Tonight I’m putting as many affairs in order as possible and making homemade beef jerky in preparation for a weekend of solid gaming with Batman: Arkhamn City, and feel this as good a time as any to bite back at the critics of the legendary Man of Bats.
The biggest criticism levelled at Batman is that he lacks any real powers. Wrong! Batman’s power is a relentless determination and indomitable spirit! This is the guy who got Darkseid in a headlock. This the the legend who at his absolute lowest ebb, still had the strength to punch a helicopter til it crashed. This is the man who shrugged off a broken spine and kept on Batmanning. His family died. His friends and sidekicks die, go mad, or end up in wheelchairs. Most his childhood friends have tried to kill him or are getting round to it. Yet tomorrow he’ll still don the cape and cowl.
Sure, if you can’t see unbreakable will and endless courage as a power , and think it’s genuinely available to anyone of any circumstance, then you can wail that Batman’s not a superhero in the real sense of the word, but then he never claimed he was. The big names on the powered hero roster like Superman, Spiderman, Thor, and the X-men talk of responsibility and the obligation to use their powers for good, but not Batman, Batman’s desire to do what’s good and right is who he is, and without it he ceases to exist. He never tells his mum that he’s off to fight crime, because he’s not off to fight crime, he’s off to be Batman. That and y’know… he has no mum.
Comparisons are drawn to fellow crime fighting playboy Iron Man, but he’s just a sporadic fighter of crimes that only threaten him and his, and this is always offset by his life and work as Tony Stark. Bruce Wayne however, died at the birth of Batman, and became nothing but a Bat-shield, another Bat-tool in the Bat-arsenal for furthering and supporting the Bat-legacy and Bat-drive of Bat-Batman. Bruce Wayne exists solely to serve the needs of Batman, while Clark Kent, Tony Stark and Peter Parker Miles Morales have their own whiny little lives outside of their hero roles.
Neil Gaiman’s semi-canonical What Ever Happened To The Caped Crusader? tells of a funeral for Batman where his major allies and enemies take turns in remembering him, with each story unfolding into a completely different telling of the Batman legend that still keep the central elements in play. The much underrated Gotham Knight explores this too, as a group of street kids each tell a Batman story, each in their own narrative and animation styles. Batman doesn’t pose for photo opportunities like Iron Man, or have his own onside truth-teller like Spiderman or Superman. He’s a legend in the shadows, a inspiring whisper in the minds of both heroism and crime.
In issue 2 of Gotham City Sirens Selina Kyle is pressed into revealing Batman’s identity and talks of “graveyards filled with good-hearted, well-built chumps who all signed their death warrant by putting on the cape” and how “as long as Gotham suffers […] there will always be a Batman.” Not a man or a hero, Batman is an ideal and a legend, a concept born in the strength of spirit in those prepared or destined to take up the cowl. He can not be beaten, can not be killed, and will never be defeated.
All this talk of determination, you might think setting aside a weekend to play a computer game is poor use of my own human spirit. You’d be wrong. I owe it to be Batman to play that game with the same level of enthusiasm that he wakes with every day. I’ll reload saves, get lost on challenge maps, search google for puzzle solutions, but I will never quit.