When you're dealing with a character known as the Dark Knight, it's a given that things will get a little grim. When you're dealing with a grown wealthy bachelor who adopts orphaned children so they can help him fight crime while wearing tights, it's a given things will get a little weird. And when you're dealing with nearly 80 years of caped detecting and crime crusading plotlines, it's a given that things will get a little out there. Yet despite all that, Batman and his Gotham City cohorts still manage to find themselves in an alarming number of embarrassing, inappropriate and awkward situations that can leave even the most die-hard of fans in need of a good, clean shower. If you thought Superman's WTF moments were bad, you might want to prepare yourself.
While there's enough confusing creative decisions in the Batman franchise to fill an entire website, for the sake of brevity we'll be sticking to some of the best (read: strangest) in his comics catalog. Sadly, this means there'll be no mention of Batsuis, Batsuit Nipples or the time the World's Greatest Detective turned to Scooby Doo for help. But don't worry, there's still plenty of bigotry and Bat-boners to go around.
Here are the 15 Most WTF Moments In Batman Comics.
15 Batman Dresses Up as a Rainbow
Everyone has a favorite Batsuit color scheme. All black. All blue. Black and grey. Blue and grey. The possibilities are endless. Like the time Batman dyed all his Batsuits different colors in a convoluted plot to distract some goons from learning Robin's true identity.
In 1957's Detective Comics #241, Dick Grayson injures his arm while saving a little girl from runaway thieves. To prevent the crooks from connecting the injury to the Boy Wonder, Batman decides his only rational course of action is to wear colorful eye-catching outfits. The whole thing culminates with Batman thwarting the criminals while wearing a rainbow costume, providing the Caped Crusader the opportunity to finally say things like, "they'll find no gold at the end of this rainbow... only prison."
Most likely, no one's going to say their favorite Batsuit is the pink one. And sure, it might seem a bit extreme for Batman to go to such lengths on the infinitesimal chance someone would link Dick Grayson and Robin via a bruised arm. Then again, everyone could use a little color in their life from time to time. Even the Dark Knight. And as far as Batsuits go, these are definitely better than the zebra suit or the one worn when....
14 Zur-En-Arrh Hangs Out with Bat-Mite
Batman RIP is weird. In 2008, comic book alchemist Grant Morrison took a stab at bringing back some obscure tropes from the Silver Age in a story arc spanning Batman #676-681. It revolves around the appearance of a back-up personality -- created by Bruce Wayne so he could keep fighting crime if he ever suffered a psychological attack -- called the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh. The name derives from a young Bruce mishearing his father's last words. (“The sad thing is they'd probably throw someone like Zorro in Arkham.”) Now while all that sounds good and normal (for Batman), the fact that this Zur-En-Arrh persona is fueled by crystal meth and dresses in a brightly colored Batsuit fashioned out of trash is a bit ridiculous. But as absurd as all that may seem, Morrison's effort is still commendable, if not entertaining at times. That is until Bat-Mite shows up.
Bat-Mite is proof some things from the past are better left there. As psychotic drugged up hobo Bruce Wayne starts to get his Zur-En-Arrh on, he also starts taking advice from a small imp from the 5th Dimension who dresses like a freak-show version of Batkid. Going by the moniker “Bat-Might,” it turns out that he is nothing more than a hallucination acting as Batman's voice of reason. Back in 1959 when the character first appeared, the campy fun of Bat-Mite seemed right at home. Here, in the dark, effed up world of Batman RIP, his appearance is downright bizarre. The fact this Bat-Imp is a by-product of Batman's imagination goes to show just how kooky the mind of Bruce Wayne really is. And how important it is that Batman never get high.
13 Batman Sings Christmas Carols with the Police
In what is surely the most boring Batman story ever told, Batman #219 sees Commissioner Gordon convince the Dark Knight to go caroling with several members of the Gotham City Police Department and, in a Gotham City miracle, not a single crime takes place during the entire evening. That's the whole story.
Well, not entirely. There are several vignettes of people attempting to commit crimes but then deciding not too. There's also an oddly specific scene where a woman is stopped from committing suicide by the conveniently timed reappearance of her soldier husband who had gone missing in Vietnam, all to the tune of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." There's good reason why this made our 15 Most WTF Christmas Comics of All-Time.
Saying that Bats and the GCPD don't normally get along is putting it lightly. So it warms our heart, and comes as a bit of a shock, to see them getting on in such a merry fashion. Not too mention the fact that Batman looks amazing when he sings. In fact, by the time the sun rises, the Caped Crusader has had so much fun caroling that he fails to realize they've been singing the entire night, declaring, “it's like the spirit of Christmas took hold on everyone.” Though it shouldn't come as too big a surprise that Batman loves the holidays. He did after all once kick a bear in the face to save a Christmas tree.
12 Batman Kills KGBeast to Save Ronald Reagan
Okay, technically Batman didn't kill KGBeast at the end of Batman #420, but locking the Ruski assassin in an underground room with no food, water or means of escape might as well be the next best thing. In the Ten Nights of the Beast story arc, the KGBeast is sent by the Soviet Union to kill high-ranking U.S. officials involved with the Stars Wars (yep, actual name) missile defense program, including President Reagan. Throughout the series, the Beast bests Batman at every turn, until the pair meet in the sewers of Gotham for one final epic showdown. It's basically the Rocky IV of Batman comics, only with fewer montages.
A lot of the entries on this list are here because of their head smacking buffoonery. This is not one of those. This is Batman doing some serious WTF canon killing. Their final brawl is particularly nasty, with KGBeast losing an eye and Batman suffering several near fatal blows. In the end however, Batman cunningly maneuvers the Beast into his four walled grave and instead of giving in to the assassin's taunts to come in and end the fight, coldly decides it's just not worth the risk. It's one of the Dark Knight's most callous moments, written with a gravitas on par with the time Superman killed himself. Sure, future writers eventually wussed out and retconned the Beast by saying Batman later had police collect him from his imprisonment. But when the original event took place in 1988, it was categorically assumed that the Dark Knight had put an end to the KGBeast, blatantly breaking his no kill policy. All in the name of Ronald Reagan.
A lot of the Golden Age of Batman comics are just wholesome fun that can be forgiven for their silliness because of when they were created. Some however are just too stupid to ignore, no matter what the decade. So it goes in 1961's Batman #147, when a mad scientist's ray gun turns Batman into an infant who decides to continue fighting crime under the guise of Bat-Baby.
Of course, Bat-Baby isn't just any old boring baby. This toddler retains all the intelligence and strength of adult-sized Batman, only now packed into an adorably chubby, pint-sized frame, fitted with black overalls and a modified cowl that snugly fits over his fat, baby head. (Think of a chibi, only more creepy.) If the sight of a four-year-old dressed as Batman swinging into a warehouse of criminals trying to shoot him isn't enough of a reason to shake your head in embarrassment, then surely that moment arrives when Batman proclaims, "Robin I never thought there'd be a time when you'd have to carry me in your arms like a baby." Sadly neither did we Batman. Neither did we.
10 Two-Face Tries to Turn a Gay Woman Straight
Renee Montoya, a member of the Gotham City Police Department, has the double distinction of being one of DC's most prominent Latina and LGBT characters. In a storyline from Gotham Central, the latter gets the spotlight when Two-Face publicly outs her by revealing a photo of Montoya kissing her girlfriend, spinning her professional and personal life out of control. Obviously, Renee's only recourse should be to fall into the tender arms of a psychotic straight man -- the only person who can make her “whole again.” As far as evil plans go, this one's genius.
You get the feeling the writers somehow felt like they were tackling a tough social issue by using Two-Face as their medium. There is some value here, particularly with fan-favorite Montoya becoming all the more likable. However, maybe having a crazed madman with horrific scars on one side of his face shouting that he and a gay woman are one and the same is not the best way to go about breaking down social barriers. Entitling the story “Half a Life” probably doesn't help much either. Then again, putting Batman characters in awkward sexual situations is pretty much what the creatives at DC do best.
Case in point...
9 Robin Gets a Little Too Excited Around Batgirl
Robin Number One and Batgirl have a strange history. A large chunk of the relationship between Dick and Babs is covered pretty thoroughly in Nightwing Annual #2, which includes a rather awkward brush up on their first date. Most notably, the two get trapped in a safe by Crazy Quilt and Robin gets...excited.
“That better be your utility belt pushing against my leg.” It doesn't take Batgirl long to realize Robin has more on his mind than catching stupidly named bad guys. Seeing the Boy Wonder break out into a cold sweat and try frantically to think clean thoughts is a tad unsettling, especially when you consider what would have happened if Batman hadn't saved them at that very moment. As unnecessary and inappropriate as all this is, the scene is made all the worse when the writers decided to double down and have Batman inquire about what's going on in Robin's short pants.
8 Batman Wets Himself
First off, this one comes from the mind of Kevin Smith, so do with that what you will. The fact he was given license to pen a Batman comic at all is a WTF moment in its own right. Secondly, his Batman: The Widening Gyre basically takes one huge dump on all that is good and holy about the Dark Knight. So it's of little surprise he found a way to ruin a classic moment from Bat's iconic origin story in the most humiliating of ways.
In Batman: Year One the young superhero crashes a dinner of Gotham's corrupt elite like a boss and cooly informs them that their criminal days are up. In Kevin's hands, the scene gets embarrassingly Smithified, as Batman admits to his protégé years later that he was actually terrified in that moment. So much so, that he wet himself. Apparently the shock of the heat from the explosives he set to make his awesome entrance and the nervousness he felt being in the presence of gangsters was too much for the budding Caped Crusader to handle. So while Batman appeared to be owning the room with some badass threats, he was actually peeing all over the Batsuit. Thanks a lot Kevin Smith. Even Bat-Baby didn't wet himself.
7 Subtextually Sexual Out of Context Single Panels
Of all of Batman's worthy foes, one has proven time and again to be the hardest to defeat -- contextualization. We've touched on how a certain level of circumstance should be considered when discussing any WTF moment, particularly with regards to the vestal Golden Age. However, sometimes a single panel comes along that is just too good to pass up and leaves the reader wondering just exactly what were they thinking when it was made.
Take for instance the time Batman sent the Joker a Christmas card in Arkham Asylum wishing him a gay time in jail. Or how about the one where Robin gets Batman “good and wet.” Then again it's no surprise the majority of these involve Robin in some position or another. Though having the Boy Wonder ask Batman about the teeth marks he left in a leather thong seems wrong no matter what the occasion. Shenanigans like these are the reason books have been written about Batman and Robin's perverting sexual love affair.
But the Dynamic Duo aren't the only ones getting in on the subtextual fun. Always the equal opportunist, here Batman tells an unobliging Catwoman, “quiet or papa spank.” Remember when the Joker made a porno with Batman and a goat? But don't think all are from bygone eras. For example, there's this gratuitous panel from Batman: Odyssey. And what would this be without at least one mention of Batgirl getting creeped on. Or two.
Of course, sometimes, the moment goes well beyond a single panel. Which perfectly segues us into...
6 The Joker Tries to Induce Batman's Greatest “Blunder”
The Joker is easily one of the greatest villains of all time. That doesn't mean he hasn't had an embarrassing gaffe or two along the way. One of his biggest came from Batman #66, when, after a failed robbery that the press deems “The Boner of the Year,” Joker becomes obsessed with recreating some of history's most famous mistakes to force Batman into making similarly embarrassing errors. If you ever have the opportunity to read this gem in its entirety, please do so immediately. (We'll, wait.)
The sheer lunacy of the plot and the impressive number of uses the writers find for the word "boner" is enough to turn the most steadfast of nuns into a fit of giggles. Remember that episode of South Park where they throw out the s-word a blistering 162 times? This is kind of like that, except there's no moral at the end of the story, merely Batman saying things like, “while you were so busy forcing me into a boner, you forgot you were committing one yourself.”
To be fair, this comic came out in 1951, and by the standards of the day, it might not have seemed that ridiculous (given the term also means blunder). But we've done some fact checking, and without going into the etymology of the word, it definitely had the same sexual connotation back then as it does today. Don't believe for a second the writers didn't know what they were doing when they had Commissioner Gordon tell Batman, “I'm worried about the boner he is readying for you.” Unless you also think Disney animators don't subliminally insert obscenities into their movies.
5 Pretty Much All of Batman: Odyssey
Welcome to the most bonkers Batman story ever told. But first, a little background. After Adam West did his best to make Batman the corniest fictional character in history, famed artist Neal Adams single-handedly turned the Dark Knight into the brooding masked vigilante we all know and love today. Adams eventually left DC to work on other projects, but in 2010, he returned to bring us Batman: Odyssey.
Having said all that, you would think this was a reason to celebrate. But it turns out while Neal Adams is an artist without rival, his writing is far less inspired. Every issue starts off with a naked and unsettlingly hairy Bruce Wayne incoherently blabbering about pretty much everything that has ever happened to him in no particular order. This includes a history of trains, traveling to the center of the Earth, meeting the original Egyptian gods, meeting a neanderthal dressed as Batman, Batman barking, Batman napping, Batman riding dinosaurs, Batman fighting a telepathic cyclops and Batman saying odd things like, “such an octopus of a thing.” There's a lot (and we mean a lot) of exposition describing exactly what we see on the page from one disjointed story to the next, without any of them ever really finishing and always somehow ending up back on Nude Bruce, who keeps getting more and more uncomfortably close to the reader.
Overall, you get the feeling that Batman: Odyssey is Neal Adams' Joycean attempt to create the Ulysses of Batman comics. Unfortunately, it comes off more as if you got trapped in a room with a drunk Christopher Walken pretending to be Batman.
4 Batman Gets It on with Black Canary After Setting a Bunch of People on Fire
Fact. Batman likes to have sex with his suit on. Just check out the first issue of the New 52 Catwoman to see how much. He also likes to kill people (and animals) more than you would think. Well on one special night in All-Star Batman and Robin #7 he had the opportunity to do both when Black Canary turns up on some docks to take on a horde of criminals. They prove too much so she hides behind some crates. Luckily, Batman arrives on the scene to save her, brutally pummeling the thugs and setting them all on fire with a bottle of bleach. Not content, he continues to beat the lowlifes while they burn alive, which increasingly turns on Black Canary until she leaps from her hiding place and into his arms. As the men fry to death behind them, the superheroes celebrate by bumping uglies with their masks on. You know, because it's better that way.
Pretty much everything about Frank Miller's All-Star Batman and Robin is out of character for Bats. Throughout, he calls Robin retarded, makes the Boy Wonder eat rats, paints himself yellow so he can bully the Green Lantern (don't worry they get him back) and constantly refers to himself as “the goddamn Batman.” But watching him have sex with Canary on a rain-drenched dock as a group of men burn to death in the background just seems wrong. It's a little reminiscent of the awkward mid-air boot knocking in Watchmen, minus all the charred bodies.
Shagging plays a big part in Batman’s life. (And we won't even touch on the time Talia al Ghul roofied him into getting her pregnant.) But of all Batman's sexual exploits, this one might take the cape.
On second thought....
3 Batman Gets Batgirl Pregnant
The Bat-Family is spectacularly incestuous. Luckily they're not really a family. Somehow though, that doesn't make Batman getting Barbara Gordon pregnant any less horrible. Especially given that she was in a relationship with Dick Grayson at the time. Not cool, Bats.
If you ever needed proof that the Dark Knight can be a huge jerk, this is it. Sure a comic based off the futuristic animated TV series Batman Beyond isn't exactly canon, but Batman should know better than to get it on with girls nearly half his age that look up to him as a father figure. That's just math. What's worse, when Batgirl tells Bruce Wayne about the pregnancy, he promises he'll stay out of it and let Barbara break the bad news to Dick herself. He then immediately breaks that promise by going and telling Dick everything. Oh yeah, and while he's waxing poetic about just how big a super scumbag he is, Barbara suffers a miscarriage. Really, really not cool Batman.
2 Batman Laughs with the Joker
The events of The Killing Joke have provided some of the most infamous moments in Batman canon. With some calling it the greatest comic book of all time and others deploring it as an unnecessarily perverse fridging, Alan Moore's story has divided fans like no other. We all know how it goes. The Joker shoots Barbara Gordon in the stomach, permanently paralyzing her. He takes off all her clothes while she lays in agony, photographs her and broadcasts her naked torment on massive screens in an attempt to drive her father insane. We learn the Clown Prince's origins, get some impressive artwork by Brian Bolland, and hear a terrible analogous joke from the Joker after Batman saves the day, kind of.
Pretty much the entire comic is one big WTF, capstoned by its final scene. After quietly listening to the Joker's joke, Batman surprisingly starts to chuckle. After all, what's a sadistic tale of sexual exploitation, brutal violence and excessive Jim Gordon bare butt without a good laugh? It's rare enough for the the Dark Knight to crack a smile (except when he's singing Christmas carols), but seeing him do so with his long-time foe after all that's proceeded is nothing short of shocking. And then there's the aftermath, as the Joker starts deliriously bawling and Bats widens his grin as he reaches out towards his foe to...
One things for sure, we're still arguing over what happened in The Killing Joke.
1 Batman Cries with Superman Over Alien Tentacle Sex
Batman and Superman have shared some moments over the years, but none are as disturbing as the time they were both moved to tears over watching a group of alien space slugs have sex. Which is probably this tops both the Dark Knight and Man of Steel's biggest WTF moments.
The World's Finest Comics are perhaps best known for their crazy covers, like the one where Robin beckons Batman and Superman to join him in skinny dipping with a bunch of young boys. As hard as something like that may be to top, issue #289 does the seemingly impossible when Supes invites Batman over to the Fortress of Solitude to discuss their feelings. After a while of silently staring into one another's eyes, a meteor spacecraft crashes nearby. Why? Because at that very moment, the Fortress of Solitude has become the most emotionally honest place in the universe. We learn all this because a bunch of alien tentacled worm-like creatures tumble out of the craft and tell us so, then follow it up with a nightmarish orgy.
Obviously, there's a lot to cover. These ghastly things were sent by an alien race known as the Kyrll to drain all the planet's emotion in order to survive, Batman uses a telepathic device to communicate with them, finds out that there is another meteor on the way, Superman wants to destroy it, Batman convinces him that he can't, Superman totally gets that and instead brings it to the FoS. (Does anyone else feel like Batman acts a lot like Superman's sidekick?) The second ship opens, more slug-aliens get out, and they all immediately start groping, undulating, and physically linking with one another while Batman and Superman stand back and watch.
Once they're done, one of the slugs confides in Batman as he grows a hairy “appendage” for no apparent reason. Apparently, in the midst of their copious tentacle lovemaking, the slugs have decided rather than destroy Earth, they are going to let themselves die instead. Oddly, both Batman and Superman object to this. But alas, it's too late, as the aliens shrivel up and die, though not before thanking Superman for letting them get it on in his fortress. So swelled up with emotion over the whole scene are the two superheroes that they start crying and hug over the ashes of the dead alien race.
And with that, our work here is done.
Do you know of any bigger WTF moments than Batman crying over alien tentacle sex? We'd sure love to hear about it in the comments.