Warning! Spoilers for Batman: Reptilian #3
After many accusations, Batman has responded to fans who said he didn’t care about the poor. This characterization of the Dark Knight started with the fanbase, and hasn’t been addressed this directly before in comics.
As Batman investigates Gotham City’s criminal underworld in Batman: Reptilian, he encounters several of his rogues, ranging from Deadshot to the Riddler. The reptilian who is fighting his most notable villains remains unknown, but in the midst of the mystery, the Caped Crusader is being put to the test. The miniseries is exploring some of the real world implications of the Dark Knight’s war on crime, as seen in Batman: Reptilian #3, written by Garth Ennis with art by Liam Sharp.
When Batman is questioned about commonly taking down street thugs, he’s accused of not caring about the poor. However, Batman retorts that he has funded several programs specifically designated to help children from lower class households. “If you genuinely think I don’t care about the economically disadvantaged, how do you explain the foundation’s various programs established to help them as children?” “Oh, I assumed it was to prevent them growing up and occupying things.” Writer Garth Ennis had previously alluded to addressing the fact that Batman is a billionaire who fights the poor, and he doesn’t shy away from the topic in Batman: Reptilian.
Batman raises a relevant point that despite being accused of targeting the financially disadvantaged, he has helped Gotham City as Bruce Wayne. Fans have often cited the Caped Crusader as making the economic situation of the poor even worse, saying that Batman should use his resources to help. However, Bruce has used Wayne Enterprises to help the needy and provide an opportunity for the financially unsteady to succeed. As an adoptive father, Bruce has given a home to Jason Todd, who was in a desperate situation prior to becoming the second Robin. In terms of the city’s systemic problem regarding poverty, Bruce has carried on his parents’ legacy by creating paths to economic stability.
Regardless, Batman’s answer doesn’t account for the mentally ill, who he has been accused of harming just as much as the poor. By fighting criminals and sending them to Arkham Asylum, Bruce has further stigmatized mental health. It might not be his intention, but Batman’s war on crime has equated those in need of hospitalization with Gotham’s most dangerous villains. Since Ennis had promised to address this component of the popular critique, it’s likely to be the next major issue that comes up. While Wayne Enterprises has accounted for the city’s youth, they haven’t focused on helping the mentally ill. Batman might be able to throw money at such problems, but he hasn’t embraced the same philosophy in his superhero crusade.