Why Gotham Isn’t Big Enough for More Than One Batman

As Tim Fox settles into his role as the next Batman, he receives a crucial bit of advice on why Gotham can only handle one Dark Knight at a time.

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers from I Am Batman #5, on sale now from DC Comics.

Lucius Fox’s son Tim “Jace” Fox has donned his own superhero mantle to become the next Batman, as foretold in the two-month publishing initiative Future State, but is quickly learning that his crimefighting destiny isn’t in Gotham City. While Bruce Wayne’s familiar Dark Knight may be traveling around the world following the crossover event “Fear State,” it’s clear that Gotham remains very much his town. This is reaffirmed when a conversation between father and son reveals that Jace is better suited relocating to a different city altogether if he hopes to emerge from the shadow of the Bat and truly provide his own spin on the legacy of Batman.

With Lucius aware that his son is Batman, the two men have an earnest heart-to-heart over Jace’s long term plans as the latest Caped Crusader. Jace reveals that he is relocating to New York City to continue to fight crime on his own terms, with his father asking why he would make such a big move, initially assuming Tim is leaving because of him. Instead, Jace admits that Gotham will always see the classic Dark Knight as its protector, no matter who happens to be under the cowl at a given time. Looking to become his own superhero and not constantly be compared to the other Batman, Jace commits to this decision in I Am Batman #5 (by John Ridley, Christian Duce, Juan E. Ferreyra, Laura Braga, Rex Lokus and ALW’s Troy Peteri).

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Of course, Jace makes a very good point. Every time someone replaces Bruce as Batman, be it Jean-Paul Valley or Dick Grayson, it’s always a countdown until Bruce inevitably reclaims his mantle. Even something as seemingly permanent as grievous injury and presumed death does not diminish the assumption that Bruce will eventually make his way back to the cowl, be it having his spine broken by Bane or being hit by Darkseid’s Omega Beams during Final Crisis. Death is rarely permanent in the DC Universe and its biggest icons have knack for resurrection, meaning that even if Jace was the only hero operating as Batman, fans would be waiting on the sidelines for Bruce’s return with bated breath.

Compared to the likes of Green Lantern or The Flash, the mantle of Batman isn’t really a legacy role, and certainly not one with as much history as the Caped Crusader’s counterparts. Upon Bruce’s return Jean-Paul went back to his role as the holy avenger Azrael while Dick reclaimed his respective superhero mantle of Nightwing. This point in DCU history presents an unusual moment as two Batmen are currently active in the DCU, and Jace isn’t looking for direct comparisons to the original Dark Knight.

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Jace Fox ditches his faceplate as the Batman of New York City header

Jace has already proven himself worthy of wearing the mantle of the Bat and he’s certainly not seeking the first Batman’s approval; that alone distinguishes him considerably from both Azrael and Nightwing. Gotham City is already overcrowded with superheroes, frankly, with the majority of them taking thematic cues and instruction from Batman.

Jace has always been his own man and New York offers a fresh start and an environment that exists outside of Batman’s direct influence. Gotham City already has a Batman and, no matter who wears the cowl, everyone expects it to be Bruce Wayne. In order to get some space and autonomy, Jace was always going to have to forge his own path elsewhere.

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