For a character that has been around since the 40s, it is a given that many writers over the years have had their own spin on Bruce Wayne and Batman and what makes them tick. What drives and defines the man and the delicate balance between the billionaire playboy and the Dark Knight. But under the guidance of writer Tom King, Batman may be embarking on the biggest change since Frank Miller brought the darkness with The Dark Knight Returns. You see, Batman is asking for Catwoman’s hand in marriage. Will happiness tame his demons? King had this to say:
“Why is he so unhappy? Why did [the death of his parents] touch him in such a way, and is it possible for him to get over it? Is it possible for Batman ever to grieve? That’s the whole theme of what we’re looking at: almost a hundred-issue story arc to deal with just that concept of grief and superheroes, and how that grief drives Batman to save the world.
In the first arc of Batman we dealt with the relationship with his mother, and in The Button we dealt with his father, with his father telling him ‘Don’t be Batman.’ And him having this feeling of both his parents being at peace with him, and not wanting him to do what he did, and him trying to find happiness. The way he looked for happiness… was to go to the one thing that really caused him joy, which was love. To go up to Catwoman and say, ‘Please marry me.’ And that may be an incredibly honest, wonderful decision – maybe something actually true to who he is, and not true to [his parents’ death]… or it may be another level of insanity and he’s just covering up his pain.”
“In Batman #32 she says yes or no. And in Batman #33 we start the next arc of Batman. We start to look into something you’ve never seen before, and a Batman you’ve never seen before… We’re going through the desert, we’ve got a horse, he’s got a shotgun… He has entered some place he’s never gone, and now he’s going to go off on a mission that’s completely illegal. The Robins are blown away that he’s doing this. It’s something the entire Justice League doesn’t approve of. But he’s doing it on his own because he hit that emotional breaking point, or happy point, that he has to move on with this.
All the Robins are in this story, I started as a Robin writer, I started as a Dick Grayson/Robin War writer. This is a story about Jason, about Tim, about Dick, about Damian, and about their reaction to what their father is going through… It’s about them reacting to their father, saying ‘Is he going crazy, or is he finally finding peace?’ And because this is comics… the way they try to determine that is to punch him in the face.”
The real question that remains is if Bruce can find meaning and purpose away from the cowl. We’ll have to keep reading to find out.