Faith & Fandom
Batman: Remember Who You Are
Batman: Remember Who You Are
Fifty issues deep into Tom King’s epic Batman run, a colossal
rick roll took place. After the long hyped-up milestone of
Batman and Catwoman’s engagement and road to marriage,
they didn’t follow through. Issue 50 came, and all that
happened is the couple separated and Bane and his cabal of
surprising Batman enemies did a happy dance. The bad guys
had truly won as comic book retailers and fans around the
world spewed angst over their respective internet conveyers.
Tom King went on record to say that his story is a 100-issue
story about Batman and Catwoman’s love, and that we were
just in the middle of it. It didn’t quite calm the collective
readership, but it set me at ease personally.
On the tail of the wedding debacle, we began a story arc called
“Cold Days.” It’s a story of Bruce Wayne on Jury Duty.
Personally, if I had just convinced the whole comic book world
that a wedding was taking place, juked them, and left them
angry, I would want to give them something immediately
satisfying to soothe over the wound. Not DC though. We went
from a giant bait and switch to Batman ... on Jury Duty. It was
salt in the wound for both the casual and sensational reader,
but for long term fans and those familiar with King’s brand of
storytelling, we knew it would be more.
That’s the thing with King’s writing — he doesn’t shy away
from development. He is willing to let a story take issues upon
issues to build up before he finally plays his hand to show the
reader what he is actually trying to convey. So, why is Batman
on Jury Duty? He bribed his way on there. In his rage over
Selina’s departure from his life, he beat Mr. Freeze senseless
for a crime he very well may not have committed (though he
subsequently confessed to). Bruce is on the jury in order to
remedy the situation that his over-emotional status placed Mr.
Freeze in. The story arc turned out to be an introspective
journey into Bruce’s heart and crushed world that culminated
in Batman 53, which will forever be one of my favorite comic
books now. Surprisingly enough, when I read the story, I found
it to be an epic cry of faith while the majority of the world took
it as Batman saying he was an atheist. Tom King responded by
“Lot of people saying Batman 53 (which I wrote) shows
Batman is an atheist. That’s not how I read that comic.
But I don’t think my reading of it is the most important
one. Anyway, I hope you read the whole thing for
yourself and decide for yourself.”
Issue 53 really is one of the most spiritually encouraging comic
book issues I’ve ever read. On the first page of the issue, Bruce
Wayne asks a fellow juror named Missy a question.
Bruce: Are you wearing a cross?
Missy: Yes. I am. I believe in God. I’ve attended my
church for 20 years. Is that a problem?
Bruce: No. Never.
Missy: Do you believe in God? Bruce.
Bruce: Yes, that’s just it. I used to.
The “I used to,” phrase here was the catalyst to all the
“atheist” digital wildfire that burned across Nerdist and so
many other geek journalism outlets. If they had actually read
the whole book, and in context, they would have seen that
there is a lot more to the story than the first couple pages
illustrate. The issue continues.
Bruce: My father was a Christian. He held hallow the
immortal soul, Heaven, The Father and The Son. Giving
your will to your Lord, trusting Him with that will. He
wanted me to believe, too. But he wanted me to come
to it on my own. We went to church. He told me all the
stories. Talked a lot about what we can control, what we
Out of all the Batman mythos, I'd never seen Thomas Wayne
make an intentional effort on Bruce’s spiritual growth. That
was just a great thing to see in print. The next thing we see is
Thomas and Martha’s death which, of course, comes with the
added understandable strain on a young man’s faith in the face
of losing his parents. Seriously, I’ve been a Christian for
decades, but losing my parents as an adult rocked my faith,
too. I don’t blame Bruce for feeling the way he did as a child or
Bruce: Later. After... I was upset. I put aside believing in
... A deity. Or believing in anything my father thought
had saved him. I couldn’t really see that anything had
saved him. I left Gotham for a while. I searched for
something solid to put my faith in. I asked a great deal of
questions. I paid for some answers. But I didn’t find
anything out there. As far as I went, so I came home...
and I waited for something to find me.
Bruce tells the story that Thomas raised Bruce up to be open to
faith, specifically Christianity as it was Thomas’s faith, and that
it was real to him. After what had happened to his parents, he
shut down. He couldn’t pursue the God that let his parents die
the way they did. God had left him as an orphan. We’ve all had
experiences in our lives that rocked us and shook our faith to
its core. If you haven’t yet, hang on. It’s coming. My faith may
be solid, but it is far from easy. The more we go through the
harder parts of life, the harder it is to hang on to a childlike
faith. Jesus knew this, too. He even taught about it as He told
his followers about what the future would hold.
“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will
betray and hate each other, and many false prophets
will appear and deceive many people. Because of the
increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.”
- Matthew 24:10-12.
In some translations, it even says the love of “most” will grow
cold. The world is ugly and painful. I can understand love
growing cold and faith growing cold. I’ve never been a fan of
pushing faith and belief on anyone. Whether it be as a kid’s
camp director or pastor of a church, you can’t push someone
to have faith. If faith is truly going to last and be something
that can change someone’s life, it will be something they have
to arrive at themselves.
There is so much negativity, pain, and loss that everyone is
dealing with. Failed marriages, death, loss of children,
unemployment, homelessness, sickness, disasters, and so
much more are on the never-ending list of hardships that
plague us. It’s easy to see why love would grow cold. If you are
in a place where you can’t have solid faith because your pain is
outweighing your ability to believe, I’m not judging you. I
empathize. I get why it’s hard to believe in God in a painful
world. For me, though, the amount of grace, love, forgiveness,
and compassion that does still exist in this painful broken
world is one of the reasons why I do still have faith.
In all reality, the fact we haven’t completely destroyed each
other by this point in history shows me how good God is. The
amount of grace still existing in such a painful place is evidence
to me that God is not only real, but active. Without a loving
God involved, there’s no reason for any of that to belong. If
God’s hand wasn’t in our lives, I think we would have
destroyed everything by now. Bruce laid out why his faith was
Bruce: After my parents died, I sought transcendence. I
Missy: ...Is it that you think he’s God?
Bruce: If you define God as the infallible, the
responsible, the one who determines life and death.
Then yes, that’s is my argument. I thought he was God.
He tells Missy and his fellow jurors that he had placed his
construct of Batman in the place of God in his life. While we
may not consider a costumed version of ourselves God, it’s not
a farfetched concept for us to replace God with some easier to
comprehend or palatable version. When who God is doesn’t fit
into how we see our world, we manufacture gods that do.
Some of us turn careers, relationships, fitness, gaming, or
anything else into our gods. Through his recent experiences,
Bruce saw the hollowness of that.
Bruce: God is above us. And he wears a cape. So that’s
what I thought. Why I understand what you think, and
God makes a statement through Moses, “You shall have no
other gods before me” (Exodus 20: 3). It’s part of the 10
commandments, and it is a statement God thought important
enough to include in his primary instructions to His people. He
goes on to tell them He is a jealous God. He is jealous because
we are His, but beyond the jealously over his children, which I
understand, I think He commands us not to have other gods
before Him because He knows they will never be able to satisfy
our need or carry the weight of our burdens we place on
anyone but Him. He doesn’t want us to have any other gods
before Him because He is the God who will work things
together for good. He is the God who can bring healing to our
lives. He is the God who gives peace. Any other god we make
in our lives is going to leave us wanting and wounded. We
would rather have a homemade god because we don’t want to
have to submit to the idea God is right and we are wrong. We
would rather have a homemade god than have to change our
thoughts, feelings, or actions because an actual God won’t just
let us stay how we are.
Bruce: I felt that way for...almost for...forever. I still feel
it tugging at me. Right now. Trust in him. Trust that he
was right. He’s so good. He’s the world’s greatest
detective. And who are you? Have you ever read the
book of Job? That’s what God said to him, right? God
tore this guy’s life away. Burned his farm and his
children. And Job gets a little angry and asks God why.
And God just says, “I created the mountains and the
miracles. And you’re questioning Me? You. Who are
Whenever I’ve read the rebuke of Job by God in scripture, I’ve
always seen it as Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson situation of,
“Know your role and shut your mouth.” God is pointing out in
the grand, cosmic, eternal, and spiritual scheme of things, Job
is insignificant to question God. What this issue pointed out to
me is that beyond sass or rebuke, there is a great question for
us to receive from our creator. When we are hurting, broken,
or searching, God will hit you with the question, “Who are
you?” It isn’t just a rebuke. It’s a call to remember who we are
in God’s sight. It is who we are in God’s love and who we are
that God would think we are worthy of sacrificing Christ for. If
we honestly answer the question when God asks us, it goes
beyond being absent at creation. If we answer the question of
who we are, we are also called on to remember that we are
loved. We are being called to remember that we are forgiven.
We are valued and worth God pouring His spirit into. God’s
question to Job caused Bruce to fully realize that Batman isn’t
Bruce: He’s not God. He’s not. He tries...he does...I
know. And he fails, and he tries again. But he can’t... He
does not provide solace from pain. He cannot give you
hope for the eternal. He cannot comfort you for the love
you lost. God blesses your soul with grace. Batman
punches people in the face.
Bruce fully recognized that Batman was no substitute for who
God actually is. When Bruce was emotionally broken and
hopeless, his construct of Batman offered him none of the
emotional or spiritual support he needed most. His substitute
was not enough, and in reality, none of our substitutes will
ever be enough. No other god will be able to do what only God
can do. As Batman 53 comes to a close, Bruce realized he had
to move forward.
Bruce: I was...I’m lost. I need to remember who I am.
When God asks us who we are, we need to remember. When
we remember who we are in God’s eyes, it changes everything
about our perspective and actions. Simply remembering who
God says we are can empower and encourage us far beyond
any god we create for ourselves or distract ourselves with. God
says we are loved. God says we are His child. God wants us to
have life to the fullest not just in heaven, but here and now.
Remembering who we are in God changes us.
The last page of Batman 53 has the caption of, “I need to
remember who I am.” It depicts Batman returning to his older
suit, but below that in print right on the page is a giant block of
scripture. Seriously. A giant block of scripture on a Batman
page. One of the best-selling comic books in the world, and
boom, scripture. The scripture that’s there returns to the Job
story Batman had been speaking of the whole issue.
“Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his
head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped.
He said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and
naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has
taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” - Job
Bruce realized that Batman could be his scapegoat. He realized
Batman could be his catharsis. He realized Batman could be his
tool, but he couldn’t be his God. I love that scripture reminding
us that God’s goodness is not based on what He gives. God’s
goodness is not based on what He takes away. Our identity in
Him is not based on what He gives, takes, or allows us to
endure. Our identity in God, and God’s goodness remains the
same, regardless of our circumstances in this life. If we allow
our circumstances to dictate how we see God, we will always
have a shifting perspective of who He is, and who we are.
When we trust our identity in Him and we trust His goodness
regardless of what we have or what we lose, we will remember
who we are.