I always imagined something more along the lines of a football player's selectively protective gear to still allow for agility and flexibility in the outfit, and that we were just being shown the artistic shorthand for it.
That being said, it really is hard to beat his classic Neal Adams/Jim Aparo look.
I think the idea that no one should be able to lay a glove on Batman is a relatively new one, originating in the 80s. There's many stories over Batman's first 40 years in which he is sapped from behind or overpowered by a sufficiently-large group of thugs. The earliest examples of the former I can find are in Detective #36 and #37.
O'Neill and Adams were simply continuing that tradition. Perhaps because that's the way I first encountered the character, I much prefer a street-level Batman like this to the character he's become, who can take on 20 guys simultaneously, Bruce-Lee-style, and emerge victorious. They've really gone too far in the other direction.
Edited by Jason Czeskleba on 16 May 2022 at 1:55am
Batman fighting and defeating a large group of assailants is also established right at the very beginning of the character -- it's even mentioned in the next panel from that above in D.C. #36 where one of the criminals notes that only in the midst of Batman taking on a dozen men was there that chance to strike him. Also, in that panel from D.C. #37, he was struck by the person that Batman had just a second earlier untied himself, thinking him an innocent victim of the group of men Batman had just defeated.
I don't think either scene turns Batman into a "punching bag," to use JB's term.
Ah, yes. Funny how Batman sneaking up on Bigger is one of the most perfect, even definitive, Batman scenes ever made, and then it's immediately followed up by Batman dropping his guard, for no reason, not once, but twice.
O'Neill and Adams goal was to take Batman back to his roots... AND treat him as realistic as possible. Batman was vulnerable when the story called for it and I think it made his achievements/strengths stand out more.
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