Do We Hear Too Much of Batman's Inner Voice?

Posted by Undeadpool (611 posts) - - Show Bio

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?

Other Things to Do: Pick up milk. Change litter box. Buy toilet paper.
== 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.

Here he is punching out the devil.

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.

I call them "Mystery Migraines"

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 more formidable rogues 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 with the Bat-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.

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#1 Posted by CanucksXVX (53 posts) - - Show Bio

no i think its perfect, but if you notice its not just batman it happens alot with the bat-family, especially in the recent red robin series
#2 Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus (6885 posts) - - Show Bio

I agree. Have the Dark Knight more at home with his own home turf than venturing out into other endeavors.  Keep him as the great detective who still works in the shadow and fights the criminal underbelly.  As for his inner voice I think its not detrimental to character development and in a way only enhances his motives behind why he does what he does.  After all, inner voice is nothing new to any comics character and I think it helps give a richer experience to the reading material. Just my opinion of course.

#3 Posted by king claw (71 posts) - - Show Bio
#4 Posted by Spellca (102 posts) - - Show Bio

I believe Batman has evolved from a myth into a global legend - the "shadow of the bat", if you would, has extended far from Crime Alley, far from Gotham and so forth.  
 
Since Batman has grown from a dark visage into a global idea (long before Batman Inc), we need to get under the cowl and into the mind of Bruce and any other member of the Bat-Family to understand the human minds within the global super-structure of The Batman.

#5 Posted by cyberninja (10413 posts) - - Show Bio

More like "Do we hear too little of Batman's inner voice" to which I say, YES!

#6 Posted by FalcomAdol (116 posts) - - Show Bio

I think it's a legitimate question and conversation point, but the narration seems to be more a noire trope in the Batman context.
 
I'm still relatively new to the whole DC comics thing, but I've been reading a LOT of Batman trades the last few months, and sometimes they cross-over into the other "bat-family" books. Seems like the Robins/former Robins have the same problem (running at the mind) but Cassandra Cain doesn't (mostly keeps her mouth shut and her mind quiet, a true-martial artist).
 
Would you rather have characters (including the title character) only speak? Would you rather have a disembodied third person narrator a-la Marvel's 70s fringe comics (Werewolf by Night, Man-Thing)?

#7 Posted by redwingx (756 posts) - - Show Bio

People are forgetting that Batman is just some guy who is dressed as an bat. He can be poisoned to death, he can be shot to death, he can be killed by literally anything that a normal human cant survive from. Hes smart but hes no Lex Luthor. R ealistic view he should have diead a long time ago. With all the crazy villains in DC Universe i cant believe he hasn't diead yet. I agree. He should be kept in Gotham.

#8 Posted by RaFonaRaFona (76 posts) - - Show Bio

Where did the picture "I call them 'Mystery Migraines'" come from?
#9 Posted by TDK_1997 (14698 posts) - - Show Bio

I think that for a character like him it is better to hear his inner voice more

#10 Edited by Fantasgasmic (1071 posts) - - Show Bio

I whole-heartedly disagree. I said a while back that I think Detective Comics should focus more on the Bat-Family or characters in Gotman City (almost like Law and Order: Criminal Intent, it should focus on the crimes, criminals, and the people affected as much as Batman to keep him out of the limelight a bit) and Batman should focus on Batman (I said the same thing about Action Comics and Superman, but replace Bats for Supes, and Gotham for Metropolis). 
 
The idea of Batman as an urban legend or myth ended in the early days of Batman (I'm thinking around the end of Year Two from his internal timeline). I mean he's shown up in other cities with the Justice League, and to me that does as much to confirm the Batman as a regular person and not a myth as does showing up in daylight. If the publishers were gonna use Detective as a book that is entirely in flashback like they're doing with Action Comics, then maybe you could still get the mystery and terrifying the bejeezus out of crooks and "superstitious and cowardly" types, but I think Batman has grown beyond that. 
 
We need the narration because every Batman book is (or should be) at  its heart, a NOIR style story. Keeping Batman's mysterious to the audience is less important than keeping him mysterious to other characters. I like stories better when I can see what Batman is thinking but I know he's not sharing everything with the police or keeping him distant from the rest of the League. The problem isn't too much narration, it's too much irrelevant narration or exposition and less insight into Batman's detective prowess.

#11 Posted by B_Heart (152 posts) - - Show Bio
@RaFonaRaFona said:
Where did the picture "I call them 'Mystery Migraines'" come from?
The Identity Crisis arc
#12 Posted by FoxxFireArt (3554 posts) - - Show Bio

That's a good thought, knowing the inside of a detective's mind kind of removes the mystery. I think the Detective Conan manga does it best. Though they show his inner thoughts. It always cuts off as he realizes something. It keeps the reader guessing.

#13 Posted by RaFonaRaFona (76 posts) - - Show Bio
@B_Heart said:

                @RaFonaRaFona said:

                Where did the picture "I call them 'Mystery Migraines'" come from?
           
The Identity Crisis arc
           

Thanks
#14 Posted by RichIII (11 posts) - - Show Bio

When we the readers read Batman's inner thoughts, we are reminded that he IS just a man in a suit, and he KNOWS it. No matter how much Bruce wants to make Batman "perfect" or "strike fear into the hearts of criminals", at the end of the day, he's still a man, regardless of his status as a "Myth" or "Legend" to everyone else in Gotham. 
 
Seeing how Batman thinks is what makes him interesting. If all he did was punch out bad guys every issue he would get boring really quick. Even if like in Gotham Central where he's a background character who we see as the myth or legend as the main focus of that issue see him, Batman can still get boring because we don't see his motivation. His motivation has long past the "Avenge the violent death of his parents" to something that he NEEDS to do, as evidenced in Batman: KnightsEnd where after he recovers from his broken back, even though he gives the mantel to Dick, Bruce has every intention to retake the name "Batman" and continue his crusade, with his internal dialogues making all the difference.   

#15 Posted by Mega_spidey01 (3078 posts) - - Show Bio

yes too much inner voice because he's no spawn(al simmons)

#16 Posted by PowerPlug (1330 posts) - - Show Bio

I understand what is being said here but without the inner voice somethings might come off as too random 

#17 Posted by Golden Cod (422 posts) - - Show Bio
@RichIII said:
Seeing how Batman thinks is what makes him interesting. If all he did was punch out bad guys every issue he would get boring really quick.  
Please send this to DC as a letter titled "How to make Superman better without making him 'edgy' or dark".  
#18 Posted by LittleSocrates (42 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't like the inner voice most of the time myself. For example, I always preferred the Jim Gordon narration in Year One to the Bruce Wayne narration, and in Morrison's A Serious House on Serious Earth, you rarely get into the head of Batman because his actions clearly display his mental state. It's a crutch writers rely on to make Batman seem vulnerable, but there's one big problem with that; everyone is vulnerable, and the best way to make someone vulnerable is to have someone else pierce their walls. Giving us Batman's thoughts all the time makes him seem weaker than his peers and foes, and that's just inappropriate; even if Batman is just a man in a suit (as many of the commenters have stated,) he's also one of the most formidable men in the DC universe. He has an absurd amount of fortitude and courage; it takes a lot to break the Bat, and, again, Morrison does it in Arkham Asylum without ever giving us his internal monologues.

That first image in the article is precisely the kind of thing that seems unbelievable in the context of fighting dudes, and it even seems unbelievable that he wouldn't just say that directly to Alfred. It's a crutch that people use to make Batman seem weak. Morrison, Miller and even Nolan have instilled this weakness through his actions rather than his words. It's the core tenet of writing; "show, don't tell." While the internal monologue occasionally is so well done that it escapes this rule (Jim Gordon's narration in Year One, and all the narration present in TDKR) it's generally a display of weakness on the writer more than the character.

P.S. I know I'm referencing non-serialized books, and there's a reason for that; I don't read comics from issue to issue, I read the best arcs as volumes. But I feel like removing most of the monologues would still work in serialized comics, especially considering it intensifies the legend, leaves more room on each page to work with, and makes the moments where you do still get monologues more meaningful.

#19 Posted by fenixREVOLUTION (884 posts) - - Show Bio

The first thing that popped in my mind when I read the title of the article was "Gotham Central!". That being said, it has not once bothered me, or I've never given the issue any thought. I think it's situational, when solving a mystery, the art would have to be very deliberate to ensure the audience is following, or Batman has to think. I do think a silent Batman would be pretty intimidating.

#20 Posted by azza04 (1503 posts) - - Show Bio

Batman has lost his edge in my opinion. He's been seen in broad day light in full view of the public. Every criminal in the DC universe knows that he's just a guy in a Bat themed suit.

#21 Posted by They Killed Cap! (2243 posts) - - Show Bio

I guess I wish there was a book dedicated to the batman we see in the mythos...just appearing out of no where and taking some poor sap down and then disappearing just as quickly. THat version of the Batman is awesome to think about and read.
#22 Posted by GraveSp (318 posts) - - Show Bio

Even though he is seen in the day doesn't mean that there isn't still a mythology around Batman that the criminals still believe.  People in the DC world live with living gods like Superman or the Flash so it probably isn't to far fetched that criminals think that Batman has some kinda powers or he knows everything.  Also I don't care if I knew that Batman was just a mortal man he would still scare the crap out of me.  He will probably beat you up and one day he may snap and kill you.  

#23 Posted by SpectrumBlur (41 posts) - - Show Bio

For me, the presence vs. the lack of inner monologue portrayed in a book is wholly dependent on the creative team.  If done well, it provides insight into the character, their motivations, and their development, along with moving the story along.  If done poorly, it comes across as disconnected with the story and/or cliched.  If the story calls for the reader to see Batman in a humanizing way, use his inner voice narration.  If you need to see Batman as a mythic figure, use another character's inner voice as a storyteller.  Sherlock Holmes had Dr. John Watson to tell his stories.  Batman has an enormous supporting cast, each offering an entirely different view on the Dark Knight.

#24 Posted by NileThunderer (33 posts) - - Show Bio

The first thing I thought about was Law Abiding Citizen. When they showed how he had done everything, it took away from the image that he was just so intelligent that he had planned everything correctly so far in advance. I really liked thinking the character had the intelligence to plan everything so far in advance.

#25 Posted by Migz13 (169 posts) - - Show Bio

One of the awesome things about Batman is that he is what the reader sees him as. He can be a dark force of shadow and justice, a mythical protector or even a campy cape crusader. He is an amalgam of almost every hero archetype shown in both film and literature, much like Indiana Jones and James Bond. The fact that he can never be restricted in a single form or definition is what makes The Batman such an interesting character,

#26 Posted by Mancotron (23 posts) - - Show Bio

There were moments in Morrison's run on Batman when Bruce's inner dialogue actually served to make him seem even more of a bad ass. Portraying him as stalwart, and fearless while still having it all predicated on a level of confidence that someone like him would have, rather than trying to make him seem "cool" because he's the hero.

#27 Posted by GT-Man (4054 posts) - - Show Bio

yep
#28 Posted by cosmo111687 (1489 posts) - - Show Bio
@CanucksXVX said:
no i think its perfect
#29 Posted by Nerx (15088 posts) - - Show Bio

Expected from the most insecure hero in comicdom, I mean the whole dead parents and the bat flew through the window thing explains his conditions.

#30 Posted by JonesDeini (3620 posts) - - Show Bio
@RedheadedAtrocitus said:
I agree. Have the Dark Knight more at home with his own home turf than venturing out into other endeavors.  Keep him as the great detective who still works in the shadow and fights the criminal underbelly.  As for his inner voice I think its not detrimental to character development and in a way only enhances his motives behind why he does what he does.  After all, inner voice is nothing new to any comics character and I think it helps give a richer experience to the reading material. Just my opinion of course.
Yeah, it's all about who's writing it. 
#31 Posted by Osiris1428 (1349 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm glad G Man mentioned Priest's run on Black Panther, because as soon as I saw the title, that's exactly where my mind went.

#32 Posted by fenixREVOLUTION (884 posts) - - Show Bio

@Osiris1428: You mean Corey, I believe.

#33 Posted by Osiris1428 (1349 posts) - - Show Bio
@fenixREVOLUTION said:

@Osiris1428: You mean Corey, I believe.

Opps...
#34 Posted by The_Tree (7284 posts) - - Show Bio

Nah, I want to know what he's thinking, and it'd be pretty weird if he were talking to himself out loud.

#35 Posted by spikevalentine (131 posts) - - Show Bio

It all actually depends on how you want to portray him, he can be all in different stories.

#36 Posted by KasadyCarnage (319 posts) - - Show Bio

Caaaaaaarnaaaaaage!
#37 Posted by Manchine (4169 posts) - - Show Bio

God no.  Thank god I don't hear "I'm Batman."
#38 Posted by dondasch (926 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't mind Batman (Bruce Wayne) revealing inner thoughts at all, so long as it builds and relates to the current or future story.  Would prefer him to be solely in Gotham City though, rather than a type of "world police officer".

#39 Posted by Durakken (1593 posts) - - Show Bio

From time to time it's ok but Batman is a detective above all other things. The reason it's ok to not see Batman's thoughts in Gotham Central is because other characters play the role of detective... the role of the story teller. 

#40 Posted by TheGoldenOne (38849 posts) - - Show Bio
@cyberninja said:
More like "Do we hear too little of Batman's inner voice" to which I say, YES!
I agree.
#41 Posted by AmoralBatman (36 posts) - - Show Bio

Here's how I think Batman should be represented in his various mediums. 
 
In the comics we are reading a story about the Dark Knight so the amount of personal input by the Batman should vary and be determined by the type of story that is being told. i.e. In a detective story I want Batman to unravel the mystery to me, I don't want to turn the page and have him standing there saying "Done" without an explanation. 
 However at the same time I'd like less of this reflective commentary as shown in the panel above. I don't him telling me what he is, I want to form my own opinion. 
 
In other media like video games I'd like the commentary to be minimal. I'm playing Batman thus I don't want my character telling me what to do.  
This is different to TV or movies where we are essentially being shown his experiences in the third person. Obviously this would change if it was a first person movie but I don't really want to see one of them. 
 
So to summarise. Less personal reflections in the comics and more external views on Batman.  
oh and I hope Batman Inc. isn't coming back, despite Dick's role as Batman in Detective Comics. He's no Bruce and he never will be. 
As James Gordon Jr says to him, he's too nice. And Batman needs that Bruce/Batman dichotomy.  
 
=) love batman =)

#42 Edited by kfhrfdu_89_76k (3732 posts) - - Show Bio
@GraveSp said:
He will probably beat you up and one day he may snap and kill you.  

 
Wouldn`t it violate his oath? Oh, right he may go crazy. I understand.  
Isn`t he a little crazy already? 

when I wrote a (terrible) Batman story, I used actually used Batmans inner voice, `cause I thought that it`s mandatory. So, yes, we hear too much. It actually feels a little boring to me. To me, that is. I don`t know about the others.  
 
I love that idea about Detective comics being more detectivy. Just love it. 

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