Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Love, Bruce Wayne Style

In Batman #297 (1978), Bruce Wayne was on a horse-drawn carriage ride with current squeeze Kim, when the Mad Hatter robbed them and stole her pearl necklace.

Well, after a lot of running around, Batman beat the Hatter, and got the pearls back, and...

As a result:

Yes you are, Bruce...yes you are.

Which, of course, only serves to remind me how much I miss Bruce Wayne as a character. For the past several years, it has been all Batman, all the time, with a few minor exceptions. It makes you wonder why Alfred et. al. had to jump through the hoops to cover up the absence of Bruce after Batman's "death." After all, it's not as if Bruce was ever around anyway.

(Aside...maybe this is a new DC tend? It's been well over a year since we've seen Clark Kent...and when was the last time Hal Jordan appeared in his civilian identity?? DC--where our creators find it easier and preferable to gratuitously slaughter 100,000 people than actually show a hero's private life!)

That's probably why I'm so cold to Grant Morrison's interpretation of Batman. Yeah, it's wicked cool that he's "the most dangerous person in the universe" and that he has a plan for everything and that he can't ever be beaten yadda yadda. The problem is, without a personality, without Bruce Wayne there to fill the cowl, Batman is just a Terminator--the character who can't ever be beaten or stopped, who can out think omnipotent gods and effortlessly take down infinitely powerful characters, is always prepared and never surprised. And frankly, that type of character is boring, if there's no person we can relate to under the cowl. At least, I think so.

That's why The Return Of Bruce Wayne is something of a misnomer, because all we've seen so far is the hyper-competent yet personality-less Batman without a cowl. And Morrison's already told that story--multiple times. And so far, it's not Bruce Wayne who is returning, it's The Batman.

Of course, maybe this is just Morrison's motif for the character--in his run on Batman And Robin, Dick Grayson has pretty much been missing, as well, and the complete absence of supporting cast aside from Alfred makes you wonder what Dick and Damian actually do all day while not on patrol. And in today's Batman #700, covering three incarnations of Batman, there's no trace of Bruce or Dick or Damian actually having a life outside the cowl.

Given the critical reception to Morrison's Caped Crusader, I guess a lot of folks like Batman that way. And there's nothing wrong with that.

But me? I miss Bruce Wayne.

One more time around the park, driver!!


googum said...

I don't know: I got the old Knightfall novel at a yard sale last week, and reading that I'm already sick of Bruce's incompetant playboy act. It's really played up there, that Wayne is widely considered a buffoon in Gotham, almost to the point of slapstick. Tim asks Alfred how Bruce can stand being thought of a joke, and Alfred says he thinks Bruce secretly enjoys it...but I don't know. If Bruce is just going to act like a jackass to keep the ruse going, I don't need to see that. (Or Dick trying the same, for that matter.)

snell said...

I don't think you have to go the "bumbling, incompetent playboy" route to give Bruce a private life. That's one option, sure, but as you point out that's pretty played out. But how about the competent playboy? The civic philanthropist? The man with a couple of hobbies? Big sports fan? Anything?

That goes double for Dick. Conventional wisdom long had it that Grayson would not be as "driven" or "obsessed" as Bruce. Fine, then show us that. Nope, not under this regime...Dick is all Batman, all the time. Not a friend, not an outside interest, not an appearance out of costume.

ShadowWing Tronix said...

I've been morning the loss of secret identities and supporting casts for quite some time.