Golden Age Detective Comics - Batman Kills!

Last year I started reading Golden Age Batman stories and I wanted to see how many times Batman killed before he eventually changes his stance on killing his enemies. In 1939 alone Batman racks up 8 kills.

Title Issue Date Killer Deaths How they were killed
Detective Comics 27 5/3/1939 Batman 2 Batman flips a gangster off the roof. Later punches Alfred Stryker into a vat of acid. 1st apperance of Bruce Wayne/Batman and Commissioner Gordon
Detective Comics 28 6/7/1939 Batman 1 Batman kicks “Ricky” the jewel thief off a roof killing him
Detective Comics 29 8/2/1939 Batman 1 Batman ropes Jabah’s neck leaving him unconsious and left for dead while the building burns after Batman throws a fire extinguisher at Dr. Death engulfing him in flames, disfiguring him. He somehow survives.
Detective Comics 30 9/6/1939 Batman 1 Batman snaps the neck of Mikhail after jumping out the window and swinging back toward the building
Detective Comics 32 10/4/1939 Batman Vampires Batman kills the Monk with silver bullets since he and other vampires were controlling his fiance Julie Madison.
Detective Comics 33 11/1/1939 Batman 2 Batman is shot and injured by Kruger who leaves the room to bring a death ray. Bruce switches places with a guard and the guard is destroyed by the death beam. Batman throws a gas pellet at Kruger who flies his plane into the harbor. Bruce Wayne reads about the body being recovered the next day in the newspaper.
Detective Comics 34 12/6/1939 Batman 1 Batman escapes via rope from the bat gyro while in a moving car with Karel Maire and her captor Duc Dorterre. Duc’s car flies off a narrow bridge killing him.
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Im reading Golden age bats and its actually better than i thought. Very wordy but had to be with only 12 or so pages to work with Ive enjoyed it more than Golden Age supes. My favorite issue so far is Detective Comics 36 with Hugo Strange

I think Batman stops killing in the early 40s. This site did an article about it

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Wasn’t this when Batman was pretty much a rip off of the Shadow.

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He starts toning it down by the end of 1940.

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Yeah I had started this and then they had an article on it as well. I have two issues left in 1940. Detective Comics #46 and Batman #3

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The 1939 through 1941 years are my absolute most fave era of Batman’s legacy. The first ten issues of his run in Detective Comics in particular is absolutely fantastic. :batman: :bat:

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I’ve heard that the first few Batman stories were basicaly rip off of old the Shadow stories.

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its widely acknowledged and publicly so that Bill Finger was inspired by the Shadow character.

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I’ll do enjoy these old stories. It is a bit hard to read Batman itself since there are 4 stories in each book as opposed to the 15 page stories found in Detective. These guys are just cranking out stories for print. I’m surprised how many times Hugo Strange has shown up too. It’s been a wild ride but I have completed 1940. I’ll post it when I can copy it on my desktop instead of my phone.

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You should see how many he has killed in the movies


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Golden Age Superman also let criminals die.


1911918-superdicklol2

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As I recall, Batman stopped killing around 1940. As I recall, Jack Liebowitz and Whitney Ellsworth drew up a code as to what would be acceptable in National Comics, Inc. and Detective Comics, Inc.'s comic books, so as to avoid the kind of outcry that had plagued pulp magazines in the Thirties. After the code was implemented, no hero would willingly kill another human being. As a result, Batman stopped being quite so homicidal!

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That makes sense because after July of 1940 Batman only kills one criminal but before July he’s killed 18 times and then Joker enters the scene and racks up 15 in the entire year.

Title Issue 1940 Killer Deaths
Detective Comics 35 1/3/1940 Batman 2 Batman kicks a swordsman in the face and he gets impaled by the swordsman behind him. Batman kills Sheldon Lenox by throwing a ruby idol at his face causing him to fall out of the window to his death.
Detective Comics 36 2/7/1940 - - Batman actually sends Hugo Strange and his men to jail. 1st Hugo Strange
Detective Comics 37 3/6/1940 Batman 1 Batman punches Count Grutt aka Elias Turg into a door that was already impaled with the Count’s sword.
Batman 1 3/6/1940 Joker Batman Joker 4,6,9 Joker kills Henry Claridge, Jay Wilde and Judge Drake with Joker venom, shoots gangster Brute Nelson. Batman allows Hugo Strange’s “monsters” to kill each other, shoots the gangsters taking a monster into the city, and hangs another monster. Batman kills the other two drivers and the last monster falls to its doom trying to knock Batman out of his plane. 1st Catwoman. Final story - Joker returns and kills police chief Chalmers, a man who owned a ruby in his safe, gasses two policemen guarding the Cleopatra necklace, Edgar Martin who is poisoned with playing cards while under police protection, and finally he shoots 4 cops laying in wait to trap Joker.
Detective Comics 38 4/3/1940 Robin 2 Robin uses jiu jitsu to knock one gangster off the Canin building and later kicks a gangster off a girder on a high rise building. 1st Dick Grayson/Robin
Detective Comics 39 5/4/1940 Batman 8 Batman pushes the giant golden Idol of the Green Dragon’s leader onto 8 men killing them
Detective Comics 40 6/5/1940 Clayface 2 Clayface kills actors Fred Walker and Lorna Dane in a remake of one of his films The Terror 1st Basil Karlo/Clayface
Detective Comics 41 7/3/1940 - 3 A teacher and janitor are killed by a loose inmate. The principal is killed by his partner Mr. Graves, the art teacher.
Batman 2 7/3/1940 Joker Batman 1,1 1.Joker kills E.S. Arthur to get the Pharoah’s Gem. 2. Batman punches Adam Lamb and he falls down stairs breaking his neck 4. Batman accidently kills Goliath the Man-Ape at a circus run by criminals.
Detective Comics 42 8/7/1940 - -
Detective Comics 43 9/4/1940 - -
Detective Comics 44 10/2/1940 - - 1st batarang in an imaginary story
Detective Comics 45 11/6/1940 Joker 1 DA Carter is killed by a record that emits joker gas once it’s played.
Batman 3 11/6/1940 - -
Detective Comics 46 12/4/1940 - -
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Well it didn’t take long for Batman to finally explain his code of no killing in issue #4 of Batman dated 3/5/1941. Also later in the issue there is an editors note about him having a code of not taking a life.

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I love how the criminals always say don’t use your gun because it will bring the cops. Almost every issue the gangsters say don’t use the gun and they just knock out Batman or Robin. At first I questioned it but then I realized there used to be policemen patrolling blocks.
In the second story in issue 5 of Batman, Robin gets jumped and beaten. This seems so similar!

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The four 15 page stories in Batman are wearing on me a bit. I’m also wondering if I should just include when Batman, Robin, or a villain kills instead of common criminals to my list.

It’s also surprising to me that the Joker seems to always fall to his death in water. Three times Batman and Robin have knocked him into some body of water and they don’t look for his body. These old comics! :joker_ewhqtas:

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15 page stories 4 times per issue? i better prepare myself lol

In Detective Comics @LK3185 there is only one 15 page Batman story but in the issues of Batman they have 4 15 page stories. A lot of these older stories either have gangsters, Hugo Strange, or The Joker. Also you’ll see a lot of traveling circus people. Who knew there was so many! :man_shrugging:

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Obviously reading current Batman stuff it would be wild if one of these “pranksters” Joker hired were any of the three Jokers.

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