Supervillain Origins: Man-Bat

Kirk Langstrom was once a Geneticist who worked for Gotham’s Museum of Natural History. Charged with preparing a bat exhibit for the museum’s grand opening, he instead used the bats to conduct genetic experiments in the hopes of curing his deafness. Extracting secretions from the bat glands, he created a formula to help him adapt the creatures’ natural hearing abilities. However, the serum had unexpected side effects. Join WatchMojo.com as we explore the comic book origins of Dr. Kirk Langstrom, otherwise known as Man-Bat.
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Supervillain Origins: Man-Bat


He is Bruce Wayne’s greatest fear personified! Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be exploring the comic book origins of Dr. Kirk Langstrom, otherwise known as Man-Bat.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginings and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen to primarily follow the storyline, which unfolded in 1970’s Detective Comics #400, which was expanded upon in issue #402.

Kirk Langstrom was once a Geneticist who worked for Gotham’s Museum of Natural History. Charged with preparing a bat exhibit for the museum’s grand opening, he would wait until his co-workers left for the night to conduct experiments on bats.

In the hopes of counteracting his increasing deafness, he regularly extracted secretions from the glands of bats in order to gain the creatures’ natural hearing abilities.

Once Langstom had enough solution, he tested it on himself. Immediately afterwards, he found that even the noise of dripping water had become unbearable and that his eyes could no longer stand the light.

Putting on sunglasses, he realized that he was able to see perfectly in the darkness and that his vocal chords had begun emitting super sonic signals.

Having already made incredible progress, Langstrom decided to call it a night. However, he noticed that his hands had become claw-like and hairy.

Rushing to a mirror, he was horrified to discover that his entire body had changed into that of a bat. Panicking, he rushed back to his lab in hopes of developing an antidote.

Unable to make progress, he decided to go into hiding and send out a Telegram to his boss, saying that he had to take care of his sick mother.

Throughout the day, he slept upside down in the bat habitat, waiting for the staff to lock up for the night.

Later, while searching for food, he stumbled upon a group of burglars fighting Batman. Catching them unaware, Langstrom knocked the villains unconscious.

When Batman tried to thank the good Samaritan, Langstrom hid his face and explained to Batman that he was his inspiration for playing the hero.

Batman then shone a light on the doctor’s face. His horrific face revealed, Langstrom lashed out and destroyed the flashlight before running off into the night, leaving Batman to wonder if he had just made a friend or a foe.

Soon after, the doctor ambushed several thieves at a Biotech company in the hopes of stealing a potential cure. However, when Batman tried to stop him, Langstrom was forced to fight back.

Batman pursued him back to the museum, where he ran into Langstrom’s fiancée who had gone looking for him. Taking her into the lab to in an attempt to reach out to the creature, her presence backfired and caused Langstrom to drop the cure and jump out of a window.

Batman gave chase, but Langstrom took flight, signaling that his transformation was complete.

Instinctually, the Man-Bat sought shelter, and happened upon the Batcave. Thus, as Batman returned to base, he was caught in a fight with the creature. Knocking the Man-Bat out, Batman went to work on developing and administering a cure.

Despite having been restored to human form, the mutation turned out to be dormant, and would regularly re-emerge, causing Langstrom to experience blackouts and instinctual rampages.

A villain that is the living personification of Batman’s greatest fears, Man-Bat remains one of the lesser-known, yet more deadly villains in the Batman universe. He has continued to appear in various media. Most notably, as the first villain to appear in “1992’s Batman: The Animated Series”!

Are you a fan of this leathery winged monster? For more great comic book origins, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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