Batman is Dead. Long Live Batman
The big gigantic news of last week was not the culling of mass turkeys nor the insanity of Friday’s Blackened shopping madness. For us, the big, ball busting news of last week was that Bruce Wayne, after years of fighting his inner demons and the demons that plague Gotham City, finally met his end at the hands of Simon Hurt.
Now while the mainstream news will latch on to the bit of dialog where Hurt proclaims that he is Thomas Wayne, those of us who actually read comics know better. Hurt is more likely the Devil himself, the impetus for Bruce’s crusade, the figurative father of Batman.
The question of Dr. Hurt’s true identity, Thomas Wayne or the Devil, is somewhat immaterial. The bigger question is, can there be a Batman without Bruce Wayne?
Will the New Batman Please Stand Up!
We do have ample evidence of the dangers of handing over the mantle of the Bat. Jean-Paul Valley demonstrated his ineptness as a master detective during the whole Knightfall era. Of course, Valley was nucking futs, although let’s face it, a man who dresses up as a flying fuck rat is pretty crazy to begin with anyway. The mantle must be passed on. Batman is more a symbol, a force of nature, than an actual man. But it must be passed on to someone who can walk that delicate balance between madness and sanity. So who should inherit the cape and cowl?
Dick Grayson is the obvious choice. And he did actually step in for a time as Batman after Valley got his ass beat. But I think Blüdhaven needs Nightwing as much as Gotham needs Batman. Tim Drake would be a good choice. He certainly has the detective skills and is possibly more level headed than anyone else in the Bat family. Jason Todd should NEVER get near a Batman costume and should probably be locked up somewhere. Damien? No. Never. For me, it’s between Dick and Tim.
Dead? Comic Book Dead or Dead Dead?
After 70 years of the goddamn Batman, I’m open to change. Unlike Spider-Man’s One Fucked-Up Day, the ending to RIP seems less forced than other comic deaths. No stupid magic spell that rewrites the entire fucking character in an instant. No Son of Your Mother’s Crisis on umpteen Earths. Just a set of completely insane circumstances that proved too much even for the caped crusader.
I’m as much a continuity whore as the next comic geek. I like my Peter Parker married and my Wolverine with adamantium. But for comics to remain relevant, there must be room for growth. Scott should be able to date Emma. Hulk should be able to turn Red or Grey or Green or Heather Yellow.
The mantle of the Bat should be passed on.