All things geek: Batman Day is my kind of holiday

Matthew Lane • Sep 21, 2019 at 8:00 AM

KINGSPORT — “Holy astringent, plum-like fruit!”

Why, yes, that is an actual quote by Robin the Boy Wonder from the 1960s “Batman” TV series. It’s one of the most amazing and truly bizarre quotes to come out of Burt Ward’s mouth.

The words were uttered in the final episode of the series — “Minerva, Mayhem and Millionaires” — and it involved a goon of the villainess Minerva (played by Zsa Zsa Gabor). Chances are, you’re not familiar with this little bit of Batman trivia.

But, hopefully, there’s plenty of Batman trivia you are familiar with.

Today is Batman Day — a day meant to celebrate the cultural impact the Dark Knight has had on the world since his creation 80 years ago at the hands of Bob Kane and Bill Finger. The event was first held five years ago in July to coincide with San Diego Comic-Con and to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the character’s debut.

Apparently the event was a success among fans because DC Comics has continued it the past five years. Today, DC Comics is celebrating the iconic character with a number of special events and activities, most notably the lighting of Bat Signals in 11 cities around the world, including ones in Australia, Tokyo, Berlin, Paris, London and Los Angeles.

“The Bat Signal is easily one of the most recognizable images among all superhero iconography, and this is going to be a remarkable sight as we transcend borders, languages and cultures to bring us all together with this single experience,” said Pam Lifford, president of Warner Bros. Global Brands and Experiences. “We are proud to send up the Bat Signal on Batman Day because it is an important beacon of inspiration that makes us all believe that it’s possible to take hardship and turn it into something good.”

Other events taking place in celebration of Batman Day include a 5K run in Los Angeles, reading events at various Barnes & Noble locations, custom photo frames on Facebook and Snapchat, the release of an 18-film collection, a special Batman playlist on Spotify, and tons of new merchandise in the DC Comics store.

Locally, I’ve not heard of any special events, though you could always come over to my house and enjoy a Batman movie marathon.

Batman is one of the most iconic superheroes of all time and one of my favorites. His never-ending mission to protect Gotham City, how he overcame tragedy at such a young age to become one of the most respected and feared superheroes in the DC Universe ... that message resonates strongly with me and millions of fans around the world.

One man, with no superpowers whatsoever, using only his wit and his will (and an eclectic assortment of gadgets), stands shoulder to shoulder with powerful aliens, underwater kings and mythic princesses. Batman is truly one of a kind.

In honor of this year’s Batman Day I’ve compiled a short list of trivia about the Dark Knight, drawing inspiration from the character’s appearance in comic books, television series and box office movies.

Trivia about the Dark Knight

— Originally named the “Bat-Man,” the character is also known as the Caped Crusader, the Dark Knight, and the World’s Greatest Detective.

— Batman’s first appearance was in Detective Comics #27 (May 1939) with the story being “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate.”

— Batman’s first supporting character was Commissioner James Gordon, who appeared in this issue. Robin, Batman’s sidekick for decades, didn’t appear until a few years later in Detective Comics #38. Robin’s red and yellow costume was meant to brighten up the grim world of Bruce Wayne.

— Bruce Wayne’s loyal and faithful butler Alfred Pennyworth had a different last name when he first debuted in the 1940s: Beagle. The name was changed to Pennyworth in 1969.

— No matter what you hear in any of the television shows, radio serials or movies, from Jack Nicholson to Heath Ledger to Joaquin Phoenix, the true identify of the Joker has never been revealed.

— Vincent Price, the iconic horror movie actor from the 1950s, portrayed the character Egghead in the Batman TV series. The character was later introduced into the comic book titles.

— Voice-actor Kevin Conroy, who has portrayed Batman in many animated television series and movies for more than 25 years, will play the role of Bruce Wayne in the upcoming “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover event this fall in the live-action Arrowverse shows.

— The 1989 “Batman” movie, starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson, was a runaway hit with fans, bringing in more than $411 million worldwide during its nearly six-month run at the box office.

— “The Dark Knight” — arguably the greatest of the Batman movies — has the highest rating of any Batman movie on Rotten Tomatoes at 94 percent. The lowest rated Batman movie is the George Clooney-led “Batman & Robin” at 11 percent.