It’s always surprising when a short comic can depict such a thought-provoking story.
On the surface, this is a bit of a twist for a Batman comic. After the theft of a newly developed chemical, Batman finds himself face to face again with Talia, his former love. Brought to her father Ra’s Al Ghul’s fortress, Batman forms an unlikely alliance with his old foe to defeat a mad man out to start a war. While the typical fighting and action occurs, Batman and Talia rekindle their romance, with Talia ending up pregnant.
Yeah, there’s an awful lot going on in these brief 78 pages.
The storyline itself is a bit out there, to be sure. The subtle characterization is both puzzling yet well-done, making for a conflicting read.
The basic plotline alone was enough to create a pause while reading. Batman settling down? How does Batman of all people openly embrace the thought of becoming a father?
This moment seemed so completely out of character. Batman never showed any interest in having children, nor does he exactly have the best track record when it comes to watching over them (see: Dick Grayson and Jason Todd). What then could he possibly be thinking, practically jumping for joy at the thought of being responsible for the life of a child?
His emotional response at the prospect of becoming a father was surprising, but in many ways it almost seems fitting. After all, it is becoming more and more apparent that Bruce Wayne is clearly suffering from some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder.
“And every time his eyes close, he watches his parents die.”
Someone could probably write an entire dissertation on all of the psychological trauma young Bruce Wayne suffered after witnessing his parents’ murders. His entire adult life has been focused on seeking justice for the wrong done to his family. He’s denied himself any sort of happy, normal existence, choosing instead to live in the shadows and spend all of his time with the scum of Gotham. It’s not necessarily a healthy lifestyle, but it’s one he’s embraced wholeheartedly.
This comic doesn’t go into enough detail as to why Bruce might have finally decided that he was ready for a family, and that’s truly a pity. Had this story been written a little more deftly, there’s great potential for a moving psychological tale within these pages. As it stands, the story gets too caught up in the subplot of trying to prevent a single man from starting an open war. This portion of the story, though not bad per se, doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It’s only saving grace is its connection to the more emotional side of the comic. There are four separate characters in this comic who witnessed one or both parents die: Bruce Wayne, Talia, the villain Qayin, and a minor character named Harris Blaine, Jr. Each deals with the shock of witnessing a parent’s death in their own way. While their methods may vary, the end goal is the same for all: vengeance. Some, like Bruce, choose to channel that anger and pain into something good and noble, while others, such as Qayin, are so blinded by their hatred that they are willing to destroy the world to watch one person suffer. This minor detail, though not fleshed out in the story, reminds the reader that we all experience pain, but that it is up to us to decide how we express it.
As the comic closes, the reader is left with a surprising teaser of sorts. Due to the stress of a fight, Talia tells Bruce she lost the baby, and asks him to leave. However, on the final page of the comic, we witness a baby being given up for adoption. This baby is shown with a necklace that had previously been given to Talia by Bruce.
Obviously the implication here is that Talia lied and actually gave birth to Bruce’s baby. I admit to being completely ignorant as to whether this will be a random one-shot that’s never addressed again, or if it will become a major plot point down the road. Isn’t there a comic or cartoon or something called “Son of Batman” though? Is this in any way related, or is that something completely different?
It kills me not knowing, but then, I suppose that’s half the fun, right? I may know a little bit about Batman, but there’s still so much for me to discover. This supposed child of the Dark Knight may reappear five, ten, twenty years later in the comics, or may remain trapped in Limbo (yay Animal Man reference!) until a new writer decides to resurrect the idea of Batman being a father. It’s an intriguing plot line, and one I hope gets revisited.
This story had a lot going for it, and while a few points were touched upon enough to make it a worth-while read, I can’t help but feel that this comic doesn’t live up to its potential. This story had the makings of a wonderfully thought-provoking, emotionally charged narrative. Unfortunately, it just didn’t follow through to be the earth-shattering Batman story it could have been.