Stories I Never Told

Stories I Never Told: Bruce Wayne for President!

Bruce Wayne introduces himselfThis one is of slightly more recent vintage than the others in this series, probably the late 1990s. Influenced, I am pretty sure, by Ross Perot’s bid for President as an independent candidate.

Because, well, Ross Perot = eccentric billionaire and Bruce Wayne = eccentric billionaire, so you do the math. Seemed very obvious to Young Barry, a story ripe for exploitation.

We would open on Batman in darkness, struggling to get into his Bruce Wayne suit and tie. There’s a loud voiceover; someone is introducing someone very important.

Batman is actually sweating as he attempts to get into Bruce Wayne’s garb. Something is wrong and the voice keeps going on and on, until suddenly a curtain is pulled back as the voice says, “…introducing the President of the United State, Bruce Wayne!”

And there he is, half-in and half-out of his Batman costume, revealed to the world.

It’s a nightmare, of course. One of many he’s been having ever since a consortium of moneymen and politicians came to him a week ago, encouraging him to run for President as an independent candidate.

“You’re young, good-looking, and popular. You have a record of being tough on crime, but you’re also known as a compassionate philanthropist. You can’t lose, Bruce. Think of the good you can do.”

And he does think of the good he can do. He thinks of it every night as goes out to stop crime as the Batman. In a good night, he can prevent maybe a dozen crimes. Solve maybe three more unsolved cases. In his spare time, he can help the police, dropping ideas into their laps that will help them solve dozens more. His mere presence — his legend — is a deterrent throughout the city. But — he wonders as he crushes a thug’s jaw — is that anything compared to the power of the Presidency?

He goes to talk to Superman. For advice. Perspective.

BATMAN: Can I be honest with you, Clark?

SUPERMAN: When have you ever NOT been?

BATMAN: Sometimes you annoy me. I think of what I could do with your powers. Change the world.

SUPERMAN: That’s not my job. I’m a steward. I protect the status quo. Anything else would be interfering with human destiny on a scale I don’t like to contemplate.

BATMAN: Then how would that be different from me being President?

SUPERMAN: The difference is that the people would be giving you the power, not a yellow sun. They’d be ASKING you to change their world. And hey, Bruce?

BATMAN: Yes?

SUPERMAN: Sometimes it annoys me, too.

Ultimately, Bruce would choose not to run because he realizes it would put him under such a microscope that his identity would be revealed…and no one would vote for Batman.

But at the end, he wonders — is he just using that as an excuse? Is he so obsessed that he’s turning down a chance to change the world because he loves the feeling of righting wrongs personally, not in the abstract?

And he wonders — what does this mean about him?

A nice, simple, done-in-one character piece. I liked it then, and in all honesty, I still like it now.

I seem to have a dim memory of one of the Bat-books feinting in this direction some time in the 2000s, but that’s the closest DC has ever come to plucking this one out of my brain. Interestingly, a few years after I came up with this, though, they did have Lex Luthor run for President…and win!

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