#batman #dracula #gothic #comics
At the Life, the Universe, and Eveything Conference (LTUE) in Provo last February, one of the panels was about Batman as superhero gothic. The name for the panel was “Holy Gothic Archetypes, Batman”. A grad student shared his thesis analyzing the Gothic elements of the Batman comics.
The part I found most interesting is how the history of Batman has gone in full circle. In the beginning, much before the Adam West days, the Batman comics were very dark and Gothic, both the bat and his villains.
Later in the 20th century, the comic book industry went through a phase where outside influence put on the pressure to make things more soft, innocent, and kid friendly. This is where you get the goofy and quirky Batman of the Adam West days and the sidekick, Robin.
Then in time, when the comic book industry, for better or worse, was given more liberty again for artistic expression, being taken more seriously as an art form, Batman returned to its dark and gothy roots. This was especially prevalent in the Batman animated series I watched growing up, intrigued by the demented and psychologically tormented villains.
But I’d to take all this a step further. Not only is Batman Gothic and was Gothic from the very beginning, but I would argue that he is Dracula himself, one of the most famous of Gothic monsters. If you take Dracula and turn him into a superhero fighting crime and, ironically, strip him of his super powers, Bruce Wayne/Batman is what you get.
In both cases, you have a man who is super rich and powerful, dark and mysterious, intelligent, ruthless, and a terror in the night, even turning to the form of a bat. He lives in a very old mansion or castle that’s been in the family in a Gothic setting. Oh yeah, he even controls animals. Batman has this tech that influences the behavior of bats. So when I said, “Stripped of super powers”, this is a bit of a misnomer, since Batman imitates some of Dracula’s ability through technology.
Another interesting point, though somewhat off topic, as I thought more about Dracula, it occurred to me where the name probably came from. Dragon in Latin is Draco. I believe this name is inspired by the Book of Revelation, in other words, Dracula is the dragon or the beast. I could probably do a whole another blog post on how Dracula’s powers and traits parallel with Satan. But don’t read too much into that. I’m by no means arguing that Batman is Satan or anything weird like that. Just thought Dracula’s name’s interesting is all.
As a final thought to all this, looking at the origin of things, it’s surprising and interesting to discover where they came from. Some things go back further than you think from places you don’t expect.