I’m… Batman?

by Alan Rapp on July 30, 2008

in Essays 

In Grant Morrison’s current storyline Batman R.I.P. the fate of Bruce Wayne is up in the air as his days of Batman are drawing to a close.  If so, what to do with the character of Batman?  DC has been teasing the possibility of Tim Drake, the current Robin, taking up the cowl as the new Batman.  Is this the best idea, or are there others more worthy to take on the mantle of the Bat?  Who should be Batman? 

Bruce Wayne – Let’s start with Batman himself.  Is there any reason for Bruce Wayne to stop being Batman.  One, if not the, most popular characters of DC Comics, Bruce Wayne has fought criminals and survived countless attacks (even a couple by Joel Schumacher).  Of all the possibilities as Batman he is the first choice on any list.  Yet, even though the character has remained popular for almost seven decades, it seems his days are coming to a close.  Only his age (let’s face it Bruce Wayne, unlike Clark Kent, can’t fight forever – can he?) seems to be an issue in replacing him as Batman.  If the decision to remove Bruce Wayne from the DCU has been made (and sadly it appears so) than what do you do with his alter-ego?

Dick Grayson If not Bruce Wayne then Dick Grayson would seem the most obvious choice to take over the mantle of Batman.  The first Robin, longtime leader of the Teen Titans and Titans, and friend and mentor to Tim Drake, Dick has the experience to step into the role, much as Wally West did after the death of Barry Allen in Crisis on Infinite Earths.  If not Bruce Wayne, why not Dick Grayson?

Tim Drake But it’s the current Robin, not Dick Grayson, who seems to destined for the cowl.  He has the skill for the job, but the experience?  Although I’ll admit a Tim Drake Batman and a Damian Robin does lend itself to possibilities, it wouldn’t be my first choice, nor do I believe that Tim Drake has earned the honor (except perhaps as a transitional hero such a Bart Allen‘s short run as the Flash) or is seasoned enough for the role as one of DC’s most recognizable icons.

Damian Wayne We have already been teased with the possibility of Batman’s son becoming the Dark Knight in Batman issue #666.  Although still raw, and a bit too young for the role, a Damian Batman, one who brings the resources of his mother Talia and the League of Assassins to the table, and the conflicts with inherint in following his father’s path, would be a very different Batman.  The problem is the character is still too new to give him such a prominent role in the DCU.

Jason Todd Wait, didn’t the Joker beat him to death with a crowbar and then blow him up?  Yeah, but this is comics and Jason Todd lives again, currently as the Red Robin.  Trained by Batman, Jason Todd is one of the more interesting choices to assume the role.  With his years as the brash young Robin long behind him he’s been both a hero and a villain (the Red Hood) since his return.  His experiences with the League of Assassins, and later as a villain himself, would make him an interesting contrast to Tim Drake’s Robin, or would he be more willing to accept Damian as a partner?

Unknown – One possible choice, as happened in the early 90’s with Jean-Paul Valley, is to simply invent a character out of the blue to take over the role of Batman.  Although this lets other characters remain in their own storylines, it doesn’t seem to do much of a service to the mantle of Batman itself (how cool is Batman if anyone can be him?) and is the option I’d be least pleased with.

A World Without Batman – The most intriguing option of all is to tie the fate of Batman to Bruce Wayne.  If he is unable to proceed as Batman, let’s see what a Gotham, and a larger DCU, would be like without the character, similar to the World Without a Superman storyline, except leave the hole unfilled, without a successor, until the inevitable return of Bruce Wayne (oh, c’mon – you know it’s coming!).  Let Nightwing and the rest of the Batman Family pick up the slack, but don’t put anyone else in the costume of Batman.  Let Batman remain a symbol for the city, a ghost of Gotham.

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