The Secret Reason Batman Can Never Be Close To Anyone
Tom Taylor and Andy Kubert's Batman: The Detective #1 reveals the real reason the Dark Knight doesn't work well in a team, and it's suitably tragic.
This article contains spoilers for Batman: The Detective #1
DC Comics has finally revealed the real reason doesn't play well with others, even if he does frequently wind up part of different superhero teams. There is a sense in which Batman is DC's most contradictory superhero. He's a vigilante who insists he works best alone, and yet he gathers allies to his side wherever he goes. He has serious trust issues, and yet he winds up in almost every incarnation of the Justice League.
Batman's contradictory nature is a major reason for his popularity, because they make him such a compelling character. Every superhero team Batman is part of is characterized by friction, and time and again he finds himself unable to resist developing weapons to take down his superhero colleagues. They frequently go wrong, none more spectacularly than his Brother Eye satellite. But just why does Batman find it so difficult to work as part of a team?
Tom Taylor and Andy Kubert's Batman: The Detective #1 provides an answer, with the Dark Knight confronting the Gentleman Ghost. This specter feeds on fear, and he plunges his ethereal hands into Batman's heart, sensing the fears that churn within him. "You fear failing others," he observes. "You dread being close to them because you fear losing them. Ah. There it is. Not many men have been orphaned twice." This last comment clearly refers to the deaths of Thomas Wayne and Alfred.
According to the Gentleman Ghost, there are two aspects to Batman's fears. The first is his fear of failing others, explaining why Batman is such a control freak; ironically, this means Batman is currently facing his worst nightmare because it's increasingly clear he has failed Gotham City. Batman's villains have brought Gotham to breaking point, with the city even electing its latest mayor on an anti-vigilante platform. In Batman: The Detective #1, the Dark Knight leaves his city behind him on a mission, wondering if there's any point even returning.
But the second fear is even deeper; the fear of getting close to people because he dreads losing them. Batman's longing for intimacy means he draws others to him, whether as members of his family or as part of a team; but his fear of losing them means he pushes them away again. Taylor's revelation perfectly explains the contradictory relationships between Batman and the other members of the Bat-family, or else with his fellow Justice League members; Batman's heart is essentially divided against itself, and his inner turmoil plays out in conflict in his team and family. That fear is buried so deep that it will never be resolved; Batman is far too old and set in his ways to change.
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