Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

An Open (and Overdue) Letter About Batman

To whom it may concern,

My name is Addley C. Fannin, aka Adeline Cappuccino, and I am both a writer and a comic book fan. Specifically, I am a Batman fan, a fan of the entire Batman family of books, storylines, associated characters, spin-offs, movies, cartoon series and pretty much anything else that has ever been even briefly attributed to the character. However, in absorbing so much of this media, an annoying cultural misconception about of the character’s motivation and characterization has been brought to my attention, which is why I am composing this, an open letter to Batman writers, editors and fan boys everywhere. My message is simple:

If you are writing or arguing the character of one Bruce Wayne, or a close Elseworlds equivalent, who has assumed the alternate identity of The Batman for a consistent time period of more than two years; who has adopted and/or fathered between one and five children; and who has inspired and/or mentored a variety of other crime-fighters throughout the city of Gotham and elsewhere with whom he associates on a regular basis; and you continue to write him as neurotically obsessed with memory of his murdered parents, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.

YES, the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne inspired their orphaned son Bruce to travel the world for advanced martial arts, investigative and forensic training, eventually molding himself into the great self-made super detective that the world has ever seen; but it has been shown repeatedly that their memory is not enough to keep him going.

Time and time again, Bruce Wayne has pushed up against the psychological wall, up to and past his breaking point. He reached it after the death of Jason Todd, as seen in the aptly-named collection A Lonely Place of Dying. He reached it in Knightfall, even before Bane shattered his back. He reached it in Cataclysm, when he had to watch his city crumble, and during the aftermath in No Man’s Land. Each time he pushes himself so far off the edge that, if all he had to rely on was the memory of something already dead, he’d never really recover.

When Bruce Wayne breaks, it’s not his dead parents who put him back together, it’s his family, his living family. You know, people like James Gordon, Alfred Pennyworth, Dick Grayson, Selena Kyle, Barbara Gordon, Helena Bertinelli, Tim Drake, Cassandra Cain, Rene Montoya, Stephanie Brown and yes, even Jason, his poorly-done villain-revival be damned. They are his inspiration, his motivation, they represent everything that he strives to protect, from goodness and order to Gotham City itself.

So when you, the writer, have him abandon these people, or place them in danger, or disregard their suffering for the sake of his parents’ “legacy,” I, the reader, call bullshit. And when you, the internet fanboy trying to disprove whatever comment someone is making on Batman as a character, say that he and the rest of the Bat-family are driven only by their daddy issues, I die a little inside.

Bruce Wayne became Batman for the sake of the family he lost; he stays Batman for the sake of the family he has. The same goes for every other member of the Bat-family who took up a cape in the name of a fallen family member. I don’t care how ‘epic’ your story is trying to be, if you screw up that basic tidbit of motivation, you and everything that you write about Batman will be made of fail and suck.

This isn’t rocket science, people. Get with the program.

Addley C. Fannin