Batman is a myth, a legend, a shadow that moves of its own volition in the periphery of your sight, and that's how he works best. He's a creature of the night protecting the streets of Gotham from the deranged criminals that seem to lurk in every other alley, and that's how he has to be. To stare down the creatures who wish the inhabitants harm, he has to walk the line of becoming one closely and carefully. So when we, the readers, are given glimpses into his mind, does that lessen his power?== TEASER ==
The series Gotham Central tracked the lives (and deaths in many cases) of Gotham City's finest as they patrolled the streets that Batman didn't see and did it not only at night but during the day, when Bats is generally not active. When the Caped Crusader DID show up in the pages of the book, he rarely spoke and we never saw what he was thinking. We barely saw the man himself, for that matter, but his appearances had such impact because we got to see him the way the people of Gotham saw him: an urban myth, a beast, a thing perhaps not human.
When he appears in the light, he always looks a little...funny. Not "ha-ha" funny, just out of place. But when you hear in his head, even when he's being borderline-demonic, it reminds the reader that he's merely a man in a suit. Setting aside how the suit looks, it doesn't change the truth of the matter. When we hear inside the head of someone like Superman or even Lex Luthor, it humanizes them, makes them more relatable, and ultimately more understandable.
Contrast this with Christopher Priest's run on Black Panther. T'Challa comes to New York from Wakanda and essentially begins to tear apart the criminal element, destabilize the diplomatic relations, and cause general, but unintentional, fish-out-of-water mayhem with his entourage. But the entire story is narrated by a nebbish, wimpy federal agent, which allows T'Challa to remain a man of few words and even greater actions. He remains a mystery and we never really fully understand what's going on in his mind, which leads to his seeming even more powerful because we wind up knowing very little about what he's going to do next, so we as readers are along for as much of a ride as the shocked characters,.
This only becomes problematic when it comes to one of the most interesting aspects of the Dark Knight: his being a detective. Bats is able to parse out and solve any mystery through a unique combination of gadgetry and his incredible, often lateral, intellect. And that second part requires, of course, insight into Batman's mind. Beyond that, it's difficult to sustain a character that the reader never really gets to know on a deeper level. Priest found a way to skillfully write around that problem with the introduction of the above-mentioned agent, but unless Batman is going to be assigned a GCPD officer, this trope isn't going to work. It also helps us learn more about Batman's past, and generate interesting storylines from the untapped potential of his "unknown years" (the years between his parents' murder and when he returned to Gotham to take up the mantle of the Bat). The problem has two basic solutions.
The first is the less attractive in my mind and it involves the dissolution of Batman as a legendary figure. Sure, it's unlikely that his moreformidablerogues even believe the myth of The Batman, but the average crook still quakes with fear at this being who is somehow everywhere and somehow capable of countering their every move from the shadows, so there is still power in his mystique.
Despite this, he has appeared on-camera in broad daylight and now publicly runs a company of International Batmen, so is it really realistic to still have him as a bogeyman for the superstitious criminal mind? No. But it's a lot more fun. So my solution to the problem is to have the core Batman book become more centered around the Batman universe, perhaps a format similar to Gotham Central, but withtheBat-Family in place of the GCPD. This way we would still get narrative characters and Batman could remain mysterious and dark.
The other part of this would be to focus Detective Comics more on just that: detective work. This would serve the twofold purpose of at least limiting Batman's mystique but also giving readers like myself who like Batman when he's at his sleuthiest something to look forward to every week as opposed to having to guess which book will be about more action-oriented stories and which will be more cerebral. The most recent arc of Detective comics involving James Gordon Jr. is a great example of what I'm talking about.