Batman and Robin
In Marco Mancassola's book ,Erotic Lives of the Superheroes, Batman [R] and Robin [L] are in a gay relationship.

Speculation over Batman's sexuality has been rife among comic book fans for decades but the superhero has now been 'outed' as an ageing homosexual who picks up young men for one-night stands.

According to Marco Mancassola's book Erotic Lives of the Superheroes, Gotham City's masked crime fighter is in a gay relationship with his sidekick Robin and enjoys an 'extreme' sex life.

The novel, which centres on a murder mystery, also imagines the erotic obsessions of Superman, Mister Fantastic and Mystique as their heroic abilities are dulled by age.

"Batman has always had a very dark side," Mr Mancassola told The Independent.

"And it shouldn't be a shock that my version of this character indulges in weird forms of fetishism and extreme sex.

"Narcissism is his inner abyss. He let his only real love story miserably fail because he is in love with the mystery of youth - that inaccessible, fleeting kind of spirit that he sees in the eyes of his young male and female pick-ups."

This is not the first time the character has been 'outed' during his long and distinguished history on screen and in print.

Grant Morrison, who has written Batman stories for DC Comics, previously claimed that he's "intended to be heterosexual, but the basis of the whole concept is utterly gay."

Hollywood actor George Clooney, who played the crime fighter in the poorly received 1997 film Batman & Robin, also admitted that he intended the character to appear gay.

In 2006 DC Comics reinvented Batwoman as a lesbian.

Italy-born Mancassola admits that, although some hardcore comics fans cannot forgive the homo-erotic elements he has added to their beloved characters, he did not mean any offence.

"There was no intention to shock or offend anybody: Erotic Lives of the Superheroes is just an attempt at exploring the complex humanity of a group of characters, " he said.

Erotic Lives of the Superheroes is available now through Salammbo Press for £14.99.