While Superman was recently courting controversy by relinquishing his American citizenship, Batman went international too. He never really represented America in the manner Superman did to begin with.
As we’ve discussed before, Superman is superhumanly moral and somehow above from the messiness of reality, and we can never really live up to him and what he stands for. It’s upsetting that even in this fictional comic-book world, he and his country have so badly let him down, but in truth neither they nor we ever really stood a chance. Superman is an otherworldly savior who will fight and die for us, no matter how weak or base we prove to be. He is different from us and singular.
Batman is something else. He is the man who by force of will triumphs over trauma and perfects himself; he is marked by personal transformation – a metamorphosis that comes not from the stars, but within. That Morrison was conceiving of Batman this way started to become quite clear in Final Crisis: Last Rites (=Batman 682-3), where he, pretty much a brain in a vat (or a powerless fictional character), overcomes every absurd or dehumanizing revisionistic alternate life he is subjected to. It became clearer in Return of Bruce Wayne and the first issue of Batman Inc., where Batman began to be described as a New kind of God, and not just Bruce Wayne, but the right type of person anytime and anywhere could be a Batman. Now, it’s more explicit than ever.
All it takes is transcending the trauma that mars us; resisting the anti-life; overcoming the darkseid. I thought at first Morrison’s latest arc too closely resembled his work on Batman RIP and Batman and Robin: Leviathan, like the Black Glove, is a massive, powerful, secret, and old organization with fingers in a lot of pies and moles among Batman’s friends. But while still only known to us as a sketch, Morrison has already differentiated them: the agents of the Black Glove have all given in to their depravities and manias, like his typical rogues. Indeed, most of them are ridiculously exaggerated compared even to those usual villains. From what we can tell so far, the Leviathan’s agents are different: they are mindless and sociopathic; they no longer have agency.
Instead of transcending his trauma, as Batman did, or giving into it and being characterized by it, as his usual rogues do, the agents of Leviathan have become inured and callous to it. They are very much like the people who were overcome by Darkseid and anti-life, estranged from humanity and from themselves.
In another life, maybe that would have been Batman: broken and callous, something inhuman. Or, in another life, he would have been indistinguishable from his rogues, as Moore’s Killing Joke and Morrison’s Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on a Serious Earth imply. We, and he, know now why he’s different. The revelation came in Return of Bruce Wayne 5, where he finally understands that he isn’t, and never was, alone. He isn’t, and he never was, really estranged.
He isn’t, like so many superheroes are, a crazy man with overwhelming physical and mental prowess, whom we call a hero merely because his mania and lawlessness coincide coincidentally and roughly with what we call justice. He has realized what Lex Luthor realized in All-Star Superman 12, though this was something Luthor only got when endowed with super-perspicacity: