Making Batman Poorer Might Actually Be A Pretty Good Idea

Making Batman Poorer Might Actually Be a Pretty Good Idea

The long-running joke about Batman was that — where guys like Superman have multiple superhuman abilities — his only real superpower is money. Now, he's apparently going to have less of it. And it might be one of the more interesting things to happen to the Dark Knight in years.

There's a status quo shift happening in DC Comics' books right now, one that's seen the complete destruction of Arkham Asylum and the ascendance of Catwoman as the new crime boss uniting all of Gotham's crime families. But, for me, the biggest game-changer is having Bruce Wayne get booted from his family home and apparently having less cash to blow on various Bat-things.

Making Batman Poorer Might Actually Be a Pretty Good Idea

Those plot points come up in the first issue of Arkham Manor, a new series out this week by Gerry Duggan and Shawn Crystal that spins out of events happening in the year-long Batman: Eternal maxi-series. What I like about this debut chapter is how it explores Batman's personal attachment to the giant house above the Batcave. It's a sprawling memorial to the parents he lost and, more poignantly, where he must have grieved long before he started training to become a creature of the night.

Making Batman Poorer Might Actually Be a Pretty Good Idea

Batman's operated away from Wayne Manor before but the move to a skyscraper in the 1970s comics was written as his own decision. Here? Not so much. Bruce Wayne justifies letting the city put all of his psycho archenemies in the place he grew up as a good thing in the pasges of Arkham Manor #1 but he's not happy about it.

Making Batman Poorer Might Actually Be a Pretty Good Idea

Not much follow-up is given to the line about Bruce having lost the family fortune, but the sequence where he's harassed going into his apartment points at interesting story potential moving forward.

When Batman beats up a street thug or henchman, he could be putting a hurting on a normal person driven to crime by horrible circumstances. It's always been a touchy line of critique that observes that Batman is a rich guy beating up poor people. A smattering of stories have tried to touch on the incongruity and unfairness of this dynamic but what this change in circumstance gives Bat-creators is a chance to go at the class divide in Gotham in a sustained way.

Making Batman Poorer Might Actually Be a Pretty Good Idea

1 It also opens up a fresher vector for writers and artists to humanise Batman. He seems a lot less unknowable and relatable when he doesn't sleep in a big ol' house. Crystal's art goes a long way to making Batman feel more like a real person. His energetically scratchy linework renders a Batman with more human-sized proportions and the art on display here seems to thrive in showing the imperfections of the people, places and things that the Dark Knight touches.

Will Batman ever need to take a payday loan to fill up the Batmobile? Probably not. But this moment is a chance to bring down the modern-day 'BatGod' iteration of the character, so called because he's often presented as near-omniscient and almost infallible.


    I wouldn't worry about it, he's got awesome fighting skills and wiles too. He's resourceful. Clint Barton can do it, why can't Bruce Wayne, it's not like he's spoiled by all his gadgets.

    But where will he get his wonderful toys from ?

      Now I'm imagining the replacement of batarangs with glass bottles.

        or Poo !

        Crims be like "who are you"
        He be like "I'm Crapman"

        Just imagine the look on the crims faces.

          Damn you and scrumptatoes for making me laugh instead of listening to the wife bang on about something. I wonder if the hospital will give me their wifi password

            Kotaku, responsible for relationship breakdowns since 1808 !

    Ollie is a rich guy too and he's been a hobo. He did it very well :)

    That artwork is terrible IMO. Batman is floating on air in the third image, and the rest looks very Teen Titan-ish.

      Anatomically correct. Clear, easy to follow composition and progression. Apparent understanding of perspective, lighting and shading.

      I'd say this is better than a good half of the comic book art that goes around just based on those factors.

      Last edited 24/10/14 6:54 pm

    But this moment is a chance to bring down the modern-day ‘BatGod’ iteration of the character, so called because he’s often presented as near-omniscient and almost infallible.

    I feel like the money was never part of that problem. I mean it comes up and he uses it but it's rarely in a transparent 'I'll just throw money at the problem!' way. The real problem is Batman is loved by fans and writers alike, so he'll always be able to somehow win in a fist fight with Darkseid.
    His presence will always slow down the Flash so Batman's quick thinking and cat-like reflexes can somehow save the day. His gadgets, whether they're billion dollar Wayne Tech gear of MacGuyvered tools, will continue to out perform Green Lanterns constructs. All the genius Justice League members will continue to lack basic scientific knowledge and detective skills while Batman is in the room, just so he can go 'ah ha! Water freezes at cold temperatures! That'll save the day!'.
    The catch of course is that people don't want to read a Justice League comic where Batman stands on the side lines and gets the crap kicked out of him by Flash villains. You can't solve how over powered he is without ruining the comics so you've just got to reel it in where you can. Don't let writers get away with 'clever' solutions to his problems that aren't actually clever. Always ask yourself if Batman's plan worked because it's brilliant or because his opponent is brain dead. Some days Ra's al Ghul is as dumb as a two bit street thug.

      Preeeeeetty much the same problem as using Superman in.... anything.

        I'm reminded of a joke about the Justice League - that everybody else is there to pick up the kryptonite.

        Anyway, as Batman / Bruce Wayne is supposed to be a supergenius I don't see what's stopping him from rebuilding his fortune. Just marketing some of his BatGadgets (suitably rebranded) would do the trick.

    There's nothing wrong with Batman having money. Does being rich dehumanise Tony Stark? Does the fact that the Fantastic Four own their own Manhattan skyscraper do the same for them? No, it's just part of the character; Superman has an Arctic fortress full of superscience, Wonder Woman is royalty, and Batman is head of a megacorp.

    I dislike this change for two reasons. First, it'll never stick. I prefer writers try to create stories that add to a character's mythos, not do things that are obviously going to be undone asap (like giving Batman's house over to his greatest enemies).

    Secondly, Batman losing his fortune makes zero sense. Batman owns Wayne Enterprises, a company with offices around the world that does everything from make consumer goods to provide healthcare. In order for Batman to be broke, he'd either have to have signed away all his assets for a literal pittance, or Wayne Enterprises would have had to collapsed. It defies logic.

    Yeah - fundamentally, Batman always wins Because He's Batman. In a "fair fight", keeping in mind that they're all fictional characters, there's no-one on the Justice League who couldn't destroy him in under a minute.

    It's the reason I always find it odd that people say that they find Superman boring because "he's too strong" - he's mostly invincible in-universe, certainly, but from here, Batman's equally likely to end up six feet under.

      Except that time he took on Superman and won.

        Yes, sure. Because he's a fictional character, and Frank Miller (and then many people inspired by Frank Miller) decided that that was how he wanted the story to go. That's what I'm saying. Making Batman richer or poorer or paraplegic or comatose won't affect the number of comics in which Batman Wins, because as long as the writer says that Batman Wins then that's it sorted.

        (OK, if he was comatose they'd probably struggle to justify it a little.)

    The problem I see is that the public knows Wayne funds Batman, Bruce Wayne is now poor and suddenly Batman has a lot less cool or new gadgets, no new Batwing or Batmobile every 6 comics, Batman can no longer help Gotham the way he did previously and the public will blame Bruce Wayne.

    Worse case they start making the connection that Bruce is Batman, and his identity is out

    'It’s always been a touchy line of critique that observes that Batman is a rich guy beating up poor people.' yeah...he could have cleaned up poverty and crime by eliminating the poor underclass with multi million dollar zero interest loans. Then the loansharks would be looking to kill bruce wayne.

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