I mentioned in my piece on Tim Drake’s current iteration that I grew up in a different era of comics. One of the big differences of late 90s/early 00s DC? Batman.
You see kids, Batman has had one defining trait lately, and that trait is ASSHOLE. Thanks to his 80’s incarnations, this has been a longtime personification of Batman. But it was around the late 90s early ’00s that we came to realize there’s another aspect of Batman. One where he is also a father figure raising a large family to replace the one he lost.
But it’s a portrayal that’s lost to time. Thanks to memes and gags, Batman has lost most of the fatherly aspect of previous portrayals and become, well, kind of a dick. So far, this is not the case with Tom King’s current run on Batman.
A few weeks ago, we got to see the badass Batman we’ve known and loved for years. The super powered Gotham, driven mad by Psycho Pirate, is destroying Gotham City. Even the Justice League is taken out when they stand against him. Batman declares that he represents Gotham City, and the only way to destroy it is to kill Batman. Batman is only saved by the intervention of Gotham’s sister, Gotham Girl, who taxes his powers to the point he expires.
This week, we catch up with the unstable Gotham Girl. Left in a distraught mental state by the Psycho Pirate, she’s tearing through Gotham. Believing she is still talking to her brother, she fights crime and takes down villains with little regard. Batman finds himself at odds with this as he doesn’t know how to handle it. Even Alfred himself doesn’t know what to do. When asked how he helped Bruce after his parent’s death, he points out “you run around dressed like a bat every night, do you really think I helped you?”
It’s in the stories final pages that Tom King demonstrates his understanding of Batman’s humanity. Rather than use brute force, deceptive tactics or fear, Batman does something we haven’t seen him do for a long time. He unmasks himself, and speaks frankly to Gotham Girl. Still at odds with his own grief, he reaches out and connects to her on a human level.
Like many, I had reservations about the Rebirth era. But King’s Batman (along with Tomasi’s Superman) has rejuvenated my interest. Long written off by fans as too long in the tooth, I feel like we’re in a new Golden Age for these classic DC characters. If you’re not picking up these books you’re missing out on what are soon to be the new classics.