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The Perennial Demise of Batman: Why Gamers Should Embrace the Dark Knight's Death

As a seasoned game editor with a wealth of experience, it's amusing to witness the uproar caused by Batman's alleged demise in Suicide Squad: Kill the...

Deven McClure

Feb 01, 2024

The Perennial Demise of Batman: Why Gamers Should Embrace the Dark Knight's Death

As a seasoned game editor with a wealth of experience, it's amusing to witness the uproar caused by Batman's alleged demise in Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Superhero deaths have long been considered a cheap marketing gimmick in the world of comics, a clever tactic to boost interest in a monthly series or a grand crossover event. No one truly expects these deaths to be permanent; they usually last no more than a few months, or a year at most. So, when I witness gamers getting all worked up over Suicide Squad, my first question is, "Where have you been?" and my second question is, "Why on earth would you be mad about this?"

Now, I was just a mere infant when The Death of Superman was published, so I can't personally attest to the public's reaction at the time. However, from what I understand, there wasn't this level of outrage. Superman's '90s demise was the one and only superhero death that truly mattered—until it didn't. Superman #75 sold a staggering six million copies, and while some may have viewed it as a publicity stunt back then, there wasn't a massive outcry of people shouting, "How dare they do this to Superman?" Most were simply thrilled to see what would unfold next. Of course, Supes made a miraculous comeback a mere seven months later, but hey, that's just how superheroes roll.

In fact, people even voted to kill off Jason Todd, the second Boy Wonder! Now, he may not have been as popular or significant as Batman or Superman, but people were eager to witness Joker mercilessly torture him to death because they understood it would pave the way for more compelling storytelling. It seems that today's Batman fans have a very different perspective compared to those from 35 years ago.

Our Editor-in-Chief, Stacey Henley, brilliantly wrote a breakdown of why Arkham fans are distraught over Batman's "disrespectful" demise and why it's actually a bold and cool storytelling move for Rocksteady to take. She's absolutely right. When Gotham Knights pulled a fast one with a fake Batman death last year, nobody batted an eye. Sure, some folks are upset about Suicide Squad, but this creative leap is what gives birth to great stories. If you're a Batman fan, you should already know this because some of the best tales revolve around his death.

Believe it or not, Batman has died over 20 times in the past 70 years. Most of these deaths were clever ruses, like in The Dark Knight Returns, where Bruce ingeniously faked his demise after a battle with Superman using medicine, or in Birth of the Demon, when Ra's al Ghul impaled Batman before our hero promptly tossed himself into the Lazarus Pit. However, there have been a few stickier deaths over the years. But fear not! Batman will never truly die in the definitive sense, as he seemingly does in Suicide Squad (although, let's be honest, they're already bringing Joker back). Nonetheless, there are some phenomenal "death of Batman" stories out there that are cherished by Batman aficionados.

The whole Batman RIP arc following Final Crisis is widely regarded as one of the Dark Knight's greatest storylines. Grant Morrison's bizarre odyssey through time is an exhilarating rollercoaster ride, and witnessing the Bat-Family cope with Bruce's loss is incredibly well-executed, providing significant development for the younger Bat heroes. Personally, I'm a massive fan of Gates of Gotham (which I consider Dick Grayson's defining turn as the Dark Knight) and Battle for the Cowl, but most people would point to Batman #686, also known as "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader," as the ultimate Batman death story.

During his funeral, each villain from Batman's rogues gallery eulogizes the hero while simultaneously claiming responsibility for his demise. It's a rich exploration of Batman's adversaries, offering a fitting tribute to his legacy. Stories about Batman's death often revolve around the void he leaves behind, and no tale has captured this sentiment as succinctly as this one.

Then there's Endgame, the pinnacle of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's New 52 run on the character and my personal favorite Joker story of all time. The showdown between Batman and Joker is nothing short of mythic. As they ruthlessly pummel each other to death in the depths of a dark cave beneath Gotham, their hatred morphs into a twisted kind of love. Their mutual destruction is both intense and satisfying, ultimately paving the way for Commissioner Gordon to take up the cowl and embark on a fascinating new arc for his character.

And the list goes on. Last Knight on Earth is essentially Snyder and Capullo's Dark Knight Returns, just as exceptional, and it concludes with a clone of Batman killing the real deal. DCeased delivers an emotional ending for the Dark Knight (and virtually everyone else. In Superman: Red Son, another evil version of Batman meets his demise. And let's not forget the infamous Emperor Joker story, where Batman is repeatedly killed for Joker's sadistic amusement (and our own morbid curiosity).

Now, I can't vouch for the quality of Suicide Squad's story, as I won't be shelling out extra cash to play it early. However, as someone who has been a Batman fan for my entire life, the idea of his demise doesn't deter me in the slightest. Judging by the wealth of dead Batman stories that came before, the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of Suicide Squad.

So, dear gamers, let's embrace the perpetual demise of Batman. Let's revel in the audacious twists and turns that keep the Dark Knight eternally teetering on the edge of life and death. Because in the world of comics and games, the death of a beloved character is not the end; it's an invitation to explore new narratives, to witness the rise of unexpected heroes, and to delve into the depths of Batman's legacy.

And who knows? Maybe in the next iteration, we'll see Batman return from the grave once again, ready to take on the challenges that await him in Gotham City. But until then, let's savor the artistry and ingenuity that comes with the demise of the Caped Crusader.

After all, Batman may have died countless times, but his spirit, his symbol, and his undying resolve will forever endure. So, game on, my fellow Bat-fans, and let the death-defying adventures continue!

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