Detective Comics Annual #3 - “Chaos Theory”
written by Brian Buccallato
art by Werther Dell’Edera, Jorge Fornes, & Scott Hepburn
#NOW WHY CAN’T YOU FUCKING TALK TO YOUR KIDS LIKE THIS YOU ABSOLUTE SHIT
Because he is not being well-written? This is the Bruce I consider canon.
^THIS. My personal headcanon of Bruce will always be someone who struggles with fatherhood and has made mistakes, but is overall a good father. I hate when writers cross the line into making him abusive.
Bolded, because — fuck, yes.
There’s a bit in Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier that always stays with me — a moment when Bruce is first starting out where he goes to help a small child, and can’t, because he accidentally frightens the boy too badly.
It nearly breaks him.
And another bit in, IIRC, Robin Annual #4, written by Chuck Dixon and penciled, I believe, by Jason Armstrong, where a freshly be-Robined Dick asks Alfred haltingly *why* Bruce wants to have him around, and Alfred lays it out — “Master Bruce has very few real friends. And while he most certainly became a man… I don’t think he ever became an adult.”
And then there’s Gotham Knights #32, a Devin Grayson/Robinson joint — their last I believe — where Bruce just goes to everyone he loves — *everyone* — and silently, lurkingly, subtly loves them. As best as he can. From the people he’s helped to his family — to Harvey.
And then there are those DCAU eps where he bends over backwards to build new lives for people like Harley and Arnold Wesker.
And all that time and effort he spent making sure Tim could be with Ariana, and then Steph, and then the Titans — because he *recognized* all the ways he’d fucked up in the past.
And then there’s the time when he tried to give Cass a birthday, even though he had no idea when it could be, and then sharing *Jay* with her, his dearest, closest-held *memories* of Jay, when he couldn’t with anyone else. (That second one was DetC, Gabrych run.)
And pouring his heart out to Steph on that rooftop, way back when, while Steph was in a state of 0.0.
And EVERY time Dick — fuck. Well, the entire DCU knows how he feels about DICK. INCLUDING DICK HIMSELF, WHEN DICK IS NOT DEPRESSED.
And Clark, at least, considers his love for Lois precisely the same as Bruce’s love for Jay.
Clark, who Bruce holds in his soul, trusting him above all others. His brother — in some ways.
And Barbara — the woman he respects more than anyone else. The woman he trusts behind the scenes for the motherfucking *JLA* systems. The woman who calls him ‘boss’ and means anything but. And he loves it that way. Look at the way Devin writes them together. The way Beatty writes them together. The way Simone writes them together. Fucking *A*.
And Damian! GOD! The son who was *denied* to him for *years*. The son who was *tortured* and *wronged* and led astray for so many years — and who is yet so beautiful inside, and so devoted to so much *right*. How can he not do his best by him? Even if he doesn’t know what that is, he has to *try*.
And so on. And so on.
Just — all of these moments.
Because Bruce is a good man, and a loving man, and a *kind* man, and he wants to make it better for *everyone* — even the people who fuck up and make things worse for everyone else. Because he recognizes his own capacities for failure, his own *fuck-ups*.
And he loves his family, his friends, Gotham, the *world*. He *loves* them. And he does not place himself above… anyone.
Not when he’s written anything like correct..
How do I discard all that other canon? Well, how do you discard the canon that doesn’t make any goddamned sense about *your* faves? The fact that I have to put up with *more* bullshit doesn’t make the bullshit less bullshitty.
It just means I need a bigger shovel.
*points to the one in the corner*
On Tumblr, every character gets the excuse of bad writing except Bruce. He’s always fully blamed for anything any hack decides to write. And I get it! Tumblr users, at least the ones I’m in contact with, consist greatly of people whose lives are made worse by rich, white, powerful men, and it’s understandable that the first knee-jerk reaction to a character who’s the ultimate macho fantasy is dislike, especially when text makes him precisely that kind of asshole.
When I first started reading DC, most of the things I read featured Bruce only in passing, and in a pretty bad light, so I didn’t like him *at all* before I read all those comics Te mentioned, and a ton of other stuff where he’s actually a complex, compelling, fallible, *human* character. And the more I read, the more firmly he’s established himself as my absolute fave.
Thing is, Bruce has (at least) two very different fandoms: one that likes Batman, the loner who punches people, and one that likes Batman, the family man who helps people. DC (or whoever owns the franchise) prefers to cater to Batman fans that are into the grimdark power fantasy, because that one sells better. It sells the big moneymakers, like movies and video games. For us who love a different Bruce, they don’t really give a fuck.
But you know what? I won’t acknowledge, say, Beechen’s Cass or Willingham’s Tim as my canon, and I sure as hell won’t acknowledge the Bruce written by any bad writer with a hard-on for the kind of stories that makes no sense to the character as I understand him.
But to return to the original “why can’t you talk to your kids like this”: he can. He does. When written well. It’s not like his kids love him as much as they do for no reason, and no, it’s not caused by emotional manipulation or some shit.
It’s also interesting that *Alfred* is never questioned for what kind of a father figure he was, and how many hugs *he* didn’t give Bruce growing up. He could have easily resigned from his position and left the lonely orphan to his own devices, but chose not to. You know who else did the same thing? Bruce. He watched a boy’s parents die, his heart went to him and he couldn’t leave him. So he gave him a purpose, a home and the best childhood he could imagine.
I firmly believe that he tried hard and did his best in his role as a parent, they both did. It wasn’t always good, but it was what he knew, and what he learned along the way. (Which is *another reason* on top of all others that makes me mad they murdered Damian: here you had a chance to tell a whole new kind of story about Bruce, a Bruce who was finally somewhat mature and have him raise a young kid with all the experience he had, but you go with the tried and true death of a child to give him angst and erase any history of him ever having a true family.)
tl;dr, Bruce is my favourite and I you should give him a chance, he’s really great.