DC Doubles Down On Why Batman’s Family Makes Him A Hero


This article contains spoilers for Batman #127.DC Comics is doubling down on why Batman‘s Bat-family makes him a hero. As little as fans may like to admit it, there’s a simple reason Batman endures; it’s because his core concept, of a vengeful hero who stands against the shadows, is one that is infinitely adaptable. Some versions of Batman are loners, others are team players; some are suspicious introverts, others trust their friends and family implicitly.

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Modern DC comics have tended to focus on the idea of Batman as a lone wolf, a master strategist unable to resist making contingency plans against even his best friends. Chip Zdarsky and Jorge Jimenez’s current Batman run is essentially a meditation on this, even bringing back Batman’s ultimate contingency plan – a failsafe persona he embedded deep within his own consciousness. This “pure” Batman is stripped of almost all humanity, viewing his Robins as nothing but soldiers.

Batman #127 turns this upside-down, however, in a stunning mental confrontation between Batman and the so-called “Batman of Zur-En-Arrh.” The real Batman finally rejects the failsafe logic, insisting his humanity lies at the heart of his identity. “Tim isn’t my soldier,” he insists, “He’s my son!” This flash of human emotion is enough to set aside the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh, and Bruce Wayne immediately demonstrates why this is what makes him a true hero. He doesn’t just wage a war; he fights to save others, and specifically to save those he loves. Batman rescues Tim Drake from a powerful enemy, and then prepares to allow himself to die a good death.

Batman #127 is essentially a meditation on what it truly means to be a superhero. A hero is defined by their relationships, not by the absence of them; they fight for others, not just for an abstract principle. This is why Batman is not just vengeance personified; rather, the constant temptation he faces to define himself in this manner is in fact his greatest weakness. It is only when Batman is anchored in his relationships with those he loves that he is truly centered, able to stand as a beacon of light against the darkness of Gotham.

This is a truth that too many Batman writers forget. They fail to understand the tension that lies at the heart of Batman’s mythology; that however much he imagines himself to have transcended humanity and become a myth, it is his humanity that serves as his anchor. The psychic confrontation between Bruce Wayne and the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh serves as an image of this, with Batman’s greatest truth declared loud and clear. Hopefully Batman #127 will mark a sea-change in portrayals of the Dark Knight, with writers choosing to focus more on Batman’s relationship with the Bat-family going forward.

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