The 6 Most Brutal Murders Committed by Batman
Ask any comic book nerds and they'll tell you that there are two things that define Batman: With enough prep time, he could take down God himself, and he never, ever takes a life. However, for a guy who supposedly took a vow to never use a gun or kill any of his enemies (thus justifying the continued existence of the Joker), it turns out that Batman has not just murdered several dudes over the years, but done so in gruesome ways that probably made his victims wish that he'd just shot them.
Batman Hangs a Mental Patient from the Batplane (Batman No. 1, 1940)
Batman's career in needless, brutal murder started early. In the very first issue of Batman's solo rag, an evil scientist uses a toxic serum to turn a group of innocent mental patients into muscular, out-of-control monsters. The scientist's henchmen are driving one of the monsters to town, planning to set it loose in front of a bank they want to rob. Unfortunately for them, Batman had just finished mounting a brand spanking new machine gun onto the Batplane.
"Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat ... Batman!"
Batman guns down the driver and causes the truck to crash into a tree, but the henchmen actually get off easy compared to what's about to happen to the confused, mentally handicapped mass of muscles in the back: As soon as he falls out of the truck, and before he can hurt a single soul, Batman drops a noose made from reinforced steel and easily snatches the monster by the neck:
He'd been practicing this very maneuver on vagrants for months.
Batman then lifts off the aircraft as the monster desperately struggles to break free from the noose, choking him to death and thus performing the world's first execution by bat-shaped plane. The Batplane then sails smoothly toward its next destination with a few hundred extra pounds of genetically altered dead weight attached, swinging like a grotesque pendulum.
Most people just hang fuzzy dice on the mirror, but whatever.
What's that? "He's probably better off this way"? Actually, Batman, he definitely would have been way better off if you'd just shared the antidote to the serum you'd created moments earlier, but only thought to use on yourself. When the scientist first injects Batman with the serum, he specifically mentions that the monsters' brains are affected by it, so they aren't in control of themselves. There's no guarantee that the cure would have worked on the mental patients, but Batman could have at least tried.
"But what if it doesn't work on them? I can't handle that kind of disappointment."
Batman Crushes People to Death in Junkyards (Various Issues)
After reviewing the evidence, we can pretty confidently say that Batman is the superhero who holds the record for "accidentally" crushing the most folks to death in junkyards, an oddly specific scenario that so far has taken the lives of three Gotham City residents (that we know of).
The first instance comes in Batman No. 425 from 1988, where the Caped Crusader fights a pissed-off drug dealer seeking revenge after Robin intentionally dropped his brother off a rooftop (we wonder where he learned that trick). After thoroughly lecturing Robin about the sanctity of life, Bat-Hypocrite ends up being chased through a junkyard by the drug dealer and somehow toppling a huge pile of unwanted cars on his ass.
To be fair, the guy did stand there like an idiot while a tower of metal fell on him -- we'd almost believe that Batman didn't really mean to kill him if this was the only time that one of his enemies ended up as bunch of mangled body parts buried under garbage (it isn't).
The second and third instances came two years later in Detective Comics No. 613, in which Batman must deal with the escalating violence between garbage disposal companies (yes, Gotham City is so fucked up, even the trash dudes want to kill each other in turf wars). Once again, the climax of the story leads Batman to a junkyard, where he carelessly leaves himself open to a classic wrestling match move.
"Your present, that is! Happy birthday! Here's a ch-"
Rather than ruin his perfect dentition by taking a chair to the face, Batman kicks his middle-aged attacker and causes him to stumble into another crook, sending them both directly into a conveniently placed garbage grinder.
"Gotta get one of these for the Batmobile."
The ensuing violence inspires the greatest onomatopoeia ever printed in a funny book. Seriously, look at this awful mess:
Not to be confused with "KASWULSH," the Swedish boy band.
Is this the same junkyard as before, and if so, exactly how many of Batman's former enemies are buried there? No one's heard from King Tut recently. At this point it's pretty clear that Batman is doing this on purpose and possibly gets off on crushing human bodies (why else would he come up to the grinder and look into it?). See that white-eyed expression in the panel above? That's Batman's O-face.
Unnecessarily brutal murder is Batman's G-spot.
Batman Hates Asian People and Cars, Kills Both (Various Issues)
Batman first became popular at a time when xenophobia was as common in children's entertainment as cute cartoon animals, which, combined with Japan's involvement in World War II, resulted in quite a bit of Asian bashing in those early issues. However, while other superheroes like Superman or Captain America were content with just "slapping a Jap" every once in a while, Batman took a slightly more extreme approach.
Like in this comic, where he pushes a huge statue onto a crowd of Mongols, crushing them to death:
"It's certainly lucky that this statue isn't bolted down or secured in any way!"
That's from Detective Comics No. 39, from 1940. Merely four issues earlier, Batman had kicked a Chinese swordsman into the swordsman's friend, which would not be the last time that he impaled a person on a sword (we'll get to that). Later in the same issue, he pushed their leader out of a window, but that guy turned out to be an American in disguise, so Batman probably wished that he'd just arrested him.
"He was dressed up like an Asian! I didn't know he was people!"
Later, in Batman No. 15 (1943), a scientist shows Batman a simulation of what will happen if you don't buy enough war bonds and Japan invades Gotham City. At one point Batman acquires a rifle, but obviously his vow against firearms forbids him from shooting anyone with it, even enemy soldiers ... so he just throws it at the wheels of a vehicle instead and kills the Japanese occupants in a bloody crash.
"See, Robin? Murder is all about compromise."
And speaking of Batman orchestrating traffic accidents, back in those days this happened way more often than you'd think, and not just in possible Japan-ruled futures. Batman's preferred method consisted of knocking out the driver and jumping off as the car crashed into a pole or fell off a cliff, like in Detective Comics No. 47 (1941) ...
That car predates seat belts, so the Bat just signed that man's death certificate.
... and Detective Comics No. 34 (1939).
"Time to die, evil Dr. Glans!"
Eventually, he just got his own car and stopped hitching rides.
Batman Pushes a Dude into a Sword (Detective Comics No. 37, 1940)
In this issue, the villain makes the deadly mistake of throwing a sword at Batman. The only thing that this accomplishes is getting on the Dark Knight's nerves. The sword becomes lodged in a door and a supremely pissed-off Batman starts walking toward the villain, who trembles and begs for mercy, sensing the fate that's in store for him.
"Have mercy! My monocle needs me."
What sets this particular Bat-murder apart is how deliberate and easily avoidable it was: Batman isn't in a life-or-death situation here, and the guy is completely unarmed and clearly prepared to give himself up. Batman had to close the door, walk across the hallway and position himself at the other side of the formerly monocled villain ...
Batman punched him so hard that it just disintegrated.
... and then hit him with enough force to send him flying into the sword and cause it to stab the back of his neck.
"This is exactly how that hooker died at Jon Favreau's bachelor party."
So we guess that the lesson here, kids, is that if you throw a sword at Batman, you'd better make damned sure you don't miss.
Batman Locks a Villain Underground and Starves Him (Batman No. 420, 1988)
The KGBeast was a short-lived Batman villain sent to America by the Soviet Union to kill everyone involved with the Star Wars defense program, including President Reagan. When we say "short-lived," we don't mean that the writers stopped using him once the cultural references became outdated five months later -- we mean that Batman locked the dude away without food and abandoned him.
The Soviets were notoriously fond of S&M.
After being outmatched by the KGBeast for three straight issues, Batman finally manages to break his bitchin' arm-gun and lures him into the sewers, where they reach a dead end. The KGBeast offers a final challenge to the Dark Knight Detective: beat each other with pipes until a victor emerges. Batman promptly tells him to eat a dick.
"I left my bludgeoning pipe at home."
Batman stands outside the room and coldly explains to the villain that he simply can't be bothered to fight him, as he slowly closes the steel door behind him ...
"Also, my DVR is broken and Homeland is about to start, so ..."
... then barricades it with a nearby stack of planks, perfectly jamming it, and quietly leaves KGBeast fruitlessly banging on the door with his one good hand.
Batman, not grasping how doors work, shores up the hinges.
Batman calmly walks away, leaving the guy to starve or asphyxiate behind a steel door. Once he makes it back to the surface, a CIA agent congratulates Batman on stopping the KGBeast before he could get to Reagan. Then the agent (who had previously told Batman that if the villain was caught alive, they'd have to turn him over to the Soviets) asks where KGBeast is, and we're treated to this gem of a response:
This man has the shortest refractory period in history.
In later comics, a different writer clarified that Batman told the police to retrieve the villain before he could die, and the KGBeast later broke out of prison, which doesn't even make sense with this story, because he would've been sent back to Russia right away. However, the intent of this issue is clear: proving that Batman is indeed a bad enough dude to save the president. Even if it means starving people to death.
Batman Lets Some Thieves Burn to Death ... as He Gets Laid (All-Star Batman and Robin No. 7, 2007)
Note: This following horrific sequence of events becomes much funnier if you imagine Adam West doing it.
So Batman starts this particular issue by swooping down on a bunch of armed thugs stealing a shipment of ... bleach, for some reason. Apparently the Gotham City black market has some serious issues with spilling wine. Not satisfied with scaring the bodily fluids out of them, our "hero" grabs a bottle of flammable bleach, combines it with some thermite he presumably carries in his utility belt for this very purpose and flings it into the crowd.
"Molotov cocktails are only for women and communists!"
Apparently the thieves had been playfully splashing bleach at each other with Super Soakers before Batman arrived, because Batman's dirty bomb is enough to instantly ignite the whole sorry lot.
"Who knew that a spontaneous bleach-balloon fight could go so horribly awry?!"
Now the thugs are scared shitless and burning to death. They are not a threat anymore. They couldn't attack Batman even if they wanted to ... and yet he still feels the need to mercilessly beat the crap out of every single one of them. At this point Batman's fellow Justice Leaguer, the Black Canary, stops by and looks on as Batman needlessly kicks a burning criminal's face into the asphalt. Rather than stopping him, she decides to watch him some more and comment on how aroused this is making her feel. Seriously.
"Krunch hurkk" -- that's the sound of Batman's moral high ground disappearing.
So this is the part where they turn off the fire and tie up the criminals for the authorities to retrieve them, right? Nope: Instead, they lie down on the wet cement and start jumping each other's bones directly in front of the heap of burning flesh that was once a gang of bleach thieves.
Turns out rendered human fat makes excellent lube.
Now, this issue is part of Frank Miller's insane "I'm the goddamn Batman" series, but still -- holy shit, DC. Hopefully you paid Miller's salary in therapy sessions.
For more reasons Batman isn't so squeaky clean, check out 5 Reasons There Must Be Corpses Buried Under the Batcave and Why Batman Is Secretly Terrible for Gotham.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 6 Important Things That We Built On Top of Supervolcanoes.