Here we are, folks. The heralded start to the New DCU. This column series will be taking a look at Batman's activities each week with an eye to continuity and character history. For a detailed synopsis and review of the issues, go here for Flashpoint #5 and here for Justice League #1.
SPOILER WARNING! This column is not shy of spoilers, so read the issues first if that concerns you.
Flashpoint #5 wraps with a scene between Flash and Batman that appears to be set in the "modern day". Since the Justice League issue this week begins an arc set five years in the past, this would seem to be the only current Justice League material we're going to have for some time. Batman now knows that Flash has been playing with the timeline, but to both their perspectives, normality is intact. Neither Flash nor Batman has any inkling that their entire history has recently been forged from whole cloth.
Batman was surprised to see Flash appear in his Batcave, but it doesn't seem to be anything more than the surprise you and I might feel at someone appearing in our immediate vicinity that we didn't see coming. So Batman is open with his identity and headquarters location to the rest of the League, or at least to Flash. Is this a retreat from the super-paranoid Batman we've seen in recent years?
In Justice League #1, we aren't told specifically how long Batman has been around, but he was definitely already active when Superman's headlines started hitting the newspapers, and he has heard of Green Lantern before seeing him for the first time today.
The first time we see Batman in the issue, the Gotham City Police Department are chasing him in helicopters and they think Batman's quarry is "one of them" (i.e., super-heroes?) because of the twenty-foot leaps they're both making from building to building. Twenty feet seems like a rather large distance for Batman to be leaping. It's possible that he's doing with some batrope aid or something, and I don't want to read into this something the writers didn't intend, but is it possible that this Batman has some small amount of enhanced ability? Later, when Green Lantern asks him about his powers, Batman says he has no flight or super-strength, but when Green Lantern pulls the "you're just a guy in a bat suit?" card, Batman doesn't answer directly. Sure, he could just being coy but if the new Batman DOES have something enhanced, then this is just the sort of interchange I'd expect to tease the reader. However, given the torrent of rage I'd expect to hear from fandom if they gave Batman powers, I'm going to assume that I'm thinking about things too much in this case.
We get insights into Batman's personality in this brave new world. Batman is trying very much not to be seen by the police, largely because of the big guns being shot in his general direction, but probably also because he prefers not to be seen by people in general. Batman complains when he and Green Lantern go to Metropolis that they should have done so with subtlety, and Green Lantern didn't even realize there WAS a Batman until this first encounter.
Batman thinks it's necessary that the world is afraid of super-heroes, but beyond that, he doesn't seem to be an overly morose or moody person. He actually has a bit of a joke in stealing Green Lantern's ring right off his finger. It's possible he could be read as arrogant in his treatment of Green Lantern, but I think it's more that he's reacting to Green Lantern's blatant cocksurety. This Hal is very enthused over his new toy and hasn't yet learned the limits of his abilities. Batman is not impressed with this attitude.
When they realize the glowy box might be an alien computer (Mother Box?), and Green Lantern mentions Superman, Batman's suspicions of the super-powered alien are clear. It has been said by some in the past that when it comes to suspicions of powerful beings from other planets, Superman is the one character that should get a pass. He stands for something else, and that should be made clear from the beginning. However, from this issue and from creator interviews, we know that that won't be the case in the new continuity. Batman has researched Superman and is not happy with what he has read, and he considers Superman to be dangerous. The fact that the issue ends with Superman bowling him over like a bullet fired from the darkness probably won't help that impression.
We get no references to Robin or sidekicks, but I honestly wouldn't have expected it. I do still expect that Robin's beginning is intended to be some time after this story, within the five-year timeline, but we'll see how that is revealed in the future.
Next week: Detective Comics #1! Plus any Batman appearances in Batwing #1, Batgirl #1, or the rest of the New DCU.
Next month: Justice League returns with Batman vs. Superman!
Posted by Jon Wilson