Time Capsule: Batman's Partner, Wingman

Category: Time Capsule
Last article published: 12 April 2011
This is the 9th post under this label

Hey comics archaeologists! Time to dig into the books our forefathers left us and that have long been forgotten. Yes, even Batman comics. I'm looking at the new Batman Incorporated, and my assumption was that all these Batmen were either introduced in the past dozen years, or are derived from members of the old Batmen of All Nations and International Club of Heroes. But I dug further and realized that Wingman (circled above) actually showed up in a Batman story without the benefit of a team around him (he joined the Club in 1987's Infinity Inc. #34, but you tell me if that flashback counts). Time for an expedition... into the past!
BATMAN #65, DC Comics, June-July 1951

"A Partner for Batman!" by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, Lew Sayre Schwartz and Charles Paris
While I can't recommend the outfit, necessarily, I do have to say that Wingman is a great name for a partner/sidekick if your main hero will have a flight or flying animal motif. Robin SHOULD be have his feathers ruffled! And while you can't bring Robin out cruising in bars because he's underage, Wingman is gonna be right there helping you get the chicks (by mentioning all your money, Bruce, face it, that's how he's gonna play it).

Where IS Robin? Well, he just broke his leg on a mission and he's gonna spend the next 6 weeks with a large cast. Coincidentally, Batman is meant to train a Batman for an unspecified country (he's franchising - note that this is 4 years before the Club/Batmen of All Nations story!), so he's screening naturalized citizens, lawmen, for the temporary job. But Robin's adolescent anxieties take hold and he's sure he's going to be replaced for good. Bless! So when the new "Wingman" is chosen, Robin puts him to the test:
Why are they being so cagey about the european country Wingman comes from? Why not name it? So weird. Based on the costume and the fact Robin knows the language, what country do you think it is, Bat-friends?*

While the rumor mill would have Wingman adopted more long term, Robin has hope that the new partner won't prove himself up to Batman's exacting standards. He's strong and agile on the trapeze, but not a very good swimmer and despite the wings on his boots, a lot slower than the Boy Wonder. But how is he at crime-fighting?
Robin finds fault there too. Batman pulls the curtain trick. And while Robin is at wits end with this guy, Batman is still ready to give him another chance. And it pays off. Batman's cape gets caught on the minute hand of a giant clock atop a building (because of course it does) and Wingman climbs up to save him. (Are those wings just for show?) Well, at least Batman hasn't told Wingman their secret identities and the location of the Bat-Cave.
Ooops! Robin runs away crying, and moments later, he meets Batman in Wayne Manor. And Batman reveals that Wingman has already left for [Unspecified European Country], and further that he trained a secret European Robin which accounts for certain things Dick overheard that were less that complimentary. And the gossip in the media? Plants so that villains in Europe would be flat-footed when Wingman arrived. And the above scene? Batman impersonating Wingman because "It's important that I be able to impersonate men I've trained" (ok, I want to see your Robin cosplay, Batman). Even the bit at the clock was a fake: Wingman was in Batman's costume and vice-versa. Sheesh, do you really think Wingman was ready for the big time in Markovia or wherever?

Well too bad. Ready or not, he's been ticketed.


*When Wingman showed up in 2007 Batman comics, they dedided he was Swedish, so there's your answer.