Batman And The Flash Face A Tragic Hero In DC Crossover Event
A unexpected return means dire consequences.
Part two of the four-part crossover event The Price, which hops back and forth Batman and The Flash's comic book series through the month of February, hit shelves this week, and it brought with it the return of a newer DC Comics character who hasn't been around for a while. Gotham Girl, Claire Clover, has made her slightly less-than-triumphant reappearance, and she's brought with her a whole slew of trouble for Barry Allen and Bruce Wayne. As if things weren't already complicated enough.
Now, there's a pretty good chance the name Gotham Girl doesn't sound familiar to you, and if that's the case, don't panic. She was first introduced only three years ago in the first arc of Batman's Rebirth reboot, which you can find in trade paperback format under the title Batman: I Am Gotham. On the surface, her story pretty typical--tragic past, murdered parents, an idolized brother who imparted a need to do good--but that's where things start to get a little complicated.
To bring you up to speed, if you haven't checked out I Am Gotham, Claire and her brother were inspired to become superheroes in much the same way Bruce Wayne was after losing their parents, only they opted for a much quicker and deadly method, submitting themselves to experiments that gave them metahuman powers that slowly chip away at their bodies and minds with use. Things, unsurprisingly, did not end well--Claire was ultimately the only survivor of their encounter with Batman, and it only got worse from there. Traumatized and manipulated by supervillains, Claire all but broke down and dropped off the map for a while. At least, until now.
So what does this have to do with Batman and Flash now? It all plays into the bigger picture The Price is exploring, according to writer Joshua Williamson who spoke with GameSpot earlier this week.
"With Claire, it's a chance to talk about how weird it is to experience tragedies secondhand," Williamson explained. "Her brother saw their parents murdered, she had to hear about it from him. He was inspired to become a hero, she just followed his lead--and since then, she's been corrupted by all these people. So sitting with her, it's interesting to start thinking about what choices she's actually made and which choices were made for her. Is being a hero even what she actually wants?"
This begins to touch upon what Williamson sees as one of the core thesis statements The Price wants to look at: where responsibility and free will really come into play in the world of superheroes and their proteges. "Claire is a character who keeps being used," Williamson explained--and not always by people who intend to hurt her. "When Barry looks at her, sees how lost she's feeling without her brother, he sees some of himself after the loss of Wally [West] [...] he thinks to himself, 'no, not again, I won't let this happen again.'" Meanwhile, when Bruce looks at her, he sees yet another person he's inspired putting themselves in the line of fire. At the end of the day, both heroes are motivated to step in and try and make Claire's choices for her in service of their own agenda--which, obviously, may not be the best or most heroic way to proceed.
These tricky questions are where The Price really finds its footing. It's hard, if not impossible, to really objectively answer big questions like "do superheroes cause the problems they fix?" or "are superheroes really doing more harm than good by inspiring others to take on their cause?" but confronting the characters themselves with these moral quandaries is easily the next best thing. And things only get more interesting when you place two of these characters who have a fundamental difference of opinion on the matter in a room with one another and force them to wrestle with an answer.
"That's really what Issue #2 is about for me," Williamson said. "It's about two people who are trying to put everything aside and work together, but aren't sure if they can." Claire may be the root of the contention at the moment, but these are struggles that reach much deeper than the present day, connecting all the way back the scaffolding that makes Bruce and Barry who they are. "Everyone knows exactly who Barry Allen is, right?" Williamson laughed, "He's on this pedestal. He's the hero who sacrifices himself. But everyone has a different idea of who Batman is, sometimes totally the opposite idea. [...] I wanted to challenge that idea about Barry [...] show him stumbling and falling before he gets back up."
The Price continues next week in Batman #65. Parts 1 and 2 are available on shelves now in Batman #64 and The Flash #64.
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