Batman needs no introduction. Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger in 1939, the Caped Crusader is one of the three members of the Holy Trinity of Comic Book Characters (along with Spider-Man and Superman). His origin is as well-known as he is, having been portrayed many, many times in comic books, television and movies. He is even perhaps more relevant today than ever: he is the central character in Warner Brothers' DCEU movie universe, his comic book is regularly DC's best selling, and a younger version of him is a central character on a FOX television show. We live, so to speak, in a world of Batman, but is that coming to an end? Recent events in the Batman comics have caused many to wonder if Batman is finally looking to retire, hanging up the cape and cowl once and for all.
DC's Batman comic is perhaps its flagship title. During the recent, and abysmal, New 52 series relaunch, Batman -- written by Scott Snyder -- was the only DC comic to consistently wow its audience, adding to the canon along the way. Following the demise of the New 52, Batman was handed over to one of the hottest rising stars in comics, Tom King, and the book has still amazed. During both runs, Snyder and King haven't hesitated to change the status quo. In the last several years for instance, Batman has started a 'bat family' of affiliated superheroes, a new faction of villains known as the Court of Owls reconfigured the Gotham landscape, and Joker cut his own face off. Batman seemingly died, but quickly returned with amnesia, while Commissioner Gordon took over as a mech-driving version of the Dark Knight, albeit temporarily. If this all sounds incredibly silly, it is, but in a way that let readers see Batman in a whole new light and which has transformed the World's Greatest Detective in often subtle, but impactful ways.
Cue The Button and a Spoiler Alert:
This recent four-issue miniseries starred our favorite hero alongside the Flash as they investigated the appearance of a happy face button. If you don't know your comics, it is a reference to perhaps the greatest single book of all time, Watchmen. Without getting into the weeds here, it's the kind of big deal which led Batman and Flash through a multi-dimension-spanning adventure -- and that's where things get interesting.
In one of these dimensions, Batman meets his father. Only in this dimension (stay with me), Thomas Wayne became Batman after *Bruce Wayne* died. Like our own Batman, Thomas Wayne finds it difficult to be happy and, as our Batman leaves, he implores his son-from-another-dimension to give up being Batman. Only a scant few issues later, Bruce Wayne -- our Batman -- does indeed heavily contemplate these words.
It doesn't end there. We catch back up with our hero in Batman #24, and things get even more interesting. In it, Batman admits to his latest protege, a heroine known as Gotham Girl, that he isn't happy being Batman, he just is Batman. He then follows this up with a twist. Batman locates Catwoman, soars across the city skyline for a bit, and then proposes to her.
Taken together, Batman's refusal to answer the bat signal, his unhappiness, and his proposal to Catwoman, it definitely seems like Bruce Wayne is looking for a change in his life. I understand that marriage and a moment of self-reflection don't automatically equate to retirement, but Snyder and King seem to be pushing the idea. Remember earlier when I said that Batman temporarily had amnesia? It took more than just his memory returning to spur him back into the costume. He had to be convinced that Gotham needed him, or face imminent destruction. When Batman meets Gotham Girl, we quickly learn that she has foreseen an end to our favorite hero. In an interview with Newsarama, writer Tom King stated:
"Yeah, this comes from Scott Snyder, who's probably going to kill me for sharing this. But he's one of my best friends, and he gave me this great advice. And he got the advice from Grant Morrison, who said, when you're writing Batman, you know, you're going to have a run on Batman and you have to give him a birth, and you have to give him a death...That's your responsibility as a writer."
Is this a literal death, or the end of the character as we know it? (Heck, with comics, it can be both.) Whatever it is, we know that Batman is not long for this world. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!
What do you think? Is Batman set for retirement? Death? Let us know in the comments down below!
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