Nightwing time! Sean Kelly, writer and someone who describes himself as "Haver of Opinions About Batman" posted a social media thread about Batman two years ago, which keeps getting reposted. And that's been happening again in the last week – but I get the feeling tomorrow's Nightwing might give it a further boost. Spoilers going forward. Sean Kelly wrote how to tackle the fascism inherent in Batman.
Simple: make Joe Chill a cop. It's hardly beyond the scope of imagination that a crooked cop in an economically-blighted city could be committing crimes on the side. Our real history is full of cops committing domestic abuse, rape, murder. So make Joe Chill into Officer Joe Chill, ten-year veteran of the GCPD. He tries to rob the Waynes, things go sideways, and he guns them down. Bruce identifies him at the station, the other cops cover for him, say Bruce is confused. Joe Chill says that yes, it was his police sidearm used in the murder, but that's because his gun was stolen from him. You know how these animals in Gotham can be. He gets two months paid leave as punishment for losing his sidearm. So instead of spending ten years learning how to fight against street crime and mob bosses, he spends ten years with his eyes firmly fixed on police corruption, the blue boy's club that protects murderers.
Bruce knows that when cops die, that's when cities crack down in new and horrifying ways, so he's careful to never take a life. When he catches a cop beating his wife, or shaking down a store owner, or abusing a black man at a traffic stop, he leaves them tied up and dangling. Conservative pundits around Gotham would immediately label Batman a menace, and even as Batman starts using his computers and surveillance cameras to prove he was in the right, that these cops were dirty, people would still flock to defend the cop's bullshit version of events.
Joe Chill, of course, is now the Commissioner. Untouchable, beloved by the public for a series of high-profile crackdowns on things like petty theft and homeless people sleeping on subway vents for warmth. He's sending in cops in riot armor to break up tent villages under overpasses, he's arresting people who try to feed the homeless, he's making the cops more and more militarized, and Gotham's wealthy elite love him for it. Jim Gordon is explicitly called out in the story for being the coward he is. In most portrayals of his early career he's seen as a lone good cop surrounded by corrupt ones, but Batman shames him for the things he's allowed to happen right in front of him.
Bruce Wayne, meanwhile, has returned to Gotham after a long absence and is upsetting the wealthy elite with the way he behaves. He's opened Wayne Manor to the indigent of Gotham City, the entire grounds are swarming with poor people. He doesn't allow cops inside. The people have had enough, they're rising up in protest against the cops. And the cops are out for blood, riot shields at the ready, gas grenades prepared. They've got beanbag rounds and tasers and batons. But the people of Gotham have Batman. When the cops get ready to assault the peaceful protesters, that's when Batman drops out of the sky, neutralizing their "less-lethal" armaments, taking them down before they can hurt anyone. Batman takes control of the satellites around Gotham, broadcasting live to the whole world with instant replay what each cop was trying to do before Batman intervened.
Eventually, as happens sometimes, the tide of public opinion turns enough that some officers start getting disciplined, and when that happens furious cops start quitting the force in droves, closing down entire precincts in protest. "You'll be begging for us back" they say. Except they don't. That's when Bruce Wayne steps in, using what's left of his money and privilege to fund new alternatives to policing in that part of Gotham. Showing a new way of doing things. Volunteers going door to door to help their neighbors. And each volunteer wears a bat pin on their chest. #DefundBatman
It's a fun take and, especially in 2020, you might see how it might have emerged from public discourse. And it is possible that this week's Nightwing by Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo may have taken some inspiration, at least from this line of thought.
I mean, Joe Chill is not Police Commissioner of Gotham, or even Bludhaven. But after Dick Grayson challenges the Bludhaven Police commissioner over the masked people who attacked him in the street, he has footage that was somehow unavailable to the police.
And every one of them was identified and made public.
The police, acting as corrupt vigilantes, and now a matter of public record. What happens now? How far will they go with this? And if the police and politics is just too much for you and you want a return to the DickBabs, don't worry, in getting to this information, they've got that covered too.
Now then… published by DC Comics tomorrow.
NIGHTWING #93 CVR A BRUNO REDONDO
(W) Tom Taylor (A/CA) Bruno Redondo
Battle for Blüdhaven's heart! After uncovering that Blockbuster isn't who he says he is—in fact, he's much worse—Nightwing, Babs, and Blüdhaven mayor Melinda Zucco battle to expose Blockbuster's…malpractices. With Blockbuster controlling more of the criminal underground than Nightwing ever thought possible, can Dick Grayson help stop him before things go too far?
Retail: $3.99 In-Store Date: 06/21/2022