Batman’s Symbol Has a New Meaning in DC Comics

In Detective Comics #1031, a fight breaks out between those in Gotham who welcome Batman and those who reject what his symbol stands for.

Warning: contains spoilers to Detective Comics #1031!

In 1999’s ‘No Man’s Land’ storyline, Batman and his allies used his Bat symbol to mark neighborhoods that were deemed safe as the Dark Knight and his allies attempted to reclaim the decimated city from its criminal elements. At the time, it was welcome, since the Bat symbol is meant to inspire people, but after ‘Joker War,’ the people of Gotham have become divided over their feelings about it. While there are some who still welcome and support the Bat Family, there is a growing number of people against it; people insisting that Batman and other vigilantes who supposedly protect the infamous city are no longer welcome.

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In the world of Batman, ‘Joker War’ changed everything. The Joker and his overwhelming army of clowns and subordinates took over Gotham, using Bruce Wayne’s money and Batman’s weapons to terrorize and destroy. Although Batman and the Bat Family were able to eventually turn the tide, the people of Gotham have finally reached their breaking point. Not only has it become more difficult for Batman to work with the Gotham PD as politicians begin to run on an anti-vigilantism platform, but it appears that the public themselves have lost faith in their signature protector. This has also empowered new villains to step up, such as the Mirror, a costumed individual who seems to support the anti-vigilante forces brewing within the city.

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In Detective Comics #1031, a young man is seen spray-painting the Bat symbol, followed by a separate youngster who sprays a ‘no’ sign over the previous artist’s work. The two young vandals get in a brief fight, which is broken up by Batman, who supports neither of their actions and tells them to go home. The Bat Family later observe people wearing shirts that say “No More Bats” flocking to an impromptu rally where the Mirror speaks, calling for the citizens of Gotham to reclaim their city by declaring all vigilantes extinct. This mob marches through Gotham only to be stopped by their opponents, people wearing plastic Halloween-style masks and calling themselves by their hero’s name. These people welcome the vigilantes, who they believe protect the city, keeping the monsters at bay while saving countless people in the process. Naturally, this disagreement escalates into a full-blown fight.

Writer Peter Tomasi brings to mind an old argument that’s hung around Batman for years, what if Batman is actually the problem? What if his presence in Gotham attracts these villains to him, thus making him partially responsible for all the death and destruction they create? Joker War brought a lot of changes to Gotham but one of the ways Joker won was that the conflict damaged the public’s faith in Batman. A rising majority of people grew tired of the constant battles, the upheavals due to villainous takeovers and the constant fear of what will happen next. While this majority has been particularly vocal lately, another portion of the public remains faithful to Batman and his allies, believing that they protect Gotham and thus shouldn’t go anywhere. When a physical conflict occurs, it is one that the Bat Family are barely able to contain.

In the end, it is Batman who has the last word, with his voice quieting the warring factions with his explanation of why he exists and what he, and the other like-minded individuals under his banner, seek to do. Gotham failed them, so they put on the mask to help others when it fails again. Batman and his allies don’t need thanks, this is their city and community and they fight so one day they won’t need to exist anymore. Although these words seem to quell the crowd, these bold words may be too little, too late, as Batman’s symbol is now a political statement, and it may soon become associated with the very thing it was created to fight.

Detective Comics #1031 by Peter Tomasi and Bilquis Evely is in stores now!

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Updated: November 29, 2020 — 12:58 pm

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