One of my readers contacted me with a comment about the Gotham City series. (For information on the series, see the sidebar, and scroll down toward the bottom.)
The reader commented that in my series, Bruce Wayne was a "very complex character."
First of all, this is a blog, not a comic book or a movie. Consequently, an action-packed story full of fight scenes with special effects and stunts simply doesn't lend itself to this medium.
Beyond that, it is worth recalling the basic Batman storyline: Batman has his origins when the young son of a wealthy family watches his parents get murdered right before his eyes. The Batman storyline is thus often full of conjecture about what that would do to someone, even as the reader or audience already knows the answer: when the young man grows up, he becomes Batman! Naturally, this person who leads this dual life is going to be complex.
However, this story goes even deeper than that.
The case that Bruce Wayne and his alterego Batman ("The Detective" according to one of his arch-enemies) is investigating is very complex and puzzling. As a result of a criminal act, two skyscrapers, known as the "Gotham Towers," are set on fire. These skyscrapers were built to withstand such fires -- indeed, they were overengineered to resist such fires -- yet, they somehow collapse, supposedly as a result of those fires. Not only do these two skyscrapers collapse, but a third skyscraper in the same complex (the Gotham Trade Center) collapses later that same day -- and that third skyscraper wasn't even attacked!
An evil crime boss named Aladdin, head of a crime gang known as the Mujahideen, publicly claims responsibility for the attack, and threatens further attacks, unless Gotham submits to his will. The Gotham City government blames Aladdin, and it seems like an open-and-shut case: all that remains is to bring Aladdin in, give him a fair trial, and then, when he is presumably found guilty, send him to prison.
Except that all is not that open-and-shut. Despite a tremendous effort being made in a "War on Crime," Aladdin manages to elude capture for several years. Meanwhile, Gotham's law enforcement agencies are being stretched to the limit in what seems to be an operation with no end battling Aladdin's men. On top of that, everyone in Gotham City who is really following the story knows, although it's not publicly acknowledged, that Aladdin has nuclear weapons -- this making Aladdin's threats against Gotham City sound particularly sinister and chilling.
As Bruce Wayne ponders this, something just doesn't sit right: Why can't Gotham Police simply bring Aladdin to justice? It's as if there is a bigger picture that he's missing.
About this time, riddles begin arriving for Bruce Wayne: at home, at work, and even when he is out having dinner. The riddles begin to paint a picture of a Gotham City that is paralyzed by organized crime, held in check by evil tentacles stretching throughout Gotham; the riddles begin to expose a web of criminality that is intricate and complex.
As Bruce Wayne investigates this, he recalls his own past, which has prepared him for every event that he now faces. Indeed, his past has anticipated his present situation, so much so that he comes to humbly realize that his very existence is the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy: "In a world darkened by the overcast of evil, one man will emerge, a warrior, and in defense of justice, he will work magic."
The web of criminality that entangles Gotham City is intricate and complex, but so is The Detective whose very destiny is to free his beloved city from its death grip. Bruce Wayne is a man for his time; Batman is the Universe's response to Gotham City's current plight.
Bruce Wayne is a very complex character.