July 23, 2014 4:40 pm

Holy birthday cake, Batman! The Dark Knight turns 75

ABOVE: Happy birthday, Batman!

In aging, as in so many other things, Bruce Wayne keeps on defying the odds.

The Caped Crusader blows out the candles on his 75th birthday Wednesday, and unlike most people who reach that milestone, he hasn’t had to slow down much in his day job, or add any extra extensions to his utility belt.

In honour of the anniversary, DC Comics is hosting “Batman Day” at comic book stores across North America, offering fans of the Dark Knight enough Batman-centric swag to fill a Batcave.

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“We’ve had a great crowd coming in today,” George Zotti, owner of The Silver Snail comic book store in Toronto, told Global News. “When you have a character who’s as popular as Batman, it really brings in a fun, diverse crowd of fans.”

In addition to a free “reimagining” of Batman’s comic book debut courtesy of New York Times bestselling author Brad Meltzer, Bat-fans can choose from four Batman masks, each one capturing a different interpretation of the character over his decades-long history.

According to Zotti, the promotion has been a hit among Dark Knight-devotees.

“I was hoping to have 75 pictures of fans decked out in the masks by the end of the day,” Zotti said. “We’re already well past that number, and that day’s not even close to over yet.”

Created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger as a response to the growing popularity of the Superman-helmed Action Comics series, Batman made his debut in print in 1939′s Detective Comics #27.

The son of a wealthy couple, young Bruce Wayne watched as a mugger killed his parents in front of him. Vowing never to allow that evil to happen to someone else, Wayne used his considerable fortune to travel the world, master various martial arts and detective crafts, and furnish himself with a high-tech array of gadgets and weapons.

Over the years, Bruce Wayne’s crime-fighting alter-ego has gone through plenty of incarnations. He added an equally iconic sidekick, Robin (several of them, actually). He’s had his spine broken, braved the perils of fatherhood, and tangled with just about everyone, good or evil, in the DC comics universe.

Britain’s Prince William, right, and his brother Prince Harry look at a ‘Batsuit’ used in the Batman films. (AP Photo/Chris Jackson, Pool)

And at 75 years old, the Dark Knight is arguably at the height of his powers.

He’s been portrayed a number of ways beyond the comic world, including the fun and friendly 1960′s Batman TV series starring Adam West, and the more grim and Gothic 1989 feature film directed by Tim Burton.

His last silver screen outing, a three-film series starring Christian Bale and directed by Christopher Nolan, grossed billions and set box office records around the world.

But faster than you can fire a grappling hook, the World’s Greatest Detective will be back on the big screen in 2016 – this time, Ben Affleck will be donning the cape and cowl in the hugely-anticipated “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

FIRST LOOK: Ben Affleck as Batman 

And Batman remains just as imposing outside the silver screen. He’s been the star of nine weekly cartoon series since 1992, currently appearing in “Beware the Batman” on Cartoon Network. His recent video game appearances in the “Arkham” series of games hold the Guinness World Record for Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Games Ever.

Batman set to begin again in 'Arkham Origins' game

Within comics, The Bat still reigns supreme, starring in no less than five monthly comics currently in publication, and making guest appearances in any title “that needs a sales boost,” Zotti says.

“The thing about Batman is everybody knows who he is. Everybody. You stop any person walking by at Yonge and Dundas Square and ask them ‘Who’s Batman?’ ‘Who’s Robin?’ ‘What’s a Batmobile?’ And they all know.”

So happy birthday, Mr. Wayne! Here’s hoping you spend your big day doing what you love – fighting crime, protecting the innocent, and striking fear into the hearts of criminals.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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