Dark Knight Returns

Listening to Take 5. Dave Brubeck. Long version. And Coltrane. My Favorite Things (1961).

I have a new Piccadilly sketchbook in which I take notes for the new book. For the last few weeks, I’ve been researching Diana/Artemis. More on that to come. Not today. Later.

Today my sketchbook was for superhero research. Actually, Batman research, as he provides a lot of inspiration for the main character in my story. And Gotham City helps me think about mood and setting. How to use darkness. I like the idea that daylight hides things that the night reveals. Bruce Wayne runs around during the day giving speeches at charity events with lots of other rich do-gooders. But at night, the city completely changes. Villainy reigns. Usually, we think of the “curtain of night.” But with Batman, night is an open stage.

This afternoon, I cracked open a couple of volumes of Batman, including Legends of the Dark Knight, which features a variety of artists and writers, offering their versions of the Bat. The real treat, though, was going back to the David Finch/Paul Jenkins Dark Knight: Knight Terrors Vol. 1 (2012). I have a feeling I’ll be revisiting both volumes, all issues. Just because.

The thing I love about Batman is that he has no superpowers. And he often gets hurt. With Batman, things could go either way: He could either knock out the bad guys or get knocked out himself. Superman? Not as interesting. He’s Super Man. You know he’ll always win. But that’s not true with Batman. He can’t fly around the world to reverse time or push over skyscrapers. So he never gets Gotham City fully cleaned up, because he can only take out criminals one bad guy at a time. He can’t do large scale heroics.

And he’s afraid. All the time. The monsters that come out at night in Gotham are, in many ways, manifestations of Batman’s own terrors. He doesn’t trust, and he doesn’t see himself as trustworthy.

According to Batman, “There is no such thing as peace. There is only war.” Interesting. Even though he fights to clean up Gotham, he doesn’t believe it can ever be done. Not in a sustainable way. That’s a pretty dark view of the world. And strange. Because it means Batman spends he life trying to accomplish what he doesn’t believe can be done.

Here’s a question, though, I’ve never thought about until I read Dark Knight again What makes Batman attractive? The White Rabbit calls him a “sexy bat.” Why? Just his looks? Or is it the brooding thing? His emotional vulnerability? That’s another aspect that’s distinct to Batman. Superman has krptonite, but Batman has guilt, fear, mistrust, and anger.

Christian Bale aside. What is it about Batman that draws people to him? He says he can’t be trusted, but people do trust him and want to be near him. Why?

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