OK, here’s another Bat post. I’m such a fan and my last review gained such praise, i’m gonna do another. Might as well, it’s kinda an obsession of mine. I know, totally nerdy, but hey, i’m a self confessed nerd and no where near as bad as some of my friends. I think i know the biggest Doc Who fan in the world, and i’m not even kidding. So here goes:
lets start with whats wrong with Batman, and how none of whats wrong is a bad thing. The most obvious, he has no super powers. I know, oh my gosh, wow TOG, how’d you get that insider info, you really must be a massive fan…. But seriously, how many hero’s in a comic series, and villains for that matter (Joker, Riddler and Scarecrow to name but a few) have no super powers whatsoever. Outside of Batman, especially outside of DC, it’s quite unheard off. Why is this?
Well, the first time Batman was introduced into the world was in a series of detective comics in 1939, and the first Batman comic series hit the shelves in 1940. Back then, after a terrible world recession (you think the one at the moments bad) and growing rumors from Germany of a new strong, but extremist political party making themselves known, and a Communist Russia ready to sit back and watch the capitalist world burn, a comic series was exactly what was needed for the kids of America.
Especially when the hero could be nothing more than a well respected, upper class, yet very normal, philanthropic business man. You can practically hear the parents of the age cheering for joy in support of such an ideal, iconic, very American image for there children to admire. The extra message of him being, despite his advanced ninja training and harsh self discipline, a very normal person, indicating anyone can be just as accomplished, kind and generous as he is (minus dressing in a cape and fighting crime every night) was then lost in a sea of great plots, story lines and character development for which the kids loved. This winning formula has kept the series alive for now 72 years…. think on that for a bit, 72….
Despite Batman’s obvious, yet i argue advantageous lack of powers, he did have the utility belt, and all manner of utilities therein. Many gizmos and gadgets to keep battleing crime in a non-fatal way, and more importantly to keep the young readers entertained. Why i believe the gadgets are not a bad thing but a good thing is because it adds a sense of mortality to Batman. This reliance on technology, even with the application of well homed skill, as with throwing a baterang, can be put down to the fact that if you go past the vale of fear, the training and the mask, he is very human.
Having a hero who can be hurt by a powerful villain is in almost every comic, but it’s almost always because that villain exposes and abuses the hero’s weakness. For example: Superman = Lex Luther and krytonite. Hulk = Red Hulk, Glactus = Sliver surfer’s board, it goes on like this, but with Batman, it’s something much more simple than a genetic clone or a rare extra terrestrial material. Batman’s weakness is that he’s human. He has his principles and feels compelled to stick to them, which could lead to his downfall. He relies on his gadgets and his skill, but succeed in rendering him unconscious, bound and without gadgets, he is not defenseless but he is a lot less dangerous for the villain. His only weakness is his greatest trait and that’s his mortality and his nature.
Finally, a slight personality trait i never got. He won’t kill, but he has no problem with bruising, beating, disorientating, throwing, and generally breaking people, often until he KO’s them or they pass out from pain. Doesn’t he realize that that sort of damage is sometimes worse than it seems. For one thing, he could cause internal bleeding. If medical attention is not found for that person immediately then they can die. Not straight away while Batman’s there, but in the course of the next half an hour or so most certainly. A broken rib could puncture a lung, he could have accidentally severed someones spine while he had them in a head lock or with a very powerful well delivered upper cut. The person could become wheelchair bound and communicate by blinking for the rest of his life. Sure he’s not dead, and sure, Steven Hawking’s making a good go of it, but you can argue that his quality of life was taken away, and some would say that’s as bad as to die. Did Batman kill them?…
All so, what about the psychological damage he can do. Imagine, your poor as can be and you’ve just finished a skint in black-gate prison. To get money for food and rent, you’ve had to work for a notorious villain in Gotham and you’r guarding his hideout, when suddenly, you hear metal hit glass as all the lights go out in the warehouse like room your in. You turn on your flash light and reply to your co-workers checks for everyone to be OK. You stand in the dark, shining your torch up at the lights, wondering what that was then you hear another guard, in a voice layered with fear, cry out, it’s the Bat!
You’re now calling out to each other constantly and trying to meet in the middle of the room to fight him off. Strength in numbers right, and he’s just one guy, but when you get there, there’s only four of you and there were six, you cry out for them but there’s no answer. Just you three alone in the darkness, you’re torches…. wait, THREE! He was just there a moment ago! Where the fuck is he?
You all stand back to back waiting. Calling out to him to show himself as fear runs over you. Then, three grapple hooks come from ABOVE and grab you torches right out of your hands. You have no weapons, the two who were not there to meet you had them. Before you even have time to think a dark figure descends right on top of Jim, right on his head and he just collapses. You watch the other take a swing but he is quickly on the floor, not moving…. now he turns to you….
Do i need say more, this guy is terrifying!
Anyway, back to the point, why do i love Batman. In my opinion he is the most human of hero’s as they come and i really appreciate that quality and curse about him. The strength and weakness of his mortality and his morality make him a very complex and very idealistic hero. Plus, he’s a very dark hero which is a modern development of the role that I’ve really enjoyed seeing in his more modern games, Arkham Asylum and City, as well as Batman Begins, Dark Night and less so but still in Rises.
The darkness of his persona and the actual fear he installs in his adversaries makes him appear all that more serious, not just to the reader, but also to the villains in the stories. Before this was true in the good old days of the T.V. series and the comics series’s countdown and Batman and Robin, Batman was always portrayed as a very good, and very not scary hero, and i think this was a major mistake. Obviously at the time it worked for the T.V. series and appealed to the younger reading demographic, but it gave way for stupid villains, like Mr Benedict aka: Egg Man. i kid you not….
So, i like batman for all the reasons stated above, because i grew up with him and because, well he’s cool, nerd or not. End off.
That other Guy