It’s hard to imagine anyone these days having a secret identity, let a lone an ultra-rich playboy like Bruce Wayne, so what’s his secret?
Though not nearly as frustrating as how Superman managed to keep his secret identity hidden for so long, Batman’s uncanny ability to throw people off his billionaire alter-ego’s scent is practically a superpower in itself. That isn’t to say others haven’t figured out that Bruce Wayne is actually Gotham’s Dark Knight: the comics are full of characters who have cracked the code, but how has it not become public knowledge? You’d think Wayne’s wealth and physique, and Batman’s technological resources would be enough to connect the dots. Thankfully, a fresh take on the topic can be found in the pages of the latest issue of Suicide Squad.
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Written by Tom Taylor and illustrated by Bruno Redondo, Suicide Squad #10 sees Ted Kord – whose superhero alter-ego is Blue Beetle – enter the fold of Task Force X after Black Mask is revealed to be stealing his identity. At first at odds with some members of Task Force X, Kord finds an unlikely ally among the group. Fin, an Atlantean with telepathic ability, senses that Ted Kord isn’t just a rich suit but actually a secret costumed hero as well.
In a fun aside – a gag that almost breaks the fourth-wall – Harley Quinn is on the verge of having her mind blown when her first thought is that Kord is secretly Batman. Kord, however, is quick to prove her wrong by pointing out that no billionaire would choose to spend their time crimefighting in Gotham City of all places, a claim with which Harley immediately agrees. The idea alone of someone so affluent getting down and dirty to protect a crime-infested cesspool like Gotham is just too ridiculous to consider. Even Quinn admits that someone would have to be crazy – as in crazier than her – to want do that.
Beyond the obvious joke, many things can be inferred from this statement, but one comes to mind that is perhaps the most important and depressing: the real reason why Batman couldn’t be billionaire Bruce Wayne is that Gotham isn’t worth the effort and money. That Gotham is a breeding ground for violence and villainy is evidenced by the sheer volume of deranged maniacs that operate within the city limits. And somehow, among the Jokers, Riddlers, Poison Ivys, and Two-Faces there’s room enough for conventional organized crime and police corruption.
On the other hand, there’s a case to be made that most people don’t realize just how messed up Bruce is. Give the man credit for playing the role of carefree billionaire playboy to perfection. Unlike Clark Kent, or heck, even Peter Parker, Bruce Wayne actually has more to gain (and nothing to lose) by NOT being Batman in the first place. Imagine the cost – both financial and physical – of maintaining a double-life. Unlike the others, Bruce Wayne doesn’t have superpowers to fall back on if he hasn’t maintained his body and mind to peak efficiency.
Ted Kord, for his part, prefers playing the jet-setting ultra-rich corporate type who isn’t stuck patrolling the seedy streets of Gotham every time he puts on his suit, and who can blame him? Then again, who would Batman, or Bruce Wayne for that matter, be without Gotham?
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