The Love Letter to Batman List
by Rachelle Goguen
Read her blog for more opinions – especially on Batman.
10. Alfred Pennyworth
Behind every great billionaire vigilante detective, there is a great butler. I don’t like people who question why Alfred is still alive, or never seems to age. I don’t like people who question why he is an expert at all things. Alfred is a doctor, a computer technician, a mechanic, a housekeeper, a chef, a father figure, and he will kick your ass. If it weren’t for Alfred, Batman would just die of starvation one night in front of the computer because he would forget to eat. Wayne Manor is a big place, and one man keeps it clean and running smoothly: that man is Alfred, the butler who never sleeps.
9. Lex Luthor
Sure, everyone loves the Bat Villains. They’re colourful, they’re fun, they’re psychotic. I get it. But Lex Luthor is just such a great character. He’s the perfect villain for Superman because they are exact opposites; they will never understand each other. Lex hates Superman with a blind, fiery passion mostly based on jealousy and fear. He justifies his hatred and mistrust of Superman because he believes in the possibility that Superman will turn against humanity. Luthor doesn’t even get the irony of himself; he is so self-involved and power-hungry that he can’t possibly conceive or accept that anyone who has the powers that Superman has wouldn’t use them for personal gain. Luthor is an awful person, but he is also one of the most oddly tragic characters in the DCU. He could be so much more, but he can’t get over the obsession with his mortal enemy.
8. Barbara Gordon
Of all of the women… Hell, characters, in comic book history who have been brutalized in one way or another, Barbara Gordon has the ultimate comeback story. She was famously shot in the spine by the Joker, ending her career as the feisty and lovable Batgirl. Obviously, this was a major blow to female comic fans everywhere, because Batgirl was awesome. Batgirl is a character that sounds really stupid on paper, and really should not have worked as well as it did. Making her Jim Gordon’s daughter was a stroke of genius. After the shooting, Babs continued to play a part in the Bat Family by becoming Oracle, Batman’s personal computer-hacking control centre. She also maintained her sharp sense of humour, rather than let the tragedy shatter her. Now leader of her own team, the Birds of Prey, Barbara Gordon is, more than any other character in comics, an inspiration to women everywhere. And librarians.
7. Blue Beetle (Ted Kord)
Oh, Ted. You are such a sweetie. There is no shortage of millionaire inventors in comics, but very few are as likable as you. Or, rather, were. Killing Ted Kord is like killing Big Bird. It’s just so wrong. Actually, it’s more like killing Bert or Ernie, because he has left behind his inseparable best buddy. Much like Booster, Ted was never the greatest hero, but no one ever expected much of him either. He died one of the most heroic deaths in comics, and yet there has been very little in the way of a memorial for the guy. Please, bring Ted back. I don’t care how. I’ll swallow any convoluted, half-assed explanation. I just want him back. Now.
6. Booster Gold/Skeets
Booster Gold is proof that anyone can redeem themselves. In his past life (which ironically was in the future), Booster messed up. He messed up big time. He was a star football player and he blew it by betting on his own games, Pete Rose style. He came to the 20th century after stealing a bunch of super hero gear, hoping to make a name for himself and, more importantly, make a lot of money as a hero. So really you should hate this guy, except he is so damn likable. And, paired with Blue Beetle, he is part of one of the most enjoyable superhero friendships of all time. But Booster stands on his own, too. Or, rather, he stands with Skeets. In a medium overrun with sassy robot pals, Skeets is the king. We are now seeing a new age (allegedly the “Golden Age” of Booster Gold, according to 52) where a Booster who has endured much tragedy ends up being the most selfless character in the DCU. It’s surprising and delightful.
5. Jonah Hex
Because sometimes, you want to see a hero kill people. Jonah Hex is barely a hero, as he’s pretty much in it for the money. It’s really the amount of respect he commands that captures my interest. He is a terrifying man, but not in a “rage and destruction” kind of way. He’ll just calmly kill you before you know what’s happening. More than anyone in the DCU, Jonah Hex is badass. Plus, he has a tragic past, which I always appreciate. I think that the fact that Hex refuses to consider himself to be a hero makes him all the more appealing. It makes the moments when he decides to do something simply because it’s the right thing to do all the more inspiring.
4. Tim Drake
The third Robin can be easily grouped with Harry Potter as a totally amazing, awe-inspiring kid. I would argue that Tim has his shit together more than anyone else in the DCU. Maybe it’s because he’s still young, or maybe it’s because he’s had Batman to guide and support him, but Tim is remarkably sane considering the amount of tragedy he has had to endure in his life. He’s an awesome leader, a great fighter, and a genius. I believe he will one day surpass Bruce Wayne as the World’s Greatest Detective. Plus, he’s just really, really nice. I would argue that he’s the perfect teen character.
The argument that Superman is boring because he can do anything will never hold with me. Superman is great, not because of what he can do, but because of what he can’t, or won’t, do. Not only will Superman not kill someone, no matter how evil, he also won’t give up on them. You can take the superhero off the farm, but you can’t remove the unwavering belief that people are good and deserve to be saved. Superman has seen plenty of messed-up stuff, and he still will be scandalized by simple human hatred. So really, it’s not Superman’s powers that appeal to me, it’s his weaknesses. The only thing keeping him from doing whatever he wants is his belief in, and affection for, humanity. As far as heroes go, Superman is in a class by himself. Even in those Marvel/DC crossovers in days of yore, there was Superman, and there was everyone else. Sure, they tried to compare him to Captain America, but that’s just ridiculous.
Catwoman began as the perfect Batman villain. Comic fans will always say that the Joker is the perfect foil for Batman because he represents the chaos and insanity that lies just on the other side of the thin line Bruce Wayne is walking, but I prefer Catwoman. Selina Kyle was always sane and brilliant. She was a diamond thief because she loved the thrill and the money. Never as evil as Batman’s other foes, Catwoman frustrated Batman, not through anarchy and destruction, but because he wanted so badly for her to be the good person he believed she could be. More than anything, he just wanted her. Now Catwoman has been reinvented as the greatest female hero in comics today. The smart, strong, funny protector of Gotham’s East End is still a thrill-seeking vixen, but she takes her new role seriously. Though it’s currently “off-again,” she and Batman maintain one of the greatest epic love stories in fiction.
Batman is the greatest fictional character of all time. You can argue with me on this, and you will lose. Perfect on his own, perfect in a group. There is a reason why there have been enough Batman books to fill a ocean: everyone wants to write a Batman story, and comic readers can’t get enough of them. Not only is Bruce Wayne the coolest and sexiest semi-psychotic billionaire on the block, he’s also a perfect human being in almost every sense of the word. The beauty of Batman is that, in theory, any one of us could be him. If we were billionaires. We do not question the fact that Batman is an expert at everything in the entire world because we need him to be perfect. If he so much as burns his toast in the morning, it leaves us with a stunned, empty feeling. Failure is for Marvel heroes. Batman is in control.