Batman and Bruce Wayne: Separated at Birth

Jul-16-08

Bruce Wayne was a young boy when he witnessed his parents being murdered. That effectively ended his childhood (and, you could easily argue, set him up for a life full of problems). However, while characters such as Peter Parker and Bruce Banner grew stronger in the face of adversity, Bruce Wayne more or less fell to the wayside. It’s not just a symptom of the Batman mythos either…the majority of DC Comics’ characters seem more at home in their costumed identities than they ever do in civilian garb. But those are other stories to tell. Today we’re here to talk about Batman.

There are a few problems that I’ve always harbored with Batman, the biggest of which is the absence of any sort of defining traits in his Bruce Wayne alter ego. Just for reference, some of my other Batman problems include: Where does the bottomless bank account keep coming from? Why don’t the villains just wait for him to go to sleep before pulling their heists (he HAS to sleep sometime)? And what doctor in his right mind would be able to prescribe, to the smiling and jovial Bruce Wayne, the necessary amounts of serious painkillers that Batman must require on a regular basis?

Anyhoo. Bruce Wayne.

Here’s a guy who has never wanted for anything in the world (except parental acceptance, guidance and love). His public presence is all about showing up in classy places wearing tuxedos and escorting supermodels. He gives money to charities. He declines to run for public office, feeling that he can do “more good” as a concerned citizen. And yet, despite all the potential here, Bruce Wayne comes off as an empty shell. He’s a smiley face with a suit and a handshake. And it’s almost creepy the way Batman is able to toggle so easily between the two faces without having some sort of mental breakdown.

Bruce Wayne lacks the passion and drive of Batman. He’s not a good businessman by any stretch of the imagination. He lets others run his businesses for him and can’t barely have enough time to even check the stock markets in between all the punching, kicking, sleeping and healing. How come no one has ever called him on the multitude of bruises and scars he must exhibit on a near-daily basis? Why has no writer ever shown Bruce Wayne fast asleep at his desk, or better yet in a board meeting, after bouncing across rooftops all night dressed as a giant bat?

We pointed out that Batman has problems socializing with his closest allies. Well, at least that’s one thing he keeps consistent out of costume. Bruce Wayne, for all the glad-handing and gad-abouting, has no friends either. That’s another problem we should address really.

That’s just off the top of my head. What do you have to gripe about?

You’ve really nailed most of my problems with Bruce Wayne, although I have a few other things to mention. You’re quite correct when you say that DC heroes tend to be more about the costumed identity, while Marvel heroes tend to be more about the human inside the costume. That began in the early 1960s when Marvel revolutionized the field with early issues of Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man and their other titles, and its continued to this day. But, without a doubt, Batman is the worst. There is no Bruce Wayne. Wayne truly is the mask and I find that to be a crying shame. There’s so much potential for Wayne as a character and that needs to be realized. Using Wayne as more than a convenient plot device would make the Batman comics richer and more interesting; Wayne provides not just a great contrast to the nocturnal activities of Batman but he could be just as effective in his own way in making the world a better place.

DC has tried to deal with some of your concerns, but never convincingly. Why don’t the villains attack when Batman is asleep? We’ve seen plenty of stories of Batman not sleeping, of pushing himself so that he can take out the villains (enough stories in that vein that I am sick to death of it. Batman has a huge network of supporters; if he’d stop treating them like dirt and let them actually do their jobs, he’d had more then enough time to do other things. Let Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, Batwoman, Huntress and the Birds of Prey help out when needed, and stop being such a control freak!) and these stories simply don’t ring true. Batman’s smarter than that, and he knows he’s not at his best when he’s been up for 48 hours straight. The prescription medication thing has been touched upon with the idea that Wayne doesn’t visit many doctors, and that Alfred always patches him up, although that doesn’t explain how he deals with pain. Are we supposed to believe he just grits his teeth and fights through it? Can Advil really help with the sort of pain he endures?

Here’s the thing though, and this is what really bothers me about Batman and Bruce Wayne; with the money and the influence that Wayne apparently has through his financial holdings, I think it’s strongly debatable that he could do more good as Wayne then he can as Batman. All Batman can do is arrest criminals after they’ve done something wrong. Wayne could potentially change the world by trying to eliminate sources of crime before they even happen. Now, it’s quite obvious that DC isn’t going to publish five comics a month starring Bruce Wayne: Corporate Do-Gooder. No one would read that. However, I think that Wayne needs to come to the realization that he needs to devote some time to his civilian identity.

Ideally, this realization could have come about during No Man’s Land. I’ve attacked this storyline before, because while some interesting stories came out of it, the fundamental plot was so ridiculously unbelievable and riddled with holes that I had trouble enjoying any part of it. Pushing that aside for now, when the United States government was considering whether to declare Gotham City to be a No Man’s Land, Wayne went to Washington DC to argue against the idea. He failed in his task to convince Congress that this was a bad idea and Gotham was indeed cut off from the rest of the world. This made Wayne so sad and shook him up so badly that he went into hiding for three months. When he returned, it was as Batman, and it was to Gotham City where he proceeded to punch things. A lot. Finally, Luthor came in and eventually Luthor’s work and the efforts of Lucius Fox convinced the government to reverse the No Man’s Land decision. Yes, it was two businessmen who saved the day while Wayne smacked around a ventriloquist’s dummy.

Why Wayne was surprised that no one listened to him in Congress is beyond me. Why would they listen to you? You’re barely ever seen, and when you are seen by the world, you’re acting like a moron. The idea that Wayne must be seen as incompetent so that people won’t know he’s Batman is simply ludicrous. I don’t think if people saw Wayne as competent, they’d immediately say, “Well, he’s obviously Batman then.” I think that, after Congress laughed Wayne out of the Capitol, it would have been the perfect time for him to realize that, if he had done more as Bruce Wayne over the years, perhaps he wouldn’t have failed in this important task. He could have taken three months off and trained as a businessman, spending time actually running his company and earning some respect in the world, and then he could have returned. No, he wouldn’t give up being Batman, but he would spend less time at it, finding a balance between his two sides and doing good in both of those identities.

So, amongst all of the problems you mentioned, I would say my biggest problem is that there needs to be more of a balance between the two identities. The Batman books need more Bruce Wayne.

Agreed. As much as Spider-Man is fun to look at and the dialogue in-battle is light-hearted and quirky, there is just as much interest generated in Peter Parker’s personal life. How are things with his wife or family? How is his job going? Can he afford to pay the bills this month? Angst. Suspense. Tension.

If and when Bruce Wayne ever pops up on the scene, it’s usually just as a device to get Batman invited to the gala-of-the-day. Or Wayne is brought in to be oohed and aahed over…like when there’s a demonstration of some new Waynetech gizmo and the actual figurehead of the company (Hey! That guy’s name is on the building!) drops by to make an appearance. There’s no substance there at all. Who cares about Bruce Wayne?

Hell, that would be the title of my first storyarc…Who Cares About Bruce Wayne?

Look, I’ve professed it to anyone who will listen over the last couple years that one way to really develop the Bruce Wayne character would be, ironically, to take away the sole reason he even exists: money. Bankrupt Bruce Wayne! Take away the fortune and make it a bloody, public mess. Drag Bruce Wayne through the ringer. Shove him in front of the TV cameras to explain what happened. If the situation is that dire, no one is going to settle for hearing from some PR flack, they’ll want the man himself to explain where their investments went and why their stocks plummeted and who’s to blame.

I know it’s been done with Tony Stark, but the situations were different. And the men themselves are different. Iron Man relies on his technology to even exist as a hero. Batman relies on his wits and his skills. Sure, he has a few toys, but they’re not the core of his being. Taking away his fortune, and subsequently his home, would put him on the defensive. Batman would be forced into the open, in a sense, and would have to fend for himself. This plot device could even drive him to work on his relationships better…Whose couch can he crash on? Whose shoulder can he cry on? Who’s gonna drive him home, tonight?

Sorry, drifted off into a Cars tune there…

So, yeah, Bruce Wayne becomes more prominent out of necessity. I’m sure there are other ways to make this happen. What do you think of that direction (or any other)?

Hmmm. Interesting. It’s not the way I would have gone, but it’s got some potential. Honestly, anything that would bring Wayne into the spotlight has potential and I’d be willing to run with. However, I’m not sure how this idea would work in the long run. Let’s take this idea out a few months and examine the ramifications.

So, Wayne loses his fortune. How? Here’s the way I’d suggest….we know Wayne doesn’t have the time, interest, or I’d say skill, for business. Lucius Fox runs things. We need to get Fox out of the picture. We could do this a few ways; my favorite two would be to either have him suffer a heart attack from overwork (not something that would be much of a stress for a harried executive) or have him grow frustrated with Wayne’s lack of interest in the company and move on to greener pastures (if Fox is as good as we’re told, surely another company could lure him away). Either way, Fox leaves the company, and the blame for that can at least partially be laid on Wayne, since his disinterest in the company either drove Fox to a heart attack or drove him to another job.

With Fox gone, Wayne has to find someone else to run the company. However, he’s busy as Batman, and he doesn’t spend the amount of time he needs to when he interviews people. He either gets an unscrupulous person who drains the company dry while Wayne is out smacking around Killer Croc, or he gets a very nice person who simply isn’t talented enough to run the company. Either way, this chain of events is what leads to the company’s failure, and again, the blame can be laid on Wayne. So, the company starts going under and now Wayne has to come out and speak to the press, as you mention above.

There are a few problems with Wayne losing his fortune. The first is that the Wayne fortune funds Batman. While we want more Wayne, we do need some Batman, and how does he get funding without the fortune. The second is the fate of Alfred; without money to pay his salary, does he stick around? Sure, he feels loyalty to Wayne, but he needs to eat as well. Perhaps you have some ideas along these lines, and I’d love to hear them. I believe these may be temporary problems anyway, since I think Wayne will get his fortune back.

I know that the only cliche worse than taking away the rich guy’s fortune is giving it back to him, but I believe he’d want it back. I envision this entire plotline as a way to make Wayne realize that he needs to split his time between his identities more evenly. Wayne has lost his parent’s legacy when he lost his company, and the blame can fall on no one else. I think he’d be driven to refound Wayne Enterprises (or whatever the heck his company is called) as a monument to his parents, if for no other reason. I think he’d apply the same force of will to learning and implementing business strategies that he did to learning crimefighting techniques, and I think he’d be successful. It wouldn’t be an immediate return to greatness for him, but it would happen. The really great thing about this, however, is that in the process, Wayne would learn humility. Surely he’s never been this humbled in his career (yes, his back was broken, but how many people knew that?), as the entire world has seen him fail. I think that would result in a better Batman; one more respectful of his allies and one who would be less of a prick. This would be a long storyline (and again, there would be more typical Bat-Adventures playing out at the same time, although they would certainly be colored by the loss of his fortune), but I think at the end we’d have a much stronger comic (and some damn fine stories getting there).

The other upside in my eyes is that Batman himself would become more efficient. Sure, the idea is to put more emphasis on Wayne and have him in the public arena more, but at the same time if Batman has no financial backing then he’s going to have to find other ways to get the job done. There’s no more Bat-Computer or Batarangs. Wherever the Batmobile runs out of gas is where it’s going to stay (As an aside, wouldn’t it be funny to see the Batmobile along the side of the road with a white towel hanging out of the window?). Basically, he can’t just throw cash at a problem and make it solve itself. He’s going to have to really use his noggin to solve crime.

And, yes, I think the problems you’ve pointed out are minor and temporary at best. I’m pretty sure Alfred has a nice savings account of his own that he can fall back on for a while if necessary. And, as I stated above, I’m not really sure Batman needs all that funding to operate effectively. Sure, over time people may begin to notice that Batman’s costume is looking a little ratty or that he’s taking the bus instead of zipping around town in his Bat-Copter, but it’ll make him a stronger person in the long run. And it may even force him to spend more time “disguised” as Bruce Wayne in public (or Matches Malone if he really gets destitute).

You seem to have come around on the idea pretty quickly. However, I’m wondering what other ideas you had for strengthening the Bruce Wayne identity? What would you do?

The first thing I’d do is point out that we could also use your plot to introduce the love interest we mentioned in the previous post. If we had the rival businesswoman/future smoochie-friend introduced already, perhaps it’s the loss of his fortune that forces Wayne to contact her and start training with her as a businessman. During the course of that, they become close, and things develop from there. It would also be interesting as he struggles to regain her fortune, since she could try to help him, and of course, he’d want to do it himself, since he sees regaining his fortune as something he needs to do for his parents (or the memory of them). That could cause some temporary stress in the relationship, which is good for any media romance if you want to maintain interest in it.

As for Alfred, it could be interesting if he is forced to get another job. He still wants to help Wayne, and we keep Alfred in the storyline, but he’s only able to do as much as his current position will allow. It gives us a chance to delve a little deeper into Alfred’s personality as well. While Alfred certainly goes above and beyond in many ways for Wayne, he’s also got a lot of slack in the Wayne household. What would things be like for him in a more normal job? How does he deal with someone whom he hasn’t known since childhood and will have completely different expectations of him?

As for my ideas for other directions to take him….I had nothing this monumental, and which solves all of the problems so elegantly. Seriously, when I first read your suggestion I thought, “You have got to be kidding me.” It seemed cliched and like a stunt for the sake of the stunt. However, there’s more here than I thought, and I like it. Once you think this through, it provides the perfect manner to institute some of the changes we’ve been describing for Wayne, and it provides a good reason for those changes, which I never had. Bonus, since it stays within continuity and doesn’t just have him acting like a better person with no explanation. Honestly, I’m sold. With this idea and the villains we revamped (and the ones who don’t need revamping, but we have ideas for) you could easily write two solid years of strong Batman stories.

Y’know, what I like about the whole plan (and not just the fact that we came up with it)…from the revamped villains to the romance introduction to the emphasis on building up the Bruce Wayne identity…is that it adds many more layers to any given Batman comic. I think one of the big problems with DC Comics’ stories right now is that there’s rarely any depth to the action. Granted, you and I are both basically unpaid shills for Marvel history, but even in the DC stuff that I do read, I find a lack of purpose. Every story (a gross generalization, I know) revolves around punching and/or kicking someone’s cheeks in and then moving on to the next object which will subsequently be punched and/or kicked. By developing these other story threads, you’re able to weave some emotion into the action.

Batman is built on angst. He’s the brooding bastard of the funnybooks. That doesn’t mean that he has to be so one-dimensional though. In fact, I argue that making his “other” life more complicated will only enhance the darkness of his heroic appearances. And everyone is happy with that, right?

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Batman: Introducing the Bat-Bunch

Jul-10-08

We’ve been spending the last week or more talking about what makes the bad guys bad (and how to make them badder), so I thought it was about time to change the pace a bit. We were going to switch gears and talk about improving Batman’s supporting cast, but John and I came to the general conclusion that we approve of pretty much everyone the Dark Knight surrounds himself with…from Alfred to Oracle, Commissioner Gordon to the rest of the Gotham City PD. Hell, I even have nice things to say about Bat-Mite (I really don’t).

No, the problems we have aren’t with Team Batman themselves, but rather with the way Batman treats his supporting cast. And these problems will be explored in the next few posts as we cover everything from background players to love interests to the Bruce Wayne alter ego to our final hypothesis on “fixing” Batman.

So let’s get the ball rolling on the rest of the good guys. Let me see if I can drum up a rough timeline of Batman’s prominent bit players. Jim Gordon makes his first appearance in the same Detective Comics #27as Batman (interesting to note that Gordon’s early appearances put him in opposition to Batman while showing a friendship with Bruce Wayne…Gordon is also the only major Bat-confidante who doesn’t know his secret identity), Robin (Dick Grayson) shows up a year later followed by Catwoman (first as a villain), Alfred Pennyworth, Barbara Gordon (first as Batgirl…not to be confused with Bat-Girl), the second Robin (Jason Todd), Huntress (who later became the second Batgirl), another Robin (Tim Drake), Spoiler (who then became the fourth Robin) and finally a third Batgirl.

That was easy to follow, right? And, heck, I didn’t even include his former bodyguard (Sasha Bordeaux), his son (Damian) to the daughter of one of his archenemies, the violent weirdo who temporarily replaced him (Azrael), a friend who became a villain (Harvey Dent), an enemy who has become a tenuous ally (Riddler), an obsessed other-dimensional imp (Bat-Mite), or his domino-masked German Shepherd Ace the Bat-Hound.

So where do they all fit in? How do they all come together? And what the heck is Batman’s problem with teamwork? Let’s explain.

It’s funny that Batman is often considered the quintessential loner, when in actuality he has a larger supporting cast than almost any other hero I can name. We’ve spoken at length about the strength (and breadth) of his Rogues Gallery, but his allies are just as strong. These are some well rounded characters and they fill important roles in Batman’s universe. I wouldn’t say I don’t have a few minor quibbles (is there anything Alfred can’t do? He’s a boxer and can fight; he’s a medic and can do minor surgeries; he’s an actor and can fool anyone with his disguises; he’s enough of a mechanic to do some maintenance on the Bat-Toys; plus, he makes some great food, washes windows, and vacuums. The man is amazing.) with some of the cast, but overall, these are great characters. The biggest problem I have with them is Batman.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, when Batman stopped being a Dark Knight and became an unofficial policeman who opened shopping malls, Batman treated everyone in his supporting cast as though they were his best friend (except the ladies, who enjoyed his condescension, but that was ok since they were girls). Words like “chum” and “pal” were liberally sprinkled throughout Batman’s dialogue, and the idea that anyone feared this man was ludicrous, since he was about as threatening as a hall monitor. When it became obvious that Batman had strayed too far from his core concept, and that he needed to become a Dark Knight once again, one of the first things they did was to push his supporting cast to arm’s length. Even Robin, who had been like a son to Bruce, got pushed away (all the way to college for some years). This wasn’t to say that Batman wouldn’t have allies; he just wouldn’t be quite as chummy with them.

I’m not sure that this was a bad decision. I am not the first one to point out that Batman would want to surround himself with allies, as he’s building himself a new family, to replace the one that was taken from him. However, I also agree that Batman is not particularly cuddly, and that he probably does keep most people at a distance. I certainly can live without ever seeing Batman call someone “chum” again. Unfortunately, starting in the early 90s, and just getting worse in the current decade, writers have gone too far and instead of simply maintaining a distance from his allies, Batman now treats most of them with utter contempt and disrespect. In short, Batman has become a prick, and its his allies on whom he takes out his anti-social tendencies.

To illustrate this point, let’s go back to the early 90s (1993, to be exact) and look at one of the biggest storylines in Batman’s post-Crisis history, Knightfall. In this story, a new enemy named Bane stages a massive breakout at Arkham Asylum, releasing all of Batman’s enemies at once. After Batman has managed to defeat these enemies, but when he’s still tired from the battles, Bane then attacks Batman and breaks his back, paralyzing him. Bruce Wayne decides that someone needs to continue to be Batman, and he chooses as that person….Azrael. Um, who? Yeah, just some character that Batman barely knew, someone who had been shown to be mentally unstable, someone Batman had known for less than a year. He chose that person over Dick Grayson, someone who is like a son to him, someone he’d known for over a decade, and someone he should trust implicitly. And, to make matters worse, when he was questioned on that decision by other allies, Batman blew those allies off.

Fast forward to another huge Batman crossover called No Man’s Land. I’ve referred to it before (rarely kindly) and will refer to it again, since there are so many huge, underlying problems with this storyline. However, in the context of this discussion, we can again see Batman treating his associates with contempt. When Gotham City is declared to be no longer part of the United States (don’t get me started) and it’s citizens are ordered by the federal government to leave by a certain time, since after that time anyone attempting to enter or exit the city will be attacked by federal troops (I said don’t get me started), Batman disappears. Certain of his allies remain behind in Gotham City (Gordon and Oracle foremost among them) and some leave the city (like Robin), but Batman doesn’t tell any of them that he’s leaving, and he doesn’t tell them where he’s going. For three months he simply disappears, with no word to anyone. When he finally returns, he expects things to be as they were before, but many of his allies are upset at the way they’ve been treated. To which I say, it’s about bloody time.

My point is this: I do not believe that Batman feels the utter contempt that he so often shows to his allies, and while I agree that he would not be having tea with Oracle or playing Call of Duty 4 on his PS3 with Robin, I do believe that he would show them respect. Being somewhat isolated from others does not mean that you treat them like dirt. It is very possible to keep your own counsel while still respecting those around you. This, to me, is the biggest problem with Batman and his allies; the way he treats them, and the fact that they so rarely object and that they continue to follow him. I would have gone to work with Blue Beetle years ago.

Could you imagine the holy hell that would rain down if Batman was in a high-speed chase with some of Black Mask’s henchmen and he buzzed Oracle to have her redirect some traffic signals and she told him to “Hold your horses. I’m bit-torrenting last week’s Desperate Housewives.”? That’s how I like to put things in perspective. Just flip the tables on Batman and see if he’d like to be treated the way he treats his associates.

I agree that Alfred is one helluva Jack-of-all-Trades. I believe he has even impersonated Batman himself on numerous occasions. And yet I can’t recall a single time that he’s been thanked for his work. Bruce must have set him up with one monster of a retirement plan for him to stick around so faithfully.

The Bane thing blows my mind as well, which brings into focus the current “Batman R.I.P.” storyline and the whispers of “who’s going to replace Bruce Wayne as Batman this time?” The way he’s been operating lately, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pull some random dude off the street and stuff the suit with crumpled up newspaper to make it seem realistic. At this point, it would almost be a slap in the face to hand the duties over to Nightwing or Robin…like he didn’t want to have anything to do with them before, but fully expects them to step up when he beckons them now. Kneel down and kiss my ring, peons!

The dynamic with Gordon has always interested me. I know he’s had his valiant moments and has faced down a ton of corruption within his own department, but Jim Gordon has always come across as some exasperated schlub to me. He’s just a figurehead at this point. There’s absolutely nothing he can do to control Batman, instead he just has to pretty much stand by whatever Batman decides is best. The line between lawful pursuit of crime and crazy man in colorful pajamas yelling from the rooftops should never be as slim as it truly is in Gotham City. But that’s a whole other topic to pursue.

You almost have to feel bad for the Robin legacy. Here’s a character that is embroiled in just as much danger and backlash as Batman, but never gets the recognition from either the public or Batman himself. The work is just expected of him. And even when a Robin does break free of the Bat-Nest, he’s constantly compared to his mentor yet never really given the chance to live up to or surpass his iconic status. At least Flash, Green Arrow, Atom and Green Lantern have some sort of legacy behind their public images…the name stays the same while the person behind the mask evolves. Behind the scenes you’re faced with living up to your predecessor, but outwardly you follow the same path and gain the same accolades because their identity is now your identity. Robin is just an eternal sidekick, even when he’s no longer Robin (just look at how ravenous the DC brass is in their drive to rid the world of Dick Grayson).

I had forgotten about all the references to “old chum” and “dear friend” that were peppered throughout the Batman mythos for years. Hilarious when you think of the current media portrayal of the “Dark Knight.” Obviously, the character took a wrong turn which justified Frank Miller’s near-parodic skewering of such in Dark Knight Returns. However, to then continue to use “grim and gritty” as your basis for every decision and every reaction a character makes for the next 25 years is equally idiotic and DC should be diligently working to backtrack on that demeanor. I thought they were headed in that direction with the One Year Later scenario of Bruce, Dick and Tim touring the world by freighter. Alas, the whole OYL deal fell apart pretty quickly in the midst of 52 and then Countdown that hardly anyone even remembers what the plan was to begin with.

So Batman’s “Family” is treated like enlisted grunts in a wartime military. They have orders barked at them and are expected to respond with quickness and with little individual thought. No one dares question the orders and no one dares defy their leader. But forced respect often brings resentment, anger and a growing desire for mutiny. Now wouldn’t that be an interesting storyline?

I agree that it would be a fascinating storyline, and it’s one that needs to be addressed. It’s enough for the Bat-Family to have an intervention and sit the Dark Knight down and say, “Stop being such a prick.” Something has to happen to bring things to head.

I believe it could come from one of two directions: either Batman himself realizes he needs to stop treating those around him with such disregard, or his supporting cast need to stand up and say that enough is enough. If you go the first option, then I think you’re talking about something traumatic happening to either Batman himself, or someone close to him. Perhaps Batman could come close to death, and in so doing (perhaps in a moment of delirium) he realizes the value of his extended family. However, that seems hokey, and not very satisfying. It might be better for his revelation to occur because someone in that extended family leaves the family; either through their own choice or through circumstance. I kind of like the idea of one of the Bat-Family saying that they’ve just had enough, and getting the heck out of there. I think that Oracle might be the best one for this; she’s very close, but isn’t actually part of the family (if Dick Grayson hasn’t told Bruce Wayne off yet, he’s never going to) and she has so much else going on that she could believably become fed up and just walk (um, so to speak). Your example of Batman contacting her for work and her blowing him off actually reads true to me, and perhaps if something like that happened, it would wake Bruce up to the way he treats people. Of course, there’s a danger with such a storyline as well; if Bruce contacts Oracle for help in a case, and she refuses, and as a result someone is injured and killed, then she looks like a total tool, and Batman comes out looking like a victim. That would be bad. So it would have to be a very carefully crafted story.

Or perhaps there’s a better way to do this. Do you even think it needs to be addressed? The comics have danced around this issue on more than one ocassion, but after a little bit of actual emotion from Bruce, he goes back to being a jerk. What can we do to change that?

I do remember the situation being addressed to some extent in the “Bruce Wayne: Murderer?/Bruce Wayne: Fugitive” storylines that preceded “Hush.” Oracle, Robin, and Nightwing all confronted Bruce about his aloofness, but I don’t remember what the ultimate solution was…either that or I just gave up out of boredom before the arc finished.

I think the core of the question surrounding his interaction with his supporting cast is: how do we revamp Batman so he isn’t such a big jerk? And I think we’ll be confronting that issue in our Batman: Broken? post later this week…