(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
(vol. 1) Gerry Conway, Martin Pasko (vol. 2) Chuck Dixon (vol. 3) Bruce Jones
(vol. 1) Steve Ditko (vol. 2) Henry Flint (vol. 3) Mike Huddleston
(vol. 2) Eduardo Barreto (vol. 3) Lee Loughridge
Man-Bat is a supervillain who appears in comics published by DC Comics, usually as a supervillain and adversary of Batman, though occasionally depicted as a heroic character. He first appeared in Detective Comics #400 (June 1970) and was created by Frank Robbins and Neal Adams. Man-Bat was the star of his own eponymous series in 1975–1976, which lasted two issues before being canceled.
Dr. Kirk Langstrom, a scientist specializing in the study of bats, 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. 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 inadvertedly 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.
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.
In Gotham Underground, Man-Bat is apprehended by the Suicide Squad. He is one of the villains seen in Salvation Run. 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.
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.
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. 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 LanternSolomon 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.
In Batgirl (vol.3), Man-Bat is seen under the control of the Calculator as a techno-zombie.
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 Oglivy also comes into possession of the Man-Bat serum which he uses as an airborne virus to spread throughout Gotham City.
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.
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.
The backup feature of Detective Comics #21 (August 2013), focuses on Langstrom and his wife. After reverting from the Man-Bat form, Langstrom becomes addicted to the Man-Bat serum, taking it every night. However, he apparently does not remember his actions from the night, worrying that a string of reported killings is his fault.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Man-Bat is killed by Miranda Shrieve, the granddaughter of Matthew Shrieve. 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. It is revealed that Man-Bat had been working with General Sam Lane who is responsible for the deaths of Miranda's family.
Man-Bat as depicted in Batman: The Animated Series.
Man-Bat appears in the series Batman: The Animated Series. Dr. Kirk Langstrom (voiced by Marc Singer) is a zoologist at the Gotham City Zoo. He appears in the first produced episode "On Leather Wings" where he steals serums from the chemical labs and is mistaken for Batman. The beast then commits other thefts at night and people start to question if it is Batman or some other masked hero. Batman recovers a strand of hair from the lab and takes it to Dr. March (Langstrom's father-in-law) to be analyzed and tells him that is only from a brown bat. But shortly after, Batman discovers that March is lying and travels to his lab. On the same night, Langstrom drinks the serum, when Batman arrives to question him—revealing Dr. March as the thief of the serum from the chemical labs. Langstrom tells Batman that he had discovered a chemical that created a new species that was neither man or bat, which he started taking, but could not control it. Langstrom reveals to Batman that the creature is in him and he transforms into a half-man/half-bat monster before attacking Batman. After a battle across the Gotham City skyline, the Man-Bat is knocked out and taken back to the Batcave. Batman manages to flush the formula out of Langstrom's system after discovering the chemicals that were stolen and he is returned to normal. Langstrom next appears in "Tyger, Tyger" where he analyzes the chemical that Dr. Emile Dorian used for his experiments. In the episode "Terror in the Sky", Langstrom is having a dream that he transforms into Man-Bat and he begins to commit crimes. Then Langstrom is awakened, just to find the remains of a fruit and scratches from a rag. Batman and Langstrom eventually discover that the other Man-Bat turns out to be his wife Francine Langstrom (voiced by Meredith MacRae) accidentally exposed to an alternate Man-Bat serum created by Francine's scientist father who was trying to alter Lanstrom's work. In the end, Batman cures Francine as well and she returns to her husband.
Although Man-Bat never appeared in the revamped series The New Batman Adventures, Man-Bat's alter-egos (Kirk Langstrom and Francine Langstrom) make a cameo during Bruce Wayne's wedding in the episode "Chemistry".
In Batman Beyond, a new trend dubbed "splicing" involves fusing together animal and human DNA. The new Batman ends up captured by the splicers' leader Abel Cuvier (aka Chimera) and is injected with vampire bat DNA which transforms Batman into a Man-Bat but is later returned to normal by Bruce Wayne.
Man-Bat appears in The Batman with Dr. Langstrom voiced by Peter MacNicol while special sound effects were used to provide Man-Bat's vocal effects. He is an employee at Wayne Enterprises doing research on bats and apparently afflicted with albinism. When Bruce Wayne begins to cut off the funding for his project, Langstrom tells Bruce that he needs the project to cure his niece's deafness. When Bruce discovers that Langstrom is lying, he goes to Langstrom's office to discover the project's real purpose. Langstrom arrived in his vault to find his boss there; he admits that he created the formula so he could be feared like Batman, and drinks a serum, transforming him into Man-Bat. He attacks Bruce at his office, and escapes. Bruce changes into Batman and confronts Man-Bat in the skies of Gotham City. They land on the ground, and Langstrom reverts to his human form. To be safe, Batman destroys one of Langstrom's vials. Langstrom drinks the remaining vial, transforms back to Man-Bat, and kidnaps Detective Ethan Bennett. Batman confronts Man-Bat in a sewer, and Langstrom reverts to his human form, and he is taken away to Arkham Asylum. In "Pets", Langstrom is still in Arkham and trying to recreate the Man-Bat serum, while the Penguin finds a sonar device he wants to use to control a large condor but ends up with a sonar designed to control bats. When Penguin uses the device, dormant remnants of the Man-Bat formula still inside Langstrom reawaken, transforming him to Man-Bat and instinctively leading him to the Penguin's hideout, as he continues repeating the line: "Come to me." With the sonar device, Penguin is able to use Man-Bat to do his bidding for him, returning him to his human form by saying "rest". Langstrom is furious with Penguin when he learns that Penguin plans to use it to turn Langstrom from human to a half-man, half-bat creature for his own gain, and promises Penguin that the minute he loses the sonar device, he will feel Man-Bat's wrath. At the docks, Batman confronts Man-Bat, and, using his own sonar device, induces a reversion back to his human form. Langstrom and Penguin are both taken back to Arkham. Langstrom returns in "Rumors" as one of the many villains captured by the vigilante Rumor. He was shown in his human form and later in his Man-Bat form, implying he has full control over his transformation. Langstrom made one last appearance in "Attack of the Terrible Trio", no longer a villain and renouncing the Man-Bat name. Batman charged Langstrom with creating an antidote for his own mutagen that some college students (the show's version of the Terrible Trio) had stolen from him and were planning on infecting the entire student body with.
In the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Last Bat on Earth!", Batman travels to a future to stop Gorilla Grodd now leading the apes. When Batman goes into the Batcave with Kamandi and Dr. Canus, he encounters humanoid "Man-Bats" that can talk like the rest of the humanoid animals. Batman and Kamandi manages to drive them out after he defeats their leader. The Man-Bats later assist Batman in an all out war against the apes, having gained respect for the Dark Knight.
Man-Bat appears in the Beware the Batman episode "Doppelganger", voiced by Robin Atkin Downes. Dr. Kirk Langstrom was working on a cure for diseases with bat DNA before Professor Pyg and Mister Toad forced him at gunpoint to mutate into a man/bat hybrid with a corrupted version of his formula upon raiding his laboratory. They used a drug to enslave Man-Bat and force him to rob chemicals so they can recreate Langstrom's formula and turn humans into animal hybrids. After Man-Bat is captured and freed from control by Batman and Katana, he repays them by helping them defeat Professor Pyg and Mister Toad. After defeating the villains, Man-Bat swears to work in the shadows on a cure for his condition. In "Alone", Man-Bat is recruited by Katana alongside Metamorpho and Oracle to help Batman in his final battle against Deathstroke. They all go to the Batcave to take down Deathstroke's C4 bombs spread around. Man-Bat comes up with a ZIP formula for Metamorpho to create so that it can wipe out Deathstroke's memory of his knowledge of Batman's true identity Bruce Wayne. Alfred refers to this group formed as the Outsiders.
In the film Batman Begins, Jonathan Crane is under the influence of his own fear-inducing toxin when he sees Batman as a Bat-like monster similar to Man-Bat. When the Narrows is under the influence of Crane's fear gas, the population sees Batman as a monster flying in the sky again similar to Man-Bat.
Kirk Langstrom and the Man-Bat Commandos appears in Son of Batman with Kirk Langstrom voiced by Xander Berkeley while the vocal effects for the Man-Bat Commandos are provided by Dee Bradley Baker. At the beginning, he works for Ra's al Ghul in an attempt to create an army of Man-Bats to strengthen the League of Assassins. Kirk Langstrom was also behind the mutagen that Killer Croc empowered himself with where he had sprouted a tail. After Ra's al Ghul's death, Deathstroke recruits him to continue his work, this time taking his wife Francine (voiced by Diane Michelle) and daughter Rebecca (voiced by Kari Wahlgren) as hostages. When Batman finds a lead in Kirk Langstrom's lab, he is attacked by a mutated ape that was living there. All three are later rescued by Batman and Damien Wayne. While the mutagen is complete by then, the scientist creates enough antidote to stop the Man-Bats created.
Man-Bat is a boss and playable character in Lego Batman. He is an enemy of Batman and follower of the Penguin. In the game, he possesses super strength and the ability to glide using his wings. In the Nintendo DS version, Man-Bat is an unlockable character through the "Villain Hunt" minigame.
Though he does not appear personally, some believe that Man-Bat is referenced in Batman: Arkham Origins. Through various conversations with Alfred in the Batcave, he describes seeing a massive "king bat" in the cave. Some fans speculate that Man-Bat exists in the Arkham universe and is nesting in the Batcave, much to Batman's curiosity and Alfred's chagrin. If you find Alfred near the Batmobile again, he says that the large bat is making monstrous screeching noises. Later, Alfred claims that he placed their Christmas turkey out to cool, but that the giant bat has eaten it. Surprised, Batman says that meat isn't part of any bat's diet, and decides to look into it when he gets the chance. Additionally, during the final confrontation with The Joker when Batman is viewed from Joker's perspective, he is seen as a monstrous mutant bat akin to Man-Bat.
Man-Bat has made several appearances as an action figure as part of Hasbro's Batman: The Animated Series and Dark Knight lines, Mattel's The Batman line, DC Direct's Arkham Asylum line, Art Asylum's minimates line, and the HeroClix line.
Man-Bat is also one of the action figures from the Secret Files 1: Batman Rogues Gallery line.
Man-Bat was also featured in Mattel's DCSH line. The brown version was scheduled for series 8, but was dropped and replaced by Catwoman. A white version of Man-Bat was featured as a San Diego Comic Convention exclusive in packaging designed by Frank Varela of Mattel Toys. It was revealed at the 2009 New York Comic 'Con that the brown version is now scheduled for Mattel's DC Universe Classics Wal-Mart exclusive series 10.
In issue #28 of the Super Friends comics, Man-Bat made an appearance as one of the 5 foes that the Super Friends battle.
In The Batman Adventures (a comic series based on Batman: The Animated Series), another Man-Bat was formed when Dr. Stefen Perry stole the Man-Bat serum from Langstrom. He was defeated by Batman and arrested by the police. In issue #21, Kirk Langstrom was later forcefully transformed into Man-Bat and recruited by Dr. Emile Dorian who hoped to use his assistance to form a "House of Dorian" with Anthony Romulus's Werewolf form, Tygrus (who Emile duped into working for him again), and Man-Bat.
In issue 4 of the comic spin-off of Beware the Batman, a new Man-Bat appears in the form of Tim Quan, an acquaintance of Barbara Gordon with a crush on her. He was mutated when he sneaked into the lab of Kirk Langstrom (who is still stuck in his Man-Bat and was looking for a cure). Having become more unstable than Langstrom, Quan goes in a rampage and kidnaps Barbara. Batman teams up with Langstrom to find and cure Quan at the expense of Langstrom's own cure.
^McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1970s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 168. ISBN978-0-7566-6742-9. "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."
^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.