The Black Bat's Legacy

While the unfortunate perception that The Black Bat is a copy of Batman will probably linger on forever, this page will display the characters that were arguably inspired by The Masked Nemesis of Crime, starting with the most obvious.

The accusations that the Black Bat is a Batman ripoff is made all the more irritating by how blatantly Two-Face's origin resembles Tony Quinn's.

Two-Face's first appearance was in Detective Comics #66, published in the middle of 1942 (August cover date) so nearly three years after The Black Bat became a feature of Black Book Detective. While it's possible that The Black Bat and Batman were created independently of one another mere months apart, it's difficult to accept the similarities in Two-Face's origin story to those of Tony Quinn as merely a coincidence.

That three-year period may not be the widest gap between a Black Bat character's appearance and a Batman character with a surprising similarity.

In the January 1942 issue of Black Book Detective, the Black Bat faces a villain mastermind in possession of machine which can make people blind. Carol Baldwin first makes his acquaintance.
Carol turned quickly. Flanked by two men was a third, who wore a crimson hood. The masks of the others were a neutral brown. 
"You're the leader of this terrible outfit!" Carol accused...."Why don't you remove that hood? Why don't you face me like a man?" 
Red Hood laughed. "Yes I am the leader," He acknowledged.
That same name was used again in Detective Comics #168 in 1951, nearly a decade later.

Well, you won't be laughing so hard when he beats your successor to death with a crowbar, smart guy!

Nearly ten years having passed since the name appeared in Black Book Detective leads one to think that its use in Detective Comics is probably a coincidence. But those coincidences do seem to pop up an awful lot, don't they?

And they don't seem to be limited to Batman books. Doctor Mid-Nite first appeared in All-American Comics #25 in the spring of 1941, predating Two-Face by about 18 months. His origin has similarities to that of The Black Bat, but also enough differences that one could argue against the character being a knock off. The information below is copied from Wikipedia:
Charles McNider, a surgeon, is called one night to remove a bullet from a witness who is soon to testify against mobsters. A mobster throws a grenade into the room, killing the witness and blinding McNider. McNider believes his days as a surgeon are over. One evening, as he is recovering, an owl crashes through his window (reminiscent of the bat that crashes through Bruce Wayne's window to inspire his identity as the Batman). McNider removes the bandages covering his eyes to find that he can still see, but only in perfect darkness. His vision is now 'inverted': he can see in the dark the way most people can see in light, and vice-versa.

Diagnosis: Pre-blindness Black Bat, post-blindness Batman.

On to Daredevil, whose inclusion I consider to be a bit of a reach.

There are significant differences between Daredevil and The Black Bat which arguably set the characters apart. Matt Murdock was not blinded by a criminal but rather in an accident while trying to commit a heroic act. And while he developed extremely acute senses, he did remain blind, whereas Tony Quinn did not.

It's easy to lump them together because blindness is a rare trait among fictional crime fighters but because of the differences in backgrounds and circumstances, I don't personally consider Daredevil to be a copy of the Black Bat.

His name is often included among similar characters nonetheless. Here's how Moonstone promoted their Black Bat graphic novel a few years ago.
Before the caped crusader patrolled the streets, before horn head prowled the back alleys, the original dark avenger hunted evil men. The Black Bat is back, and hell’s coming with him!
I want to add another character. While I don't believe he's a copy, it would be easy to assume that he was, at least in his current incarnation.

The original version of The Black Hood was first published in Top Notch Comics October 1940 by what became known as Archie Comics. His early popularity was such that a book named Hangman Comics was renamed after him but it lasted about a dozen issues before being re-titled again. He was also featured in his own pulp magazine which, predictably, has been collected by Altus Press.

There is little in his origin that resembles The Black Bat too closely and he was certainly far more colourful. He was a cop framed for a crime, and nearly killed, by a villain named The Skull. He takes on the identity of The Black Hood to clear his name then carries on with his new-found hobby.

I don't believe the original version used guns at all. If he did, it was not to the extent that he was portrayed doing so with any regularity. Subsequent versions (and there were quite a few) added that element to the character.

There was no facial scarring, either. Until the cover centered above was revealed, that is.

In 2014, Archie announced a line of books called Dark Circle Comics and yet another version of The Black Hood was included in the launch.

In this case, The Black Bat is on the other side of the argument. Where many would assume that The Bat is a Batman knockoff based on similar names, it was easy to come to the conclusion that The Black Hood was "inspired by" The Black Bat many years ago based on the facial scars visible on that cover.

But in reality, that doesn't seem to be the case. The Black Hood's adventures take place in Philadelphia. He is a policeman and he has a drug problem. I'm not aware of an entourage or heightened senses. The facial scarring actually seems to be the only similarity between he and The Black Bat.

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