What does a man cave represent? A man cave to a spouse or girlfriend might be their man's last hope for eternal youth. Collecting their belongings from youth or when they were single, in the confines of 4 walls. To the owner of the man cave, it is where you keep life's trophies. The one room in the house where your interests mix. To an intellectual this would be the equivalent of your study...less mahogany though. Having our caves, spaces where we can reflect are important. In comics,superheroes and even villains had lairs to devise and reflect.Green Arrow had the arrow cave, Superman has his fortress of solitude and Batman has the batcave.
The bat cave was always the most mysterious. The contents inside its cavernous walls included objects like a robotic T-Rex, a large penny, Jason Todd's robin costume and recently a letter from Thomas Wayne via the Flashpoint story arc. As a child I forever wondered where some of the more obscure trophies came from.The T-Rex intrigued me most, Batman fought this metal beast in the 1940’s on Dinosaur Island. The first appearance was in “Batman” issue number 35. Dinosaur Island was a theme park filled with realistic animatronic dinosaurs. Batman is on Dino Island to go on a sort of big game hunt that goes awry. One of his compatriots takes control of the park and turns a T-Rex on Batman. After defeating the foe, Batman takesa T-Rex as a trophy. Nowadays the giant mecha T-rex is used as a guard dino. Attacking intruders in the batcave. It has been an interesting golden age silhouette in the background of the cave for decades.I always enjoyed when artists drew other versions of the batmobile. Every artist takes their own liberties with what the batmobile looks like. Some draw it sleek and sporty, some draw it like a jacked out all-terrain vehicle and sometimes it resembles the movies of the times. Seeing the cars lined up like phantoms of Batman comics and movies past made me smile. I always loved the old Studebaker looking batmobile with the big bat-like face where the grill should be. the batcave shouldn’t be this big empty echoing cave. The adage of the classic batmobiles had you convinced there was continuity.
With all of Batman’s triumph also come some of his biggest personal failures. The costumes of Batgirl, Barbara Gordon and Robin, Jason Todd remain on display in the cave. Constant reminders that there have been moments in Batman’s past where he wasn’t “good enough”. Jason Todd was murdered at the hands of the Joker in “Batman” issue 428, the focal point of the story “A Death in the Family”. In “Batman: The Killing Joke”,the Joker gets the better of Batman by crippling Barbara Gordon. Ending her role as Batgirl, she later becomes Oracle but her role as Batgirl was finished. This prompted a mournful display of the 2 costumes as tribute. These costumes are among the most emotional objects in the cave besides a letter given to Batman from his father Thomas Wayne. During the “Flashpoint” story arc, the Flash travels through the speed force to another time where Bruce Wayne was murdered. Thomas Wayne his father takes on the mantle of the Batman. Thomas gives the Flash a personal letter, allowing closure for both Flashpoint Thomas Wayne and the newly formed New 52 Bruce Wayne.
The giant penny always confused me. To my knowledge when I think of coins I think of Two-Face. The difference is he uses a variation of our silver dollar. This was retconned on several occasions. In my childhoodthis was attributed to Batman the Animated Series. In one episode Two-Face uses a giant penny in a plot to crush Batman.For this one I had to do a little research. Originally the penny came from a golden age battle with the Penny Plunderer. He was a D-List villain who focused around penny themed crimes. Post “Crisis on Infinite Earth” continuity has several stories tying the giant penny to Two-Face. Later this has been retconned again back to the Penny Plunderer. The Plunderer using a giant penny in an elaborate trap that eventually backfires on him majorly. Ultimately the Plunderer is crushed by the giant penny. There are only so many ways to kill someone with a giant penny. Two-Face or the Penny Plunderer, the penny is iconic and striking in the background of the cave.Besides the giant penny and the T-Rex, another early trophy of Batman’s has remained a constant. That is a giant joker playing card. I used to think this had something to do with the Neal Adams cover from “Batman” 251. That iconic cover has a larger than life Joker holding a playing card with Batman strapped to it. The Joker card in the batcave predates this issue. The Joker, through an elaborate casino style trap fought the Dark Knight. There were large playing cards, dice and other casino games. Upon beating the Joker, Batman took a pair of giant dice and a giant joker playing card. The dice have not traveled well. We haven’t really seen them kicking around the cave too often. The joker card however has been a mainstay. Some of the more unique objects in the cave are several forms of kryptonite and a kryptonite ring. Batman being the only non-super powered member of the Justice League has case files on every league member. Including their secret identity and weaknesses, this brings up how paranoid Batman can be. He has devised exit strategies in case anyone went rogue.
Besides his memorials, trophies and cars he also has a state of the art computer. The Dark Knight isn’t the world’s greatest detective for nothing. The batcomputer is used in almost all investigations. It is the centerpiece of the batcave. The computer has made it into every iteration of Batman from comics to television and movies. Batman’s cave is not unlike our own, it has a giant computer screen which is like a big screen TV. His giant penny and joker card are equivalent to posters that we might hang on the walls. Also, his trophies like the T-Rex and collection of kryptonite is like the trophies and nerdy statues we might collect. In the end what we can say is the batcave is the ultimate mancave!