How "DC Universe: Rebirth" Fulfills Its Promise of Restoring Legacy to DC Comics
Again, here is the archive of the lists Lorendiac posts here, and here is his latest list- BC.
A few months ago I posted my latest draft of a list of all the people who, in the years since 1986, have known Batman’s secret identity and in some cases have then “lost” the knowledge (by retcon or otherwise). It’s still available at Who Knows Batman is Bruce Wayne?
This list is something different; more suited for diehard fans of “the good old days” that ended over two decades ago. (If you couldn’t care less about Batman’s continuity from so long ago, then you might not be interested in reading the rest of this! I’m giving fair warning!) This is my second attempt to name all 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 on this list, such as Dick Grayson and Alfred Pennyworth, definitely had their well-established knowledge of Bruce’s secret “carry over” from the Pre-COIE to Post-COIE continuity, with most of their previous appearances in Bat-titles still presumed (by default) to be part of the “new and improved” history. But many others on this list either had their knowledge “retcon-erased” or else simply have never been mentioned in the last 22 years or so of “modern continuity” and possibly don’t exist in the Post-COIE Batman’s world! (One example of that “never been mentioned in the last few decades, maybe he’s been erased?” status is Bruce’s Great-Uncle Silas Wayne, listed below under “S for Silas.”)
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, specifically in “Batman #400,” the final issue of Doug Moench’s mid-80s run as a Batman writer on two then-linked titles. (Moench later came back for a lengthy second run on the character in the 1990s, but those stories have no relevance to this list.)
Note: I’ve learned that in some cases, the “original discovery” of Batman’s secret by a certain party occurred in a story published pre-1956, but the person who discovered it was then used extensively in later Silver Age/Bronze Age stories, and it was either explicitly stated or heavily implied that the pre-1956 story had happened on Earth-1; not just involving Earth-2 analogs of the characters in question. For instance, Superman’s discovery of the secret happened in a story published in 1952 — but as near as I can tell, all subsequent Superman/Batman team-ups published over the next thirty-four years were written with the fundamental assumption that the Earth-1 Superman had, in fact, previously learned Batman’s secret the first time they worked together!
So if you think I missed anything — or got key details wrong in things I tried to cover here — just remember that I only care about tracking down characters who knew “Batman = Bruce Wayne” in any story published in that thirty-year range (or published earlier but eventually stated or implied to belong in Earth-1 continuity) – except, of course, we should still ignore any Batman story that specifically warned the reader it only featured the Golden Age Batman who lived and eventually died on Earth-2. (Although who knows? Someday I may get around to compiling a separate list for the al the times when the “original” Batman, who debuted in 1939, had his secrets put in jeopardy! But not right 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 Dick Grayson is listed under “Nightwing.” Or, if the character was long dead or otherwise had faded into limbo before the 1980s, then I mention whatever alias had been used frequently before dying or otherwise fading away.
2. If the person habitually just used his real name instead of a colorful alias, then 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 believe most fans don’t think of him as “Pennyworth, Alfred” the way he would be listed in a phone book. (The fact that he used the alias “The Outsider” back in the 1960s isn’t very important; it didn’t become a lasting feature of the basic character concept.)
3. To make life a little easier on myself, I am – for the moment – ignoring many 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 to try, that the Earth-1 Batman was also “Bruce Wayne.” This saves me the trouble of typing out separate listings for two Supermen, two Catwomen, two Alfred Pennyworths . . . you get the idea. Therefore, I omit most of the membership of such Pre-Crisis Earth-2-based superhero teams as the JSA and Infinity Inc. I make exceptions for Black Canary II and Red Tornado II because both of them ended up as Earth-1 Batman’s trusted teammates in the Satellite Era JLA; i.e. they “immigrated” to Earth-1 instead of just staying on Earth-2 as lifelong residents.
4. The only inhabitant of Earth-Prime whom I’m bothering to list is Superboy-Prime. I don’t see how he could possibly fail to know the secret as he grew up (after all, he knew his name “Clark Kent” was identical to that of the Earth-1 Superman whom he read about in comic books). But he’s a purely fictional character; I’m leaving out lots of other Earth-Prime residents who “really existed” and just quickly visited Earth-1 at some point in the Pre-COIE continuity (including Julius Schwartz, Cary Bates, Marv Wolfman, George Perez, etc.).
THE MASTER LIST OF PEOPLE WHO KNEW, PRE-CRISIS
Ace the Bat-Hound (I am told that in at least one story, he had lots of thought balloons, which allegedly either showed or implied he was intelligent enough to appreciate such subtleties as the names and “secret identities” of human beings. I have not read the story, and I could be making a mistake about his comprehension of the basic concept of “secret identities.” If you have solid information, pro or con, please tell me!)
Alec Wyre (Criminal electronics genius who found the Batcave in “Batman #125,” and possibly figured out whose house it was directly under — I’m not clear on whether that last part was stated, or was only a possibility which Batman and Robin feared — but in any case, Wyre somehow got himself killed in an accident before he could do anything scary with whatever he had learned inside the Batcave. Upon finding Wyre’s fresh corpse down in the Cave, Bruce and Dick worried that someone else had killed the guy and then escaped with juicy information about them, but eventually they managed to reconstruct how the accident had occurred, and quit worrying)
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. It is worth mentioning that back in the 1960s there was a mysterious super-powered villain called “The Outsider” who demonstrated his knowledge of the secrets of Batman and Robin, and then turned out to be a temporarily deranged Alfred Pennyworth (previously thought dead and buried) — but that phase of his life didn’t last)
Aqualad (Garth. A founding member of the Teen Titans. Knew Dick’s secret identity; therefore probably knew Batman’s, although he wasn’t a “regular” in the early-1980s Titans, so I’m not sure if his knowledge about Bruce Wayne was ever explicitly declared, then or earlier?)
Aquaman (Arthur Curry. Probably learned right after “Justice League of America #122,” which ended with several members of the JLA resolving it was time for all active members to share secret identities, in preparation for a worst-case scenario)
The Atom II (Ray Palmer. Probably learned right after “Justice League of America #122,” which ended with several members of the JLA resolving it was time for all active members to share secret identities, in preparation for a worst-case scenario)
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)
Bat-Mite (With his magical powers, it would have been just about impossible to keep him from learning)
Black Canary II (Dinah Lance, who – until a JLA/JSA crossover in 1983 retconned her origins – was supposed to be her own mother, the Golden Age Black Canary of Earth-2, who had (supposedly) immigrated to Earth-1 to join the JLA, without ever getting visibly older than she had been when she debuted toward the end of the Golden Age . . . look, just take my word for it, okay? She probably learned right after “Justice League of America #122,” which ended with several members of the JLA resolving it was time for all active members to share secret identities, in preparation for a worst-case scenario)
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)
The Blockbuster I (Mark Desmond. Learned the secret in “Batman #194.” However, I’m also told that later on, Blockbuster reached the conclusion that Batman was actually Solomon Grundy, or at least someone who must be a dead ringer for Grundy. Don’t ask me what that’s all about!)
Catwoman (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 the secret.)
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 protÃ©gÃ© 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.)
Clayface II (Matt Hagen. Learned in “World’s Finest #140″ and then lost the knowledge. He later died during the COIE miniseries, although that didn’t stop him from being dragged back onstage in a Post-COIE story arc)
Composite Superman (Joseph Meach. Knew the secrets of Batman and Superman at the times when he had their special abilities and wore a blend of their costumes; sometimes lost the knowledge when restored to normal again. First appeared in “World’s Finest #142″)
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. See “Changeling” for the rationale)
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, and he revealed his real name to her at the same time he announced he was abandoning the “Robin” identity for good. All the other Titans already 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” – Slade and Bruce never met in that era, so the subject simply never came up! — 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!)
Denny Kale (Criminal. In “World’s Finest #132,” he and his partner Shorty Biggs impersonated Batman and Robin (Bruce and Dick), captured the real ones, unmasked them, and then conveniently lost their memories of that event thanks to a freak accident in an alchemist’s laboratory (most of this story was happening in Renaissance Italy, thanks to the miracle of time travel))
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. Probably learned right after “Justice League of America #122,” which ended with several members of the JLA resolving it was time for all active members to share secret identities, in preparation for a worst-case scenario)
Firestorm (Ronnie Raymond merged with Martin Stein. Note: Last year, at least one reader cast doubt on whether Firestorm ever actually learned Batman’s secrets, even though he served with the JLA for much of their Satellite Era. I’m working on the theory that all the Satellite Era JLAers were trusted with one another’s secrets at some point, but I may be wrong — anyone care to offer evidence for or against Ronnie (and/or Martin) ever knowing?)
Flash (Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash. He was the “first Flash” of Earth-1 in the Pre-COIE era, until the Post-COIE retcons turned him into “Flash II” of the modern DCU. Probably learned right after “Justice League of America #122,” which ended with several members of the JLA resolving it was time for all active members to share secret identities, in preparation for a worst-case scenario)
Frank Davis (Amateur Batman scholar who deduced the truth before being murdered in “Batman #108″)
Future Man (Rak Durr. A time-travelling criminal from the 21st Century — this was published 45 years ago, when being from the 21st Century still sounded like a big deal! — who learned Batman’s secret during his visit to 1963 in “World’s Finest #135,” but he was deported to his native era before he could cause any real trouble with his recent discovery)
Geo-Force (Brion Markov. Learned in “Batman and the Outsiders #13″)
Green Arrow I (Oliver Queen. Probably learned right after “Justice League of America #122,” which ended with several members of the JLA resolving it was time for all active members to share secret identities, in preparation for a worst-case scenario)
Green Lantern #whatever (Hal Jordan. Probably learned right after “Justice League of America #122,” which ended with several members of the JLA resolving it was time for all active members to share secret identities, in preparation for a worst-case scenario)
Guerney (A criminal who learned Batman’s secret identity during a visit he made inadvertently — along with Batman and Robin (Dick) — to the world of Plaxius in another dimensional reality in “Batman #125.” However, when the three of them returned to Earth-1 via “time warp,” they all lost their knowledge of what had happened during their inter-dimensional jaunt, so no harm was done)
Halo (An energy being called an “Aurakle” which possessed the body of Violet Hunter. Learned in “Batman and the Outsiders #13″)
Harbinger (Lyla, the former assistant to the Monitor. Had access to her boss’s files, which were chock full of information about everyone interesting)
Harvey Harris (Brilliant police detective who taught the juvenile Bruce Wayne (disguised as “Robin”) about investigative techniques. Harris figured out at the time who was behind the mask, but didn’t say so. Likewise, he later deduced the new “Batman” in Gotham must be that masked student from several years earlier, now grown up. Bruce only learned of Harris’s knowledge from a message delivered after the detective died)
Hawkman (Katar Hol of Thanagar, aka Carter Hall. Probably learned right after “Justice League of America #122,” which ended with several members of the JLA resolving it was time for all active members to share secret identities, in preparation for a worst-case scenario)
Hawkgirl (Shiera Hol of Thanagar, aka Shiera Hall. Presumably either learned from her husband after he found out, or possibly learned the secret later on when she was offered JLA membership in her own right)
Hugo Strange (Found out in the Steve Englehart run in the 70s that is collected in the “Batman: Strange Apparitions” TPB. Although I should add that in Hugo’s last “Pre-Crisis” appearance, in “Batman Annual #whatever,” Batman was doing his best to persuade Hugo that his recent memories of the details of his clashes with Bruce Wayne and with Batman might only be hypnotically implanted memories to blur the “true story” of Batman’s secret life. Whether or not this cover story would have kept Hugo fooled in the long run, we’ll never know; because the Post-Crisis Hugo seems to have been Totally Rebooted instead of having his old stories from the 70s and early-to-mid 80s carry over into the modern DCU continuity)
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 protÃ©gÃ©.)
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 after hearing him confess 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 gunning him down in their rage. Oops! Still, for about five or ten minutes, Joe Chillnew the secret)
Karko (An alien thief from the 26th Century who knew, as did just about everybody in his native culture, the secret identities of Batman and Robin (Bruce and Dick), according to a story published in “Detective Comics #257″)
Katana (Tatsu Yamashiro. Learned in “Batman and the Outsiders #13″)
Kid Flash (Wally West. See “Changeling” for the rationale)
Killer Moth (It appears that his “real name” in the Silver Age was never revealed, but he sometimes used the alias “Cameron van Cleer.” He kidnapped and impersonated Bruce Wayne in “Detective Comics #173,” and learned the secret during that story. Then he was shot in the head. The wound, and/or the surgery which saved his life, conveniently erased the short-term memories of what he had just learned — although he otherwise recovered well enough to let him to continue to function as a supervillain on several subsequent occasions)
The Legion of Super-Heroes (I’m told that, in at least one team-up in the original “The Brave and the Bold” title, it was made clear that they knew Batman was Bruce Wayne. After a little quick research, I think the person who told me that was probably referring to the team-up in “The Brave and the Bold #179,” but I can’t swear to the details of that story. It certainly makes sense that his identity would be known 1000 years after his heyday, though (see the entry for “Superwoman” for another person from the distant future who apparently knew from history books). At any rate, I figure it’s easier on everybody if I just list the “Legion” as a package deal instead of adding every single member they ever had in the Pre-Crisis era to this list individually. Call me lazy!)
Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onnz. I think he knew — he occasionally popped up during the Satellite Era — however, he was not active as a member through most of the 1970s, when “Justice League of America” made it clear the active members had decided to share identities as a general policy, so I’m not absolutely certain whether or not anyone was ever explicitly stated or heavily implied to have brought him up to speed on all the secrets they’d been sharing with each other during his long absences)
Metamorpho (Rex Mason. Learned in “Batman and the Outsiders #13″)
Mirror Man (Floyd Ventris. A supervillain who was able to use special technology to penetrate Batman’s cowl in “Detective Comics #217″ and see Bruce’s face. Batman was later able to pull a tricky stunt in “Batman #157″ to persuade Mirror Man he must have made a mistake the first time around, but I’m told that, during the gap between those two stories, the guy “really knew” the secret; not that it did him much good)
The Monitor (In anticipation of what became “the Crisis on Infinite Earths,” he had already compiled detailed dossiers on every costumed character who might possibly be useful to him when the time came)
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!)
Mrs. Chilton (first name unknown) (The housekeeper in the mansion of Philip Wayne, who was Bruce’s uncle and became his legal guardian after he was orphaned. In “Batman #208″ it was revealed that she was the mother of Joe Chill, and furthermore that somewhere along the line she had figured out that Bruce became Batman after he grew up. She never shared any of that with Bruce, however. There is some evidence that she might have talked it over with Alfred Pennyworth at some point – in the miniseries “Untold Legend of the Batman” Alfred thinks about how Master Bruce must never know she was Joe Chill’s mother, but I’m told that if Mrs. Chilton and Alfred previously had a heart-to-heart talk on the subject, then it apparently happened “behind the scenes”)
Nightwing I (Dick Grayson, formerly Robin I. I’m not going to bother citing an issue in which he “first learned” — just take my word for it that he found out, okay? )
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. Near as I can recall, she simply figured it out on her own, offstage, at some point, and then alluded to it the next time she conversed with Bruce Wayne)
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 the local versions of 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)
The Plaxians (The inhabitants of Plaxius, a world in another dimensional reality. Batman’s identity was publicly revealed to them when it looked as if he were their new rightful king after he triumphed in a series of contests. However, that didn’t work out — Batman and Robin (along with the criminal Guerney, listed above) returned to Earth-1 and forgot the whole thing. As far as I know, the Plaxians and their world of Plaxius have never been seen or heard from in any other story since their debut in “Batman #125,” so their knowledge of Batman’s secrets never became a major security threat for him)
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 underlings (such as the occasional Ubu) 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.” Probably learned right after “Justice League of America #122,” which ended with several members of the JLA resolving it was time for all active members to share secret identities, in preparation for a worst-case scenario)
The Shadow (Sometimes known by such names as “Kent Allard” and “Lamont Cranston.” His knowledge was established in “Batman #259.”)
Shorty Biggs (Criminal. In “World’s Finest #132,” he and his partner Denny Kale impersonated Batman and Robin (Bruce and Dick), captured the real ones, unmasked them, and then conveniently lost their memories of that event thanks to a freak accident in an alchemist’s laboratory (most of this story was happening in Renaissance Italy, thanks to the miracle of time travel))
Silas Wayne (An obscure great-uncle who believed the “millionaire playboy” act and thought Bruce was a disgrace to the family traditions of the Waynes. When Silas was on his deathbed in “Batman #120,” Bruce finally revealed the secret to him so he’d know the modern generation of the family wasn’t completely useless after all)
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)
Speedy (Roy Harper. A member of the first incarnation of the Teen Titans. Knew Dick’s secret identity; therefore probably knew Batman’s, although he wasn’t a “regular” in the early-1980s Titans, so I’m not sure if his knowledge about Bruce Wayne was ever explicitly declared, then or earlier?)
Starfire II (Koriand’r of Tamaran. See “Changeling” for the rationale)
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 definitely 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 figures for “Bruce Wayne” and “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. The first “first meeting” of Batman and Superman was published in “Superman #76″ in 1952. By sheer coincidence, Clark and Bruce ended up as roommates on a cruise ship, and caught on to each other’s secret identities pretty darn quick. I’m not clear on whether that story was ever explicitly referred to again as a well-established part of the Earth-1, Silver Age continuity after the concepts of Earth-1 and Earth-2 were established almost a decade later, but at any rate, all through the Silver and Bronze Ages it was repeatedly made clear that Clark and Bruce knew each other’s secrets . . . presumably because of the groundwork laid in this story?)
Superwoman (Kristin Wells. Second character in Silver Age/Bronze Age continuity to use that alias, to the best of my knowledge. 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 – Ra’s al Ghul — after he had researched the point)
Terry Long (Married Donna Troy; basically learned everything she knew about the other Titans and their mentors and so forth. I’m not sure on the timing, but well before the wedding, Terry already knew “Dick” was “Robin” – I’m not sure if he ever met Batman face-to-face or ever explicitly said he knew who Batman was (although Bruce was in the large crowd at the wedding), but as I said in an earlier entry, Marv Wolfman in those days seemed to work on the theory that anyone who knew Dick Grayson’s secret could and probably did easily figure out Bruce Wayne’s secret as well even if Dick didn’t spell it out for them right away — which makes a lot more sense to me than Denny O’Neil’s frantic attempt in the mid-90s to retcon it to say: “Anyone in Titans continuity who knows Dick Grayson’s secret is far too clueless to ever figure out who Batman really is”)
The Venusians (A civilized species living on the planet Venus; I’m guessing they were called “Venusians.” In “Detective Comics #260,” it was revealed that they knew all about Batman’s adventures and secrets, thanks to avidly watching him on some sort of “TV space scanners”)
Wonder Girl I (Donna Troy. See “Changeling” for the rationale)
Wonder Woman (Diana of Paradise Island. Probably learned right after “Justice League of America #122,” which ended with several members of the JLA resolving it was time for all active members to share secret identities, in preparation for a worst-case scenario)
Zatanna (Zatanna Zatara. Probably knew from her lengthy tenure as Batman’s teammate during the JLA’s Satellite Era, although — like Firestorm — she only became a member in good standing of the League well after the story (“Justice League of America #122″) which had ended with several members deciding it was time for everyone to share information about their secret identities in preparation for worst-case scenarios. If anyone can remember any evidence from a Pre-Crisis story which made it clear that Zatanna, after working with the JLA for awhile, definitely did or definitely didn’t know who Batman was, please say so!)
Doubtful Cases and Near-Misses
Kathy Kane, the Pre-COIE Batwoman, definitely had suspicions regarding Bruce Wayne at various times during her Silver Age career, but apparently never “knew” anything for sure. I’m not clear on whether or not she ever mentioned those suspicions to her niece, Betty Kane (Bat-Girl).
On a similar note: When I started buying the “Batman” and “Detective Comics” titles in 1982, I arrived just in time to see Vicki Vale showing Alfred Pennyworth a collection of photos she had taken of Bruce Wayne and of Batman. She had measured their chins and things from various angles and thought their jaws, the shapes and sizes of their skulls, etc., were incredibly similar. She was almost certain they were the same man. But she didn’t “know” in the sense of having fingerprints or DNA evidence. She didn’t “know” in the sense that she had ever seen Batman removing his mask to reveal the face of Bruce Wayne. She didn’t “know” in the sense that Batman (or anyone else who knew or claimed to know) had ever told her the secret. And she didn’t seem 100% sure of her own conclusions, since she was voluntarily offering Alfred the chance to disprove her hypothesis, if he could. (As indeed he did – with the help of Christopher Chance, the Human Target, who didn’t know what the real purpose of impersonating Bruce Wayne was supposed to be, however — he was led to believe that someone might be planning to assassinate Bruce in the near future — hence, Mr. Chance has no entry on this list.)
This carries over to Boss Thorne (Rupert Thorne, previously introduced in Englehart’s run that’s now collected as “Strange Apparitions”) and to Deadshot. After Thorne became aware of Vicki’s work, he hired Deadshot to kill Bruce Wayne, and evidently told him exactly why this seemed desirable, although Deadshot found it hard to believe the spoiled playboy could be the same tough guy who had beaten him fair and square in the past. Deadshot was about to shoot “Wayne” (Christopher Chance) when Batman hit him from behind, ruining his shot. As a result: Both Deadshot and Thorne evidently ended up deciding the whole “Bruce Wayne could be Batman” theory had just stemmed from one of those wild coincidental resemblances that didn’t mean a thing. So I don’t list them above as people who ever definitely “knew” the secret . . . I think of them more as people who tested Vicki’s theory and decided it didn’t hold up under scrutiny.
A few years later, there was a story in Doug Moench’s run in the mid-80s in which Anton Knight (variously called The Thief of Night, Night-Thief, The Slayer of Night, and Night-Slayer) found himself standing over the dazed body of Batman after the latter had suffered a scalp injury from a gunshot. Anton had a cute idea and removed and exchanged their costumes, posing as Batman for several issues thereafter and leaving Bruce (who seemed to be in such a bad state that he didn’t know who he was for awhile) as The Night-Slayer. In the process of switching costumes, Anton naturally got a good look at Bruce’s face, and reflected that it seemed somehow familiar – but as near as we could tell, in his other appearances over the next couple of years, he never did figure out just where he had seen that face before.
I would call this a borderline case. If Anton Knight ever again came face-to-face with Bruce Wayne, and heard someone say, “That’s Bruce Wayne,” then he would instantly know who Batman was. Or he could have seen the face in a TV broadcast or a newspaper photograph or whatever, at any time. So I’d say he was “teetering on the brink” of knowing, and could fall over the brink at the slightest push.
Beyond that, some other doubtful cases where I’m not sure what anyone knew or was implied to know:
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 very 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 in the Pre-Crisis days.
P.S. Whew! When you look at all of the above, you can see why there was a certain editorial desire — after COIE (and again after Zero Hour, as I referred to earlier) to retcon like crazy so that Batman’s secret identity would come a little bit closer to plausibly being “secret!” For instance, I don’t think Jimmy Olsen has known the secret at any time since 1986 (thank goodness). Of course, that hasn’t stopped various writers from letting dozens of other people (and some of the same ones listed above) discover the “secret” over the last twenty-two years or so . . . as you will see if you scroll back to the top of this list and click on the link to my list of people in more “modern” continuity who know or “used to know” the secret!
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