Plus, DC Comics co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee discuss the Caped Crusader in an exclusive interview

By Alex Heigl
March 30, 2014 02:55 PM
Courtesy DC Entertainment

Batman made his first appearance on March 30, 1939, in Detective Comics #27, created and drawn by 22-year-old Bob Kane and written by Bill Finger. The character did so well that a year later, the first issue devoted exclusively to Batman hit the stands, featuring the Joker and Catwoman.

DC Entertainment is launching a year-long celebration of the Caped Crusader, and for The Dark Knight’s 75th birthday, we’ve gathered 16 vintage covers from their vault to share with you.

PEOPLE also spoke to DC Comics co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee about their preferred Batman artists, which Batman villain is their favorite, and Will Arnett’s performance as Batman in The LEGO Movie.

Detective Comics #27, 1939, the first appearance of Batman, drawn by Bob Kane
Courtesy DC Entertainment

Which artist has drawn your favorite Batman?
Dan: “Since Jim’s doing Superman Unchained, I’m safe to name another Batman artist. We have a lot of great artists working on Batman these days, but I really love how Greg Capullo brings Scott Snyder‘s stories to life in our flagship Batman comic.”

Batman #1, 1940, the first appearance of the Joker and Catwoman, drawn by Bob Kane
Courtesy DC Entertainment

Jim: “It’s really hard for me to choose one artist because I’ve been reading Batman comics my entire life, so many artists appeal to me for different reasons, depending on what was going on in my life at the time.”

Batman #20, 1943, drawn by Dick Sprang

“For classic Batman in the 1940s I like Dick Sprang, during the 1960 & ’70s Neal Adams, and during the 1980s Frank Miller. At the time Miller’s take on Batman appealed to my just-turned-21 sensibilities. In the modern era, since Dan already said Capullo, I’ll say Lee Bermejo. His aesthetic and realistic take on Batman is just stunning.”

Batman #65, 1951, drawn by J. Winslow Mortimer
Courtesy DC Entertainment

Which Batman storyline has been your favorite?
Dan: “I like any story that involves Ra’s al Ghul.”

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Detective Comics #31, 1939, drawn by Bob Kane
Courtesy DC Entertainment

Jim: “Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Batman: Year One.”

Batman #50, 1948, drawn by Bob Kane
Courtesy DC Entertainment

Who’s your favorite Batman villain?
Dan: “Two-Face is my favorite villain.”

Batman #181, 1966, first appearance of Poison Ivy, dran by Carmine Infantino
Courtesy DC Entertainment

Jim: “I should say Hush, but my real favorite villain is also from that story. It’s Superman, when he was under Poison Ivy’s control, because at the end of the day there’s no greater villain than a friend gone bad.”

Detective Comics #244, 1957, drawn by Sheldon Moldoff
Courtesy DC Entertainment

Which actor do you think has done the best Batman?
Dan: “Michael Keaton was the best Bruce Wayne and Christian Bale had the best Batman physique.”

Detective Comics #69, 1942, drawn by Jerry Robinson
Courtesy DC Entertainment

Jim: “Most people say Christian Bale, but Val Kilmer’s performance is very underrated – he was both a good Bruce Wayne and Batman.”

Batman #190, 1967, drawn by Carmine Infantino
Courtesy DC Entertainment

Did you see The Lego Movie? What did you think of Will Arnett’s performance as Batman?
Dan: “I thought Will Arnett ‘kept it together’ very nicely.”

Batman #179, 1966, drawn by Gil Kane
Courtesy DC Entertainment

Jim: I loved the movie. Will Arnett was awesome. Frankly, ‘everything was awesome’.”

Batman #121, 1958, first appearance of Mr. Freeze, drawn by Curt Swan
Courtesy DC Entertainment

How do you think Batman would celebrate his 75th birthday?
Dan: “Probably by prowling the streets of Gotham.”

Batman #59, 1950, drawn by Lew Sayre Schwartz
Courtesy DC Entertainment

Jim: “Batman would celebrate at Arkham Asylum, I hear they throw crazy parties there.”

Batman #37, 1946, drawn by Jerry Robinson
Courtesy DC Entertainment

DC Entertainment is also partnering with thousands of comic retailers, book stores and libraries for “Batman Day” on Wednesday, July 23. Each location will host a Batman 75th anniversary celebration and offer fans a free, special edition Batman comic.

World's Best Comics #1, 1941, drawn by Fred Ray
Courtesy DC Entertainment

2014 is also a banner year for Batman in Hollywood: Shooting begins this year on Zack Snyder’s untitled Batman/Superman film, which unites the famous characters on screen for the first time ever. Henry Cavill will be reprising his role as Superman, and Ben Affleck is donning the cape and cowl as Batman. The film will be released in 2016.

Batman #16, 1943, drawn by Jerry Robinson
Courtesy DC Entertainment

So get ready, Bat-fans. It’s gonna be a long, amazing year.

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