What Broke the Bat? – Part 3

For those who don’t know how most comics work, they are usually brought to life by a combination of a writer and an artist. Although some creators somehow manage to do both, many industry veterans stick to one practice and try to nail it down. This is true with the supergroup who took over Batman in his most celebrated modern run. Scott Snyder had come from a background writing horror, he had written short stories which had been selected by none other than Stephen King himself for an anthology collection, and had started his creator owned run on American Vampire. Greg Capullo had been drawing for a long while and had notable done an extensive run on the superhero from hell Spawn, eventually drawing more pages than its creator Todd MacFarlane. What makes this so important is that Spawn (or really Greg) had a particular style that went hand in hand with gothic elements, shadow covered figures and all things of the night. Wisely DC paired these two together and what came occurred were many Volumes of incredible and blackened Batman stories.

Taking a step back for a moment, if you think about the character for a moment, it makes sense that he would be portrayed as a troubled individual much unlike the starry do-gooders that he may be associated with. The whole idea of Batman is driven by one night in his life where he lost his parents. This event was so traumatic that even in his adult life he cannot cope with what happened, thus he takes it upon himself to fight crime in order to attack the very criminals who took his parents away. If we quickly compare this to Superman, whose parents also died (along with everyone on his planet), he fights to simply do good, he is more of a preventative measure with the outlook that people will eventually all come around to the light side. Batman on the other hand goes looking for trouble, his motivation is derived from pain and his image is made from fear. No wonder he doesn’t wear bright colours and casually slap criminals on the wrist with a snappy comeback.

Snyder and Capullo knew all this and more and sought to make Bruce Wayne’s life even more tumultuous. Though he has money and has clearly got Gotham in his grasp, they quickly pull this rug out from beneath him in the first volumes where a secret organisation threatens to recapture the city. In volume three the Joker (with his deteriorating face still hanging loose) returns to cook up a plan that threatens to take away the little stability he still has in his life. This series of tragedies go on and on further sculpting the once happy go lucky crime fighter into the stoic, suspicious borderline psychopath we know and love today. You could say that the screen versus comics battle has forged this narrative of a darker Batman and therefore even more hellish villains but that wouldn’t be entirely right. When a guy grieves not by crying himself to sleep but by hospitalising petty thieves every single night, it’s clear there was a darkness in this story all along – we just needed the right people to pull it to the surface.