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Old July 8th, 2007   Lorendiac is offline   #1
Neo Geoffan

joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 332

Default Who knew Bruce was Batman, Pre-Crisis? (Rough Draft)

Several months ago I posted a list of people who know, or used to know, Batman’s secret identity at some point in the last two decades or so; meaning the “modern” DCU continuity of the Post-Crisis era. Then I solicited feedback from my fellow fans and soon posted a second, much expanded, version.

Lately I’ve been thinking it’s about time to go back to that and update it again. But I decided it’s time to make the entire thing more “comprehensive” – to include a separate list of those who knew Bruce’s secret in the Silver and Bronze Ages, when his stories were set on Earth-1 in the Pre-Crisis Multiverse. (Some of the people who learned the secret in those days seem to have had the information scrubbed from their heads in later retcons.)

For my purposes, I’m counting the “Pre-Crisis, Earth-1” era of Batman continuity as beginning in 1956 (the year that Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash of Earth-1, debuted) and ending in 1986, in “Batman #400,” the final issue of Doug Moench’s mid-80s run as a Batman writer.

So what I want right now is your help in tracking down any character who knew “Batman = Bruce Wayne” in any story published in that thirty-year range – except that of course we should still ignore any Batman story that specifically warned the reader it featured the Golden Age Batman who lived and died on Earth-2. (Although: who knows? Someday I may get around to compiling a separate list for him! But not just now.)

A few ground rules, subject to change at any time:

1. In cases where someone has used multiple aliases over the years, Pre- and Post-Crisis, I’m generally listing them here under whatever alias they were using regularly in the early-to-mid 80s, just before the transition to Post-Crisis continuity. For instance, Donna Troy is listed under “Wonder Girl I” and Garfield Logan is listed under “Changeling.”

2. If the person didn’t habitually use a costumed alias, I insert that person into the list in alphabetical order by first name. (Example: “Alfred Pennyworth” is listed under “A for Alfred” instead of “P for Pennyworth,” because I think most fans don’t think of him as “Pennyworth, Alfred” the way he would be listed in a phone book)

3. To make life a little easier on myself, I am – for the moment – ignoring all the characters from the Pre-Crisis Earth-2 who knew for a fact that their world’s Batman was Bruce Wayne (the Golden Age version), and therefore knew or could very easily have figured out, if they cared, that the Earth-1 Batman was also “Bruce Wayne.”

4. The only inhabitant of Earth-Prime that I’m bothering to list as a character who knew Batman’s secret identity is Superboy-Prime. I don’t see how he could possibly fail to know. But I’m leaving out lots of other Earth-Prime characters who visited Earth-1 at some point (including Julius Schwartz, Cary Bates, Marv Wolfman, George Perez, etc.).


Alfred Pennyworth (Pre-COIE, Alfred never even met Bruce until after Bruce was already Batman and Dick Grayson was already Robin. When Alfred first moved into the Manor to be the new butler, he didn’t know what he was really getting into—but he found out)

The Atom II (Ray Palmer. All the regulars of the JLA’s Satellite Era apparently knew each other’s identities in the Pre-Crisis era)

Batgirl I (Barbara Gordon. In the Pre-Crisis days, she was never known as “Oracle.” She apparently learned who Dick and Bruce were, had the knowledge mindwiped away, and figured it out all over again later – or possibly the old mindwipe was retconned away very quietly; it’s unclear. I once wrote about this sequence of events in excruciating detail at Barbara Gordon: A Bad Mindwipe and a Later Retcon)

Black Canary II (Dinah Lance, who – until a JLA/JSA crossover in 1983 retconned her origins – was supposed to be her own mother. It’s a long story, okay?)

Black Lightning (Jefferson Pierce. Learned in “Batman and the Outsiders #13.” Along with four other founding members of the Outsiders: Geo-Force, Halo, Katana, and Metamorpho, all listed below)

Catwoman I (Selina Kyle. Her knowledge was established in “Batman #355” when, for the first time in Earth-1 continuity, she clearly addressed Batman as “Bruce.” Apparently we never found out just when and how she had previously learned.)

Changeling (Garfield Logan. The way Marv Wolfman wrote “The New Teen Titans” in the early-to-mid 80s, it appeared that everyone who was a bona fide member of the team ended up knowing that Robin I (later Nightwing) was Dick Grayson, and that he was the ward and protégé of Bruce Wayne, aka Batman. Thus you will also see listings here for Cyborg, Kid Flash I (Wally), Raven, Starfire II (Koriand’r), Terra I, and Wonder Girl I (Donna). Post-Zero Hour, Denny O’Neil frantically tried to retcon all this six ways from Sunday, but that has nothing to do with how things stood in the early-to-mid 80s in the Pre-Crisis continuity.)

The Crime Doctor (Bradford Thorne. Dead. Learned in his first appearance, in “Detective Comics #494.” One issue later, he went into a coma from mercury poisoning. He had no further appearances in the Pre-Crisis continuity, but in theory, the threat of his a) recovering, and b) still remembering, was constantly hanging over Batman’s head)

Cyborg (Victor Stone)

Dala (Female vampire who learned the secret, in the Earth-1 continuity, in a story arc in 1982. She and her brother “The Monk” had no further appearances in Pre-Crisis continuity.)

Deathstroke the Terminator (Slade Wilson. This one is a bit iffy, but here’s what I think I know: In the Pre-Crisis era, Dick Grayson’s teammates in the Titans all knew he was the first Robin (later Nightwing). For awhile, newcomer Terra I (Tara Markov) was the exception to the rule, but eventually he decided she’d proved she was trustworthy. All the other Titans also seemed to know that Dick Grayson’s mentor was Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, with the Batcave being located beneath stately Wayne Manor. Terra was a spy and definitely shared Dick’s secret identity with Deathstroke the Terminator. I don’t remember Deathstroke, in any “Pre-Crisis” story, ever explicitly saying “I know Bruce Wayne is Batman,” but the assumption Marv Wolfman seemed to be going on in that era was: “ANYBODY who knows Dick Grayson is Robin I/Nightwing also knows Bruce Wayne is Batman,” which makes a lot more sense than Denny O’Neil’s mid-90s retcons to the contrary!)

Douglas Dundee, M.D. (In Pre-Crisis continuity, he was the old doctor who had known Bruce all his life and was well aware of his secret identity. He could be trusted to treat Batman’s occasional bullet wounds and so forth without reporting them to the police)

The Elongated Man (Ralph Dibny)

Firestorm (Ronnie Raymond merged with Martin Stein)

Geo-Force (Brion Markov. Learned in “Batman and the Outsiders #13”)

Green Arrow I (Oliver Queen)

Green Lantern #whatever (Hal Jordan)

Halo (Violet Hunter. Learned in “Batman and the Outsiders #13”)

Harbinger (Lyla, the former assistant to the Monitor. Had access to information about everyone interesting)

Hawkman (Katar Hol of Thanagar, aka Carter Hall)

Hawkgirl (Shiera Hol of Thanagar, aka Shiera Hall)

Hugo Strange (Found out in the Steve Englehart run in the 70s that is collected in the “Batman: Strange Apparitions” TPB)

Jason Todd (Robin II. A very different character from the Post-Crisis Jason who was killed in “A Death in the Family” and more recently came back during Judd Winick’s run on the “Batman” title. This version of Jason independently discovered the secret passage behind a grandfather clock, and thus the Batcave and the spare costumes and so forth, in “Detective Comics #526.” By sheer coincidence, his parents (circus aerialists) were getting killed by Killer Croc right about then, so Jason ended up moving into Wayne Manor as Bruce’s new ward and protégé.)

Jimmy Olsen (For some reason, Silver Age Superman didn’t think it proper to trust Jimmy with his own secret identity, but felt it was perfectly all right to trust him with Batman’s secret identity. No, I don’t understand the logic either – but I haven’t actually read the story in question; I just heard about it online!)

Joe Chill (Batman revealed his true identity to Joe Chill to scare him. A few minutes later, Chill got himself killed by some fellow thugs who shot him full of holes when he confessed that he had just learned he had essentially “created” Batman, the guy who had made so much trouble for all of them over the last few years. A little bit too late, the thugs realized they should have extracted the name from Chill before killing him in anger. Oops! Still, for about five or ten minutes, Joe Chill knew the secret)

Katana (Tatsu Yamashiro. Learned in “Batman and the Outsiders #13”)

Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onnz)

Metamorpho (Rex Mason. Learned in “Batman and the Outsiders #13”)

The Monk (Vampire villain who learned the secrets of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson during a story arc in 1982. Then he and his sister Dala were taken into custody by a mysterious priest, and the Earth-1, Pre-Crisis versions of those characters have never been heard from since!)

Nightwing I (Dick Grayson, formerly Robin I)

Nocturna (Doug Moench’s scripts in the mid-80s sometimes called her “Natasha Knight” and sometimes called her “Natalia Knight” – apparently he lost track of what her first name was, even though he’d created her himself? But she definitely knew for awhile before the transition to Post-Crisis continuity)

The Phantom Stranger (He seems virtually omniscient. In “Detective Comics #500” he gave the Earth-1 Batman and Robin a chance to visit a previously unknown parallel world where Thomas and Martha Wayne were almost due to be murdered by a crook in front of the horrified eyes of their little boy, Bruce, unless somebody intervened to prevent this tragedy – obviously he knew this opportunity would have special meaning for Batman)

Ra's al Ghul (Already knew the secret, from behind-the-scenes detective work, when he made his debut in “Batman #232.” He’d made up a hypothetical shopping list of every special piece of equipment Batman might need in order to operate as independently as he did, and then he had people do research to find out who in the Gotham City area had bought most or all of the things on that possible list, and the name “Bruce Wayne” kept popping up, in one category after another. At least some of Ra’s Ubus and other hirelings have also known)

Raven (In the early 1980s, Dick Grayson was not uptight about letting his fellow Titans know that his mentor was Batman, aka Bruce Wayne. Besides, Raven had already used her mystic powers to find out Dick’s own secret ID before he ever met her face-to-face . . . it’s a pretty safe guess that she could have done the same thing to learn Batman’s secrets, if she cared to take the trouble)

Red Tornado II (John Smith. Satellite Era JLA)

The Shadow (Sometimes known by such names as “Kent Allard” and “Lamont Cranston.” His knowledge was established in “Batman #259.”)

Silver St. Cloud (Learned during the Steve Englehart/Marshall Rogers run on “Detective Comics” that is reprinted in the TPB “Batman: Strange Apparitions.” Nobody told her; she had just gotten so well-acquainted with Bruce when they were dating that the next time she saw “Batman” in action she recognized his mouth and jaw at a glance)

Starfire II (Koriand’r of Tamaran)

Superboy-Prime (Clark Kent of Earth-Prime, which was supposed to be “our Earth.” Presumably he knew from a very early age, thanks to comic books, TV shows, etc. Just as he always knew that the Superman of Earth-1 also used the name “Clark Kent”)

Supergirl (Kara Zor-El, aka Linda Lee Danvers. As I recall: Earth-1 Superman maintained, in his Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic, a display of life-size replicas of many of his superhero buddies, each costumed figure standing alongside a replica of the matching secret identity. That included “Bruce Wayne” next to “Batman.” Since Kal-El completely trusted his cousin Kara (and she was worthy of it, too – ah, those were the good old days!), she had the full run of his Fortress and basically knew everything Superman knew about other heroes)

Superman (Clark Kent, Kal-El)

Superwoman (Second character in Silver Age/Bronze Age continuity to use that alias, to the best of my knowledge. Kristin Wells. She was a history professor in the 29th??? Century who took a strong interest in those old-time superheroes. In “DC Comics Presents Annual #2” she traveled back to the 1980s to learn the “last secret identity” of that era . . . therefore she already knew from textbooks that Bruce Wayne had been Batman, right?)

Talia (Definitely knew; probably learned from her father after he had researched the point)

Wonder Girl I (Donna Troy)

Wonder Woman (Diana of Paradise Island)

Zatanna (Zatanna Zatara. Knew from her time in the JLA’s Satellite Era)

Doubtful cases where I’d appreciate some guidance include:

Owlman of Earth-3. Did we ever learn if he was a member of the Wayne family of his native world, or was he just some random guy who happened to wear a costume similar to the Earth-1 Batman’s?

I strongly suspect The Spectre (Jim Corrigan) knew, but I’ve never been an expert on his continuity. I don’t know if any story ever made it clear that he knew.

And another question: Did the Pre-Crisis version of Kathy Kane, Batwoman, ever learn for a fact that Bruce Wayne was Batman before she died?
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