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Does Bruce Wayne 'Have' to be Batman?

With a 'new' Batman, doesn't Bruce deserve a break?

Last week we discussed the possibility of superheroes giving it all up to live a normal life. We looked at where their responsibility lies and are they able to live for themselves? One of the characters we brought up was Batman. Bruce Wayne has dedicated pretty much his entire life, since his parents were killed, to becoming Batman and to fight evil in Gotham City. If he had the opportunity to live a normal, non-crimefighting life, should he be allowed to do so?

Warning: there will be some spoilers from BATMAN #43.

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From the results of fighting Joker in the Endgame story arc, Bruce Wayne is no longer Batman and now Gotham City has found itself with a new Batman (who sometimes wears a robo-Batsuit). We discovered that Bruce Wayne is alive and well. He's living a peaceful life with Julie Madison and spending his days working at the Lucius Fox Center for Gotham Youth.

Without going into all the details, Bruce Wayne has no recollection of being Batman. It actually goes way farther than a simple case of amnesia. Alfred attempted to explain everything to Bruce but right before it was all revealed, Bruce stopped him.

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Everything in his mind and brain that made him Batman is gone. This was something Alfred explained to Superman. Superman's reaction was Alfred simply needed to tell Bruce. He even tried giving Alfred an ultimatum that if he would tell Bruce if Alfred wouldn't.

Alfred begged Superman to just leave it be.

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That brings about our question, does Bruce Wayne have to be Batman? Is he entitled to living a normal life?

The ongoing joke among comic readers is Batman is pretty much the best at everything. He can defeat anyone. That makes him one of the best superheroes around. Because of that, it could be argued that Gotham City, and the DCU, needs Bruce Wayne to be Batman. He should have to sacrifice his chance at a normal peaceful life to save the countless innocent lives threatened by the evil forces in the world. His original vow was to do just that. He didn't want other innocents to suffer the trauma he did when he witnessed his parents murdered in front of him as a child.

It could be argued that while evil still exists in the DCU, there are quite a few more superheroes running around compared to the time when Bruce was a child. How long should his term as Batman be? He's trained several others and has many friends and allies. Even Jim Gordon is getting the hang of being a different kind of Batman in his place.

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As readers and Batman fans, of course we immediately scream "Bruce Wayne needs to return to being Batman!" We believe in our minds and hearts that he will at some point. How could he not? But what if we looked at Bruce Wayne as a person and not just a character in our comics? What happened to him isn't like he just quit the job. He didn't just turn his back on protecting the city. He even tried creating a crazy contingency plan so there'd always be a Batman grown from his DNA.

Would it be crazy to suggest Bruce Wayne should be allowed to have a normal life. It might be pretty boring for us to read about but clearly there's plenty of other Bat-characters we could read about place of "The Boring Adventures of Bruce Wayne." He's already given up so much. He should have a chance at happiness.

Of course there's just no way this is going to last for too long. If you ask me, there's something suspicious and too convenient with the arrival of Julie Madison back in Bruce's life. Bruce is still sometimes in a fog so something definitely is up. So I say to Bruce, enjoy the peaceful life while you can! You definitely deserve it and there's no way fans, or BATMAN writer Scott Snyder, will let you be away from the Batcowl for too long.