The following contains spoilers for Batman #138, now on sale from DC Comics.
“The Gotham War” has been splintering Batman and his allies at an inopportune time, leaving them fighting one another while the villainous Vandal Savage and his daughter make major moves across Gotham. As the heroes have struggled to keep up, Batman has become increasingly harsh in his tactics to maintain his form of justice – but his latest endeavor takes things to a new extreme.
The Dark Knight’s true plan for his former sidekick Red Hood is revealed in Batman #138 (by Chip Zdarsky, Jorge Jimenez, Tomey Morey, and Clayton Cowles), and it crosses some serious moral lines. With this, Bruce Wayne has broken the same kind of ethical guidelines that villains like Joker often leap over with reckless abandon. It hints at how much damage Batman has done to the Bat-Family, and how hard it’ll be to fix everything.
Batman Has Completely Changed Red Hood – Literally
After capturing Red Hood, Batman took his former sidekick to a secret location and crosses some serious ethical lines in his latest attempt to “help” Jason. Reasoning that Red Hood will eventually revert to his murderous ways, Bruce Wayne has used the same techniques that resulted in the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh to infect Jason with a secondary “failsafe” to his personality. Now, whenever Jason has heightened adrenaline or is about to do something dangerous, he will be incapacitated with intense fear. Bruce intends to follow this up by providing Jason Todd with a new identity in Metropolis, where he can begin a life away from the Bat-Family and ideally never get another chance to kill.
Jason is shocked by Bruce’s actions, noting that this is out of character for him despite his controlling nature and history. Dick Grayson however is far more furious with the development, attacking Batman when he learns the truth and refusing to hold back in their ensuing brawl. Despite the Dark Knight’s attempts to argue that this decision was for the best, it’s still a horrifying development. His attempts to “fix” one of his sidekicks is a serious breach of the trust put in him by his allies, and it crosses a serious moral line.
Batman Crossed a Serious Ethical Line in His Treatment of Red Hood
In the past, Batman’s controlling nature has caused plenty of conflict with his allies, to the point where he’s been expelled out of groups like the Justice League for his unwillingness to trust others fully. But this latest breach goes much deeper. Batman’s decision to forcibly alter the mental workings of one of his adopted sons is a serious offense, and the kind of action that’s more in-line with villains like Scarecrow or the Joker. By stealing Jason’s ability to choose for himself, he’s effectively stripped his former sidekick of his agency. It’s exactly the kind of awful strategies evil Caped Crusaders like the Batman Who Laughs used to fill his ranks with corrupted children, stripping them of their identities to turn them into his Robins.
Batman has severly limited Jason Todd in times of emergency, potentially reducing a brave hero from being able to take charge when needed. In effect, this decision removes any chance Jason could have to become a more capable hero out of the fear that he could become villainous again. This is Batman’s controlling nature taken to an almost villainous degree, recasting his proactive need for control into a vile characteristic. There’s a reason even the perpetually heroic and optimistic Nightwing reacts to the discovery with unbridled rage, immediately attacking Batman. Even discovering that his mentor is willing to work with the Riddler doesn’t set him off as much as the discovery of what Bruce has done to Jason. This speaks to just how far gone Batman really is.
Batman has Seriously Damaged His Family
The return of the Zur-En-Arrh personality has highlighted many of Batman’s internal flaws, and put them under a magnifying glass. His drive has made him unstoppable in the face of everything the world can throw at him. But that same dogged determination can take him down dark paths without him even realizing what is happening. With Zur-En-Arr influencing what he’s been doing, Batman has abandoned his family and is even questioning how he can remove his capacity to love in the name of becoming a more perfect Dark Knight. All of this suggests that Batman may be too far gone to simply return from the events of “The Gotham War” with his heroic image intact.
At best, Batman will need to exorcise the influence of his dark side, which is sure to be a difficult task given how ingrained these aspects of his personality have proven to be. But that won’t undo the damage Batman has done to his own family, and it’s unlikely many of them will be able to fully trust him again. There’s little reason to do so either, given his treatment of Jason and the way he’s quietly brushed aside his allies over and over again during the Gotham War. Batman’s most recent actions might have doomed the hero’s reputation among the other heroes, and the lingering wounds of “The Gotham War” may last far longer than anyone could imagine.
Batman’s latest attempt to “save” Red Hood is horrifying, highlighting just how unhinged the Dark Knight really has become. Read More