Batman and Robin – the Drag-namic Duo

Batman and Robin – the Drag-namic Duo

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(Click on each strip to see a larger version.)

By Brittany Rose

Because Batman has no superpowers, he has to rely on every possible natural ability. He possesses a photographic memory, the physical abilities of a gymnast, boxer, weightlifter and decathlon champion combined, and deductive skills on the level of Sherlock Holmes. He is also a master of disguise.

Although Batman and Robin have frequently used disguises, including drag, in the comic books, the peak of crossdressing for the Dynamic Duo came in a Batman newspaper strip that ran from 1943-1946. DC Comics recently reissued them in a four volume set, with all of the following examples from Volume 3 and from the Sunday Classics volume.

Robin Has a Ball

In “A Change of Costume” (Feb-Mar 1946) Batman and Robin are trying to locate the villain Slugger Kaye. Batman obtains an invitation to a masquerade ball whose invited guests include “some of the toughest and most lawless characters in Gotham City,” with the hopes of identifying and capturing Slugger. However, Robin is very unhappy to learn that it is a ‘couples only’ event, and that he will be attending as Marie Antoinette. Meanwhile, Slugger Kaye, a big-time ladies man, will be escorting Hammerlock Hilda, a fairly unattractive overbearing woman, to throw off anyone looking for him. “Any guy with Hammerlock Hilda couldn’t be Slugger Kaye.” The big night arrives and Alfred thinks Robin looks cute, which almost gets him punched.

Of course, when they get to the ball, several hoods fall for “Marie” including the unrecognized Slugger Kaye. Robin continues to protest, but winds up dancing with, you guessed it, Slugger. The now jealous Hilda, not realizing that she was just part of Slugger’s disguise for the night, takes offense and punches the “baby-faced hussy.” This puts the chivalrous Robin in a bind, since he can’t hit a woman. However, her next swipe dislodges his wig, and Slugger, watching, realizes it’s Batman and Robin. They fight and Robin takes care of Hilda by holding out his fist as she runs into it. In order for our heroes to escape with Slugger, Robin dons the wig once more and tries to distract a couple of hoods with his feminine charms, but to no avail. “Last guy you was with never come back from that balcony!” Finally, they go over the fire escape to safety.

A couple of notes – in those days Robin’s age was roughly 12, which certainly would make him a baby face for the hoods to be hitting on! Also his costume – an ornate gown – is notable in two ways, the extremely tall wig, and the surprisingly large, low chest. Poor kid, he obviously had to borrow his breast forms from Batman!

Batman Assumes an “Astonishing Disguise”

Batman made use of those forms himself in “Acquitted by Iceberg” which ran in August and September of that same year. The plot involves an unethical defense lawyer, nicknamed Iceberg, who has never lost a murder case. He commits murder himself and frames a friend, partly because of his attraction to his friend’s wife. So how does Batman find out if the wife is in on it? By disguising himself as the wife, of course! He puts on a fairly plain outfit, with a veil and gloves. He is fully padded with the aforementioned breast forms and wears what can only be the corset from Hell. By comparing pictures it looks like it takes off maybe a dozen inches! I’m impressed he could breathe, let alone move! (Of course, it could be just another feature of his utility belt. Apparently, as we see in a later panel, he’s wearing his uniform under his female attire.)

Catwoman Plays Dress-up Too!

The remaining crossdressing scenario comes in the Sunday strip “Catwoman’s Grasshopper Chase” (Apr-June 1946), featuring Robin as a little girl, and a couple of F to M turns by Catwoman.

Catwoman decides to ruin Batman’s reputation by announcing a cross country trip, daring Batman to catch her. She introduces herself to potential backers disguised as an old farmer (click for panel). After one narrow escape, the trail leads to a riverboat cruise. Robin is disguised as Lulu Belle, a “mischievous little girl” with Batman as her father. After Lulu Belle checks out all the women on the ship, Batman finally unmasks Catwoman who is disguised as a young man.

Bonus: Joker Does Drag!

Finally, as a bonus, the Joker himself once got into the crossdressing act. In Batman #321, we are treated to a brief sequence where Robin stops to help a Damsel in Distress (click here for panels) only to discover it’s the Joker in a mask.

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Category: crossdressing


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