For months now, fans have wondered what the next big BATMAN event following the acclaimed “Death of the Family” would be.

 

This morning, DC Comics answered their question. Kicking off this spring, BATMAN: ZERO YEAR is an epic and grand 11-issue arc that chronicles the untold details of the Dark Knight’s origin story within DC COMICS-THE NEW 52.

 

“It’s not ‘let’s redo the origin.’ It’s time for a new story showing how Batman became who he is in the New 52,” series writer Scott Snyder explained. “We tried to preserve as much of Batman’s history as we could and keep what we could of this history intact. It’s ‘The Zero Year,’ the one that no one has told the story of before. We see how Bruce became the Batman, built the cave, faced off with his first super villain … It’s time for a new story showing how Batman became who he is in The New 52. It builds up the mythology.”

 

Illustrated by series artist Greg Capullo, BATMAN: ZERO YEAR begins in June’s BATMAN #21. Attached for inclusion in your coverage, please find Capullo’s cover for BATMAN #21. Please credit this image as courtesy of DC Entertainment. For more information, please visit DC Comics’ official blog, THE SOURCE.

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I remember an episode of Stargate SG1 where the question was asked how they got the stargate into the chamber. It was revealed that the stargate chamber is actually a modified missile silo and they just lowered it in.
I always figured that for the big stuff there was a back way into the cave that you could drive a truck through and that it was blocked with a disguised door.

"Superman did it all." doesn't really enforce Batman's independent spirit does it?

The cave was natural and had several exit points, one relatively near the highway, one at a higher elevation and one in a grotto which had access to Gotham River. The Wayne family built their mansion deliberately above the cave system to prtect themselves from the British and other threats. The staircase was already there when Bruce converted the cavern into the Bat-Cave.

Bruce also set up various dummy corporations in order to get his equipment and computers.

My theory is that the only truly artificial entrance to the cave was a large loading dock connected to Wayne Manor from the rear. There would be a huge hidden doorway linking the two that only Bruce could open. Plus he had a Bat-Van, Bat-Semi-Truck and Bat-Powerjack!

 

These are all great suggestions, and not implausible in any way. I'd also add that even Cray computers can be disassembled and brought in piecemeal and re-assembled "downstairs." Further, I have a vague memory of a '40s or '50s story which established that Wayne Manor was part of the underground railroad before the Civil War and the caves were used for that purpose. Maybe I dreamed that, but I remember wondering as a boy why they needed such an elaborate dodge for people on the underground railroad so far from the Mason-Dixon line. (I believed as a boy that Gotham was Boston, but wherever it is, it's in New England and awfully far from the Deep South.)

But underground railroad, smugglers, and/or some other pre-Bruce use for the caves would explain a great deal -- certainly the stairs, and exits to waterways.

Luke Blanchard said:

Might I suggest some possible answers?

 

"How did he carve those stairs behind the grandfather clock leading down into the cave?"

The house is built on the site of a previous mansion which was a hub of a smuggling network in the eighteenth century. After discovering the caves Bruce discovered the old stairway and connected it to the new building.

 

"For that matter, why did the builders of Wayne Manor build it right above a cave?"

They built it on the site of the previous mansion, not knowing it was sited there to take advantage of the caves.

 

""How did Bruce wire the cave for electricity and rig lighting?...How did he install heat, ventilation, air conditioning, and plumbing?...How does he deal with humidity?"

As Bruce he undertook to refurbish the mansion into a showcase of green technology and doctored the plans to make things like connecting pipes to the caves a cinch. While the work was in progress he took advantage of the equipment being stored there to install at night the stuff he needed. He also worked on the work crews in disguise and did some of the key work during the day.

 

"How did he have the Cray computers and other equipment delivered and installed?"

He bought them in disguise at police auctions of the possessions of convicted criminal scientists and brought them in through a lift he installed in a shaft he had drilled during the renovations. (The workmen thought it was going to house an underground water silo.) Installing the lift was a big job that he had to do himself. 

 

"How does he keep the bats away from all the equipment?... What does he do about the bat guano, and the smell?"

He keeps them out of the part of the caves he uses with wire netting, and chases them out with a sonic device if they manage to get in anyway. His part of the cave system is well-ventilated through the mansion's supposed green systems. 

 

"How did he determine where the cave exits to roadways and waterways?"

He found maps left by the smugglers and further explored them using small cave mapping robots Wayne Enterprises is developing.

 

"How did he manage to dock the Batboat, Batcopter, and Batplane in there?... How does he keep secret how the Batmobile and other vehicles enter and exit the cave?"

The smugglers had widened some of the tunnels for their own use while also disguising the entrances. He located a suitable cave to house the Batplane, had a barn built over it, then knocked an entrance hole through the floor. He has an airstrip in plain site at the manor that he uses as Bruce Wayne and taxis the vehicles out to  it. The vehicles all have stealth systems. He always exits from the cave system or takes off in stealth mode and switches to the vehicles' detectable systems when he judges it safe to do so. He avoids taking the Batplane or Batcopter out when the moon's up.

 

"How did he deliver and install the giant penny, the dinosaur, and the other extra-large trophies?"

He dismantles them where necessary and brings them in through the water tank lift. He has sites in Gotham he can store things at until he has time to do this.

 

"And, most of all, how did he do it if it's just him and Alfred?"

A little at a time, and something every day.

I remember wondering as a boy why they needed such an elaborate dodge for people on the underground railroad so far from the Mason-Dixon line.

Unfortunately, after the Compromise of 1850 and the Fugitive Slave Law, a slave had to get entirely out of the United States to reach freedom. Most tried to get to Canada.

These are all great suggestions, and not implausible in any way.

Keep 'em coming. Now that I've been forced to think about it, it's hard not to wonder if Bruce followed the example of the ancient pharoahs and of Captain Flint in Treasure Island and had everybody killed after doing the work. That's even dark for Batman.

Did Bruce's ancestors do any smuggling?

According to The Original Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes: Volume 1: Batman, the future Bat-Cave served as the base of Early Colonial hero Jeremy Coe (Detective Comics #205 [Ma'54]), was used as a gathering place for Confederate Spies (Batman #64 [My'51]) and was the hideout of gangster Whitey Weir (Detective #223 [S'55]) in the early '20s.

All this happened before Wayne Manor was ever built....on Pre-Crisis Earth-One, of course!

There's an account of the Coe story here. (I used to have it in a British annual, but don't remember it very well. With respect to his extracts, I think the commentator is too hard on it. For example, I'm not offended by the skin-dyeing, although I also doubt it would work.)

Thanks, Luke. I thought a lot of those questions of mine veered into "Don't ask" territory, but you've come up with very plausible answers -- answers I would like to see in a story! If you wrote it, I'd pay good, cash money for it.

My pleasure, Clark. Despite everyone's kind words, I left rather too much backbreaking work for Batman and Alfred to do. I also couldn't explain how he actually got the Batplane and Batcopter built, but luckily you didn't ask. (Chuck Dixon wrote a story "How Batman gets his equipment" for Batman Secret Files #1, but I haven't read it.)

Luke Blanchard said:

My pleasure, Clark. Despite everyone's kind words, I left rather too much backbreaking work for Batman and Alfred to do. I also couldn't explain how he actually got the Batplane and Batcopter built, but luckily you didn't ask. (Chuck Dixon wrote a story "How Batman gets his equipment" for Batman Secret Files #1, but I haven't read it.)

 

That's what I mean about the "Don't ask" nature of the questions; can Bruce and Alfred really outfit what is essentially an entire office building all by themselves? Not just buy a Cray computer (or six), but disassemble it, move it, put it back together and make sure it works? Not just buy an airplane, but pave a landing strip for it? Etc., and so forth.

A long while back, there was a miniseries titled The Untold Legend of The Batman (July-Sept. 1980), written by Len Wein, with the first issue penciled by John Byrne and inked by Jim Aparo, and Aparo doing all the art for the second and third issue. That story explained where the Batmobile comes from: they're custom-built by a race driver Batman once rescued from a flaming wreck. (A synopsis of the series is here: DC Histories: The Untold Legend of the Batman).

As for the "How Batman gets his equipment" story, I'm not sure if I've read that one. I think so, if it's one that shows Lucius Fox telling Bruce Wayne that several pieces of very expensive Wayne Enterprises equipment are missing and unaccounted for -- a half-dozen Cray computers, a prototype jet airplane, an experimental race car, etc., etc. Wayne smiles and waves it away.

I recall Bob Ingersoll, of "The Law Is an Ass" fame, objecting to another story advancing the same idea, that Wayne pilfers his equipment from his company ... because Wayne in that other story thinks to himself that it's coming from his own company, so he's just stealing from himself. Wrong! Ingersoll argues -- he's stealing from the company stockholders!

If we are to assume that Bruce's grandfather built Wayne Manor in, say, 1920, it would be hard to imagine him not knowing there was a cave below it. This being after WWI and the threat of gas attacks, perhaps he designed the cave to have simple convienences in case of an emergancy. Perhaps Doctor Thomas Wayne continued to improve on it with electric wires, a generator, plumbing and a ventilation shaft due to the upheaval of the Depression which didn't seem to affect him much, hence the precautions (the Haves versus the havenots).

And obviously Bruce was too young to know about the cave's existence until he discovered it himself, thanking his lucky stars that a LOT of the hard work was done already.

Granted this is about the Golden Age Batman but I can't think about everything! ;-)

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