Saturday, 10 August 2013

The Bat, the Clown and the "Family"

I just finished re-reading Batman issues #13-17, containing the most recently published Joker story, "Death of the Family".  In this story, the Joker's come back to Gotham City after having been missing for a year and he's upset with Batman for all that's happened in his absence.  He sees a Batman who's become weak and lost the edge that he had back in the "early days".  Why does the Joker think that Batman's so weak?  It is because he has become too dependent on his allies...his "Family".

See, when the Joker first arrived on the scene, it was just the Clown and the Bat...dancing their dance with the fates of the anonymous citizens of Gotham hanging in the balance...some will live, some will die, and the dance goes on...until Batman introduced a new element.  Suddenly Batman had help...suddenly he had Robin! 

This might have been alright, but it didn't stop there...after Robin, out of nowhere Batgirl arrives...then the first Robin grows up and becomes Nightwing and ANOTHER Robin appears to take his place...and when Joker KILLS that one another appears...and then the dead one is resurrected...and then Batman's son shows up to be the next Robin...and suddenly it's awfully crowded on the dance floor.  And all of that is just in the New 52...before the reboot it was even MORE complicated!

So the Joker argues that having all of these "kids" to take care of/rely on for assistance weakens Batman.  That Batman is more pure and driven and a stronger force when he is working alone.  That having so much help takes something away from him, as a crime fighter and maybe even as a concept.

It got me the Joker right?

At the end of the day, should the Batman be surrounded by friends and allies?  Or should he be a lone, brooding Dark Knight?  What makes for a more interesting story?  

Personally, I enjoy it when Bruce has a whole network of people to work with...there's more chance for character growth and it opens up more avenues for storytelling.  Yet every time Batman arrives at that place where he has all this help, it inevitably gets taken away from him.  He loses his family, he become yet darker and angrier and goes back to brooding in the shadows of the night...

Not that I mind terribly.  I enjoy solitary, brooding Batman too...although the transitional phase where he's extra grief-stricken and angry and grim is kind of a bummer....

But of course the Bat eventually makes it back from that solitary's a never ending cycle...and one of the great strengths of Batman as a character is the ability he has to adapt...he can go from campy and lighthearted to dark and serious...from street-level crime-fighting to galaxy-spanning can tell almost ANY kind of story with Batman as a protagonist!

Anyway, I was just thinking about it...maybe drawing a few parallels as I've been kind of a hermit myself lately (partially through circumstance and partially by design).  What is Batman's most natural state?  Alone or with his "Family"?  What do you prefer??

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