Villains Make the Best Heroes: Batman vs Lex Luthor

Happy new book day, everyone! I hope you are all doing well this week. I am quickly closing in on the six month mark on this column, and for this entry I decided to look forward instead of backward. The first true big event of DC’s New 52, Forever Evil by Geoff Johns and David Finch, recently wrapped up, and I believe it has been out long enough to talk a bit about it here. Be forewarned, though, that this post contains spoilers if you haven’t read Forever Evil #7.

Forever Evil has been quite a treat for me to read. Its tagline, “Evil is Relative,” plays well with my growing belief that villains make the best heroes, and that small evil actions can be committed for the sake of larger good ones. Criminality and disposition aside, you cannot argue with the effectiveness of the methodologies of such characters as Lex Luthor and Sinestro, two of the characters featured as defenders of the earth in Forever Evil.

Why, then, is Batman featured as the sole active hero in this team of villains? Though he is initially hesitant to work with Lex Luthor’s team, it can be argued that Batman functions better with them than he does with the Justice League. I can write entire posts (and have, and will again) about the things that differentiate Batman from his fellow heroes, from his lack of superpowers to his personality.

I have previously raised the question of whether or not Batman may even be in the right fictional universe, and I now pose a new question: is Batman a villain who decided to fight for justice rather than personal gain? As I’ve pointed out before, Frank Miller wrote Batman from the perspective that the darkness in Batman is greater than the light, but he makes this darkness work for the benefit of everyone around him. I believe this thought is worth meditating upon for awhile.

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