As a bit of a departure, I'll be covering a character I doubt many of you have heard of. He called himself the Bat-Man and three were a few comics about him back iin period of the late 1930's-early 1940's. I wonder whatever happened to him, as I though he perhaps had some staying power in the right hands.

I'll be covering Detective Comics #27, #29-38 and Batman #1. These stories seem to be the primary genesis of the character and some of his exterior trappings.

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Back in the 1930s, no court would allow a single man to adopt a child. I've even heard of a case from then in which a widowed father lost custody of his children. That's why Dick Grayson was Bruce Wayne's ward.

Times changed, and Dick being Bruce's a "ward" became increasingly anachronistic. Finally, at the end of Gotham Knights #17 (July 2001), Bruce and Dick both signed an adoption certificate.

Now I'm wondering if Captain America was the legal guardian of Bucky? Or the other heroes with sidekicks like the Human Torch, the Shield, Sandman, Cat-Man, the Black Terror, etc.?

Philip Portelli said:

Now I'm wondering if Captain America was the legal guardian of Bucky? Or the other heroes with sidekicks like the Human Torch, the Shield, Sandman, Cat-Man, the Black Terror, etc.?

Of course, all of those examples would have to be examined on a case-by-case basis, but in general, there's no reason why the adult partner would have to be, de jure, the legal guardian of the minor partner.

I'm not sure about other Golden Age sidekicks from other companies (Paging Luke!!) but Bucky, Toro, Speedy and Sandy all lived with their mentors. TNT's partner, Dan the Dynamite was his student, not his ward.

I don't think some of these relationships were ever really spelled out--there were a lot of "youthful wards", like Robin, Speedy, Sandy & Kitten (Cat-Man's "niece"), while Tim (aka Kid Terror) was ostensibly just the delivery boy for the pharmacy the Black Terror ran in his civilian identity, altho I don't recall ever seeing a mention of Tim's parents.  I believe that the Shield was the legal guardian of Dusty, while the Wizard had the same relationship to Roy the Super Boy, giving us at least two more wards.  The Guardian was apparently the legal guardian to the entire Newsboy Legion, a feat even more impressive because he was not a wealthy playboy, but I can't recall the original Daredevil having such an arrangement regarding the Little Wise Guys.  The Human Torch seems to have been Toro's legal guardian, but given that his own legal status, not being human and all, was questionable, that's not a sure thing.  Moon Girl was the legal guardian of Star, and they were also blood relatives, even tho I don't think they ever explained how they came to have a second moonstone in the hands of an orphan girl in America, or why one of Moon Girl's aunts or great-aunts ran off to the US to become Star's forebear (altho I suppose some uncle may have stolen one of the gems and fled their country).  Mr. Scarlet's sidekick, Pinky, was described as his adopted son, so we have to assume that Brian Butler was an exceptionally good lawyer to pull that off in that time period.  I think Captain Battle also adopted Nathan Hale Battle (aka Hale Battle), but he may have been an exception by dint of being a widower with a grown biological son, known as Captain Battle Jr.  Billy Batson & Freddy Freeman must each have been emancipated minors, as both lived on their own while clearly underage.  There were a bunch of kid brothers and nephews, most of whose names escape me at the moment, and probably even more kids who just started hanging out with grown men with no explanation given at all--I guess the Golden Age equivalent of Child Protective Services wasn't doing a lot of follow up on these things.

It seemed to me Bucky was an emancipated minor. Maybe not officially, but for all intents and purposes, he lived on his own.  

Bucky was originally described as being the "camp mascot" of the Army Camp Steve Rogers was stationed at, altho exactly what that means is anyone's guess--was the entire camp collectively responsible for him, or was he technically the ward of one of the camp's officers?  In the 1950's, he seemed to be Steve's ward, as well as his student, during Steve's school teacher days--of course, now we know that was really two other people, or maybe more than that...I lose track.

...I think GA Bucky is now desribed as a youthful-looking 18-yr-old soldier. At the turn of this century, their was a storyline is the last issue of one particular Cap series, IIRC, with a long-lost sister of Bucky's (Seperated by the Depression, they wrote each other still.) that I suppose has been retconned, officially or just " What was that? ", out of existence ~ like the African-American " Captain Tuskegee/White Guilt " (who was shown to have lived to an advanced old age and have married, though he was much degenerated by the end) and the at least one?? criminal, too both of them declared to have had the Super-Serum tested on them..

  Even now, one can routinely join the U.S. Military at 17, IIRC, and in WWII, I imagine it could have been earlier than that - And I believe some people with military forbears or ROTC/etc. kind of arrangements could have joined at 15?? in that era, not to mention that people weren't so strict about producing correct records then, even the " It's the service or juvie hall, son...which do you want? " thing which was more accepted officially then.

...I guess there were a larger amount of " emancipated minors/street kids " then - Perhaps more in the decades prior to the Forties than in the Forties themselves - I seem to recall that the " WUXTRY! EXTRA! " newsboys we see in old movies and comic books existed in pre-WWII America but tended to be runaway, or throwaway, orphaned, kids - and not lead that comfy an existence, although the newsie job may well have improved their situations against not having the gig.

Even today you can only enlist if you are 18. At 17 you would need parental permission. We know that in WWII and before many people who were underage or female would claim to be 18 year old men.

Despite my previous comment about the 1950's Cap & Bucky possibly being different people, I think it's best not to wander too far into the swampy waters of ret-con, given the actual topic of this discussion--Bucky in particular has been revised as many other things over the years in an attempt to make some sense out of things, and most of these revisions have been wildly at odds with what the original stories presented.  As for the rather lax attitude towards the status of these kids back in the day, it must be recalled that our current conceptions of "childhood" and "teenagers" are relatively modern constructs that didn't have quite the same meaning prior to World War II.  Added the fact that things like World War I, the Spanish Flu, and even the Depression resulted in a lot of free-range orphans and abandoned kids, with no real mechanism around to even keep track of which ones wound up in the care of some responsible adult, which were living in cardboard boxes, and which were fighting crime in brightly colored tights.  And yes, I know that any kid orphaned by WW1 or the Flu would have been legally adult by the time of Golden Age Kid Sidekicking.

I think that in those days, unless you were dying in plain sight or committing crimes you wouldn't be sent to an orphanage or a reform school. I think the concepts of "emancipated minor" and "child endangerment" were rare if the concepts existed at all.

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