Thursday, August 29, 2013
Batman, Hero of the People
Batman may still be wanted by the police, but public perception of him changes after he defeats Hugo Strange in Detective Comics #36 (by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, and introducing Jerry Robinson to the series).
A couple of notes: The Monk from Detective 31 and 32 may be Batman's first supervillain, but Hugo Strange is the earliest who lasted and became a permanent part of Batman's rogue gallery. Strange was designed to be a major bad guy from the get go. Batman already knows who he is in this story and refers to him as "the most dangerous man" and "the greatest organizer of crime in the world." Clearly he was meant to be Moriarty to Batman's Sherlock Holmes.
Strange's infamy works in Batman's favor when word spreads that he defeated the villain. The people of Gotham are now on Batman's side and I have to imagine that some of the cops' views on him have likely changed as well.
The problem is that - legally speaking - Batman's still a murderer. I haven't kept a strict count, but I'm pretty sure that he's either directly killed or allowed someone to die in every story since his first appearance. It this one, he's found standing over a dead body and the police assume he's the killer. That - and Batman's having to clear his name by bringing in Strange - is a standard mystery trope, but it's especially appropriate in this series given Batman's past actions.
Still, nice to see that his reputation is changing a little and that the citizens of Gotham at least appreciate what he's trying to do. I can feel my own attitude about him start to change as well. He may have started his mission in a selfish place - and his methods may not be as effective as Superman's - but he's still a force for positive change and it's impossible to dislike that.