On Batman

Why Doesn't Bruce Wayne Retire Already?!

By Chris Roberson

There is a long tradition in heroic fiction of passing the torch, of one generation giving way to the next, and of yesterday’s hero acting as mentor and guide to tomorrow’s. Zorro did it, as did the Green Hornet, the Question, and many more besides. But while Bruce Wayne has been training sidekicks ever since Dick Grayson was the Sensational Character Find of 1940, he’s not shown any indication yet of hanging up his cowl and handing over the keys to the Batmobile.

Isn’t it about time that the old guy retired, and let some new blood patrol the crime-infested streets of Gotham? Bruce Timm’s Batman Beyond series and other alternate continuities offer a tantalizing glimpse into futures in which Wayne has done just this, and suggest a possible solution to the problem.

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There have been many examples of heroes handing on the family business over the years, in comics, books, films, and elsewhere. Some characters are even predicated on this kind of heroic succession. The Phantom in the Lee Falk comic strips is one of a long line of Ghosts Who Walk, with father passing down skull-ring to son, down through the centuries. The Black Hood in Gray Morrow’s Red Circle comics was Kip Burland, whose ancestors had worn the same hood while fighting oppression down through the generations. The current Iron Fist, Daniel Rand, learns in the pages of The Immortal Iron Fist that there have been sixty-six bearers of the iron fist before him. The Phantom, the Black Hood,  …

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