Saturday, May 20, 2006

Batman's double standards

There was this story in JLA a few years ago (I'm sure someone can provide issue numbers, I only read this in a borrowed collection) in which the Bat-computer is hacked by Ra's Al Ghul and he steals the contingency plans the ever prepared Batman had put in place in case any or all of his super powered buddies went bad and he had to take them down.

It's a decent story and of course our heroes win the day. They are a little uncomfortable with Batman for preparing for this kind of eventuality, but they can't escape the hard fact that it's a reasonable thing to do given how often they are individually or collectively brainwashed, possessed, replaced with evil duplicates, and all the other problems with which superhero life is fraught. None of them suggest that the security on the Bat-computer needs a little upgrading.

Something like a year later, after Batman has spitefully kicked out Steph for doing not only what any other Robin would do but I'm 95% certain has done in similar circumstances, she tries to prove herself to him by hacking the Bat-computer and using one of his plans. It's an incredibly clumsy plot constructed purely to make Steph The Flawed Hero Who Must Give Her Life to Atone for the Mistake She Made. I saw where this was going in the first issue and couldn't bring myself to follow it to the end. But I'm betting nobody suggested that Batman upgrade the security on the Bat-computer.

And then we come to the OMAC project. Batman comes up with a new scheme for defending against his super-buddies on the off chance they go bad. Can you possibly make a wild guess what happens? Yes, one more time someone hacks the bloody Bat-computer and steals these most top secret and dangerous plans, reprograms the OMAC control system, and uses it to kill a lot of people.

Batman surely has some responsibility here? Isn't he in the same position as Steph, only with a higher body count? How come Brucey doesn't get to sacrifice himself nobly to atone for his mistake? But no, you see Batman doesn't even acknowledge he has done a thing wrong. In fact he manages to get on his high horse and be disgusted with Wonder Woman for killing Max when she is given no alternative, even while the fruits of his criminal negligence are killing people by the thousand.

Nobody even suggests that his clever schemes (and doesn't anyone think that a plan that involves converting innocent bystanders into cannon fodder is fundamentally flawed?) have caused far more damage than the potential dangers they were designed to guard against, or that maybe it's time he stopped trying to think of ways to hurt his friends, or if he really must do so, he write these plans down in a notebook and keep it in a big safe at the bottom of the Batcave, rather than publishing them on the internet.


Sleestak said...

I keep saying it's Alfred behind all that.

I'm still betting that it will come out that Alfred manipulated a young, traumatized Bruce into being a force of justice (or revenge) for the murder of his friends the Waynes. He of course thought he was only using the Wayne fortune toward his goals of reducing crime or punishing criminals, never dreaming Bruce would become a super hero active on a macro scale.

A little "security lapse" here and there and Alfred can wipe out thousands of criminals at one blow instead of having to watch the Bat Family take them down one at a time.

Anonymous said...

But I'm betting nobody suggested that Batman upgrade the security on the Bat-computer.

I hear he was running Windows ME on that thing.

These are the kinds of questions that only have out-of-story answers - answers like "women in comics are considered disposable" and "minor characters with small fan bases are treated like cannon fodder."

Marionette said...

Even Cir-El has fans.

Um. Well, okay. Maybe it's a little optimistic to make that a plural. She's got me.

Economics 101 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Marionette said...

Economics 101 said (before I deleted his post)...

This is a great analysis - well done!

Can I bring to your attention AK Comics of Egypt who produce 'Middle East Heroes' which has just started being distributed through Diamond.

No, you can't.

You are the weakest link. Fuck off.

Anonymous said...

Windows ME? No, it was Curtains '98!

100LittleDolls said...

I feel like he acted similarily towards the Huntress as well.

I hate it when they write Batman as the Ultimate Jerk.

Marionette said...

Ultimate Jerk? Isn't that a Marvel comic?

Chance said...

No, it's not a comic, he's the lead character in the Ultimates.

I thought this was a brilliant post.

Anonymous said...

doesn't anyone think that a plan that involves converting innocent bystanders into cannon fodder is fundamentally flawed?

Batman did not create the OMACS, see OMAC project #3. :-)

Anonymous said...

While reading another blog praising (or at least not damning) Identity/Countdown/Infinite Crisis; it occurred to me that I do like what DC is trying to do with the un-jerkification of Batman. It's just that the way they went about doing it, was like watching sausage made. Kind of ruins your appreciation for the end result.
So coming back to Batman now is like seeing an old friend you lost touch with for several years. And if he doesn't want to talk about losing Stephanie or Jason coming back; well, I don't wanna talk about working at a crappy music store either. We'll just let those missing years slide, and get back to the matter at hand.
Oh, and Batman does have a notebook in a safe at the bottom of the Batcave, but it's his "Feeling Journal." The safe is, of course, lead lined.

Anonymous said...

I thought there was a pretty clear acknowledgement of his mistakes in Infinite Crisis #3 when he had his little nervous breakdown. After talking with Brother Eye, Batman flips out ("Shut [the OMACs] down!" "Damn you." "STOP THIS!") and throws a chair at his computer screen. Then he drops to his knees and says "This wasn't supposed to happen... I can't breathe... can't do this anymore... God... I just wish I could start over."

And if that isn't clear enough, E-2 Superman tells him shortly thereafter "None of this is your fault." And Batman replies "No, it is."