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Batman Turns 75: Revisiting His Milestone Birthdays

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Batman Turns 75: Revisiting His Milestone Birthdays

Batman may be forever, but he's also old enough now to be a great-grandfather… or Tina Turner. And while Turner won't hit 75 until this fall, Batman marks his diamond anniversary on Sunday.

It was on March 30, 1939, that "Detective Comics" No. 27 went on sale, and the pointy-eared Caped Crusader, the creation of Bob Kane and Bill Finger, swooped into action for the first time.

Here's a look back at the crimefighter's milestone birthdays on the road to 75, from his wonder years to his preeminence as Ben Affleck blockbuster fodder:

Batman No. 1, 1940 (DC Comics)

1940: Batman turns 1, and gets gifted with his own title, costarring his new sidekick, Robin. The first issue of the Batman monthly has been noted as one of the "10 most valuable comic books in the world," with the issue, originally sold for 10 cents, valued at nearly $400,000. Among its key selling points: It features the first appearances of Batman foes the Joker and Catwoman (then known as The Cat). 

 

Superman No. 76, 1952 (DC Comics)

1952: Batman is a teenager, and he's now fully caught up to his comic-book big brother, Superman (born 1938). "Superman" No. 76, released in this year, features the first formal team-up of the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight. (The pair had been fronting World's Best Comics, later to become better known as World's Finest Comics, since 1941, but did not previously fight crime together.) 

 [Related: Why Brad Pitt Could Actually Play Alfred in 'Batman vs. Superman']

The 100 Batarangs of Batman, 1957 (DC Comics)

1957: Batman's a man. He's 18 now, and like a lot of 18-year-olds before and after him, what he's got in youth he lacks in direction. All around him, the comic industry is collapsing and flailing, and so a grim-faced Batman is left to admire his collection of Batarangs (his bat-winged crime fighting tools) on the cover of "Detective Comics" No. 244. 

 

Justice League of America, 1960 (DC Comics)

1960: The year will be noted for the election of President John F. Kennedy, the birth of the New Frontier — and the debut of the Justice League of America, via "The Brave and the Bold" No. 28. While absent from the B&B cover, Superman and Batman, now 21, are duly noted as members of the pioneering superhero collective. 

[Related: The Story Behind Christian Bale's Batman Voice]

Batman and Robin, 1969 (DC Comics)

1969: It's a bad scene, man. While the yippies are refusing to trust anyone older than 30, you-know-who hits the dreaded age. To make matters worse, Batman, one year removed from the cancellation of his self-titled live-action prime-time series, starring Adam West, is a camp relic, albeit a camp relic with a Saturday-morning cartoon series, "Batman With Robin the Boy Wonder," and fantastic portrait artist, soon-to-be comic great Neal Adams. 

 

Adventure Comics, 1979 (DC Comics)

1979: Did anyone really survive the 1970s? Batman didn't. While Superman was making it big on the big screen, via 1978's "Superman," Batman slummed his way through the cartoon show "Super Friends," which, granted, also starred Superman, and a prime-time special, "Legend of the Superheroes," that nearly made "The Star Wars Holiday Special" look good. And then, at age 40, he died. The good news was it was "only" Earth-Two Batman who expired in "Adventure Comics" No. 462. The other good news was that the "real" Batman managed to get out of the decade without making a disco album.

 

Michael Keaton and Kim Basinger 'Batman' (Everett)

1989: After a couple of bruising decades, Batman turns 50 in style, courtesy the first great comic-book film since "Superman," Tim Burton's "Batman." The rebirth actually started a few years prior, via the Frank Miller-scripted comic, "The Dark Knight Returns." The Burton film keeps the hero in the shadows, and kills at the box office, generating three sequels in the 1990s, and laying the groundwork for the character to be reinvented again by filmmaker Christopher Nolan and star Christian Bale in the 2000s.

[Related: Ben Affleck Has Three Words for Batman Critics: ‘I Handle S---’]

Batfleck

2014: In the era of the extended copyright, 75 is the new 15, or some such vital number. In the comics, Batman is the star of, or the progenitor of more than a dozen current DC Comics titles. On the small screen, he's long ago made up for "Super Friends" with plenty of quality, post-Burton-era animated projects. On the big screen, his Lego self is enjoying a star turn in "The Lego Movie." In the offing, he's got Affleck lined up to don the cape and cowl for a 2016 tent-pole release that's ostensibly a "Man of Steel" sequel. All in all, not a bad way to stave off dotage.