Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Good Death

Bruce Wayne has a death wish in The Dark Knight Returns. Perhaps it's the ennui of knowing his greatest adventures lay behind him. Or maybe, like a great author or actor, he feels the character he created was never properly laid to rest. And so it is that throughout the book, from the earliest panels to the middle of every fight, Batman's ego is constantly meta-evaluating whether this would be a good enough way for him to die. It's weird, it's borderline suicidal, and it's one of the most profound, realistic, and quintessentially human sentiments in the entire book.

So much of The Dark Knight Returns is about parenting. Batman's own parents were murdered, Jason was stolen from him, even his relationship with Dick has soured. And now he is old, with no heirs to empty the wine cellars of Wayne Manor. Batman always was a loner. The old man never expected anyone would love him. And yet she found him, and he found her.
The Dark Knight Returns has always been about Batman changing - learning - adjusting. Hyper-critical by nature, Batman has no trouble seeing people's faults, but it's hard for him to need them. It takes a crisis of nuclear proportions for him to finally realize: some rodents fly.

And so it is that the orphan of Wayne Manor becomes father to a generation of lost boys and misfits, and in seeking out his good death, Batman finds his good life.

Well... good enough.

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