In May 1939, Bob Kane and Bill Finger introduced their new character “The Bat-man.” The Bat-man’s first appearance came in Detective Comics Issue No. 27, “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate. “
The story opens with Commissioner Gordon chatting with his wealthy young friend, Bruce Wayne, when the commissioner is notified of the murder of Old Lambert, “The Chemical King.” The commissioner departs to the crime scene to investigate, with Wayne tagging along. Commissioner Gordon briefly questions the prime suspect, the victim’s son, who claims innocence. One of the detectives alerts Gordon that Lambert’s business partner, Steve Crane, is on the phone wanting to speak to the commissioner. When the commissioner speaks to the partner, the man claims that Lambert had received a death threat before his murder, and that he had also received a threat. Bruce Wayne excuses himself and leaves the Commissioner to his work.
Before the commissioner can aid Crane, Crane is also murdered. The murderer and his accomplice are about to escape with a document stolen from Crane when the Bat-man appears and defeats both, taking the document with him.
Meanwhile, another partner, Rogers, goes to the laboratory of the fourth partner, Stryker. Before Rogers gets a chance to meet up with Stryker, he is bombarded by Stryker’s assistant, who encases Rogers in a gas chamber. Just as Rogers is about to meet his demise, the Bat-man swoops in, breaks the glass on the gas chamber, and tackles the assistant. After saving Rogers, the Bat-man hides in the shadows as Stryker enters the lab. Stryker, who turns out to be the mastermind behind all of the murders, pulls out a knife and attempts to finish the job. However, the Bat-man advances from his hiding place to stop Stryker. The Bat-man then goes on to explain to a confused Rogers that Stryker wanted to own the whole company, but did not desire to continue making the payments required by the contract forged between the partners. Stryker concocted a plan to kill the others and steal the contracts so he wouldn’t have to pay. The comic closes with Commissioner Gordon contemplating about Bruce Wayne, and then coming to the conclusion that Wayne seems disinterested in everything and thus must lead a boring life. The final panels, however, reveal that the Bat-man is no other than Bruce Wayne himself!
In the introduction of his book, Up, Up and Oy Vey!, Simcha Weinstein suggests that many popular superheroes actually personify “a theme or themes that figure prominently in the Jewish tradition.” This becomes apparent when reading “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate. “ In fact, the introduction to the comic declares the Bat-man is a mysterious figure who is “fighting for righteousness and apprehending the wrong doer.” I believe that this statement itself provides substantial evidence of Weinstein’s claim that Batman symbolizes justice and reflects Jewish ideals. The Bat-man is the protector of the innocent as he saves Rogers from the gas chamber as well as when he fights to find the true culprit, clearing young Lambert’s name. Overall, I agree that the Bat-man represents the Jewish theme of justice and possibly other themes as well.