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Bartman is Bart Simpson's superhero alter ego. His costume consists of Bart's normal street clothes and, in a nod to Batman, a purple cape and cowl that provides a familiar spiked hair outline. While seldom seen on The Simpsons itself, Bartman has had his share of adventures including his own comic book series and four video game appearances.

In The Simpsons episode "Three Men and a Comic Book" Bart and his sister Lisa go to a comic book convention. A sign at the door reads that attendees dressed as a popular comic book character get in for half price, so Bart steps into a phone booth, emerges wearing the purple cape and cowl, and declares "This looks like a discount for... Bartman!" His costume fails to earn a discount to the convention, unfortuately. Bart wears the Bartman cape and cowl for the rest of the convention, and after these opening scenes his Bartman identity has not been seen on the series since.

But...

In 1991 the Nintendo Entertainment System video game Bart vs The World was released. The game sent Bart around the world in a series of side-scrolling levels, and one of the power-ups available to him was the Bartman costume. By acquiring it Bart could fly temporarily while peppy music played in the background. The Bartman concept was followed up on in 1992's Bartman Meets Radioactive Man in which Bartman seeks out his own personal hero, Radioactive Man, for a partnership to stop evil and again in 1993's The Simpsons: Bart's Nightmare. The costume made a brief appearance in 2004's video game The Simpsons: Hit and Run.

1995 saw the release of the Bartman comic book. Released by Matt Groening's comic book division, Bongo Comics, the Bartman series ran for six issues. Each issue chronicled Bartman's adventures in stopping crime in Springfield as he took on adversaries such as The Penalizer and a crooked comic book publishing empire. In these stories Bartman was assisted by his loyal lackey Milhouse van Houten who would summon him with the Bartsignal: a Batsignal-like projection of Bart's spikey head. Occassionally the duo would head to the Bartcave beneath the treehouse in the Simpsons's yard to consult the Bartcomputer. Trinkets from past adventures adorn the cave, such as a giant Krusty the Klown trading card and the hypno-coin. The series culminated in a special crossover with several Bongo titles as Itchy and Scratchy were brought to life by aliens Kang and Kodos. The ensuing mayhem causes an atomic explosion at Springfield Nuclear Power Plant and results in the townspeople becoming mutant supervillains. It's up to Bartman, the only Springfieldian not at the heart of the blast and thus the only person in the city without special powers, to save the day. Using technology stolen from the aliens he summons Radioactive Man from the comic book and the two of them team up to set things right again. This story spanned several issues of Simpsons Comics, Itchy and Scratchy Comics, and, of course, Bartman. The entire saga is reprinted in a one-shot trade paperback release Bartman: Best of the Best which also includes reprints of the adventures from the first two issues of the Bartman series. As of this writing a Bartman #1 is worth $8.00, with the final issue, #6, clocking in at $3.00 in value.

Aside from appearances on Simpsons merchandise Bartman hasn't been seen much aside from the adventures outlined in this writeup. Note that the 1992 music video Do the Bartman is not based on the Bartman character, but is instead based on Bart Simpson himself. Will Bartman return? Only time will tell.

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