Maybe Bruce Wayne Can't Be Batman Anymore

Maybe Bruce Wayne Can't Be Batman Anymore

Alfred Pennyworth has finally gotten what he's been wanting for decades: A Bruce Wayne who he won't need to stitch up, worry over or be ignored by. Thomas and Martha Wayne's son isn't a superhero anymore. And the new Batman comic posits that he can't be The Dark Knight ever again.

Ever since the big status quo shift that introduced the new mech-suit Batman a few months ago, fans have been waiting to see how writer Scott Snyder handles the Bat-mythos' Bruce Wayne Problem. Canonically, Batman is Bruce Wayne. Other people have worn the cape and cowl but the status quo always returns to Bruce resuming his role as Gotham's shadowy guardian. In this week's Batman #43, the other shoe drops in particularly bracing fashion.

Written by Snyder with art by Greg Capullo, Danny Miki and Steve Wands, Batman #43 is almost entirely a Bruce-centric issue. As seen in a preview last week, it opens up with current Batman Jim Gordon talking to former Dark Knight Bruce Wayne.

Maybe Bruce Wayne Can't Be Batman Anymore

The interplay between Jim and Bruce is metatextually coy. Unlike the reader, Jim doesn't know that Bruce was Batman but he does know that WayneCorp tech helped the Caped Crusader safeguard the city. However, Wayne rebuffs Gordon's entreaties for help, saying he wants to help Gotham in a different, more grounded way.

Maybe Bruce Wayne Can't Be Batman Anymore

Is this a Bruce Wayne who is rejecting his past Bat-life wholesale? Not exactly. The middle chunk of the issue switches to a long encounter between Alfred Pennyworth and Clark Kent, wherein the Wayne family butler tells the depowered Superman how Bruce Wayne came back to life. As many guessed after his apparent death in Batman #40, Bruce Wayne was fully healed by the supernatural element deep beneath Gotham's streets. Alfred never got the chance to tell Bruce that he was Batman, because his surrogate son stopped him.

Maybe Bruce Wayne Can't Be Batman Anymore

Clark, who's been shown as desperate to get his powers back and return to his own former self, doesn't deal with this turn of events too well:

Maybe Bruce Wayne Can't Be Batman Anymore

Bruce Wayne's brain was changed and all the painful memories and specialised training that made him Batman is gone. Alfred wants him to stay that way.

Maybe Bruce Wayne Can't Be Batman Anymore

This new issue also continues to show how Jim Gordon differs from the previous Batman. There used to be a psychologically driven line of editorial thinking in the 1970s and 1980s that the Bruce Wayne Batman would be pathologically unable to wield a gun, since one killed his parents. Not this Dark Knight. Gordon not only whips out a sidearm that shoots Batarangs; it also looks like he's wielding it with deadly force. He's a cop and having to put down bad guys is a regrettable part of the job.

Maybe Bruce Wayne Can't Be Batman Anymore

Finally, Batman #43 gives us the first real look at Mr. Bloom, the ascendant alpha-villain who's been sowing superpowers amongst Gotham's criminal class. He's creepy.

Maybe Bruce Wayne Can't Be Batman Anymore

Aside from its heartfelt spotlight on Alfred, this issue also hits at one of the criticisms frequently leveled at Batman as a concept, which is that a rich guy punching out criminals doesn't do much to help a city's neediest citizens. Snyder's now given readers a Bruce Wayne who's apparently broke,, choosing to work in Gotham's poorest neighbourhood. It's a big shift from the brooding vigilante who lived miles away from the city he was protecting.

With Bruce Wayne alive, it seems even more inevitable that he'll go back to being Batman eventually. That will likely be a long journey to be told somewhere down the lineThere are new Batman movies in the works — along with the never-ending stream of cartoons and merch to sell — where Bruce Wayne has to be Batman. The stewards of Batman's fate also have to contend with the near-permanent idea in the mainstream consciousness that the billionaire playboy is the Dark Knight. But, here and now — in the medium whence he sprang — Bruce Wayne has a measure of peace. The man who was Batman isn't tortured anymore and I, for one, hope he stays this way for a good long while.


    I miss Terry McGinnis.... ...and Ted McGinley for that matter.....

      Terry will be brought back at some point, Tim cant be bb forever.

      If you rwad Justice League you know its only a matter of time before he does.

    Cmon, the fact that there was this whole "secret machine" to create a Bruce Wayne batman again is a sure sign that it will happen. Doesn't matter if Alfred claims he hasn't finished it. The fact that its even in the comics means its going ti be used.

    Also, the headline is misleading

      im sure one of the other super genius heros will finish it.

    This issue was another "just shut up and accept what we've done" forced fed bullshit from a comic company. It's like theming to erase Peter Parker from Amazing Spider-man and replace him with Doc-Ock, it's like the Fem-Thor crap. It's an writer who doesn't know/want to do anything involving a long term character so they write them out of the story in favor of someone they know/want to write about. This'll happen till a new writer is assigned and things go back to normal.

    I'm sorry, but giving Jim Gordon magic age reversing drugs and putting him in a Bat-Mech and calling him Batman does not make him Batman. At the moment there's a huge disconnect between The Dark Knight and the city. This is just a cop pretending to be something he's not and it shows. This change to the status quo is boring as hell, and I'm not buying it anymore.

    The fuck have they done to Jim Gordon?
    He looks like some 80s punk who didn't accept growing old.

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