Batman is my favorite comic book hero. Because as long as they keep his origin in the mix, he’s doing what he’s doing for personal reasons. He’s pissed off, he’s avenging the death of his family at the hands of desperate criminals. He’s a rich favored son of Gotham, who vows thereafter to put all his resources, material and spiritual, into the pursuit of bringing justice to his city. Naturally, this makes him a tortured figure of endless, nigh hopeless striving against the elemental forces of corruption and the demons inherent in human nature. He’s a sisyphean juggernaut beating brutally back the constantly refreshing dirge-march of human misery turned to violence. Recent criticisms simply point at the fact that since he’s a billionaire he could just give away all his money and make these people materially better off, heading off the desperation at the pass. But this misses the point by ignoring the truth: Batman is fighting against these forces in himself. His rogues gallery is a symbolic mount rushmore of what plagues a man trying to be decent within the constraints of the human condition. The Joker, his arch nemesis, is nihilism and the will to laugh at meaning and hope. Two-Face is duplicity and self-deception, giving away the responsibility for what happens to chance, shrugging off the meaning of ones free choices. The riddler is the question that hangs on every detective’s desk next to his hat and his gun… that down some alley he might find justification for doing evil he cannot deny, that crumbles his mantel with too much truth. Catwoman, the feminine wiles that track their paws through any sophisticated attempt to walk the line between law and true justice, where things go fuzzy and warm-blooded. The penguin, the antarctic poles where one enters realms that make laws of the jungle, hunger and need, the only currency that speaks, ice, cash, flesh, freezing out humanity.
Batman is a fascist. But he turns his need to control the world INWARD. This is why he is a hero and not what everyone says he is. A loose cannon, a terrorist, a violent thug beating to a pulp the citizens of a city that are crying for.. perhaps a little less tough love. A kind word to keep them from eating the face and flesh of their neighbor. No, Batman is the madman. Not the hero we need. But the one we deserve. The one who doesn’t let us lie about what we are. Monsters, in this fight for the light of day.