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Batman: The Fortress 1

For over 80 years, Gotham City has been protected by The Batman, a crimefighter unique among a pantheon of superheroes because he's a human being. For decades he has patrolled his city stopping criminals large and small alike.

But that changes in the latest DC Comics release of Batman: Fortress. While the Earth is in chaos from an invasion, with Earth's greatest champion missing, Batman finds himself overwhelmed in his mission to defend the citizens of Gotham -- and save the world.

At issue is a single stand-out page of this superhero epic. Facing an imminent invasion, cities across the globe do what they often do in a crisis: they riot, loot, and pillage. And we see a scene of that in this book, witnessed by Batman, as he is on his patrol. And given the circumstances, it could be forgiven that he would pass by the looting of the mom-and-pop business of downtown Gotham -- there's a greater emergency needing addressed. But a rueful look back and a move forward with grim determination and a list of memorized faces to visit later (which is what Batman would do) is not the approach writer Gary Whitta takes with the Dark Knight.

Batman's initial response to seeing the criminal activity is, at first, understandable. "Only so much I can do. need to prioritize. Hunt the big fish. Protect the little fish." This as he's watching a mass smash-and-grab from local businesses -- ostensibly the "little fish" he has vowed to protect. Instead, he rationalizes the situation further: "These places all have insurance. Not my job to protect their profit margins."

If that's the case, then why stop any business robbery at all? You've certainly disrupted enough bank robberies in your day, Batman. Are they any less insured than your average franchise store?

But then the soliliquy continues, as Batman starts to wax eloquent about the good old days and modern inequities. "In my father's day, the American Dream used to mean something. An honest wage for honest work. Food on the table. liberty and justice for all. Now it's all an illusion, a carrot on a stick. Attainable by a few, dangled just out of reach of everyone else."

Am I the only one thinking that Wayne Enterprises and its many subsidiaries is one of the largest employers in Gotham City?

"A bigger TV. A faster car. Shiny objects to keep the masses distraxcted, while the world aroudn them burns. You want to blame them for grabbing the carrot when the lights go out? Go ahead. But don't look to me to stop them. That's not why I do this."

Then what is this 'this' that you do, Batman? And why do you do it after all?

And why does everything you say sound like you're reading it out of Rorschach's journal?

Batman: Fortress is a non-continuity title, happening outside the main DC Universe. Of course, exactly what the main DC Universe is these days is anybody's guess.