Since we first started this series over a year ago, we've pored over the embarrassing exploits of comic book mainstays like Superman, Captain America and Wolverine, but you never forget your first. He's responsible for some of the most memorable moments in comic books, so it's only fair that Batman also has the most humiliating low points. Because there's about three metric assloads of Batman-related comics hitting the stands on a monthly basis, there's no shortage of material to pull from. We've rifled through the conspicuous folder on the Bat-Computer marked "Sports Stuff" and dug up more of Batman's dirty laundry. There's a lot more than black over-the-pants underwear in there.
1960s Silver Age Batman was always kind of nutty, but it was truly impressive to see him top his own absurdity year after year. After perfecting his gadgetry with the Batpoon, the Caped Crusader took his abilities to the logical extreme by morphing into flying buzz-saw and vandalizing statues of Jebediah Springfield. Gaze into those emotionless eyes. Batman knows what he is now. He's resigned to his fate as a mindless death-dealing frisbee, content to spend his days like a living version of Kung Lao's hat.
Fortunately, Superman is around to wrangle Batman's "vibrating and metallic" new bod and chuck him onto one of those junkyard crane magnets. Of course, since it's a Silver Age comic, the hare-brained plot behind the vigilante's transformation is needlessly complicated and also explained in like one and a half pages. Look, if you really need to know why Batman turned into a human Destructo Disk, it happened after Superman punched a weird comet and then shook hands with Batman who handled Red Kryptonite which -- it doesn't matter. If you're that bent on ruining the mystique of buzz-saw Batman, you can read the wiki, you archvillain of fun.
After Dick Grayson struck out on his own and became Nightwing, Batman replaced him faster than a dead family dog. Jason Todd was kind of a soft-reboot Robin, which aged the character down to his "classic" look while still letting fan-fave Dick do his own thing. The problem: Everyone hated Jason Todd. He was whiny and insufferable, and he played on his phone while watching Game of Thrones and then had the balls to say he didn't know what was happening. Faced with an onslaught of pre-internet hate mail, editors sought a permanent solution. Rather than retool Robin or like, give readers compelling reasons to sympathize with him, they put Jason's existence to a vote. In the back of one issue there was a huge ad with two phone numbers. Calling one meant a tally in favor of letting Robin live, and calling the other line meant it was more likely that Robin would die a horrible, bomb and crowbar-based death at the hands of The Joker.
It didn't go well for Jason.
In an incredibly close vote, 5,343 bloodthirsty bastards elected for Jason Todd to die, curbstomping the hearts of 5,271 voters who thought that an innocent human being should be allowed to live. Each call-in vote to the 1-900 number cost 50 cents, and in no way do we recommend a reader call that number to see what swarthy brand of phone sex line it is today. When you add it up, Robin died over a matter of 36 dollars. Think about that. The course of Batman comics was changed forever for the same amount of money it takes to buy a Shake Weight for each hand. It was a morbid and cynical thing for DC Comics to do, but it was an even more embarrassing moment for Batman fans.
You could say that voters just wanted to dump a character they didn't like, but those readers were actually voting for Batman to lose. The fact that he let a child die on his watch, a child that he put in danger by recruiting him to fight crime, was a failure that would haunt the character for decades. In putting Batman through such an intense psychological wringer, readers doomed themselves to years of a grimdark Batman who's so obsessed with his own mistakes that he keeps Robin's ghost costume in a capsule in the Batcave. Granted, it added tragedy to the character who hadn't seen much more of it since his parents died, but there's gotta be a better way to do that besides fridging by committee.