It's no secret that the Metropolis and Gotham cities of DC Comics are inspired by our fair city, along with Marvel's literal New York—which seems to host a lot more alien invasions than we do. So it's worth noting when the city honors its enduring legacy in modern day mythology. Last Friday, Batman and Green Lantern co-creator Bill Finger was immortalized on Bronx streets when city councilman Ritchie J. Torres officially named E 192nd Street and Grand Concourse Avenue Bill Finger Way.
The New York Times reports that nearly 100 fans and Batman notables were in attendance, including Kevin Conroy—who voiced Bruce Wayne on Batman: The Animated Series and in the Arkham video games, arguably the definitive caped crusader in all media—along with Finger's granddaughter Athena Finger and historians of Finger's work.
Finger, who wrote Batman's original adventures with artist and co-creator Bob Kane, was one of a vanguard of NYC-based Jewish comic book creators banging out new—and unbelievably enduring—characters in the ’40s and ’60s—along with Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel and Marvel's supreme deities Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. Many of these men suffered grave misfortune despite the ever-increasing success of their characters—either at the hands of their publishers or due to betrayal from their collaborators.
Finger and Kane bounced ideas for the Bat-Man back and forth in Poe Park, leading to his debut in 1939. Though Finger is responsible for Batman's origin story, Gotham City and other key aspects of the mythos, and he co-created Robin, Catwoman and the Joker, Kane retained sole credit for the character, now worth billions. When Finger died in 1974, he was alone and destitute, still lacking widespread recognition for his vital role in creating one of most iconic figures of the last century.
Since his passing, Finger has gained the respect he deserved in life. In 1989, Kane began to acknowledge Finger's contributions to the Batman iconography, and Finger was added to the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1999. In 2015, Athena Finger triumphantly challenged Warner Brothers to give Finger full co-creator credit in all Batman media...which means that the first time his name made it to the silver screen, it was attached to Ben Affleck. You can't win ’em all.
You can learn about Bill Finger's true legacy in scores of books and in the 2017 Hulu documentary Batman & Bill.
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