Current Batman writer James Tynion IV has hinted that he intends to bring Batman’s supporting cast of fellow vigilantes closer together in the issues of the core Batman comic line following the conclusion – and in the aftermath – of his current story arc.
Tynion’s Joker War tells a story in which the Joker has successfully staged a hostile takeover of Wayne Enterprises and is ripping apart Batman’s hometown of Gotham City with its resources. Tynion and Peter Tomasi set the stage for the saga in their Batman: Pennyworth RIP one-shot from earlier this year. That special issue was ostensibly a commemorative goodbye for Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s faithful butler and father figure, but it also set the tone for Tynion’s run on Batman by clearly depicting the family as splintered and non-communicative.
As revealed in an interview with Tynion, some plans are being made to focus more on some of Batman’s supporting characters and have them work in a more amiable fashion than in recent stories. While the group has a long on-again-off-again history of infighting, writer Scott Snyder attempted to put s drfinitive end to the team with 2012’s Death of the Family. In Tynion’s own words, “I want to heal some of the rifts in the Bat family.”
Arguably, a Bat-Family has existed ever since Bruce Wayne took Dick Grayson in as his legal ward in Detective Comics #38 from 1940. But it wasn’t a directly endorsed concept until DC Comics put out an ongoing anthology title named Batman Family in 1975. That series featured new tales as well as reprints of solo Alfred, Robin, and Batgirl stories.
For those who see strength in numbers, and have enjoyed the building up of the surrogate family Bruce Wayne has found for himself over the years, this is a welcome word that the unique group of crime-fighting orphans will be unified once again. Indeed, when Tynion took over Detective Comics (the sibling book to Batman) in 2016, he not only regularly featured a large cast of characters but was among the first to codify the Bat-Family concept in the story itself. He did so by depicting Tim Drake, who went by Red Robin at the time, organizing new and old vigilantes in their sphere as a paramilitary group in everything but name. The concept was billed as a method by which Bruce and Tim could secure a legacy in knowing that Gotham City would have protectors long after Batman and Robin were dead and gone. In the end, it did not last.
Of course, there will always be those who believe the Dark Knight should be a solitary figure. That was the way Bill Finger and his early collaborators created him, after all. No family. No army. No Robins. Not even Alfred was added to the Batman story until years after Robin first appeared. The lonely and brooding version of the character is probably more widely accepted as the default thanks to the many popular film adaptations in which the Bat-Family have been mostly absent. Tynion’s upcoming plans for the Caped Crusader should be thrilling to both camps, either way.
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