Kirk Langstrom was a dedicated geneticist interested in extracting and isolating traits from one species and transferring them to another; however, he was so obsessed with his work he started to lose his wife and became a mockery of the field. He was hoping to use the enhanced hearing of bats to overcome his deafness. When he made a breakthrough he requested more funding but was denied. This struck him with overwhelming grief that made him lash out at his fiancee, Francine, and climaxed in him testing the experimental serum on himself. The serum succeeded and returned his hearing to him. He quickly makes amends with Francine, but Kirk's hearing has become superhuman and then it happens, he starts mutating into a man/bat hybrid. His mind is overcome by instincts and he is plagued by frequent blackouts. Kirk's transformation completes when he tries to commit suicide, and being complete for the first time, he flies away saving himself from death.
Man-Bat was created by Frank Robbins, Neal Adams, and Dick Giordano.
Man-Bat crosses paths with Batman, but they do not get a chance to interact at first. Later Man-Bat finds himself returning to the same place as many of the other bats, the Batcave. Alfred discovers him when he is attacked, luckily Batman was just coming home and managed to subdue the creature and bound it down. After examination, Batman discovers that this Man-Bat is in fact Kirk Langstrom. Batman returns Kirk to Francine and she reveals that, using Kirk's notes, she has formulated a possible cure. When Kirk awakens he escapes but Francine manages to inject the cure and Kirk reverts.
Over the course of time Kirk became more bat and less man, he became an animal only going by instinct. Eventually he returned to Gotham because of a mysterious need to see Francine. When he arrived there were murders being executed by a "Flying Man". When he managed to finally see Francine she denied him and his spirit was crushed. His last link to the human world was gone and now he was wanted for the "Flying Man Murders". Two vigilante cops managed to clip him when he was flying and he was knocked out. Killer Croc found him and brought him to the sewers and nursed him back to health. When he emerged he decided he needed to see Francine again even if she couldn't stand him. When he got there the real flying man was trying to kill Francine. It was revealed that Kirk and Francine were members of the "Secret Genetics Brotherhood". They were hoping to use Kirk and Francine's studies in genetic manipulation to make a human being without consciousness. They were horrorfied at the idea and left the brotherhood, but it turned out they stole their research and used it to make the monster that became the flying man. Kirk managed to defeat the beast and left Gotham once again. Francine discovered the son she had who almost died managed to survive but as the same kind of beast as Kirk.
Major Story Arcs
Batman & Son
During the Batman & Son story arc, Talia Al Ghul's army of ninjas use Dr. Langstrom's Man-Bat serum to transform themselves into deadly man-bat ninjas. Talia herself manages to get the formula from Kirk by capturing Francine and threatening her life. After running into Alfred, Langstrom begins working with the military to formulate enough vaccine to deal with Talia's Man-Bat army.
Gotham Underground, Salvation Run and Final Crisis
Man-Bat was captured by the Suicide Squad following being knocked out by Bane,he is then sent off the planet alongside the majority of the Earth's villains.Once on the alien world Man-Bat works alongside Joker and his faction of villains participating in a raid against Lex Luthor and his allies. Man-Bat later participates in the battle against a large army of Parademons, and manages to escape back to Earth along with the majority of the villains. During Final Crisis Man-Bat like most of the world's population is turned into a Justifier, and participates in the attack on the castle stronghold of Checkmate.
Battle for the Cowl
During a Battle for the Cowl one-shot, Man-Bat #1, Kirk Langstrom's wife is kidnapped by Dr. Phosphorus. Dr. Phosphorus knocks Dr. Langstrom unconscious and ties him up, using his wife's capture to incite rage, and to save his wife Langstrom transforms into the Man-Bat without using his serum, marking some sort of physiological change in Kirk. Man-Bat is a reserve member of the Birds of Prey along with Ragman.
During the Blackest Night crossover, Francine tracked Kirk (as Man-Bat) down, having created a cure, and revealed that Kirk's next transformation would be permanent if he did not drink it. Kirk attempted to take the cure, but his Man-Bat persona would not let him. Just as Kirk was about to drink it, Francine was wounded in the crossfire of the battle between Black Lantern Solomon Grundy and Bizarro (the latter of whom was already at the scene, trying to prevent Kirk from taking the cure). Distraught at Francine's injuries, Kirk transformed into Man-Bat, seemingly permanently.
Red Robin: Collision
Following Red Robin's actions against Ra's al Ghul, the latter attempted to murder people related to the Bat Family. Man-Bat, following Red Robin's orders, took part protecting Julie Madison, a former lover of Bruce Wayne, against Ra's al Ghul's ninja.
Batgirl: The Flood
Man-Bat later appears under the control of Calculator and he is ordered by via sonar to attack Batgirl( Stephanie Brown). Batgirl and Man-Bat fight high above Gotham Harbor and Batgirl escapes Man-Bat's clutches thanks to Calculator's daughter Proxy aka Wendy Harris and her getaway plane.
Dark Knight vs. White Knight
Man-Bat appears again after Batman ( Dick Grayson) finds a note written by the White Knight inside a stone gargoyle's mouth. Man-Bat seems to be suffering from a psychological episode. His rants inform Batman and Robin that he has come to save them from the light. Man-Bat claims that he can hear the high pitch screaming of his children which would explain why he would be so agitated by an unrelenting sound.
Batman clings to Man-Bat as they fly through Gotham while Dick tries to talk Langstrom down. Dick manages to guide Langstrom toward a window and smash through it. Robin follows soon after and coldly tells Dick to clip Langstrom's wings for good but Dick can tell that Langstrom can't tell who he is or what he is doing. Man-Bat continues to warn the Dynamic Duo to stay away from the light and to save his children. Suddenly, thousands of white phosphorescent bats appear out of nowhere. Batman, Robin and Man-Bat are then covered by the same glowing liquid that the Dynamic Duo found on a dead man who had angel wings grafted to his back.
After two incidents that involved weapons or abilities from Batman's rogues, Oracle began investigating for any possible connections. It turns out a dirty cop at Gordon's precinct has been selling items from the evidence lockup room to someone named The Dealer. Both Oracle and Dick learn that the Dealer runs an underground organization called the Mirror House, where secret auctions are held and items from different criminals are auctioned off to the rich or famous but only the highest bidder gets the prize. They also learn the Dealer often goes by the alias of Etienne Guibourg, an abbot who was part of the Affair of Poisons during King Louis XIV’s reign. Red Robin manages to get a lead on a possible Mirror House invitee for Dick. Dick tails the invitee, detains him and takes the invitee’s invitation to the Mirror House. Dick arrives at a rundown building where he notices several members of Gotham’s elite in front of the building and each of them is wearing a gas mask.
Dick was given a mask then led down an old, abandoned banquet hall along with the other invitees. They are later greeted by the Dealer who explains to all of his guests that the room is being pumped with a deadly gas just in case someone isn’t who they say they are. The Dealer begins to the auction with blood stained crowbar. The same crowbar used by the Joker to mercilessly beat Jason Todd nearly to death. However, the Dealer’s henchmen recognized Dick Grayson because Dick’s face was present during Bruce’s announcement of Batman Inc. The henchmen gave Dick a faulty mask and Dick began to breathe the gas. Fortunately, the gas only knocked Dick out rather than kill him. Dick nearly passes out as the Dealer tells his demented guests to tear Dick apart.
Even though he was dazed by the fumes, Dick powered on through and took out his attackers at the Mirror House. Dick then makes his way to the outside and grapples to a nearby building so he can recuperate. The guests at the Mirror House leave since the auction has called off and the Dealer’s organization has now become compromised. Dick follows the Dealer to the Gotham airfield and sneaks onto the Dealer’s getaway plane. Dick subdues the Dealer’s henchmen in the cargo bay then he activates the cargo bay door.
As Dick began to dump the Dealer’s merchandise out into the open air, the Dealer injects himself with a combination cocktail of Man-Bat serum and Venom. The Dealer mutates and attacks Dick. Dick puts an end to the Dealer’s rampage by using an explosive batarang to destroy one of the plane’s wings. The Dealer falls out of the plane and Dick glides to safety. The plane crashes in Gotham Bay and all of the Dealer’s merchandise is lost at sea. As for the Dealer, his body was never recovered so it’s possible the Dealer utilized his new wings and flew off.
Dr. Kirk Langstrom and Francine Langstrom were walking into the outbreak zone where the man-bats were located. Batwoman escorted them to Batman, who had just finished knocking out the man-bat Zsasz. Langstrom informed Batman that he had created the Langstrom Atavistic Gene recall Formula. The formula mixed chiroptera DNA into human DNA that reproduces their echolocation ability. Langstrom has Batman relunctantly hand over the serum and Langstrom injects the serum into his blood stream. The Serum creates the last Man-Bat as it runs through his bio suit. The bio suit unleashes a similar airborne pathogen that overrides the original. The new serum has mixed with Langstrom's and the DNA specific virus only affects those that were exposed to his DNA overriding the other man-bats and returning them to human.
Batman: Man-Bat- After taking an underground cave as a place of refuge and continuing genetic experiments, Man-Bat, along with his wife Francine and two sons (Virgil and Eugene), are thrust into the middle of what could soon be the end of humanity on Earth. A biological weapon of immense proportions (a type of super ravenous locust) is stolen from a military base in the desert by an environmentalist named Marilyn Monroe, and ends up in Man-Bat's possession after the thief falls into the cave. After examining the material, Man-Bat is all but consumed with visions of his kind ruling a world entirely free of humans and their destructive behaviors, covering man's monuments in dung and flying unimpeded through the skies.
Batman is quickly called in by the government in hopes of finding the stolen material and adverting disaster. He finds the underground sanctuary, and after killing Man-Bat's child Virgil (a vampiric genetic trial gone wrong), he is subdued by Man-Bat himself and enters into a debate regarding the material and its would be effects on the world.
After escaping from the cave and trying to kill the swarm of locusts before dawn (when the warmth would fully awaken the locusts and there would be no way of stopping their advance), Batman and Marilyn have to accept the certainty that they are witnessing the end of man. To both of their surprise, Man-Bat uses a cloud of bats that he has a mind link with to consume the locusts and end their threat.
Powers and Abilities
Langstrom has the ability to turn into a large humanoid bat. In this form he posses enhanced strength, agility, speed and reflexes. He has the power of echolocation of that of a real bat. As Man-Bat, he has razor sharp claws. As with a real bat, he has wings that come from his hip to his under arm. This allows him to fly as great speed.
In Other Media
- Batman the Animated Series- Man-Bat was the first villain to appear in DC Animated Universe. He appeared in the pilot "On Leather Wings", unfortunately this was his only appearance. The next Man-Bat seen was actually his wife in "Terror in the Sky". Finally, Langstrom made an appearance in "Tyger, Tyger". This version of the character is relatively unchanged from his comic counterpart; he was voiced by Marc Singer
- In Batman Beyond, the trend of"splicing", which involves combining both animal and human DNA, has become a fad. Terry McGinnis (the Batman Beyond) is captured by the leader of the splicers, Abel Cuvier aka Chimera, and is injected with vampire bat DNA. His new appearance resembles that of Man-Bat. He is later turned back to normal by Wayne.
- The Batman- Man-Bat appeared three times in the cartoon The Batman. His first appearance was in "The Man Who Would Be Bat". He later appeared in "Pets" and "Rumors". This version had a complete change from his counterpart: He is unmarried, he works for Wayne Corp, he's a little more paranoid and crazy, and Man-Bat is white with red eyes as opposed to the traditional brown with yellow. He was voiced by Peter MacNicol.
- In Batman: The Brave and the Bold: "Last Bat on Earth" when Batman is transported to the future, to the time of Kamandi and Dr. Canus, to capture the time traveling Gorilla Grodd, who has taken control of the apes of that time period, Batman needs some items from the Batcave. When they go into the Bat-Cave, he finds that the cave is occupied; occupied by "Man-bat" looking creatures, which, like the current animals of this time period, can talk. Somewhat angry that his cave is being used as a roost (like he doesn't use as one either...), Batman and Kamandi drive them out, after defeating their leader. Later in the episode, they decide that,
So, they help them defeat Grodd, his army and "Tiny". The actual 21st century Man-bat has yet to appear.
You fight as one of us. You fly like one of us. We will fight with you, Batman.
- In the Nintendo game The Adventures of Batman & Robin, Man-Bat is one of the bosses. Interestingly enough, he is able to speak in Man-bat form, while on the show he was not able to do so.
- He is also a boss and playable character in Lego Batman. Like in the comics, he is an enemy of Batman and an ally of the Penguin.
In the novel The Bloody Red Baron (by Kim Newman), a Dr. Langstrom of Gotham University is a vampire researcher. Another researcher states that he had still not been captured after an experiment went badly.