December 6, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #313: Bat-Mite

Sure, Superman's pest from the 5th Dimension is a bit of a pain, but Superman is not the only hero with a pest from the 5th Dimension.

As a Batman fan, I have to say…how have I been working on this feature for so long that I did not get to Bat-Mite?  Batman’s own version of Superman’s Mr. Mxyzptlk, and I somehow have not covered the guy in any of the previous 312 entries?  I started this series with Captain Carrot , for crying out loud!  Back in the days when Watson had to upload all my photos and even captioned them!  Those were good days.

Point is, I never shied away from the silly ones before, and few are sillier than Bat-Mite.

Bat-Mite first appeared in Detective Comics #267 in a story by Batman co-creator Bill Finger and longtime Bat-artist Sheldon Moldoff.  An imp from the “Mite Dimension,” Bat-Mite was a magical creature that wore what looked like a poorly-fitted Batman costume that claimed he was Batman’s biggest fan.  He’d show up, cause problems, and go away again.  It was a sillier time, and Batman, like Superman, had an extended “family” of heroes that included the original Batwoman, Batgirl, and even the Bat-Hound.

Then in 1964, editor Julius Schwartz declared that there was to be no more silly stuff in Batman’s adventures, so Bat-Mite was banished along with the other members of the Bat-family save Robin.  Batgirl would come back after a few years, but the others would be gone for much longer.  There have been a few Bat-hounds, and a new Batwoman.  But Bat-Mite doesn’t fit into the current Bat-era, right?

Not exactly.

For comics, Bat-Mite tends to appear in more of what DC used to term “imaginary” stories, often clashing with Superman’s own other-dimensional pain-in-the-ass Mxyzptlk.

He also appeared in a few episodes of the animated series Batman: the Brave and the Bold as voiced by Pee Wee Herman himself, Paul Reubens.

But most interestingly might be what writer Grant Morrison did with the character during his own long Batman run.  Morrison as a writer tends to use a lot of past continuity to suggest that even the silly stuff that other writers ignore somehow still matters.  Given how much of Batman’s Silver Age adventures are rather forgettable, that was something else.  How did Bat-Mite work into that run?  Well, Batman had a contingency plan where if he completely lost his mind, he had a back-up personality, the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh.  And Bat-Mite?  That was some weird hallucination that would appear to Batman, known as “Bat-Might” with implications that he was either a figment of Batman’s imagination or an imp from the 5th dimension only Bruce could see…but both might have been true because the 5th dimension was the realm of the imagination.

That’s “Bat-Might” floating behind Batman in his Zur-En-Arrh costume.

Wait, do I need to do the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh now?  Maybe.  Point is, Batman had his own imp annoyance, and he wasn’t the only DC hero who had one.

Do I need to do any other hero’s 5th dimensional pest?  Well, I think Mxyzptlk might be well-known enough that I probably don’t need to.  Or I could do Aquman’s version, Qwsp.

Except that one I covered a while back already.  So…no, I don’t think I need to do anymore.