Warning: Spoilers for Batman: Legends of Gotham #1 ahead!Although Batman is infamous for his cold and prickly demeanor, recent events have seen him warming toward his friends and family…or at least, one of his families. A sharp observation from Jason Todd reveals that while Batman has made great strides in being a more supportive figure to those closest to him, he acts completely differently toward a different team: the Outsiders. As a master of mental compartmentalization, there’s decent evidence to support the theory that even as Bruce Wayne behaves more warmly toward his wards and Robins, Batman continues to exert a colder, more controlling grip over the Outsiders.
In Andy Diggle, Karl Mostert, and Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s Batman: Legends of Gotham #1, Jason Todd is seen breaking into the Batcave to try and access the Batcomputer to track down a data cache loaded with Batman’s secrets and contingency dossiers. When Black Lightning and Katana of the Outsiders show up to confront him, their presence confirms Jason’s worst fears as to the kind of secrets hidden in this cache. Calling them Batman’s “personal, deniable, off-the-books Black-Ops team,” Jason points out that if the Outsiders are here, then the cache contains secrets Batman wouldn’t “want the rest of the super-happy Bat-Family to know about.“
Jason Todd Knows About Batman’s Two Families
In a very real sense, Batman is as much of a father figure to the Outsiders as he is to his Robins. Beginning in 1983’s Batman and the Outsiders #1 by Mike W. Barr, Jim Aparro, and Adrienne Roy, Batman left the Justice League and ended up forming a team of his own out of Black Lightning, Katana, Geo-Force, Halo and Metamorpho. Since then, the Outsiders have functioned as a team of heroes operating outside the Justice League’s oversight – and often at Batman’s behest.
The Bat-Family has made it very clear in recent years that Batman cannot continue to hold them at arm’s length or treat them as soldiers. Batman is clearly skilled at managing multiple personas, as demonstrated by his secret identity as Bruce Wayne, his criminal persona of “Matches” Malone, as well as the existence of his “backup” persona in the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh. This theory, then, holds that Batman has further bifurcated his personality through two different “families,” allowing the Bat-Family to receive Bruce Wayne’s warmth and support by channeling the cold drive for perfection and results of his “Batman” identity through his management of the Outsiders.
Batman has long been a complicated figure in how he relates to others; he’s a fierce loner who surrounds himself with people who depend on him, while he himself has been greatly dependent on the father figure represented by Alfred. It is good to see him continue to open up in his relationship with Dick, Tim, Jason, Damian and the Batgirls, but knowing how dependent Batman is on compartmentalizing himself, it’s hard not to wonder if this apparent character growth has a cost. Bruce Wayne may have grown warmer with his immediate family, but at the cost of having another family to bear the brunt of Batman‘s worst traits and most domineering tendencies.
More: Forget Red Hood – The Bat-Family’s Darkest Hero Is Savior
Batman: Legends of Gotham #1 is now available from DC Comics.