ebailey140 ([personal profile] ebailey140) wrote in [community profile] scans_daily2011-05-12 09:10 pm

Explaining Batman Inc: 72 years in the making

As we've seen with the debates with this post...


...there's a bit of controversy regarding the direction of the Bat books. Some object to Bruce not being a loner. What's with these groups and others wearing the Bat symbol? What's with people looking to Batman as an inspiration when he's just supposed to scare the crap out of everybody, good and evil aike? Bruce publicly funding superheroes? What's with that candle swearing ceremony thing?

They all date back decades, in some cases almost as long as Batman has existed.

A look back...

Batman: Created by Bob Kane, not Frank Miller

In the mid-1980s, DC restarted their Universe with Crisis on Infinite Earths, which re-defined the DCU for the Iron Age of Comics. As various characters and series were subsequently rebooted, decades worth of history was thrown out. Batman was redefined by Frank Miller. This Grimdark paranoid constantly angry version was very popular, and would be Batman for the next 20 years.

Then, the Iron Age ended. And, like CoIE, the DCU would be redefined for the new era with a big event, Infinite Crisis. The biggest change was acknowledging that these characters had been around for more than two decades. Frank Miller's Batman was no longer seen as the one and only possible take on the character. There was a rich history that pre-dated Miller, and it could now be drawn on.

What we're seeing now comes from the Golden, Silver, Bronze, and, yes, even the Iron Ages.

Batman as inspiration

But, some argue, Batman is all about fear, not inspiring people to help others and make the world a better place. Well, let's look at Batman's origin...

Later, we'd learn he'd fallen into what became the Batcave at an early age, where he first saw the bats. Oh, and note the candle when the young Bruce is making his promise.

He shortly took a child under his wing who had also lost his parents to criminals. We'll be getting into him in a bit...

But, one's parents don't have to be murdered to create a traumatic childhood. Sometimes, living parents provide the trauma. And one destined to become a Bat finds their inspiration...

Hmm... I think we also see why Steph's so fond of Kara. :)

Then there's Kate, whose childhood trauma was the murder of her mother and, so she thought, her twin sister. She intended to dedicate her life to protecting others by serving in the military like her parents, but her sexual orientation ended that. Then, one night...

Kate explains...

So, yes, striking fear into the hearts of criminals. But, he also inspires others to take up his cause, to make the world a better place. The Bat symbol only represents terror to those who deserve it. To others, it represents the light fighting back the darkness.

Robins, Batgirls, and others

There are those that argue that having help "devalues" Batman, that he's best as a Grimdark Loner, like he used to be. Because, you know, he was a Grimdark Loner for such a long time...

A whole year, he went without help. One year out of his 72 year history. But those 71 years don't count, right?

Even Frank Miller thought he needed a Robin. And he gave him an especially cute one.

Aside from providing back-up and, if need be, rescue, Robin keeps Batman human.

Over the years, the Batman Family grew...

OK, but going international, uniting people from around the world that he inspired, and leading them in this Club of Heroes? Where did Morrison come up with that crazy idea?

Well, OK, fine, but that was the Golden Age. It's not like there were spin-off teams during the glorious Grimdark Iron Age...

All Batman Inc really is is taking the groups that have been there for years; the Batman Family, the Club of Heroes, the Outsiders, and the Birds of Prey; and giving them a central organizaton. Makes sense, really.

But, why does Bruce think he needs to train people? It takes away from his coolness, some argue, if he's not fighting the good fight, alone. We'll let Bruce, himself, explain...

These people he's inspired took this task upon themselves. They chose to do this, with or without Bruce's help. So, by training them, he not only has help, not only has people to continue the fight once he's gone, but he makes sure they know what they're doing.

Batman isn't a psycho taking out his rage on his targets, as some would like him to be. Yes, the deaths of his parents inspired him. It inspired him to try to make the world a better place. Bruce does more than fight crime. The Wayne Foundation helps operate free clinics, schools, orphanages, soup kitchens, and the arts.

But, what about publicly financing and backing a superhero group? Well, this isn't the first time. There's this other group. You may have heard of them...

What? No, I do not just use any excuse to post a George Perez drawing of Diana. It just... illustrated my point is all. Beautifully. Sigh... Um, where was I?

Oh yeah... Financing Batman Inc won't make Bruce any more a target than he already is. Lex Luthor, during the Bruce Wayne: Fugitive arc, was out to destroy Bruce, not Batman.

The candle ceremony

Someone in the other thread described swearing new members in with a candle as like a religious cult. This dates way back. Remember, it was with a candle lit that the young Bruce swore to avenge the deaths of his parents and dedicated his life to his cause.

Then, a few issues later, came this...

We didn't see this ceremony again until recently, when Barbara decided to revive it...

Barbara's narration, explanation, and, most importantly, the shopkeeper's expression pretty much say it all.

Sticking to the Iron Age approach in 2011 would have been about as good an idea as sticking to the Bronze Age approach would have been in 1986, or sticking to the Silver Age approach would have been in 1971. Times change, and Batman has always changed with them, reflecting the era. However, he's always retained the core of what makes him Batman. And, he'll continue to do so.

Scans from Detective Comics #33, 38, 859, 860; Secret Origins 80 Page Giant #1, The Dark Knight Returns #2, Robin #92, Justice League of America #200, and Batgirl v3 #3

[personal profile] hyperactivator 2011-05-13 02:37 am (UTC)(link)
The thing is you can still tell plenty of stories about Batman working alone. Considering how much bad in the DCU their is more than enough to spare.
mrstatham: (Default)

[personal profile] mrstatham 2011-05-13 09:30 am (UTC)(link)
This. I don't see Morrison pinning a big old sign to the Batman Rulebook and saying 'BRUCE CAN'T WORK ALONE ANYMORE'. In fact, one of DC's meant-to-be big releases is Bruce working in Gotham in a more solo context - That Dave Finch can't write and draw a book to get out on time is the issue there.

I think Morrison's made a nice big stride in making Bruce less of an asshole and more friendly to those around him - I've always said the biggest sin of the 2000's Batman stories is that Bruce starts treating his friends almost as badly as he treats criminals - But with the exception of that brief period between War Games and IC, he's always had friends and a support network. Gotham's a big enough place that he can easily operate alone, some nights.
star_of_airdrie: (dickkory5)

[personal profile] star_of_airdrie 2011-05-13 02:50 am (UTC)(link)
I see your point about inspiring people to take up the cause as Batman always has and you've shown great examples, but Batman, Inc. feels different than other groups of superheroes and crimefighters.

I'm fairly procorporate and all (you can take the girl out of Wharton, but you can't take the Wharton out of the girl) but again there is an ick factor to this. And I've said before when looking at this storyline, this idea (Batman Inc) is being either set up to fail or fundamentally change some of the characters (my money is on Dick and also on Bruce).

Original, no. But there's a twist here, something that is different, that may make it a good story... at least I hope so. I'm really trying to like this book.
big_daddy_d: (Ra's al Ghul)

[personal profile] big_daddy_d 2011-05-13 03:11 am (UTC)(link)
Well here's my two cents. Batman's been alone for TOO long. Since Infinite Crisis it seems like he's starting to come out of his shell, be less of the loner and Batdick. I think it's about time because honestly, it seems like in most or all other continuities, we ultimately see that Bruce is doomed to a bad ending and that usually involves him being alone. I'm open to a Batman who embraces not being alone. I'm open to a Batman with an excited look on his face as he's trolling the internet. I'm open to a Batman who thinks of his closests allies as the family that they are. Honestly I like the ideal of Batman Inc. Hell I like that we have different Batmen all of the world. I like that Dick Grayson is Batman and is the perfect mentor for Damian. We saw the result of a lone Batman and let's be honest, how good did that turn out for him? I say, roll with it. There's still room for solo Bat stories, otherwise, I really don't want him going back to the lonesome, paranoid of his friends, being a dick to his family and unable to open up to them, Batman.
big_daddy_d: (Default)

One more thing

[personal profile] big_daddy_d 2011-05-13 03:14 am (UTC)(link)
I also don't mind that he's an inspiration. That's one of the points of being a hero. Just as long as they don't wear hockey pants...or get beat up on the Vegas Strip (if you've seen the youtube video, you'll get the reference).The guy can still scare the crap out of villains while still inspiring others. Hell just imagine. Criminals already fear him, then they hear that there's a colony of Bats out there. They will shit bricks.

Re: One more thing

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sigmund_droid: (Default)

my pov

[personal profile] sigmund_droid 2011-05-13 03:52 am (UTC)(link)
I would definitely consider myself to be proponent of the “Batman should be a loner” school. Perhaps even to a radical extreme that many in this community would then look at me with disdain.

I hate Batman making guest appearences outside of Gotham.

I hate the idea of a “Batfamily”

I DESPISE the idea of Batman being on the Justice League.

I cherish the idea that Batman is forever unable to maintain close relationships due to his psyche and his tireless crusade. I love Alfred, the wise butler who many times keeps Bruce sane. I love Bruce's interactions with Robin, how he saw him as an extension of his younger self. In other ways both alfred and robin play the role of Doctor Watson, offering crucial advice and being a set of ears to listen to Bat's theories.

I dislike this new bat inc arc in the same way i dislike what Oracle has become. The idea that in case of trouble for bruce a team of batmen, batbomb, or some other deus ex machina is really offsetting.

I miss the days when Batman was a detective, investigating crimes with naught but a wise butler, a young partner learning from his mentor and his own courage.

Re: my pov

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lorriek: (Default)

Re: my pov

[personal profile] lorriek 2011-05-13 06:07 pm (UTC)(link)
I love the current take on Bruce Wayne. My Batman is the Batman I met post-Crisis in 1987. The one who had a Robin and worked with JLI. The one who might be a jerk at times and obviously had some emotional problems, but was certainly no Batpsycho (I'm okay with a bit of Batdickishness in small amounts, but some writers took it way too far during the GrimDark years) . You could see how much he cared about people and I never once thought he wasn't the type to work with other heroes.

I was really, really annoyed when I tried to pick up a Batman comic after years not reading (was it the late 90s or early 00s, maybe?) and Batman was suddenly an "urban legend" and much more of a loner, which didn't make any sense at all to me. It was irritating enough that I decided I didn't want to read Batman after all, and it's only in the past couple of years that I've reacquainted myself with the Bat characters (and sites like this one have been invaluable to catching up on the years of missed).

Re: my pov

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recognitions: (Default)

Re: my pov

[personal profile] recognitions 2011-05-13 06:20 pm (UTC)(link)
"I cherish the idea that Batman is forever unable to maintain close relationships due to his psyche and his tireless crusade. I love Alfred, the wise butler who many times keeps Bruce sane."

Don't these sentences contradict each other?

I will say that I miss the detective stories, but I don't think the current status quo necessarily prevents them from being told; more like the state of the comic book world as a whole these days.
baxter2814: Spidey noms a chicken leg (bat cat)

[personal profile] baxter2814 2011-05-13 04:35 am (UTC)(link)
As a long time reader of comics I always twitch when people who only watch movies say that Batman working with people detracts from his persona as a loner. He's really among the most surrounded-with-allies characters in the DC universe. I think the only people less loner-ish than him are probably the Titans. Even Superman, who's friendly with just about every hero on earth, is more of a loner in practice than Batman is. The reason Batman is still called a loner, while people like Supes are not, is all psychological. Unlike Supes and other heroes, Batman pushes everyone he works with away from actual close friendship or openness, even when he associates with them regularly, and forces himself (or at least tries) to stay lonely even when surrounded by people. That, to me, makes him much more of a real loner in personality than having him working alone all the time. (Actually, having him working alone all the time IMHO makes him seem like just a lonely guy who could be perfectly comfortable and social if only someone would become his friend.)

I'm not saying one version is better than the other (I think both unallied-isolated-Bats and surrounded-by-allies-Bats are interesting), just that Batman's loner personality isn't really tied to how many associates he has.

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sadoeuphemist: (Default)

[personal profile] sadoeuphemist 2011-05-13 05:12 am (UTC)(link)
Chris Sims wrote a piece along these lines last year, I dug it up: http://www.comicsalliance.com/2010/08/31/two-batmen-batman-inc/

His thesis was that Batman Inc. is a natural extension of the inherent purpose of the Batman identity: to be bigger than Bruce Wayne, to be bigger than any one person, in a self-perpetuating cycle of people being inspired to heroism through the symbol of the bat.

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damianwayne: (Default)

[personal profile] damianwayne 2011-05-13 05:58 am (UTC)(link)
IS that origin story from a reprint, or something? I could've sworn that Batman saw a pipe smoking Negro through the window of his study that night...

Seriousy though, great post. Good intro to the bat family for those who aren't too keen on it... though it might not hurt to have Jason, Cass, Barbara and even Damian moments there to make it comprehensive. Still, very nice.
miss_s_b: (Default)

[personal profile] miss_s_b 2011-05-13 08:59 am (UTC)(link)
Awesome, awesome post. Thank you.
ext_197528: (Default)

[identity profile] kurenai-tenka.livejournal.com 2011-05-13 11:52 am (UTC)(link)
I'm not really on board with the whole Batman Inc thing, but I love this post. :)
eyz: (Default)

[personal profile] eyz 2011-05-13 12:06 pm (UTC)(link)

I always been a big fan of the Bat-clan, so I kinda already accepted the idea of "Batman Incorporated".
I know haters' gonna hate..but it is a pretty natural as far as story progression goes. You know some fanboys are already wishing it to be retconned and whatnot, but it is a solid concept at heart.

On the other hand, Bruce Wayne's actions aren't that far from Max and the JLI "back in the BWAHAHA-day".

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tsunamiwombat: (Default)

[personal profile] tsunamiwombat 2011-05-13 12:44 pm (UTC)(link)
Theres an old batman story concept that gets played over and over in comics. Three cops, talking to each other. Swapping stories. -I- saw the batman scare a jumper off the ledge then convince him to get help. -I- saw the batman go through some gangsters in a hostage situation and utterlly brutalize them Arkham Asylym dickpunch style.

Then cop 3 days, -I- saw Batman rescue two orphans from the street and help them find a home. And he cried.

And cops 1 and 2 say MAN BULLSHIT.

End of comic, Batman checking in on 2 kids asleep in their bed.

The point? Batman IS a loner. He is a grim, dark knight crusader millar nolan cocktail of testosterone, hate, and misery. He is brusque with his friends and can be thoughtless of the feelings of those close to him.

But he is also mindful of his faults. He is sincere, he is sympathetic, he is capable of empathy and he only wants to spare people misery and bring some hope and happyness to this world.

He's Santa Claus with a Chainsaw, The Easter Bunny with a shotgun. Jesus the Vampire.

Batmans all of those things. Infact, I might post scans of that issue- i'm arse at html though, can uh...anyone explain how to insert a cut into a post? >_>;

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lieut_kettch: (megan)

[personal profile] lieut_kettch 2011-05-13 01:48 pm (UTC)(link)
About the candle ceremony: my memory's shaky, but I think I do remember Bruce swearing in Babs in a similar ceremony in Dixon's Batgirl: Year One..
darkness_p: (hush)

[personal profile] darkness_p 2011-05-13 05:17 pm (UTC)(link)
I want to hug this post. Thank you.

[personal profile] kalanyr 2011-05-14 05:04 am (UTC)(link)
Am I the only one who thinks that a certain level of paranoia in Batman is not necessarily exclusive to him being not-necessarily-a-loner ?

When you're a "normal human" (yes yes I know that from a metatextual perspective none of the Bats are anymore human that Captain America is, if not markedly less so but thats the line given so let's run with it), amongst people who can literally singlehandedly lift buildings, it makes sense to have plans to take down team mates who have gone rogue especially when someone gets mind controlled/possessed/brainwashed roughly once a month. Comparatively speaking if Batman gets mind controlled/possessed none of his team mates need a plan to take him down, the condition itself disables his strengths, so taking him down is trivial for his teammates, no plan needed. He's just putting himself in the same position of being able to defend himself and (and this is an important point) his friends/comrades/allies. Now the Brother Eye thing was going to far but its not like he didn't have a reason to distrust metahumans at that point, he had his mind which is his greatest strength violated (and for a reason that was basically, "Hey its more convenient for us if we mess up your head!").

The issue of Superman/Batman where Superman basically gave Batman a piece of kryptonite basically makes the point that Superman at least understands the reason why Bruce keeps these plans around and why its a good idea.
aaron_bourque: default (Default)

[personal profile] aaron_bourque 2011-06-07 08:21 am (UTC)(link)
There's nothing in this post I disagree with.