Cover to Man-Bat (vol. 3) #3 (August 2006)
Art by Mike Huddleston
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Detective Comics #400 (June 1970)
Created by Frank Robbins
Neal Adams
Julius Schwartz
In-story information
Alter ego Robert Kirkland "Kirk" Langstrom
Team affiliations Secret Society of Super Villains
Notable aliases Robert Kirk Langstrom
Abilities Superhuman strength, agility and endurance
Enhanced sight and hearing
Series publication information
Schedule Monthly
Format (vol. 1) Ongoing
(vol. 2) Limited series
(vol. 3) Limited series
Publication date (vol. 1)
January – March 1975
(vol. 2)
February – April 1996
(vol. 3)
June – October 2006
Number of issues (vol. 1) 2
(vol. 2) 3
(vol. 3) 5
Creative team
Writer(s) (vol. 1) Gerry Conway, Martin Pasko
(vol. 2) Chuck Dixon
(vol. 3) Bruce Jones
Artist(s) (vol. 1) Steve Ditko
(vol. 2) Henry Flint
(vol. 3) Mike Huddleston
Colorist(s) (vol. 2) Eduardo Barreto
(vol. 3) Lee Loughridge

Man-Bat (Dr. Kirk Langstrom) is a fictional supervillain who appears in comics published by DC Comics, usually as an adversary of Batman. Man-Bat was created by Frank Robbins, Neal Adams and editor Julius Schwartz making his first appearance in Detective Comics #400 (June 1970).

Publication history

He first appeared in Detective Comics #400 (June 1970) and was created by Frank Robbins and Neal Adams in collaboration with editor Julius Schwartz.[1] Man-Bat was the star of his own eponymous series in 1975–1976,[2] which lasted two issues before being cancelled.

Fictional character biography

Dr. Kirk Langstrom, a zoologist specializing in the study of chiropterology, develops an extract intended to give humans a bat's sonar sense and tests the formula on himself because he is becoming deaf. The extract works, but it has a horrible side effect: it transforms him into a hideous man-sized bat.[3] The serum also takes away his intelligence, so he goes on a mad rampage until Batman can find a way to reverse the effects.

Later, Langstrom takes the concoction again, and Man-Bat returns. He also coaxes his wife, Francine Langstrom, into drinking the serum, and she goes through the same transformation, becoming She-Bat. Together, they terrorize Gotham City until Batman can once again restore them.

On some occasions, Langstrom takes the serum and retains enough intelligence to work for the forces of good. During one of these periods he works with the detective Jason Bard. On another occasion, in Action Comics #600, Jimmy Olsen inadvertently puts Superman into a cave occupied by Man-Bat to protect him from Kryptonite radiation that had reached Earth following the explosion of Krypton. Man-Bat calms the maddened Superman and then summons Hawkman, who helps Superman overcome the radiation.

Kirk and Francine have a daughter, Becky, and a son, Aaron. Because of the effects the serum had on Aaron's DNA, he is born with a deadly illness. Francine turns him into Man-Bat form to save his life. This occurred in issue three of the Man-Bat mini-series by Chuck Dixon.

Infinite Crisis and beyond

Man-Bat is sighted in Alexander Luthor, Jr.'s Secret Society of Super Villains during the events of the 2005–2006 storyline "Infinite Crisis".[4]

In the aftermath of that storyline, both Kirk and Francine are shown to be alive in the 2006 "One Year Later" storyline. Talia al Ghul ties up and gags Francine, and then threatens to poison her if Kirk does not give her the Man-Bat formula. After Langstrom gives her the formula, she releases Francine as promised. Talia utilizes the Man-Bat to turn the generic members of the League of Assassins into Man-Bat Commandos.[5]

In Gotham Underground, Man-Bat is apprehended by the Suicide Squad.[6] He is one of the villains seen in Salvation Run.[7] Francine has appeared in Batman and the Outsiders, serving as the team's technical advisor, and her assistant Salah Miandad operates the "blank" OMAC drone known as ReMAC. In issue #10 of that series, Kirk appeared, seemingly healthy and also aiding Francine.

In the 2008 miniseries Final Crisis, Man-Bat has been turned into a Justifier and was shown attacking Switzerland's Checkmate Headquarters.[8]

During the 2009 "Battle for the Cowl" storyline, following Batman's death, Kirk is haunted by nightmares of becoming Man-Bat and killing his wife. When Francine disappears, he takes the serum and tries to follow her. After an altercation with the Outsiders, he returns to his human form and is captured by Doctor Phosphorus, who reveals the serum is not necessary to trigger the change. Kirk discovers that Phosphorus has also captured Francine, and becomes Man-Bat to save her.[9]

During the 2009–2010 "Blackest Night" storyline, Francine tracks down Kirk (as Man-Bat), having created a cure, and revealed that Kirk's next transformation would be permanent if he did not drink it.[10] Kirk attempts to take the cure, but his Man-Bat persona will not let him. Just as Kirk is about to drink it, Francine is wounded in the crossfire of the battle between Black Lantern Solomon Grundy and Bizarro (the latter of whom is already at the scene, trying to prevent Kirk from taking the cure). Distraught at Francine's injuries, Kirk transforms into Man-Bat, seemingly permanently.[11]

In Batgirl (vol.3), Man-Bat is seen under the control of the Calculator as a techno-zombie.[12]

In the "Collision" storyline of Red Robin, following Red Robin's actions against Ra's al Ghul and the League of Assassins, the latter attempts to murder people related to the Bat-Family. Man-Bat, following Red Robin's orders, protects Julie Madison, a former lover of Bruce Wayne, against Ra's al Ghul's assassins.[13]

The New 52

In The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe), the majority of Kirk Langstrom's history is rebooted. The Man-Bat serum first appears in Detective Comics #18 (May 2013). Ignatius Ogilvy also comes into possession of the Man-Bat serum which he uses as an airborne virus to spread throughout Gotham City's "900 Block".[14]

In Detective Comics #19 (June 2013), Kirk Langstrom first appears where he and his wife Francine are escorted by Batwoman to Batman's location. Langstrom reveals that he is the creator of the serum intending to help deaf people. Taking responsibility as the creator of the serum, he uses a sample of the serum Batman had obtained to inject himself. This creates an anti-virus which also spreads through the air. Unfortunately, Langstrom is turned into a Man-Bat (the last remaining Man-Bat) as his anti-virus cures the remaining citizens of Gotham.[15]

Langstrom re-appears in Batman Inc. (vol. 2) #10 (June 2013) apparently giving Batman the serum. He claims to be working on an aerosol antidote to the serum as well.[16]

The backup feature of Detective Comics #21 (August 2013), focuses on Langstrom and his wife. He returns from the Man-Bat form and becomes addicted to the Man-Bat serum, taking it every night. He apparently does not remember his actions from the previous night yet worries that a string of reported killings are his fault.[17]

During the Forever Evil storyline, Man-Bat is among the villains that were recruited by the Crime Syndicate of America to join the Secret Society of Super Villains.[18] Scarecrow and Man-Bat attempt to steal the frozen Talons (assassins that are associated with the Court of Owls) from Blackgate while Penguin is having a meeting with Bane. Bane arrives at Blackgate as Man-Bat and his fellow Man-Bats are attempting to transport the Talons to Mr. Freeze and is able to keep one from leaving.[19]

The final issues of Batman: The Dark Knight series would establish that Kirk is the son of a corrupt wealthy pharmaceutical businessman named Abraham Langstrom, who considers his son as a failure when compared to Bruce Wayne, the son of his business rival Thomas Wayne. Abraham would steal his son's serum and makes some of his own improvements and uses it to target the homeless (because no one would miss them) before being stopped by Batman, though he is able to plead temporary insanity to avoid going to prison.[20]

Powers and abilities

By taking his bat-gland formula, Kirk Langstrom can transform himself into a bat-like creature. By taking an antidote or if the bat-gland formula wears off, he can return to human form.

As Man-Bat, his strength, agility and endurance are all enhanced to super human levels. Kirk possesses an extra set of digits that form leathery bat wings that allow him to fly, super-sensitive hearing, and a natural sonar. He emits high-pitched sound waves and can hear the echoes they make when they bounce off nearby objects, enabling Man-Bat to navigate perfectly in pitch black darkness.

If in Man-Bat form for a prolonged time, he loses control over his animalistic side and works purely on instinct, making him prone to harm friend and foe alike.

Man-Bat Commandos

As mentioned above, Talia al Ghul had captured Kirk Langstrom and threatened to poison Francine if he doesn't give her the Man-Bat formula. Kirk gives in to Talia al Ghul's commands where she uses the Man-Bat formula on the generic members of the League of Assassins to turn into the group's Man-Bat Commandos.[5]

In The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe), various Man-Bats have appeared under the control of Talia al Ghul in her plot to destroy Batman.[21] It is later explained that Talia al Ghul had an agent steal the serum from Langstrom's laboratory to use on her soldiers to create the Man-Bat Commandos.[15]

During the Forever Evil storyline, some Man-Bat commandos were used to help the Crime Syndicate hunt down the Rogues. Mirror Master managed to trap some of them in the Mirror World. When a Man-Bat snatches up Weather Wizard, the other Rogues members chase after it until it crashes into a solid wall of ice upon arriving in Mr. Freeze's territory.[22]

Other versions

Countdown to Final Crisis

In Countdown to Final Crisis: The Search For Ray Palmer, an alternate version of Man-Bat was shown. He is from Gotham by Gaslight (Earth-19), and has experimented with bats similar to his mainstream counterpart. He is later defeated by Blue Beetle and Batman.


In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Man-Bat is killed by Miranda Shrieve, the granddaughter of Matthew Shrieve.[23] In the flashback that Man-Bat was invited by Lt. Matthew Shrieve to be the new member of Creature Commandos, but Man-Bat then betrays him, killing his family.[24] It is revealed that Man-Bat had been working with General Sam Lane who is responsible for the deaths of Miranda's family.[25]

JLA: The Nail

In the Elseworlds story JLA: The Nail, a captured Man-Bat makes an appearance in Professor Hamilton's Cadmus Labs.[26]

Batman Beyond

In the comic series set decades after Batman: The Animated Series. Kirk returns as a white-bearded Man-Bat who has now perfected the serum to the point where he is able to talk and control his actions unlike before. It is revealed that shortly after Batman cured Francine of the serum, the two started to live a peaceful life as they started studying sonics and had two children. However, Francine developed an aggressive form of Parkinson's and had a short life expectancy, leading Kirk to try and perfect the Man-Bat serum to save her life. But by the time he made it, it was too late. His children left him, angered that he didn't spend as much time with her during her final days. He rescues a girl named Tey who was a hostage of the Jokerz and injects her with the Man-Bat serum, leading the two to fall in love. Kirk tries building his own cult of Man-Bats and plans to use Kanium to help his cult control themselves better in their Man-Bat forms and sets up a destructive weapon that concerns the police. Bruce tries to reason with Kirk, but it only results in Kirk viewing the both of them as monsters and only sets up his bomb to destroy the two of them. However, Batman rescues Bruce in time as Man-Bat tells Bruce to use his second chance wisely as he detonates the bomb to kill himself.

Smallville Season Eleven

Man-Bat appears in Smallville comic "Smallville Season Eleven". In Gotham City, the yellow rings of Parallax head to Arkham Asylum. There, Batman and Nightwing are doing their best to contain the newly powered inmates of Arkham, including Man-Bat, who have already been transformed into Yellow Lanterns. Luckily, Superman arrives just in time to offer assistance to Batman and Nightwing. Superman is fighting with Man-Bat and before taking him down, Superman says to Man-Bat that if there is more man than a bat inside of him then he takes no joy in this. Emil Hamilton succeeds into finding a way to reboot the rings so when he does all the Yellow Lanterns, including Man-Bat, are released from the influence of fear and lose their powers with the rings turning black. After their rings get rebooted and they lose their powers, the inmates of Arkham fall from the sky unable to do anything to escape from their eventual death but fortunately Superman manages to save them all. After Parallax's defeat, all the now depowered criminals return to Arkham Asylum.

Injustice: Gods Among Us

In Injustice: Gods Among Us prequel comic, Man-Bat appears in the villain's exclusive bar World's End, attempting to enjoy a drink when Wonder Woman and the Flash arrive in their search for Mirror Master. In Year Five, Man-Bat meets with Black Mask, Bronze Tiger, Mad Hatter, Scarecrow, and Tweedledum and Tweedledee until their meeting is crashed by Damian Wayne. When the villains start to overwhelm Damian, Deadman arrives where he possesses Bronze Tiger and knocks out the villains before calling for help.

In other media


Man-Bat as depicted in Batman: The Animated Series.
Man-Bat in The Batman.




Video games

Web series


See also


  1. Schwartz, Julius, ed. (2000). Man of Two Worlds. Harper Paperbacks. p. 129. ISBN 978-0380810512.
  2. McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1970s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. Thanks to his appearances in Detective Comics and Batman, Man-Bat's popularity soared to the point where writer Gerry Conway and artist Steve Ditko launched the [character] into his own series.
  3. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. Dorling Kindersley Limited. 2004. p. 194. ISBN 0-7566-0592-X.
  4. Infinite Crisis #7 (June 2006)
  5. 1 2 Batman #655 (September 2006)
  6. Gotham Underground #1
  7. Salvation Run #2 (February 2008)
  8. Final Crisis #4
  9. Battle for the Cowl: Man-Bat #1
  10. Superman/Batman #66
  11. Superman/Batman #67
  12. Batgirl (vol.3) #10-#11 (July 2010-August 2010)
  13. Red Robin #12 (July 2012)
  14. Detective Comics #18 (May 2013)
  15. 1 2 Detective Comics #19 (June 2013)
  16. Batman Inc. (vol. 2) #10 (June 2013)
  17. Detective Comics #21 (August 2013)
  18. Forever Evil #1
  19. Forever Evil: Arkham War #2
  20. Batman: The Dark Knight (Vol. 2) #28-29
  21. Batman, Inc (vol. 2) #1
  22. Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion #3
  23. Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #1 (June 2011)
  24. Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #2 (July 2011)
  25. Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #3 (August 2011)
  26. JLA: The Nail #3
  28. Ramey, Bill "Jett" (2005-07-28). "Interview: Lee Shapiro". Batman-on-Film. Retrieved 2006-11-13.
  29. Game Informer features a two-page gallery of the many heroes and villains who appear in the game with a picture for each character and a descriptive paragraph. See "LEGO Batman: Character Gallery", Game Informer 186 (October 2008): 93.
  30. "Super Friends #28 - (comic book issue)". Comic Vine. 2008-06-06. Retrieved 2010-12-29.
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