This month, we're going to get a little existential here in Gotham Gazette because it's very nearly time for DETECTIVE COMICS #1000 and some pretty major things are cropping up in Batman right now. So…perfect time to start really digging into some of the big, philosophical questions about the Dark Knight, right?
First thing's first, with BATMAN #66, we saw the return of Catwoman to…well, not Gotham, exactly, but at least the pages of a book set in Gotham. It's kind of complicated. In case you haven't been keeping up with that whole situation, ever since the aborted wedding (back in BATMAN #50), things between Bruce and Selina have been a liiiiiittle rough. And by that I mean Selina skipped town to Los Angeles and they haven't been acknowledging one another at all.
Meanwhile, Bruce has been stuck in a truly mind-bending horrorscape (possibly at the hands of Scarecrow, but maybe not), which is forcing his subconscious to deal with all sorts of unpleasant things. It's a little bit complicated and a lot hard to describe, but the basic gist is that Bruce is not having a very great go of it and Selina is kind of in a weird place. This issue marks the first time she's been back in the pages of a Batman issue proper since the wedding, outside of a flashback or a passing panel here or there. Granted, she’s not really back in Batman’s life. She’s a part of the weird, extended dream sequence Bruce is struggling through, but we're going to count it anyway.
The real meat of the matter isn't whether or not Selina is "back." It's why she left in the first place. The whole wedding thing was as complicated as it was heartbreaking for both of them. The long and the short of it was Selina saying she didn't believe she could marry Bruce because Bruce could no longer be Batman if he were happy and content and she didn't want to be the person responsible for that. On paper, it sounds a little ridiculous, and maybe like an easy excuse…but is it? Is she wrong? Can Batman be Batman if he no longer has his pain to drive him?
For the last few months, I've been mulling it over. And, really, so has Bruce, though he's been handling it a lot worse than I have. It's a tricky question and one that doesn't really have a right answer, but answering tricky questions is something that the Question is pretty good at. It's kind of his whole thing. So now he's in the mix to talk to Selina and things are getting even more complicated. Did she lie in her note? What does make Batman, Batman? How does he work? Why does he work? Why do we love him?
Honestly, for as headache-inducing as these stories can be, they're some of my favorite things to really dig into for Batman. This is partly because I honestly don't think there will ever be a satisfying answer, and partly because I love to watch people try and find one. Existentialism and philosophy are two great tastes that go great together when it comes to the Dark Knight and sometimes it actually feels good to try and come up with reasons for unreasonable things. Just the process of trying to figure it all out can be beautiful.
If you're at all like me and this type of story is really your jam, I've got a recommendation for you. It's not anywhere near the epic that the whole Bruce/Selina Rebirth saga is, but it's poignant and meditative on some similar themes. Pick up BATMAN: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE CAPED CRUSADER, a graphic novel that collects the two-issue story of the same name by Neil Gaiman, which offers a very surreal take of Bruce's death back in the pre-New 52 era. You won't be disappointed.
Meanwhile, on the totally opposite end of the spectrum, if you're not looking to think some deep thoughts about the nature of life, love and Batman, maybe check in with our good friend Tim Drake over in YOUNG JUSTICE? He's been having an absolutely wild, fun, funny time reuniting with some of his of his old friends and re-creating his classic team. The new series is only about three issues deep right now so you can catch up in a blink and it's a perfect antidote to the gloom of Gotham if you could use a little break.