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Robert Langstrom (New Earth)

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Quote1 Dear God. Is this what I have become? More animal than man. When will the surrender be complete? Quote2
-- Kirk Langstrom src

Early Life

When Kirk Langstrom was a young boy, he fell into a deep cavern and was lost for more than six weeks. Police conducted a massive search for the child, and were nearly ready to give up when they finally found him. Though his parents were overjoyed to see their son returned to them, Kirk seemed almost sorry to leave the cave. He silently waved goodbye to the "friends" he left behind.

A short time later, Kirk met six-year-old Bruce Wayne outside of a movie theater. He regaled Bruce with tales of his adventures beneath the earth, and embellished such tales by telling him about the race of half-human, half-bat creatures he encountered.

As an adult, Kirk left his home town of Chicago and enrolled at Gotham University where he met fellow student Francine Lee. Even after all this time the so-called "cave boy" was still obsessed with bats, and he believed that he could pioneer new medical breakthroughs through the study of bats.[1]

Man-Bat

After college, Kirk became a zoologist and nocturnal mammals expert employed by the Gotham Natural History Museum. He long admired the careers of costumed crime fighters and wanted to emulate them, particularly the legendary Batman. To this end, Langstrom developed a serum extracted from the glands of bats. This serum was designed to amplify a person's sensory capabilities, gifting them with enhanced hearing. Like many scientists of his caliber, Langstrom decided to test the serum on himself, which showed immediate results. His hands grew hairy and claw-like and his face took on the physical characteristics of a bat – including elongated ears that allowed him to perceive his surroundings via echolocation.

Dubbing himself the Man-Bat, Langstrom first went into action when a group of thieves calling themselves the Blackout Gang broke into the museum. Batman was on their trail and the Man-Bat teamed up with him to bring the thieves down. Batman welcomed the assistance, but the Man-Bat shied away when Batman mistakenly complimented him on his "disguise". As the Man-Bat ran off, Batman wondered if he had just made a formidable ally – or a brand new adversary. [2]

Threat of the Man-Bat

Threat of the Man-Bat

A short time later, Langstrom tried to find a cure for his mutation, but the transformation was far too advanced to stop. He quickly started sprouting leathery, bat-like wings under his arms, which allowed him to fly as a bat. As his animal instincts also became stronger, Man-Bat sought refuge and found Batman's Batcave, where he was defeated by the Dark Knight. While Man-Bat was unconscious, Batman started creating an antidote for Langstrom.[3] When Man-Bat refused Batman's help, the Dark Knight called Francine to help him, to no avail. Shortly after this, Man-Bat reached Francine and convinced her to marry him and to use the Man-Bat Serum as a proof of her love. Transformed into human bats, Kirk and Francine tried to get married on a church until Batman stopped them and forced them to take the cure to revert their mutations.[4]

Shortly after, Kirk and Francine got married with Batman as their best man, but a few days later, he had a relapse into his Man-Bat identity. With his mind altered again, Man-Bat created a more potent Man-Bat serum that would allow him a permanent transformation, but Batman prevented him from using it and provided another antidote to revert the transformation once again.[5] Months later, it was Francine who transformed back into She-Bat after she came in contact with a rare species of bats during an investigation in the desert of Las Vegas, Nevada. Robert worked with Batman to bring Francine back to safety.[6]

Crime Fighter

Aware of thet fact that Gotham's criminals were rampant on the streets, Langstrom decided to use the serum to go out as Man-Bat and fight criminals. His new version of the serum allowed Langstrom to stay in control of the transformation and with his newfound ability, he assited Batman in the capture of Roy Reynolds, "The Getaway Genius", starting his career as a crime fighter.[7]

Sometime later, Kirk Langstrom learned that the widow of a man named Moran was giving a $100,000 reward for the capture of the man who assassinated her husband. Langstrom needed the money, so he decided to inject himself with his special serum and became the Man-Bat once again. Working with Batman, they managed to bring the criminal back to America and Batman donated the reward money to Langstrom's department at the Gotham Natural History Museum.[8]

Langstrom was later forced to assume the guise of the Man-Bat again to save Francine from a sorcerer called Baron Tyme, who manipulated her using magic to murder people. Man-Bat confronted Tyme in the sorcerer's castle, where the Baron met his ultimate demise.[9]

In order to take better care of his wife, Kirk relocated from Gotham City to his home town of Chicago, Illinois. It was around this time that Man-Bat was confronted by the Ten-Eyed Man, but during the final struggle, the Ten-Eyed Man fell from the top of the building, seemingly to his death.[10] Not long after this, the Langstroms were threatened by yet another mystical being called Doctor Thanatogenos, who tried to use their bodies and capabilities as a source of energy,[11] but Man-Bat managed to stop the evil scheme for good.[12]

Kirk and Francine remained in Chicago for some time and eventually gave birth to their first child, Rebecca.

Unfortunately, Rebecca fell deathly ill from a mysterious disease while she was still a toddler. Batman tried to help the Langstroms, but when he came into possession of the Seronotal needed to save her life, the Batman destroyed it, believing the formula had been tainted.[13]

Rebecca was eventually saved, but Kirk felt that Batman had betrayed them and had tried to kill his daughter. After this tragic event, the Langstroms were forced to return to Gotham City where they lived in a rundown apartment in Gotham's East End.

Relapse

One evening, Kirk was working with his bat gland formula when he made a miscalculation in the chemical compound. Upon drinking it, he instantly transformed, but his conscious mind was subsumed, replaced with nothing but raw, naked instinct. He flew off into the night and eventually returned to the catacombs that led to the Batcave.

After several such instances, some began to believe that Wayne Manor was haunted. Commissioner Gordon led a search of the mansion along with Batman as well as ghost breaker, Doctor Terrence Thirteen. Batman's prevented them from finding the Batcave, but he came upon the Man-Bat who viciously fought against him. During a fierce confrontation, Batman forced Man-Bat to take the antidote, but the serum had no effect and the Man-Bat escaped.[14][15]

Outsiders

Years later, Robert joined the team known as the Outsiders under Batman's leadership. However, when the team disbanded after an unfortunate accident, Robert offered his support to the only remaining member of the team, Batgirl.[16]

A few days later, Langstrom went to the Iceberg Lounge to join the efforts of other meta-humans to regain control of the city by banning Intergang from Gotham. Penguin was pleased with the help and soon, Batgirl arrived to ask for Man-Bat's help.[17]

After Batman's death, Man-Bat joined the Network, a group of heroes that fought against the increasing crime in Gotham.[18] During this time, Langstrom's wife, Francine, disappeared and Man-Bat went looking for her. In his search, he helped Lynx on a fight against street gangs and later, he arrived at the Gotham Power Plant, where he was attacked by Dr. Phosphorus, who had captured Francine to lure Langstrom into a trap. Langstrom managed to escape, but when Phosphorus attacked Francine, Langstrom transformed into Man-Bat without the need of the Serum and defeated Phosphorus. Realizing the consequences of transforming at will, Langstrom ran away from his wife and friends.[19]

Some time later, Man-Bat was summoned by Oracle to join the other heroes of Gotham against the Seven Men of Death and prevent them from killing Vicki Vale.[20]

Powers

  • Transformation: Upon injection of the Man-Bat Serum, Langstrom can transform himself into a half-human/half-bat creature. Once the serum wears off, the Man-Bat returns back to human form. After years of exposure to the serum, Langstrom is able to transform at will.[19]
  • Flight: Man-Bat can fly by way of artificially generated leather wings.
  • Claws: The Man-Bat has sharpened claws which are strong enough to easily tear through flesh and muscle.
  • Echolocation: Man-Bat can navigate through the air by way of echolocation, similar in function to a bat's radar.


Weaknesses

  • Vulnerability to Sensitive Senses: Man-Bat's hearing is highly sensitive and extremely loud noises cause him great pain. He is also extremely sensitive to bright light, preferring instead to remain in dark locations.

Equipment

  • The name and concept for Man-Bat was first thought by editor Julius Schwartz, by simply taking the "Batman" name and switching the two syllables. The idea was then further expanded by Frank Robbins and Neal Adams was responsible for the design and illustrations of the character.[21]
  • Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-One era of publication, their existence following the events of the 1985-86 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths remains intact. However, some elements of the character's Pre-Crisis history may have been altered or removed for Post-Crisis New Earth continuity, and should be considered apocryphal.
  • It has been theorized that the bat that crashed through the Wayne Manor study inspiring Bruce Wayne to become the Batman was one of Kirk Langstrom's test subjects that escaped from his laboratory some time prior to Langstrom becoming the Man-Bat. [22]

Related


Footnotes


Roy Harper Cry for Justice
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