Definitively the greatest comic book superhero of all time, Batman’s grim neo-noir aesthetic effortlessly combined with classic genre tropes make for a thoroughly enjoyable experience with each passing decade. We all know the story of Bruce Wayne, the only son of Thomas and Martha Wayne, who watched in horror as his parents were monstrously murdered in a lonely Gotham alleyway right before his very eyes. It was during this same tragedy that the innocent young boy swore to avenge the death of his family, subsequently becoming the hero Batman, terrorizing criminals in the dead of night until this very day.
However, despite how pleasantly beguiled we are by the prospect of witnessing the Dark Knight continue to drain Gotham City, and beyond of its underworld sludge, a lingering, troubling question is yet to be answered regarding the superhero from a more realistic perspective: when will Batman ever find peace
While it is almost certainly admirable to consider that our heroes would continue their fight until they breathed their very last breath, this particular view is akin to stating that all human beings should never stop working until the very day they expire. Despite coming from a good place, the notion that Batman is without rest and relaxation is terribly myopic and self-serving.
Of course, we are well aware that we are, in fact, discussing the livelihood of a fictional character, but it surely does not dismiss the point that Bruce Wayne is a human being too.
Batman #47 (1958)
Cover of Batman #47 (1958)
The first glimmer of peace to ever cross paths with the Caped Crusader was in Batman #47 when the Dark Knight discovered the identity of his parents’ murderer, Joe Chill, and confronted the criminal, thereby completing his redemption arc and finally attaining justice for his dearly departed mother and father. Yet, as we are quite well aware of today, the vigilante denied himself this opportune moment of hanging up the cape and cowl and embracing peace for the remainder of his years.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986)
Cover for The Dark Knight Returns #1 (1986) by Frank Miller
The next time we would hear of Batman’s retirement from his crime-fighting duties would be in 1986’s The Dark Knight Returns. Of course, the events of the story take place after Bruce Wayne is forced to come out of retirement and fight crime once again, and not forgetting the fact that the Caped Crusader stepped away from his Batman role not because he had achieved a hint of peaceful closure, but a retirement brought on by the death of Robin at the hands of The Joker. Still, by the end of the tale, the much older Batman is shown faking his death, hanging up the cape and cowl once and for all, only to then have him secretly training an army of new protectors of Gotham City.
Batman #50 (2018)
Cover for Batman #50 (2018), a.k.a. “The Wedding Issue”
In more recent years, fans were teased with what seemed like an event that was a long time coming, a moment for Batman to finally experience the feelings of joy and peaceful bliss: Bruce Wayne was to wed Selina Kyle. You must imagine the shock on readers’ faces when they once again had the rug pulled from right under them. As it turns out, Selina Kyle left Bruce Wayne at the altar, the reason being that Batman could never exist in his total capacity if he were happy.
Thusly, it would seem that no matter how hard Batman would try to lead a normal life, this poor, tortured soul would never be able to escape his dark and brooding persona until the moment his heart ceases to beat. For as long as Bruce Wayne continues to don his iconic outfit and remain as the Knight of Gotham, he is only sacrificing his chance at a peaceful life for the sake of keeping the city and its people safe.
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