A few of you will be familiar with SpiderDan and the Secret Bores. I met SpiderDan through previous employment and we bonded through our love comics and inappropriate jokes. SpiderDan is a comic book podcaster, but also a brainbox when it comes to all things comics. I have known many comic fans in my life but none retains comic related information like SpiderDan. Simply put, if he recommends a comic, read it and you will be better off for it. And when the first trailer for The Batman dropped recently, so did his recommendation to read Batman Ego by Darwyn Cooke. So here we go prepping for Pattinson with a dive into the broken psyche of the bat.
Before we do, please check out his podcast’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/secretbores which will have links to all his broadcasting platforms.
In interviews, director Matt Reeves has repeatedly mentioned the fact that Darwyn Cooke’s Batman: Ego has provided material ripe for adaptation for his upcoming Batman cinematic release. Many fans have been led to believe that Batman: Year One would be the main inspiration, but we wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up getting elements of both based on the trailer. So here I am with my brand-new copy of Darwyn Cooke’s ‘Batman: Ego and Other Tales’ deluxe hardback. Hey, I found a great deal and simply couldn’t say no. Please treat yourself to a copy from your local comic book shop, the industry needs your support and Bat-Fans need to read these stories.
Okay, from here on there will be spoilers for Batman: Ego, but it’s worth mentioning that the story is a character study where the plot points are less important than the analysis itself. There’s your warning, but I do urge you to keep reading.
Batman: Ego is a story which directly confronts the duality of Batman and Bruce Wayne, trying to be a symbol of hope while still imposing fear as the Dark Knight. Bruce’s psyche has been damaged with none of his billionaire playboy lifestyle bringing him joy. I can’t even imagine that, honestly. Darwyn Cooke poses the narrative with the simplicity of donning the cowl. The division between the Caped Crusader and Bruce is proposed as two entities bonding through their mutual ideals but conflicting mentalities. Ego pits Bruce against the Bat in a fight for supremacy.
While hopping rooftops and doing all things Batman, he stumbles across Buster. Buster had tipped off the Batman to the Joker’s location. He harbours a strong hostility for the Bat and holds Batman accountable for the ‘revolving door’ of Arkham Asylum and Blackgate Prison, highlighting the trope where Batman ultimately ends up creating more criminals than he puts away. Each time he locks one up, the city ends up worse off. Be it the revenge of the detained, a new villain created in the conflict or the henchmen being out of hand.
Buster himself had been used as a key component in the recent capture of the Joker. As a result, he has developed the very rational fear of the Joker hunting down his family to exact revenge. This leads to the very irrational response of killing his own wife and child before throwing himself of Gotham Bridge, all to prevent them crossing paths with a vengeful Joker and suffering a fate worse than death. Needless to say, pointing direct blame to Batman is a shock to Bruce’s system, ultimately triggering flashbacks to his parents and the manifestation of his darker side.
Like many Bat-Stories before, and even following, this tale harkens back to the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne. It sometimes seems like we can never go more than five minutes without the parents popping up, but this time it’s an appropriate storytelling strategy as opposed to the common “I’m a sad Bat”. The strength here being that the Waynes were more fleshed out as a couple than the common bookmark of the Bat-History they have become in recent years. Honestly, this was some of the strongest aspects of this story, and is right up there with the Batman The Animated Series telling. As Bruce recalls his childhood, the cowl rears its ugly head to drill deeper into his broken mind, leading to Bruce addressing the Batman and the pair debating their shortcomings.
In the conclusion, we see Bruce and Batman finally unite with a simple compromise. Bruce has taken ownership of the guilt and responsibility of Batman’s war on crime. On the other hand, the Batman persona has to rise to new heights. The Batman has to balance the fear he inflicts on Gotham’s underbelly with being a beacon of hope for the common man. It is further stressed that under no circumstance should Batman kill. With common ground met, responsibilities and duties burdened, the two unite. Darwyn Cooke still leaves plenty of the Bat-Psyche to explore, though. Which persona is the mask? Is it really the cowl or the playboy? Many people see Batman as a hero with many stories portraying himself as the villain. This story is a gateway to those who want further explore the maddening depths of Batman’s Ego.
So why did this make my ‘Prepare for Pattinson’ reading list? Well, aside from a SpiderDan recommendation, this is a fantastic prototype for the direction of the film. For a moment, let’s pretend we heard nothing about Matt Reeves’ intentions to draw inspiration from Ego. When creating Bat-Media, you have several categories of Bat-Story to tell. Will it be a cookie-cutter superhero flick with one man’s rise to tackle injustice? A venture into the case files of the world’s greatest detective? Or will it bet a psychological dissection of the character and his mythos?
In recent history we have had the Christopher Nolan series tackling super-bat, and Joker proving that that psychological films can work wonders. So why do I think Ego is the perfect approach rather than a more typical detective story? Honestly, it’s as simple as believing that no one could write the latter well enough to do it justice. No one could write a mystery adept enough that only the Batman could tackle. No one is up to writing the mystery the World’s Greatest Detective couldn’t solve. If an excellent writer wrote his best work it would still be feeble next to a honed Batman’s ability. This leaves us with a psychological journey, and one Batman Ego paves the way for with plenty of room to explore.
The writer of this piece was: Mike Chandler
Mike Tweets from @mike_moans