
In Countdown to Final Crisis: The Search For Ray Palmer, an alternate version of the Man-Bat was shown. He is from Gotham by Gaslight (Earth-19), 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. In a flashback, the Man-Bat was invited by Lt. Matthew Shrieve to be a new member of the Creature Commandos, but the Man-Bat then betrays him, killing his family. It is revealed that the Man-Bat had been working with General Sam Lane, who is responsible for the deaths of Miranda's family.
In the Elseworlds story JLA: The Nail, a captured Man-Bat makes an appearance in Professor Hamilton's Cadmus Labs.
In the Batman Beyond comic series set decades after Batman: The Animated Series, it is revealed that shortly after Batman cured Francine of the Man-Bat serum, she and Kirk started to live a peaceful life as they started studying sonics and had two children. However, Francine developed an aggressive form of Parkinson's and had a short life expectancy, leading Kirk to try and perfect the Man-Bat serum to save her life, but by the time he did it, it was too late. Following this, his children left him, angered that he did not spend as much time with her during her final days. Devastated by "losing" his family, Kirk turned to the serum, which has been perfected to the point where he is able to talk and control his actions, and had been living in secret as the Man-Bat ever since. Three years prior, he rescues a girl named Tey, who was a hostage of the Jokerz, and injects her with the Man-Bat serum, leading the two to fall in love. In the present, Kirk, now as a white-bearded Man-Bat, tries building his own cult of Man-Bats, plans to use Kanium to help his cult control themselves better in their Man-Bat forms and sets up a destructive weapon that concerns the police. Bruce tries to reason with Kirk, but it only results in Kirk viewing both of them as monsters and setting up his bomb to destroy the two of them. However, Batman rescues Bruce in time. The Man-Bat tells Bruce to use his second chance wisely as he detonates the bomb to kill himself.
The Man-Bat appears in the Smallville comic Smallville Season Eleven. In Gotham City, the yellow rings of Parallax head to Arkham Asylum. There, Batman and Nightwing are doing their best to contain the newly powered inmates of Arkham, including the Man-Bat, who have already been transformed into Yellow Lanterns. Luckily, Superman arrives just in time to offer assistance to Batman and Nightwing. Superman is fighting with the Man-Bat and before taking him down, Superman says to the Man-Bat that, if there is more man than bat inside of him, then he takes no joy in this. Emil Hamilton succeeds into finding a way to reboot the rings, so when he does, all the Yellow Lanterns, including the Man-Bat, are released from the influence of fear and lose their powers, with the rings turning black. After their rings get rebooted and they lose their powers, the inmates of Arkham fall from the sky, unable to do anything to escape from their eventual death, but Superman manages to save them all. After Parallax's defeat, all the now-depowered criminals return to Arkham Asylum.
In the Injustice: Gods Among Us prequel comic, the Man-Bat appears in the villain's exclusive bar World's End, attempting to enjoy a drink when Wonder Woman and the Flash arrive in their search for Mirror Master. In Year Five, the Man-Bat meets with Black Mask, the Bronze Tiger, the Mad Hatter, the Scarecrow, and Tweedledum and Tweedledee until their meeting is crashed by Damian Wayne. When the villains start to overwhelm Damian, Deadman arrives where he possesses the Bronze Tiger and knocks out the villains before calling for help.
In the prequel comic to Injustice 2, Man-Bat is shown to be a member of this universe's Suicide Squad. He is eventually murdered when Grodd usurps Solivar and Ra's al Ghul, who previously held custody of the Squad.
Kirk Langstrom / Man-Bat appeared in series set in the DC Animated Universe, voiced by Marc Singer while Frank Welker provided vocal effects for Man-Bat:
Main article: Lego Batman
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.