Thursday, September 29, 2011

The First Truth of Batman

Warning: this is going to get rather sentimental.  But it's okay.  It's also going to contain a lot of Batman.

Maybe the most powerful aspect of stories is how we can relate to them.  A story can be absolutely outlandish, absurd and impossible, but still be good, if the reader can connect to it.  It doesn't even have to be a big connection.  Sometimes the smallest correlation between the story and the reader's life can make the biggest impact.

And sometimes that impact doesn't occur until long after we have finished with the story.  Narratives are meant to stick with us.  They linger in the recesses of the mind, ready to pop right back into our recollection whenever needed.  Many times when we first read a story we can find some aspect that reminds us of experiences we've had in life.  Sometimes, though, it is life that reminds us of a story.

This is one of those times.

Over the past couple of years, Batman has undergone some significant changes in the comic book world.  This is largely the result of Grant Morrison (big surprise there).  What Morrison did was kill Batman.  But not really.

Actually, the evil villain Darkseid sent Batman back into the past.  Starting at the stone-age, the amnesiac Batman hopped forward in time in conjunction with a solar eclipse and faced many trials and hardships.  But Batman is the ultimate survivor.  Indeed, the internet is always buzzing with hypothetical scenarios surrounding the idea of Batman fighting just about anyone.  Fans tend to argue that, with enough preparation time, Batman could conquer any challenge he faces.

Darkseid counts on this and somehow turns Batman into an ultimate weapon that will detonate once he reaches the present.  I don't recall all the specifics about how this happens.  It gets complicated.  It is Morrison, after all.

The point is, Batman manages to survive time and not blow up the world when he succeeds.  Or something.  He is the ultimate survivor.  The one man that can do anything on his own.  But the realization and epiphany that Batman has from this ordeal?  That he doesn't have to do it alone.  Even if he can, he doesn't have to.  He shouldn't have to.  He's never had to.

And "Batman, Incorporated" is born.  Instead of driving his friends and allies away, which he usually does, he gives them his blessing.  And then he begins a grand globetrotting adventure to recruit even more Batmen all around the world.  Yeah, I said Batmen.  This notorious lone avenger seeks out allies to assist him in his perpetual war on crime. 

In short: Batman asks for help.

This all probably happened about a year or so ago.  I read it.  I enjoyed it.  And that was that.

Lately I've been going through my own tough time in life.  Nothing quite as bad as being sent back to the time of cavemen while losing my memory.  Of course, for any individual, his or her personal struggles are as fierce and desperate as the most epic battles of fictional superheroes.  Anyway, I reached a point where I had to admit that things weren't working and I needed to seek out help.

And as I started reaching out to people I was suddenly reminded of this Batman story I had long since put in the back of my mind.  Am I comparing myself to Batman?  When don't I?

The point is life started reminding me of a story.  And I began to take comfort in that story.  If Batman, the ultimate survivor, can reach out to friends and family for assistance in trying times then I should be able to do the same.  If Batman can ask for help, then so can we all.  Face it, you're no where near as awesome as Batman.  

Neither am I.

To everyone out there who has helped or is currently helping me, in whatever capacity, whether you're part of the AFB or not, I sincerely thank you.

To everyone out there, living or dead, who has ever helped shape this fictional character that we call Batman, I also thank you.

Such is the power of a story.
Bruce decides to design his costume after a bat and calls Alfred for help with the ring of a bell. In Morrison's run, this call for assistance is the moment Batman is truly born.
The first truth of Batman...
It had to be one I don't like to admit.
The gunshots left me alone.
For years I was alone in the echoing dark of that well.
But something else defined the exact moment Batman was born.
The first truth of Batman...
The saving grace.
I was never alone.
I had help.
- The Return of Bruce Wayne #6
by Grant Morrison, Lee Garbett, and Pere Perez

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