Synopsis for "Challenge of the Man-Bat"
This story is reprinted from Detective Comics #400.
Zoologist Kirk Langstrom is working late at the Gotham Natural History Museum putting together a bat habitat. Curator Wilkins bids him goodnight and leaves Langstrom alone in the museum. Now Langstrom can pursue his true interests -- perfecting a serum that can endow people with enhanced auditory abilities via a specialized bat gland extract.
Elsewhere in the city, a group of thieves known as the Blackout Gang break into a vault. They equip themselves with black body stockings, infrared goggles and ultra-sonic tools that enable them to conduct themselves effectively in total darkness. For all their prowess however, the Batman still manages to get the drop on them. The criminals have a momentary advantage as Batman cannot see where they are, but for every punch one of them lands against him, the Batman is able to throw one right back at them. Realizing that their heist has gone sour, the Blackout Gang escapes from the building. One of them however, mistakenly leaves behind his ultra-sonic cutter. Batman recovers it and brings it back to the Wayne Foundation for analysis.
Back at the museum, Kirk Langstrom is pleased with his progress and decides to test his new formula upon himself. The serum produces immediate results and Langstrom's hearing increases to superhuman levels. The dripping sounds from a leaky faucet drive him from the room. He quickly determines that his eyes have now become greatly more sensitive to light and he deftly shuts off all the lights in the laboratory and dons a pair of sunglasses.
At the Wayne Foundation, Bruce inspects the ultra-sonic cutter and determines the frequency that the device operates off of. He develops a sonar detector calibrated to the cutter's unique frequency. He has Alfred help him to test out his new crime-fighting tools.
Back at the museum, Kirk Langstrom continues to mutate. He grabs his coat and hat, but grows frightened when something pushes his hat off of his head. Finding a mirror, he learns to his horror what is happening. Kirk Langtrom is physically turning into a Man-Bat. He decides that he must go into hiding until he can affect a cure for his condition. He telephones the curator and tells him that he has to leave town for a little while. He neglects to mention the true reason for his departure.
That evening, the Blackout Gang decides to rob the Gotham Natural History Museum. Once they activate the sonic cutter, Batman is able to locate them and track them down. The leader of the gang suspected that Batman might have divined a way to find them, so he confounds his efforts by casting a handful of ping pong balls across the floor. As Batman is wearing a special hearing aid to find the gang members in the dark, he becomes instantly disoriented from the amplified sound of the bouncing metal balls.
Although the Blackout Gang were prepared for Batman, they were not prepared for the museum's "other" nocturnal guardian -- the Man-Bat. The Man-Bat and Batman team-up and together they bring down the Blackout Gang. Once everything calms down, Batman casts his flashlight upon the Man-Bat's face and thanks him for his assistance. Batman is impressed by the Man-Bat's awe-inspiring "disguise", but the Man-Bat shies away, declaring that he is not wearing a disguise. As the Man-Bat runs off into the night, Batman wonders if he just made a formidable friend... or a foe.
Appearing in "Challenge of the Man-Bat"
- Blackout Gang (First appearance)
- Curator Wilkins (First appearance)
Synopsis for "Man or Bat?"
This story is reprinted from Detective Comics #402.
Kirk Langstrom breaks into Biochem, Ltd. after learning that they possessed a compound to create a cure for his mutation inside one of their vaults. As luck would have it, a gang of thieves decides to rob Biochem on that very night. Their presence bring the Batman down upon them and Man-Bat teams up with Batman once again to stop the criminals. When the fight is over however, Man-Bat still intends to steal the formula that he had come there to acquire. Batman could not allow this and the two come to blows for the very first time. Man-Bat knocks Batman unconscious and flees.
When Batman comes to, he instinctively thinks that Man-Bat might return to the place where they first met – the Gotham Natural History Museum. Arriving there, Batman meets Kirk Langstrom's fiancée, Francine Lee. It is then that he deduces that Langstrom and the Man-Bat are one and the same. He bursts into Langstrom's laboratory just as the Man-Bat is preparing to consume the formula that he has stolen. Batman and Francine's presence startles him and he drops the beaker which is smashed upon the floor. The Man-Bat then leaps from a third-story window and the Batman gives chase. As he pursues Man-Bat towards the cliffs, Langstrom hurls himself off the edge. Plummeting towards the river below, he enters the next phase of his mutation by sprouting leathery, bat-like wings under his arms. With that, the Man-Bat is able to fly away to safety.
Man-Bat takes shelter inside of a tight crevice in the side of a cliff. He soon discovers that the crevice opened up into a greater cavern which leads all the way to the Batcave. Batman returns to the cave, hoping to create an antidote for Langstrom and he finds Man-Bat inside the Batcave. Man-Bat tries to escape, but Batman seals off the cave, eventually incapacitating Langstrom. The blow that Man-Bat took to the head was strong enough to incapacitate a human and Batman has to decide whether he should provide Langstrom with the antidote and revert his transformation at the cost of being a vegetable or let the man remain a monster capable of moving. In the end, Batman decides to create the antidote and provide Langstrom with the cure.
Appearing in "Man or Bat?"
- Francine Lee (First appearance)
Synopsis for "Marriage: Impossible"
This story is reprinted from Detective Comics #407.
When Batman learns about the pending marriage between Kirk Langstrom and Francine Lee, he races down to the cathedral to stop the wedding. Interrupting the ceremony, he pulls a mask off Langstrom's head, revealing the face of the Man-Bat. Man-Bat flies off through the window leaving guests horrified and Francine in tears. Batman grabs her, demanding to understand how she could marry Kirk after everything that has happened.
He recalls how he tried to cure Kirk after their last battle against one another and even brought Francine to the Batcave, hoping she could convince Kirk to accept the antidote. This tactic failed and Kirk had escaped the cave the same way he got in. Francine then tells Batman how she pledged to show how committed she was to Kirk by taking the bat gland extract herself. She pulls off her veil and a mask revealing that she is now a She-Bat.
Francine flies off into the rafters and Batman chases after her. The Man-Bat peers down from above and tries to crush Batman with a chandelier. Batman evades the oncoming missile, and sprints up the cathedral staircase. Batman rings the cathedral bell, which causes the Man-Bats intense pain. Taking advantage of the situation, Batman knocks them both out and administers the antidote, turning them back to normal.
Appearing in "Marriage: Impossible"
- Curator Wilkins
- One-shot special; wraparound cover; $2.50 cover price.
- Cover is a re-coloring of the original Neal Adams cover to Detective Comics #402.
- Issue includes a Man-Bat pin-up page illustrated by writer/co-creator Frank Robbins.
- Batman Recommended Reading
- Batman (Volume 1)
- Batman (Volume 2)
- Batman (Volume 3)
- Batman and Robin (Volume 1)
- Batman and Robin (Volume 2)
- Batman Confidential (Volume 1)
- Batman: Gotham Knights (Volume 1)
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight (Volume 1)
- Batman: Shadow of the Bat (Volume 1)
- Batman: Streets of Gotham (Volume 1)
- Batman Incorporated (Volume 1)
- Batman Incorporated (Volume 2)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 1)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 2)
- Batman/Superman: World's Finest (Volume 1)
- Batman: The Dark Knight (Volume 1)
- Batman: The Dark Knight (Volume 2)
- The Brave and the Bold (Volume 1)
- Detective Comics (Volume 1)
- Detective Comics (Volume 2)
- Superman/Batman (Volume 1)
- World's Finest (Volume 1)
- Man-Bat Recommended Reading