You May Not Know Bob Kane, But You Do Know His Greatest Comic Book Characters

Unless you're a diehard comic book fan, you might not know the name Bob Kane. But you're definitely familiar with his work. The late writer and artist - who was born 101 years ago today - created some classic comic book heroes and villains that are still appearing on magazine racks and in Hollywood blockbusters today.

Here are the top characters created solely by Kane or in collaboration with artists like Bill Finger, David Wood and Sheldon Moldoff.

1. Batman, 1939

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First image of Batman, in Action Comics #12, announcing the character's debut in the forthcoming Detective Comics #27

Bob Kane cemented his place in comic book history by creating Batman, who is second only to Superman in IGN's list of the top 100 comic book characters. He's since been played on the big screen by actors Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale and Ben Affleck.

2. The Joker, 1940

Comic Book The Joker 1940

From the Joker's debut in Batman #1 (April 25, 1940) 

Kane also created IGN's pick for the second best villain in comic book history: the Clown Prince of Crime, who has been portrayed by Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and Jared Leto in Hollywood blockbusters.

3. Robin, 1940

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Batman and Robin as they appears on the cover of Batman #9 (Feb. 1942) 

A year after inventing the Caped Crusader, Kane introduced the Boy Wonder, who has been Batman's faithful sidekick in comics for decades. And he was played by Burt Ward, Chris O'Donnell and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in movie adaptations.

4. Catwoman, 1940

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Selina Kyle's first appearance as The Cat in Batman#1 (Spring 1940). 

Kane's feline anti-heroine known as the Catwoman began slinking around Gotham's back alleys in 1940. Actors Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry and Anne Hathaway have all taken turns playing the notorious catburglar. 

5. Clayface, 1940


Cover to Detective Comics #298. Matt Hagen as Clayface II. 

One of Batman's oldest foes is also one of the most shy. The shapeshifter co-created by Kane has only appeared in animated movies up to this point.

6. The Penguin, 1941


The Penguin, as seen in Batman #287 (May 1977).

The aristocratic villain known as the Gentlemen of Crime was co-created by Kane and Finger. He's been portrayed on the big screen by Burgess Meredith and Danny DeVito.

7. Scarecrow, 1941

Scarecrow Worlds Finest Comics 3 Fall 1941

A full page of panel of World's Finest Comics #3 (Fall 1941), featuring the Scarecrow's debut. Art by Bob Kane.

The mad doctor known as the Professor of Fear began unleashing nightmares on Gotham City in 1941. Since then, he's been portrayed on screen by Irish actor Cillian Murphy.

8. Two-Face, 1942

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Interior artwork from Detective Comics #66 (Aug, 1942). Art by Bob Kane

Kane's fallen crimefighter Harvey Dent (a.k.a. Two-Face) has been portrayed on screen by Billy Dee Williams, Tommy Lee Jones and Aaron Eckhart.

9. Alfred Pennyworth, 1943

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Interior artwork from Batman vol. 16, April-May 1943. Art by Bob Kane

Nowadays, Bruce Wayne's trusty butler is as much a staple of the Batman universe as the Batcave or the Batmobile. But he was actually a late addition to the comics. Since then, he's been portrayed in movies by Michael Gough, Michael Caine and Jeremy Irons.

10. Vicky Vale, 1948


The first appearance of Vicki Vale in Batman # 49

Kane also co-created Bruce Wayne's recurring love Vicki Vale, who was played by Kim Basinger on the big screen.

11. Mr Freeze, 1959

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Batman #121 (1959), the first appearance of the character as "Mr. Zero"

The demented scientist co-created by Kane has been chilling the hearts of Gothamites with cold-blooded crimes since 1959. And if you think those puns are bad, check out Arnold Schwarzenegger's doozies from Batman & Robin (1997).

Banner image: Batman and Bo Kane (


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