[personal profile] ebailey140 posting in [community profile] scans_daily
As we've seen with the debates with this post...

http://scans-daily.dreamwidth.org/2972745.html

...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

Date: 2011-05-13 04:35 am (UTC)
baxter2814: Spidey noms a chicken leg (bat cat)
From: [personal profile] baxter2814
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.

Date: 2011-05-13 05:01 am (UTC)
baxter2814: Spidey noms a chicken leg (bat cat)
From: [personal profile] baxter2814
Well, I don't really take the Silver Age as canon except in a vague broad-strokes way as it applies to Robin's growing up. But still, what I meant was that the Batdick who pushes away friends is the person who Batman is right now That of course doesn't mean he needs to stay that way...writers just keep refusing to let him get over any of his issues and have a proper relationship with friends and family (grrr!!)

Date: 2011-05-13 09:38 am (UTC)
mrstatham: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mrstatham
He isn't the Batdick anymore. Why do you think he's going around building bonds and actively working with Selina? Hell, the number of reunion stories we had with Bruce and Selina during that period a few months back says a whole heck of a lot there. Batdick hasn't really been in effect since the end of Infinite Crisis.

Date: 2011-05-13 11:36 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
I've said it before, but I don't see the reduction in BatDickery than many do. But I may be influenced there by my belief that Morrison is poor at writing some of the core Bat-relationships (Bruce/Dick being the worst offender, and even Dick/Damian though approaching the fun, has been based on Dick never actually calling Damian on shoddy behaviour)

The "Dick making Damian Robin without talking to Tim first" is inexcusable. The return of Bruce Wayne in the climactic fight with Hurt had almost none of the emotion that one would have hoped for.

The launch of Batman Inc had him issuing orders to the immediate Batfamily, as opposed to ASKING for their help. Just seemed to be usual presumptive Batman. He smiled more to be sure, but his actions were pretty high handed.

And it's not just Morrison, the entire Return of Bruce Wayne arc was basically Bruce wandering around in a ludicrously convenient JLA-power duplicating supersuit (whose origin and eventual fate of which seem to be completely glossed over) kvetching a lot (again, noticeable in the Batman and Robin issue, where FabNic has to put in a line about how even Bruce realises he's just whining for the sake of whining about how well Dick and Damian are doing, and which had a subplot of Bruce running his own mission in Gotham and interfering with Dick and Damian's own mission without actually ASKING for their help. The fact that Dick and Damian actually managed to achieve their goal despite Bruce's interference was a nice moment for them, but did nothing to show Bruce in a good light).

Date: 2011-05-13 12:44 pm (UTC)
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sadoeuphemist
Instead of:
-keeping detailed files on how to disable his friends and colleagues
-building spy satellites to keep his friends and colleagues in line
-being unable to accept emotional support and instead isolating himself to the point of dysfunction

he is:
-making a major effort to make new friends and allies
-integrating his public and private personas
-actually looking like he is having fun with his job again

So yes, he is way less dickish, and being autocratic and not wanting to hang around with his (terrible) biological son aren't enough to detract from that.

Also, all the Return of Bruce Wayne tie-ins were complete nonsense that had nothing to do with the main story and had nothing to do with anything at all that ever happened then or since, so seriously who cares about them.

Date: 2011-05-13 01:26 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
-building spy satellites to keep his friends and colleagues in line

Yeah, that army of semi-autonomous BatBots he's built isn't going to come back to bite him on the ass at all.

-making a major effort to make new friends and allies

Allies perhaps, subordinates, more likely, friends, not really seeing that so far.

-integrating his public and private personas

I don't see that as being a major change, ideally, both his public and private personae are shell's for Bruce Wayne at the core.

-actually looking like he is having fun with his job again

True, but every time he looks like he's having fun, he's also looking like a smug control freak again.

So yes, he is way less dickish, and being autocratic and not wanting to hang around with his (terrible) biological son aren't enough to detract from that.

I'm not talking about Damian, I'm talking about Dick. and terible or not, he is his son and, as Dick is apparently the only one to have noticed, Damian has such an enormous NEED to be wanted and accepted by his father that it's probably visible from space.

the Return of Bruce Wayne tie-ins were complete nonsense that had nothing to do with the main story and had nothing to do with anything at all that ever happened then or since, so seriously who cares about them.

We, the readership, were expected to, it was apparently the new status quo setting series, and was advertised and sold as such. The fact you didn't like it in no way changes it's supposed import (We all have series/runs like that).

Date: 2011-05-13 02:54 pm (UTC)
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sadoeuphemist
No, the bat bots seriously aren't going to bite him in the ass at all. Because he didn't program them with a list of all his friends and their powers and the order to attack them in if necessary.

Seriously robots are not the problem here, Bruce being insane and borderline hostile to everyone around him was the problem. Enjoying being in control =/= constantly thinking up plans to take down everyone close to you. If you literally think he is not any less dickish than before, I don't know what to say to you.

In the Return of Bruce Wayne # 6:
-Batman returns from the future wearing a sterile "bush suit" that has been infected by the Hyper-Adapter, arriving very obviously in the middle of the Justice League in order to deliberately ask them for their help, having realized the value of friendship.

In the Return of Bruce Wayne tie-ins:
-Batman returns from the future with a future suit that duplicates the power of the Justice League and no one knows he's there and he spies on everyone like a weirdo.

I don't know what the hell editorial was doing but the two of them are practically opposites, and if I have to chose between accepting the main book or accepting the tie-ins, I am going to go for the main book every time.

Date: 2011-05-13 01:33 pm (UTC)
mrstatham: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mrstatham
I still disagree. There's a world of difference between this current Bruce and the one who shunned everyone post - War Games, the one who looked like he would never forgive Zatanna and damn near berated Dick for daring to suggest that they call Oracle for help, the one who never properly apologised for Brother Eye and the deaths that machine would cause. Lest we forget, pre-IC Batman is also the one who dared suggest to Superman that they could kill Lex Luthor and make it so that no-one would ever know, as I recall.

A world of difference. You can't tell me that Winick's miserable 'Under the Hood' Batman isn't different from Dini's who forgives Zatanna and sits by her bed all night after she's injured.

Date: 2011-05-13 01:55 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
You can't tell me that Winick's miserable 'Under the Hood' Batman isn't different from Dini's who forgives Zatanna and sits by her bed all night after she's injured.

Except that happened before Batman RIP even started, so not sure that that's precisely germane to this discussion of Batman post Return.

Dini has always produced one of my favourite takes on Batman and the Batverse in his comics writing, and did so by basically ignoring all other characterisations of him.

Date: 2011-05-13 02:06 pm (UTC)
mrstatham: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mrstatham
Yes, except I established that I was talking about Bruce from immediately after Infinite Crisis and the changes that have taken place since then. I never specified that I was talking about Bruce now that he's 'back from the dead'.

Date: 2011-05-13 02:28 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Ah, I think we've been talking at slightly crossed purposes, since my original comment was that I didn't see the post-Back-From-The-Dead Bruce as being that much less of a dick than he had been before he died. He wasn't as bad as he had been pre-OYL I agree, but RIP didn't show him in a good light either.

Date: 2011-05-13 02:43 pm (UTC)
mrstatham: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mrstatham
Ah, right. I think I agree in that case, then, although frankly, RIP by Morrison didn't really feel so bad to me - some of the tie-ins were pretty bad, especially the garbage issue which had Bruce's recording basically tell Jason that there was no real hope for him.

Date: 2011-05-13 03:03 pm (UTC)
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sadoeuphemist
RIP wasn't supposed to show him in a good light, it was the traumatic event that was the culmination of his psychological issues that forced him to rebuild his personality afterwards.

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Date: 2011-05-13 02:13 pm (UTC)
baxter2814: Jimmy Olsen in his Natural Habitat of the Silver Age (jimmy doubles)
From: [personal profile] baxter2814
Well, Batman has gone through that cycle a lot though. It would be great if he actually stays that way this time, but y'know, based on previous evidence there's a good chance he won't.

Date: 2011-05-13 09:31 pm (UTC)
baxter2814: clark/lois + steve/tony + bruce/selina + peter/mj + booster/ted = OTP (otp)
From: [personal profile] baxter2814
Oh man, that reminds me of that "Cake Crisis!" post someone did a few weeks ago :D

Date: 2011-05-13 12:14 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
To me the taking in of Dick and training him to be Robin is "THE moment" that Batman changed irrevocably and why later attempts to make him a consistent loner fail.

The Batman who was always so emotionally damaged that he isolates himself to that extent that comics in the 90's suggested he ALWAYS had done, COULDN'T (imho) have empathised with a child's loss the way he did with Dick and certainly would never have thought for a moment to take on both an apprentice AND a son. That's a supremely human emotional moment which makes Bruce a better person for having done so, and Batman less a perpetually moody, brooding avenger.

Dick wouldn't have turned out the way he did without Bruce there as a role model, and all the jokes they had Dick make about "You taught me everything... except social skills" seem like scrabbling, poorly, to reconcile two such irreconcilable notions. Bruce has an enormous amount of empathy, without it he wouldn't be Batman, he'd be the Punisher. (And yes, Batman punishes criminals, but he brings them to justice, and is motivated to do so to protect others because he cares about other people, he's just not always the best at saying so.)

To end this rambling and probably only vaguely coherent comment, I'd also suggest that the other thing which irked about the "Loner Batman" was that his family apparently bought into it. Dick, Alfred and Babs should see through Batman's bullshit and call him on it, because it was always a shell. The notion it was real just runs counter to the concept of Batman.

The exchange from Infinite Crisis always summarised it for me, when Batman calls on nightwing to gather the heroes, and that it's better that Dick does it than him because...

Batman - They trust you, they always have. You care about people.
Nightwing - So do you, you just hide it better.

Date: 2011-05-13 02:38 pm (UTC)
baxter2814: dick says you suck, dc! (nightwing accuses)
From: [personal profile] baxter2814
Not incoherent at all, and I TOTALLY agree. It's so funny when people say "Robin doesn't "fit" into the Batman mythos!" when he was introduced in 1940 and Batman has never gone more than a few years without a Robin since. Now don't get me wrong — I absolutely loved Crisis On Infinite Earths and feel that almost all the changes it brought were some of the best things to ever happen to DC, but one really irritating thing that came out of it was that it gave the writers an excuse to go crazy retconning away Batman's fatherly relationship with Dick (and his history as being the guy who says "chum" and allows Dick to crack terrible puns) even though it would make no sense given Dick's character, i.e., they changed Batman a lot while trying to keep Dick the same, which just doesn't work because of how huge Bruce's influence was on Dick when he was Robin.

And yes I so agree with it seeming really forced and unconvincing when the Batfamily rambles about Bruce being such a antisocial asshole and so on and so forth, because yes — there is just no way Bruce could have raised a kid as nice as Dick if he had been a cold closed-off dick since the beginning. They really ought to remember that. If not, they should have been as badly affected by the retcons as Bruce was. And this is why retcons like it turning out that hey, wait, no, Bruce fired Dick (in a totally dickish manner) and kicked him out; or wait, no, Bruce kidnapped Jason and tied him up in the Batcave and Stockholm Syndrome'd him into adopting the Robin identity (which imo was WAY creepier than even anything Miller thought up in in All Star Batman and Robin) really piss me off, making it seem like the writers are going "Character development? From Dick leaving? From Jason's death? What's that? This guy was an asshole from the start!"

It's hard to say it's out of character, because that's who Batman was in the present when those stories came out, but it's still really illogical because Bruce and Dick and Jason and Barbara's continuity just doesn't make any sense if Bruce was a socially closed-off jackass his entire life.

Date: 2011-05-13 06:40 pm (UTC)
sistermagpie: Classic magpie (Default)
From: [personal profile] sistermagpie
Just had to chime in and say hear hear. I have never bought the idea that Bruce suddenly never had relationships and Dick just happen to grow up in his house and be Dick. I remember someone once suggesting that obviously it was really Alfred that did all the day to day parenting, but even in flashbacks post-crisis that's not true because it just makes no sense.

That's why it's always been a given that children like Batman, because they know the difference between a monster and someone who scares monsters away. Plus, of course, there's the fact that not only did Bruce take in one kid and raise him to adulthood (with said kid adoring him) but that other proteges are attracted to him like magnets. This makes perfect sense of you understand Bruce as someone whose loner persona is a shell. It makes no sense if he really can't connect with people.

Date: 2011-05-13 11:47 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Interestingly, "The Batman" cartoon did things the other way round, with a sociable, socialised Batman (Already working with Batgirl and Robin and serving as father to Dick) meeting Superman, and Superman being the remote, distant one, since with his powers, he IS apart from everyone else, and the notion of having someone to work with is so unecessary since he CAN do pretty much everything, and it actually seemed a reasonable and logical character development.

Date: 2011-05-13 02:49 pm (UTC)
baxter2814: clark/lois + steve/tony + bruce/selina + peter/mj + booster/ted = OTP (otp)
From: [personal profile] baxter2814
Urgh, I hated Superman being remote and distant, because IMHO the idea of Supes being remote and distant from everyone because of his "powers" (what does that even mean?) IS totally illogical given the fact that he, you know, grew up in Smallville as a normal human being with parents as nice as the Kents. The decades of Supes' characterization as an open, friendly guy was founded on rock solid logic. To me, making him all remote even though he grew up as a human is just as idiotic a characterization choice as saying Batman should've been a dick all his life, even though the fact that he raised Dick should poke huge holes in this idea. Would've definitely made a cool Elseworlds though (which The Batman...um...sort of counts as? Maybe?)

Date: 2011-05-13 06:13 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Oh Clark is probably a nice guy in "The Batman", but as Superman he flies alone, he is so powerful he basically outclasses anyone so working with others has never occcured to him because he's never needed it or seen any advantage to it. He's stronger, faster, more invulnerable than anyone else, risking others would be a horrible thing to do, so he doesn't take that chance.

Oddly, there's an old World's Finest where Batman wanders into a world where he never came to be, but find Superman has Robin as his sidekick, and one is left wondering, even as a kid reading this stuff; Batman and Robin working together makes sense, they're a good team. Superman and Robin is just... too much of a power level mismatch (If they'd called Dick "Kryptonite Disposal Kid" it might have been more honest, because in most situations that's about all I could imagine he'd be THAT useful for when working with a Silver Age Kryptonian)

Date: 2011-05-13 09:37 pm (UTC)
baxter2814: clark/lois + steve/tony + bruce/selina + peter/mj + booster/ted = OTP (otp)
From: [personal profile] baxter2814
Well, for the working together as actual partners I understand...I just can't see his desire to work alone for practical reasons being reflected in his personality. (Though I still would be all for seeing him work with, say, Kara, who's almost as strong as he is.)

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