The Golden Age Batman was a spooky, ingenius, smack-talking detective who pretty much invented Being Cool. The Silver Age Batman was absurdly unflappable, dealing coolly and casually with bizarre creatures from outer space and other dimensions, and was secure enough to put a cape on his dog. The later Iron Age Batman was five kinds of dark crazy-scary and slowly morphed himself into the omnicompetent Platinum Age Batman who needed nothing more than "time to prepare."
But in the middle of all that, from about 1970 to 1986, was the caustic, bumbling, overconfident and undercompetent Bronze Age Batman. Who, for some reason, no one seems to notice is an idiot. Really, the Stupid Bronze Age Batman is like Inspector Clouseau, blithely acquiring fame as a brilliant crimefighter with each stumbling misstep he makes, his idiocy hidden in plain sight.
How did he get away with this? Well, I credit the Minor League Batman Theory. As much as I like Major League Baseball, I enjoy watching minor league baseball much more. Why? Because, thanks to the imperfections of the players, minor league baseball is MUCH more interesting; you never know quite what's going to happen.
Stupid Bronze Age Batman can't even get to first base without help.
Similarly, a flawless Batman doesn't allow for lots of suspense in a story. We certainly want Batman to be really cool and capable, yes; but if he's too perfect, we don't identify with him, we don't fear for his safety, we don't thrill to his adventures. Perhaps the Stupid Bronze Age Batman's human imperfection was his literary strength. Think how much acclaim and popularity Scott Snyder's recent work on the character has won, in part by showing us a Batman who is overconfident, vulnerable, and possibly outmatched!
Well, we're certainly going to see a Batman who is overconfident, vulnerable, and possibly outmatched this week here at the Absorbascon, as we sit down to read the 1974 Len Wein story enitled...
...which first appeared in Baman #255 and surely won't appear anywhere else again, so enjoy it here while you can.