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Off My Mind: Why Did Batman Have a Zebra Costume?

Batman has had many different costumes over the years but why did he dress as Zebra-Batman?

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Since Batman's debut in 1939, his look has pretty much stayed the same despite the different variations his costume has gone through. Aside from Jean-Paul Valley's Bat-armor, the only major differences the suit has gone through was the Bat-emblem changing.

There was one suit that took a big departure from his traditional look. Looking back at DETECTIVE COMICS #275, we saw the menacing look of THE ZEBRA BATMAN.

Looking at the cover image, Robin, Batman's trusted sidekick, is frightened. You can see a man trying to hide behind a lamp post to no avail. Even some innocent bystanders in the background are scared for their lives.

After finally tracking this issue down, we can now look into what the story of the Zebra Batman was. Why did he dress this way? Why was everyone, including Robin, frightened?

== TEASER ==

It's easy to just put it on the fact that this comic came out in 1960. There were some...interesting ideas used from time to time. But it turns out there is an explanation for this (notice I didn't say a reasonable one).

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The original Zebra Man was a small time crime boss who apparently was a bit of a scientist as well. He discovered that all energy has "lines of force." After inventing a machine, he charged his body with so much energy, it sent lines of force right through his costume.

After several failed attempts to capture him, Batman and Robin were able to discover the location to his secret laboratory. Thanks to the bumbling of Robin, Batman was exposed to the same lines of force and was instantly changed. What makes this costume different from the rest is, the change isn't really because of a new costume. The lines of force penetrated Batman's body, which is why the costume and his skin changed.

Along with the costume, Batman gained new abilities.

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For some reason, the lines of force causes everything to be repelled in a forceful manner. The way Zebra Man could control them was with his belt that is able to neutralize the power.

This meant a sad existence for Batman. He couldn't get near anyone. He couldn't eat. His secret identity would be in jeopardy if he tried walking around as Bruce Wayne.

But luckily he was able to reverse the problem.

What's strange is this Zebra Man apparently was never seen again. There was a second Zebra Man that replicated the first's powers. Maybe the original is still locked up.

For a campy 60s story, it brought up some interesting points. Aside from why energy has force lines that cause a person to turn black and white and repel everything, it's great that some of the side effects were considered. The fact that Batman wouldn't be able to eat (poor Robin almost got hit in the head by a platter of food in the scenario) and having his secret identity be in jeopardy was a nice touch. Usually in this time period, strange and bizarre things happened and any possible consequence was thrown out the window.

What's surprising is, I don't believe a Zebra Batman action figure was ever made. There have been hundreds of different variations of Batman figures but I've never seen an official Zebra Batman one. It is one that has been requested by many fans. Perhaps we will see a Zebra Batman figure someday but hopefully we won't see Zebra Batman in the comics again.