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Should Batman Keep Secrets?

Batman is a character known to be illusive, but is he hurting those closest to him by keeping them in the dark?

One of the most well-known and classic comic book rivalries of all-time is that of the Joker and Batman. In a sense, as bizarre as it may sound, these two characters complete one another; and this is exactly the premise that writer Scott Snyder is using to tell his latest BATMAN story, Death of the Family. In the current series, Joker has managed to capture Alfred and lay trap after trap for Batman. And although Bruce may indicate that the fight with the Joker is "between Batman and the Joker," the recent Death of the Family story arc seems to prove otherwise. In fact, it seems that the Joker has made everyone and anyone related to Batman and associated with the character, a target. So how will Batman protect those people around him?

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The idea behind Batman was birthed from the greatest loss of young Bruce Wayne's life; the murder of both of his parents. It was through their death that Bruce found his recipe for vengeance and his thirst for justice. Along the way, Batman has gotten quite a bit of help. First, Batman teamed up with the first Robin, Dick Grayson followed later by Jason Todd (the current Red Hood character), Barbara Gordon (the current Batgirl), Tim Drake (the current Red Robin) and last, but certainly not least, Damian Wayne, Bruce Wayne's son and the current Robin. In the eyes of the Joker, the man who has been Batman's greatest rival, his family has "gotten in the way" which is why the character has made each and every one of these characters a target. So by making Batman his target, the Joker has also placed each member of the Bat Family within his metaphorical crosshairs. So the big question remains, how much does this villain know about each of them?

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The start of this story-arc launched with the abduction of Alfred, the man who practically raised Bruce Wayne. This in itself should be enough of a red flag to signal to Batman that there is a good chance that the Joker knows of his secret identity, and by default, he knows the identities of those closest to him. Yet, Batman refuses to see things that way. In issue #15 of BATMAN Batgirl, Robin, Nightwing, Red Robin and Red Hood all confront Batman together; each of them are under the impression that the Joker knows that Batman is Bruce Wayne, and that by default, he also knows each of their secret identities. This fact is helped since, for example in the case of Batgirl, the Joker captured Barbara Gordon's mother and threatened to kill her. Why, of all people, would the Joker go after Barbara's mother unless he knew that Barbara is, in fact, Batgirl?

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In the scene where each of them confront Bruce about this very fact, Bruce remains completely in denial. Even after each member of the Bat family implies that Batman's logic could be flawed, that the Joker very could have made it into the Bat-cave, Bruce refuses to believe that. Not only that, but he refused to tell them of that possibility. This issue revealed that Bruce kept a crucial detail of the relationship between he and the Joker from Batgirl, Nightwing, Red Robin, Robin and Red Hood. In a following scene the five characters explain that by withholding vital information from them, Bruce had ultimately placed each of them as well as those they loved, in grave danger.

The question is, should Bruce have divulged this information to the rest of the members of the Bat-Family?

In the view of both the Joker and Bruce, the rivalry between them is only between them -- and that's just how the Joker wants it. But is it really? Is this rivalry really only between Batman and Joker, or does it extend to anyone that might be close to Bruce Wayne?

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In the first few pages of BATMAN #15 there is a moment where a bound Batman states that this fight is between he and the Joker, and no one else. However, when everyone both in close proximity as well as close relation to the character is viewed as collateral damage, then the battle is no longer between just the Joker and Batman, is it? The rivalry between Joker and Batman now extends well beyond these two and touches everyone close to Batman. As a result, keeping those closest to him in the dark regarding vital details about the Joker and the possibility that he might know their secret identities puts them and anyone close to them in a grave amount of danger.

Personally, I think it was very wrong on Batman's part to keep things from the other members of the Bat-Family especially when it might effect them and the people that they love. And although Batman is always right, what if he weren't at the worst possibly moment? What if he is absolutely wrong and the Joker knows exactly who he and everyone close to him is? I'd say that by keeping these kinds of secrets, Batman is betraying those he cares more about and isn't protecting them, but instead putting them in even graver danger. What do you think? Do you think Batman should withold sensitive information pertaining to the Joker? Do you think his actions ultimately protect the members of the Bat-Family, or harm them in the end?