Born into one of the founding families of Gotham, Bruce Wayne was the son of not only culture, but philosophy. He idolized his father, and revered his mother, active philanthropists and entrepreneurs in the city. Thomas Wayne's good temper and vision were things of legend, things he tried to pass on to his only son - before both elder Waynes were gunned down in a mugging gone horribly awry. Young Bruce saw the entire thing happen, and the brutal event forever changed the idealistic boy's perspective on the world.
Taken in by longtime family friend, the family butler Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce had both a tether to Gotham and a confidant, his staunchest supporter. His priorities had simply changed, however. A previously stable, sure foundation shifted to a life of upheaval. Wandering, training, learning everything it took to survive, everything that made a criminal a criminal. It would be this training, this single minded dedication to an ever more diverse cause, that would save his life time and time again as he became inspired to don cape and cowl, and take up the war. Not only as a vigilante, but as an intimidating aspect of the night itself. The Batman would become a mainstay in Gotham's war on crime, as effective as he is controversial, and arguably the catalyst that has spawned an impressive, dangerous rogue's gallery within the city's dark underbelly.
While friendship was not a commodity Wayne traded in easily, Alfred's confidance was joined first by Jim Gordon, eventually the Commissioner of Gotham City, who became like a father to the orphaned Bruce, and then by the similarly orphaned Dick Grayson, who Batman trained to focus his own need for vengeance into the neverending war on evil. While others would come and go, the most important would become Tim Drake, the second Robin, and Wayne's current ward.
Though a man cut off from the 'real' world by his own will and distrust may not be an ideal companion, his list of allies and loves have never failed to complicate his life - and often save it. This realization is one of several that prompted Wayne to fund and form the Justice League, gathering together similarly minded heroes into a bastion of incredible strength. While the Batman's personal trust remained a difficult thing to gain, at no point in the battles to come did he hesitate to act, or empower others to act, to defend the Earth itself from forces far beyond the man himself.
Initially, Batman may appear a dichotomy between Bruce Wayne and Batman. The lives of each are quite distinct and different, as are the demeanors of each man. While Bruce Wayne is undeniably talented and accomplished, it's sometimes easy to wonder if he's some kind of eclectic idiot savant, so foppish and sometimes unpredictable can he be. Still, he maintains the humanitarian tradition of the Wayne Foundation and surveys the developments within Wayne Industries as closely as he can. One could say that Bruce is eminently concerned, but rather unaffected, leaving the day to day stresses to more interested men.
Sometimes seeming shallow or arrogant, there are immature facets to Wayne that stand in stark opposition with the billionaire philanthropist and cultured socialite facade. Despite his eccentricities, however, Bruce Wayne is quite capable of both intelligent conversation and listening quite intently to the politics and causes of the hour - alert and engaging given the right topic (and a person he doesn't want to manipulate to find him boring and boorish), there is little question how he earned his position as a media darling.
The seeming paradox to this charismatic face is the dark presence of the Batman. A phantom of the night with a visage and persona both forged to be, and inherently frightening to many, particularly the guilty hearted. To a large degree, Batman buys into his own image, playing up the dark avenger side of his personality with the criminals he targets, a master of intimidation, interrogation, and manipulation. He is not (quite) as harsh as he makes himself out to be, however: Batman will not kill, ever. He will not touch a firearm, ever. Despite the grim efficiency with which he conducts his personal crusade, compassion remains at the very core of everything Batman stands for. Despite his comrades, Batman is the consumate lone wolf: he is a survivor, a masterful strategist backed up by instinct and experience, with little tolerance for being anything but the pack Alpha in most any situation. He is not well practiced in not getting his way.
The apparent clear distinction between the two facets of Bruce's psyche is actually something of an illusion, however. In reality, both involve the core values of the true Bruce Wayne (or, as he thinks of himself, the real Batman), and both are tools used by this man to accomplish his goals. Batman is the frightening idea concocted to scare those he combats, to elevate himself above some mortal being in the eyes of the Gotham underworld. His outlook of unrelenting perfectionism carrying into the discipline required to maintain the vigilante's lifestyle... and the dual identity that comes with it. As surely as the Dark Knight's projected persona is carefully crafted and applied in his neverending and HIGHLY personal crusade against evil, the socialite mask is a similar, more subtly potent weapon. Wayne's role in high society keeps Batman informed, connected, influential. His flippancy and chaotic immaturity keeps suspicion away from him. His contacts are often contacts Batman needs, directly or indirectly, and the intentional distance between personas keeps those Batman cares about safe..... safer.
In the end, most run up against one mask, or the other, and never discover what lies beneath. Despite the distance and distrust with which Bruce regards the rest of the world, it is possible to earn his trust, even his friendship. This can be done regardless of which 'identity' was first engaged in the relationship - despite the inherent dishonesty in Wayne's duality, neither persona can really be considered a true lie. One reason he keeps his distance is, of course, the serious intensity with which he treats his responsibility to his friends and loved ones.
- 2012-02-03 - Mirrors are More Fun than Television
- 2012-02-04 - Blank Page
- 2012-02-05 - Reflections that Linger
- 2012-02-06 - It's Not Hogwart's
- 2012-02-07 - No Joke
- 2012-02-10 - Cat & Mouse
- 2012-02-11 - Bat & Mouse
- 2012-02-12 - Bat & Bat
- 2012-02-15 - Ghosts
- 2012-02-17 - The Mark
- 2012-02-19 - Bat-Breakfast
- 2012-02-25 - A Game of Shadows
- 2012-03-02 - Becoming the Mask
- 2012-03-02 - Of Secret Lore and Legacy