Hello again, Batfans! Who or what is the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh? Originally appearing in Batman #113 (February 1958), an alien named Tlano was the Batman of the planet Zur-En-Arrh. Say what? For those not familiar with comic book Batman, shame on you! Anyway, back in the 1950’s, The comics code authority was pretty strict with comics content (think the FCC of comic books).
So many of Batman’s adventures of that era were sci-fi stories. In this story Tlano came to our Batman asking for help on his home planet, where coincidently, our Batman had Superman-like powers.
If you’re a fan of this blog, your probably wondering why I’m writing about this old Batman story when I like the more dark, realistic Batman. Because I wanted to set up the origin of Zur-En-Arrh. Fast-forward 50 years to 2008. Grant Morrison is writing Batman and has a huge, grand plan to make EVERY Batman story ever written count. Before this most writers ignored most Batman stories before 1985’s universe changing Crisis on Infinite Earths.
During the Batman R.I.P. storyline (Batman #676-#681), The Black Glove organization, lead by a man who called himself Dr. Hurt, attempted to break Batman mentally and physically. Hurt and his minions stormed the Batcave, captured Alfred, Drugged Bruce Wayne and tossed him onto the streets of Gotham. As Batman tries to rebuild himself mentally, its revealed that years ago he set up a “back-up” personality in case he ever came under mental attack. Zur-En-Arrh is the fail safe Batman mode. He even describes himself as Batman without any Bruce Wayne. This Batman then stitched himself a new costume out of scraps he found in the trash.
With no Bruce Wayne to temper his violence and anger, another part of the Zur-En-Arrh back-up was a hallucination that Batman saw called Bat-Mite. The original Bat-Mite first appeared in Detective Comics #267. He was a magical imp from the fifth dimension that was a huge Batman fan (again, the 1950’s). This Bat-Mite looked like the original, but was only part of Batman Zur-En-Arrh’s delusion. Zur-En-Arrh tracked the Black Glove to Arkham Asylum and was captured by them when they teamed up with the Joker and Jezebel Jet, Bruce Wayne’s model girlfriend who was a Black Glove member from the start, their secret weapon against Batman. Dr. Hurt has Batman buried alive, wanting oxygen deprivation to give him a brain dead, living Batman. But as always, Batman, now fully himself, is prepared. He escapes his early grave and returns to confront and defeat the Black Glove. Escaping by helicopter, Dr. Hurt seeks to drive Batman crazy again by saying he is Bruce Wayne’s father, Thomas, alive having faked his own death. But Batman has figured out that Hurt is actually an actor named Mangrove Pierce who once posed as Thomas Wayne many years before. Hurt’s helicopter goes down in the river, where he disappears until…I’ll tell you in a future blog. Remember these words: BATMAN REBORN. Finally, where did Batman come up with the phrase Zur-En-Arrh to use? It was shown that the night Bruce Wayne’s parents were killed, they took young Bruce to see the movie The Mark of Zorro. Bruce misheard when his father said, “they would lock up someone like ZORRO IN ARKHAM.”
That’s it for this time. Let me know what you think, should I focus on storylines? Character bios? Both? Other media? Please send all thoughts and opinions, encouragements and critisms to:
Until next week, be good. Remember, Zur-En-Arrh