• 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

saying,

“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

can’t.

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

adult.

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

shaken.

Bruce: After my parents died, I sought transcendence. I

found Batman.

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

are thinking.

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

you?”

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

God.

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

1:20-21.

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.

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