|The Black Bat|
|First appearance||Black Bat Detective Mysteries|
|Created by||Murray Leinster|
He appeared in Black Bat Detective Mysteries (published by The Berryman Press), a short-lived pulp which saw six issues, all written by Murray Leinster (a pen-name of William Fitzgerald Jenkins), between 1933 and 1934. The character was called Black Bat in the way Simon Templar was called the Saint; unlike the Simon Templar books, however, none of the Black Bat stories ever mentioned the character's real name.
|The Black Bat|
|First appearance||Black Book Detective|
|Created by||Norman A. Daniels|
|Alter ego||Anthony Quinn|
In July 1939, Thrilling Publications (also known as Standard or Better) introduced a new Black Bat in a series called Black Book Detective. Written mainly by Norman A. Daniels under the house name G. Wayman Jones, the stories describe the crime-fighting career of former District Attorney Anthony Quinn. In a clear departure from most pulp characters and heroes, this Black Bat actually has an origin story. It describes how Quinn became the Black Bat after being blinded and disfigured by acid when trying to save evidence against Oliver Snate in court, an idea borrowed a few years later by DC Comics for the creation of both the hero Doctor Mid-Nite and the Batman villain Two-Face (when D.A. Harvey Kent is disfigured by having acid thrown in his face in Detective Comics #66, August 1942; his surname was later changed to Dent). (Marvel Comics later created Matt Murdock, the blind lawyer who gained "super senses" and became Daredevil.) The Black Bat left paper stickers of a bat stuck to his victims, so like The Spider before him (who stamped a blood-red spider stencil on the criminals' foreheads), innocent people would not be blamed for their deaths, and other criminals would come to fear him.
Both the Black Bat and Batman hit the newsstands around the same time, and both claimed that the other was a copy. The threat of lawsuits ended when DC editor Whitney Ellsworth intervened. Ellsworth had once worked for the Black Bat's publishers and brokered a deal that allowed both characters to co-exist peacefully. It is probable that the costumes of both characters were copied from the 1933/34 Black Bat series which featured costumed illustrations of the Black Bat inside the pulps, although in reality, the "Black Bat" in the stories wore ordinary street clothes. Batman creator Bob Kane always contended that the only bat-like man he had seen was the villain from the 1930 film, The Bat Whispers. However, the Black Bat did have a permanent influence on the Batman: chief Batman scribe Bill Finger called Kane's attention to the unique gauntlets the rival character wore. Subsequently, similar "fins" were added to Batman's gloves which remain to this day.
In the first issue, DA Tony Quinn is blinded by acid thrown by a thug working for Oliver Snate, a crime lord, and believes his career is over until a mysterious woman arrives (Carol Baldwin). She tells him that her father is a small town policeman who is dying from a gangster's bullet and that a surgeon is willing to perform an operation to graft his corneas onto Tony Quinn's eyes so that he can see again. The operation is done in secret and when the bandages are removed four months later, Quinn finds that he can not only see normally but can even see perfectly in darkness too. While blind, Quinn had developed the necessary skills of the blind; sharper hearing, more sensitive touch, a better sense of smell, etc.
Like many other crime fighters, Quinn is unhappy about all the criminals who slip through the law's net on legal technicalities, etc. and decides to work outside the law in another persona to bring them to justice, and so the Black Bat is born, with Quinn deciding to keep the role of a blind man and later acquires the title of "Special District Attorney". Con man, Norton "Silk" Kirby, a small-time crook who had tried to rob Tony Quinn (when sighted) one night and had been persuaded to stay on as "officially" a valet and this continued after Quinn was blinded. His many criminal skills are a valuable asset to the Black Bat. Carol, a "resourceful and intelligent girl" who is already working undercover in a gang decides to work with Quinn on his secret crusade and last comes Jack "Butch" O'Leary who risked his life to save a crowd from machine gun fire. None too intelligent but completely loyal and "a hulking giant of a man who was never happier than when his fists were flying in defense of the law and in the aid of the Black Bat".
Quinn has a secret tunnel to a gatehouse at the rear of his house which leads to a quiet street, which he uses as the Black Bat. This is necessary not just because of criminals who want him dead but because of the police too as he works outside the law. Friend to Quinn, the bulky lieutenant, Captain McGrath (under Commissioner Warner) who is so honest he would turn in his own mother if she did something wrong is also enemy of the Black Bat. He suspects they are one and the same (same build, similar voice) and often tries to prove it, with tricks, even once having a doctor examine Quinn's eyes. While Quinn can see perfectly, he can also make his eyes appear like those of a blind person and even a doctor is fooled. Quinn usually turns the tables on McGrath, making him look foolish in his attempts to prove he is the Black Bat.
Covers of the Black Book Detective where Black Bat was the main story with some back-up stories were normally dark and featured a crime being committed while in the background shadows is the symbolic face of a brooding Black Bat looking on. Few covers broke with this tradition, like #27 where the Black Bat is seen being attacked by a huge dog and a knife wielding woman.
Unlike many heroes of the pulps, the Black Bat did not come up against the fantastic but battled ordinary criminals who prey on the weak and helpless. The stories were detective stories too with the criminal and details revealed in the last pages by Quinn. Issue 7 has the Black Bat fighting against a gang of arsonists burning down tenement buildings for insurance money, regardless of who dies in them. Issue 11 has the Black Bat investigating a strange plane crash as well as a missing fortune in diamonds, needed for America's war effort. Russia initially started the war on Germany's side so issue 12 deals with Russian spies who commit sabotage and murder in America. Issue 13, a fiend uses a hospital for illegal and deadly experiments, even punishing his own men with horrible torture if they fail him.
Issue 19 has a man who is believed to be the Devil but the Black Bat reveals his trickery. Issue 25 has Nazi fifth columnists steal a supply of bauxite (aluminum ore) which America desperately needs for the war effort. Issue 27 (around this time, page count of the BB stories started dropping due to a paper shortage, to about 45 pages for a time) Prohibition is over so ex-bootleggers move into the commodity market, stopping supplies getting through. Issue 28 features a criminal hypnotist. Issue 36 (Artwork is usually checked for "taste" but this one got through. A woman on the front cover who is obviously not wearing a bra.) One by one, people who know a secret start dying. Issue 38, a man convicted of murder has the Black Bat convicted of charges too on which he must acquit himself. Issue 39 Crooks plan to attend a rich party as detectives and steal two million in diamonds. Issue 40, the death predictions of a man prove too accurate so the BB investigates. Issue 41, in a 73-page story, a killer plots to control the Sentinel newspaper. Issue 44, a jailbreak and bank loot vanishes.
In 2011 Anthony Quinn is stated as dead in the Clockwork Comics series Education of a Superhero by Adam Dechanel and a new Black Bat under the alias Steve Ventura took on the daunting legacy. Legacy of the Black Bat is an ongoing series created by Paul Hobbs and Adam Dechanel. Ventura, a former reluctant assassin, has vague memories of Anthony Quinn's past suggesting he is a clone of some kind. In addition to this he also has access to all the Black Bat's former hidden weaponry and tech arsenal in the Bat Crypt. Anthony Quinn's former teenage sidekick Jeremiah Graymalkin helped Ventura begin his new life as the new Black Bat.
(Note - Titles in italics have all been reprinted by Sanctum Books)
Due to the issues with Batman, Nedor Comics, the comic publishing arm of Thrilling Publications, did not do a Black Bat comic series; however, it did do a series with a character called "The Mask", which was based on the Black Bat. The Mask appears in the first twenty issues of Exciting Comics.
Moonstone Books included the Black Bat in a new series of comics based on public domain pulp heroes called "Return of the Originals", which began in September 2010. Black Bat Doubleshot, written by Mike Bullock with art by Michael Metcalf, was one of the five main titles in the line.
In 2011, Clockwork Comics launched a new Black Bat with ties to the title character in E.O.S. During his introduction it is stated that Anthony Quinn, the second Black Bat, was killed. Who this third Black Bat remains a mystery.
Black Bat (Tony Quinn) is one of the pulp heroes in Dynamite's "Masks" comic book series.