Bruce Wayne Triumphant
In this second installment of “Batman: The Iconic Art of the New 52” I’m going to examine a frame taken from Batman #2 as illustrated by Greg Capullo with inks by Jonathan Glapion and colors by FCD. The purpose of this ongoing series is to assess whether the “New 52” gives us different look at how the iconic Batman is depicted.
I was going to title this latest entry “Bruce Wayne: The New Man of Steel” because the above image reminded me of your standard Superman pose atop a building looking below over some vanquished enemy. It was also a little play on words since there was so much “steel” protruding from Wayne as he is postured atop a gargoyle. But this was such a Bruce Wayne/Batman moment that I went with the above.
To provide a little context; Bruce Wayne has just defeated the assassin from the “Court of Owls” and sent him hurtling to the street below. Wayne knew of this last gargoyle pictured here as it was a late addition to the fabled “Wayne Tower”.
The most singular aspect of this image is we get to see Batman out of costume but not out of character. Wayne projects a grim visage as he stands cowl less above Gotham. It’s unusual to see Bruce Wayne in combat and it’s even more unusual to see him unmasked and in the open. Notice the city light reflected off Wayne’s face and body. He may be way above the street but this pose suggests a certain air of arrogance on Wayne’s part as if he is flushed with victory and is ambivalent as to who actually sees him. (I’m assuming Batman lives in a digital age much like our where there are cameras everywhere.)
The gargoyle is another salient part of this tableau. To see Wayne stand astride it is reminiscent of the ancient Greek pairing of Bellerophon and Pegasus. In that mythology, Bellerophon and Pegasus were an inseparable duo that defeated the seemingly undefeatable such as the Chimera. Wayne’s winged beast, like Pegasus, is comfortable with his master and looks to be howling in defiance inviting all comers to their doom.
Returning to Wayne, we see the blood from his wounds flow freely from his body. It streams down from his right fist to the ground and also from the left hand which is open. In Christianity, bloods on the hands, specifically the palm,are known as Stigmata. A Stigmata is symbolic of Christ’s suffering on the cross and when seen on people it represents penitence and hope for absolution. I think though here we see something different. In the statuary representation of Buddha symbolism is quite important especially the configuration of the hands. Wayne’s right hand is still balled into a fist implying his readiness for battle despite his recent victory and the wounds earned from it. But the left is open at the hip and the palm is faced outward. Buddha is often posed in such a manner. The open palm represents “peaceful intentions and peacemaking”. It could be the hands show Wayne is ready to fight again yet open to peace. Furthermore, I think this depicts the balance of justice that Bruce Wayne as Batman regards so highly.
Bruce Wayne closes the issue of Batman #2 with a “voiceover” narration telling us that the assassin, “tried to use Gotham’s legends against me”. The author, Scott Snyder, looks to be on board with Capullo’s artistic depiction of Wayne. One of a mythological grandeur, endless struggle, ultimate victory and above all, absolute justice.
Posted by Dave Healey
Next up, A Burtonesque Batman?