One of the things that Bruce Wayne does not formally have is a family. They were gunned down in an alley when he was a child. It’s a sad story and the motivating reason behind him punching people on the streets of Gotham. That’s not to say however, that he has not picked up a few sons (some surrogate, some legitimate), some familial friends, and some stand out people to add to his make-shift family. One of the compelling things that keeps readers reading Batman comics is his iron will to keep those he loves safe. It’s quite affecting to see him fight and be willing to die for those he has given been stewardship over. So here we are going to briefly go over the connections and origins of the people that Batman has adopted into his family.
Dick Grayson, Nightwing
The very first Boy Wonder. Dick Grayson was adopted by Bruce Wayne after his parents were killed when his family’s trapeze show was sabotaged and they all fell to their deaths minus poor Dick. Bruce Wayne saw promise in the young Grayson and trained him as his protege. Years later as an adult he became Nightwing, defender of Blüdhaven and leader of the Titans.
First Appearance: As Dick Grayson: Detective Comics #38 (1940), As Nightwing: Tales of the Teen Titans (1984)
Recommended Reading: Batman: Black Mirror, Nightwing: Traps and Trapezes, New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract.
Jason Todd, Red Hood
Jason Todd was found by Batman while he was stealing tires off of the Bat-mobile. He grew up on the streets and when Batman saw him, and his skill in getting the tires off of the highly armored and secure car he drove, he adopted him as a new Robin. Sadly, Robin was later killed by the Joker. Yet he was brought back to life as The Red Hood, originally a murderer come to be Gotham’s reckoning; he later joining the Bat-family and the Justice League offshoot team: The Outlaws.
First Appearance: As Jason Todd: Batman #357 (1983), As Red Hood: Batman #635 (2005)
Recommended Reading: Batman: A Death In The Family, Batman: Hush, Batman: Under The Red Hood
Tim Drake, The Red Robin
It is said that Tim Drake will one day become a better detective than Bruce Wayne himself. After Jason Todd’s death, Tim deduced the identity of Batman and Nightwing and petitioned to become the new Robin saying that “Batman needed a Robin to keep him in check” since Batman had taken a darker turn since Jason’s death. Tim was trained as the next Robin, and as he grew older he became the Red Robin in order to fight crime on his own and stands as one of Batman’s most trusted allies. He helped to form the Gotham Knights and developed the technological headquarters for the team known as the Belfry.
First Appearance: As Tim Drake: Batman #436 (1989), As Red Robin: Kingdom Come #2
Recommended Reading: Robin: A Hero Reborn, Robin II: The Joker’s Wild!, Robin III: Cry of the Huntress, Rebirth Detective Comics Vol 5: A Lonely Place Of Living.
Stephanie Brown, Spoiler
The third Robin and third Batgirl. Stephanie Brown was born the daughter of The Cluemaster (one of Gotham’s third-rate villains). Her father returned to Gotham from prison claiming to be rehabilitated but planned on resuming his life of crime. She tailored her own costume and joined Tim Drake, (who she would go on to date), on the hunt for Cluemaster. After kidnapping him she was inducted into the Bat-Family. She spent a good amount of time as Batgirl and even as Robin for a little bit before coming into her own as the Spoiler.
First Appearance: Batman #647 (1992)
Recommended Reading: Batgirl Vol 3, (2000), Batman: War Games, Robin 3-5
Damian Wayne, Son Of Batman
During Batman’s time with the League of Assassins in Nanda Parbat,
unbeknownst to him, he conceived a child with Talia Al Ghul. Talia showed up with the child a decade later. His name was Damian. Damian had been trained by the League but then left in Bruce’s care. Becoming the current Robin, he fights along side his father in Gotham city (though they come into conflict when it comes to the whole “no killing” thing). Damian is a welcome addition to the family and an interesting dynamic to the Caped Crusader.
First Appearance: Batman #655 (2006)
Recommended Reading: Batman & Son, Batman & Robin (2009-2011), Teen Titans: Team Building
Alfred Pennyworth, The Butler
The one and only, Bruce Wayne’s loyal yet reluctant confidant. With a military background, and some time on the stage; he provides Batman with all the hot meals, the sage wisdom, and the occasional wise-crack that we all know and love. Where would Batman be without Alfred? Dead…..the answer is dead.
First Appearance: Batman #16, (1943)
Recommended Reading: Batman: Earth One, Batman: Legends Of The Dark Knight #59-61, Nightwing: Alfred’s Return
Selina Kyle, Catwoman
Selina Kyle is the infamous Catwoman. A (usually) morally ambiguous character and love interest of Batman. She is the original Cat Burglar turned anti-hero. Depending on the continuity she’s an immense help to Batman, a lover, or sometimes a spouse. Whatever the relationship; there is no doubt she loves Bruce and wants what she thinks is best for him, even if he doesn’t see the same way.
First Appearance: Batman #1 (1940)
Recommended Reading: Catwoman: Year One, Catwoman: When In Rome, Catwoman: Her Sister’s Keeper
Barbara Gordon, Batgirl
Commissioner Jim Gordon is a close friend of Batman. It is his daughter though who works closest with Batman. Barbara Gordon, daughter of Jim Gordon, was, for a time period, the original Batgirl. Later she was shot through the spine by the Joker and became the tech expert, The Oracle. She later was able to recover from the injury and reclaim her persona as Batgirl. She now fights on the streets of Burnside, a neighborhood within Gotham.
First Appearance: Batman #139 (1961)
Recommended Reading: Batman: The Killing Joke, Batgirl: Year One, Birds of Prey
Katherine Kane, Batwoman
Katherine Kane is heir to the Kane Family Fortune and cousin of Bruce Wayne, (his mother being Martha Kane). The Kane family pretty much owns whatever the Wayne family does not in Gotham City. Katherine was once confronted by her ex-girlfriend Renee Montoya (the second Question), and was told that she didn’t have the good in her to do what was right, which prompted Katherine to become the Batwoman after their breakup. For a while she frequently teamed up with Renee Montoya and the First Question before finally meeting the Caped Crusader and tentatively joining the Bat-Family. Now she leads the Gotham Knights alongside Batman, bringing justice to Gotham.
First Appearance: Detective Comics #233 (1956)
Recommended Reading: Secret Origins #3, Batwoman Vol 1: Hydrology, Countdown #41-39
Duke Thomas, The Signal
During Zero Year when Riddler shut the power off in Gotham, Duke met the Caped Crusader when Batman saved him and his friends. Years later he joined Batman’s “We Are Robin” initiative, but later left to join the Batman family and fight crime side by side with Batman full time. He is a metahuman who is still realizing his powers, yet that does not stop him from doing the right thing. Now he fights alongside the Bat-Family as the Signal.
First Appearance: Batman Vol 2 #21 (2013)
Recommended Reading: Batman Rebirth Vol 1-3
First Appearance: Batman Rebirth Vol #1 (2016)
Recommended Reading: Batman Rebirth Vol 1-3
Cassandra Cain, Orphan
Cassandra Cain was the second incarnation of the Batgirl. Cassandra Cain was raised in the League of Assassins. From birth Cassandra was trained to be the ultimate martial artist and assassin. She wasn’t even taught how to speak, only to map out opponents movements to better fight. Later she left the League and, inspired by Barbara Gordon, became Batgirl for a short period of time. Later she left Gotham and fought crime abroad as the Black Bat. In the new DC Rebirth, her origin is that of an assassin trained on the streets of Gotham and inducted into Batman and Batwoman’s “boot camp” for young crime fighters.
First Appearance: As Cassandra: Batman #567 (1999) As Orphan: Batman And Robin Eternal #26
Recommended Reading: Batman: Gates of Gotham, Batgirl Vol 1 (2005), Batgirl: Kicking Assassins
Helena Bertinelli, The Huntress
The Huntress’ origin has been changed a bit in Rebirth but her main characterization remains the same. Helena Bertinelli was the daughter of Frank Bertinelli a prominent mob boss and a very wealthy man. Her mother wanted to leave Frank for another mobster who ended up killing everyone in the Bertinelli family except for Helena who hid underneath a table. She went into hiding with her aunt who taught her archery and martial arts. For Rebirth, She became the director or SPYRAL an espionage agency where she met Dick Grayson. After her time at SPYRAL she reinvented herself as the Huntress and joined the Birds of Prey where she became good friends with Dinah Lance and Barbara Gordon before joining the throng with the Batman family.
First Appearance: Sensational Comics #68 (1947)
Recommended Reading: New 52 Grayson, Batman: No Man’s Land, Batman: Hush, Batman/Huntress: Cry For Blood.
Ace The Bathound
Originally the guide dog for a blind Native American named Black Wolf, Ace was acquired by Bruce Wayne when Black Wolf died. Recently the history behind Ace has been changed to him being a dog formerly owned by the Joker and taken in by Batman, receiving his name because of an Ace playing card mask that he was wearing. Regardless, he is Batman’s best friend and a avid fighter along side Batman when he needs it.
First Appearance: Batman #92 (1955)
Recommended Reading: Batman Annual #1