On Batman

Batman in the Real World

By Kristine Kathryn Rusch

First, a disclaimer: I like Batman. He is my favorite superhero. He’s not true blue and loyal like Superman, but then he’s not in love with the dumbest reporter on the planet, either. He’s also not a young kid given incredible powers (by a radioactive spider, no less) who learns to properly use those powers while whining about it.

Batman doesn’t whine. He never whined–not when his parents were murdered in front of him, not when he realized he was the only one who could save Gotham City from itself, not when he had to sacrifice love and a personal life to do his real job.

Unlike Superman, Batman never professes to be doing what he does for truth, justice, and the American Way. I’m not sure Batman believes in any of those things–except his truth and his justice.

And, oddly enough, that makes him the most American of all the superheroes. And the most terrifying.

Yeah, yeah, I know. When Superman is influenced by red (or is it black?) Kryptonite, he gets really mean. We learn what a Kryptonian villain could be like. But meanness is not part of Superman’s core personality, so we understand that eventually he will return to his very good self.

When Spider-Man becomes Venom, we realize that we’re better off when Peter Parker whines. Venom forgets about the great responsibility that comes with great power. He simply uses that power the way all supervillains do–for evil.

Batman already straddles the line between good and evil. He uses the darkness in  …

More from Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Stay Updated

on our daily essay, giveaways, and other special deals

Our Books

Subscribe via RSS