Character Profiles Part Two
The Batmen of First Wave and Odyssey
Guns, Guns, Guns
We all know that Batman has forsworn the use of guns. In Batman’s long and storied career guns have been an anathema to Batman. It wasn’t until recently that Batman used a gun of sorts in his classic standoff against Darkseid and ironically it may have led to his “demise”.
But how many of us know that the original Batman of the comic books started out using guns? As written by Bob Kane, Batman would occasionally make use of a gun to level the playing field against the criminals he faced. It wasn’t until later that the mythos of Batman was revised and he renounced the weapon that was responsible for the deaths of his mother and father.
Now a re-imagined Bruce Wayne is carrying a gun again and he lives on in the pages of “Batman Odyssey” and “First Wave”.
But how do these new iterations of the pistol packing Batman differ and what do they bring to the character in a contemporary context?
First off let’s look at the gun wielding Batman of the “Odyssey” series. As brought to us by Neal Adams we first meet this Batman with pistol drawn as he climbs atop a speeding train. He is immediately faced with the decision to use his guns and “execute” his enemies. Instead of going for the kill he opts for using his “Batarang test model number 37”. He swings off the train to steady his aim and fires at the glint of the opposing guns disarming the thugs. Instantaneously he whirls to see another foe with guns drawn and Batman is faced with having to really kill this man or bluff his way out.
Fortunately the decision is made for him by an unseen benefactor but the whole flashback provides a teaching moment for a young Dick Grayson. Grayson likes the heft of the gun and the confidence it gives him. Batman counters with the argument of facing twenty men in a darkened room all of them armed. Who will survive? Batman reasons the unarmed man will survive because the others fear those who armed. By using guile and wit the unarmed man survives by letting the others shoot each other. “Duck while the others blast away.” You’d only be shot by accident says Batman better to tuck yourself away. “No gun and I survive” responds Robin, “cool”.
By contrast, the Batman of “First Wave” is laconic as the Batman of “Odyssey” is verbose. There is no Robin to bounce ideas off of. The Batman of First Wave is more introspective, most of his narrative is by internal monologue. The only time we see him discuss things is to Alfred who is more of a confidant than a pupil. So the dynamic and the discussion of guns are different. The First Wave Batman is responsible to himself only. The didactic element is therefore missing. So the Odyssey Batman may come to eschew firearms out of responsibility to his young apprentice while the Batman of First Wave has no reason to do so.
At least not yet. We are three issues deep into both Batman Odyssey and First Wave. In the second Odyssey issue Batman use guns to empty a train full of passengers by firing over their heads. Over in First Wave Batman fires his guns to fend off a machine gun assault.
I’m assuming each of these Batmen will ultimately find a reason to forsake the gun. But perhaps not. The Odyssey Batman is more mature in his role while the First Wave Batman is but a neophyte. It’ll be interesting to see if the power of the gun will seduce our Batmen or will they grow into crime fighter we have come to know. Let’s keep an eye on how these two stories progress and if the gun holds sway.
Posted by Dark Knight Dave