I recently read KnightsEnd, the completion to the KnightSaga. For those of you unfamiliar with any of these terms, the story is as follows: Bruce Wayne, the Batman, comes under assault by a new villain, the steroid-enhanced Bane. After releasing the inmates of Arkham Asylum, Bane studies the Batman as he rounds up the various members of his rogues’ gallery. During this study, Bane learns Batman’s secret identity.
After months of putting Arkham’s patients back behind bars and padded walls, Batman comes home from a hard day of crime-fighting, exhausted. All he wants is to put his feet up, knock back a glass of claret and watch some tube. Unfortunately Bane is waiting for our hero in the Batcave and attacks. After a long and drawn out fight, Bane succeeds where so many of Gotham’s villains have failed. He beats the bat and breaks his back.
Batman of course cannot continue to fight crime and appoints a successor to the mantle of the bat. He selects one Jean-Paul Valley, also known as Azrael, a member of the Order of St. Dumas. The Order of St. Dumas is a secret society of assassins who seek to enforce “god’s will”.
So, Azrael becomes Batman and it turns out it was not a great choice on the bat’s part. Azrael descends into madness and eventually ends up becoming murderous and deranged.
This is where Knightfall begins. Long story short, Batman’s back heals through focused teleknesis and he comes back to Gotham to take back the mantle of the bat from his insane successor. This he does by reclaiming his confidence and facing his fears. It’s like an after-school special, but with Batman!
Where was I going with this? Right. Knightfall.
So, one of the questions that I kept asking myself while I read this was, why do criminals in Gotham City do what they do? Why do they actually commit crimes? I mean here we have one Dwayne Wilson: Grew up on the mean streets of Old Gotham; Not too bright, but did well in sports; Not well enough to get into Gotham U, but he still dreams of the ol’ gridiron. What’s a guy like Dwayne to do? Well, he knows a guy who knows a guy that needs some inventory moved. Whose inventory? Doesn’t matter. Dwayne needs the money. Of course in the middle of the heist, Batman strikes and Dwayne ends up with a broken wrist and a concussion. Whether or not he goes to jail doesn’t matter. Dwayne never goes outside after dark without flinching. He gets a job on the docks and never strays again.
So, Batman’s shadow looms large over Gotham City. You’ve got the little guys that commit the muggings, the robberies, the drug dealings. How on earth do they get up the nerve to actually break the law knowing that the Batman could be lurking in the shadows?
I get the big guys. The Joker? The Clown Prince of Crime? He can’t not go off the rails and try to destroy the Batman. Two-Face uses a coin to determine all of his big decisions. That’s not the MO of a regular, run-of-the-mill criminal. Harvey Dent will not back down because of the Batman. The thought of Batman stalking the streets of Gotham just gets Two-Face jazzed. His coin-flipping hand gets all itchy.
Anyway, so you’ve got your super-villains that aren’t fazed by Batman and you have your regular criminals that somehow are also not fazed by Batman. Maybe they’re just not very bright. Could it be that Gotham City has a sub-par public school system? Were these criminals not taught how to weigh probability? I mean what are the odds that these scumbags will eventually run into the Batman? Pretty damn good. Maybe that’s where Batman should focus his efforts. What’s that old saying? When the love of an air force bomber holds a bake sale, that is the day when our schools get the money and power they need. Wait, I think I may have screwed that saying up. Sorry internet!