Saturday, September 16, 2006

Where does he get such wonderful toys? From the stockholders.

In Batman Begins, Lucius Fox starts out as more of an R&D guy then the business manager he is in the comics. The equipment that would become Bat-stuff is more experimental, and had already been shelved, as they weren't items that would be profitable to mass produce. Bruce taking them would be roughly equivalent to Steve Jobs going down and taking a beta version of last year's iPod for his personal use; or, rather than an iPod, an item that ended up not being made public, like the iWave personal microwave oven.

In the comics, however, Bruce is stealing from his company. A lot. I'm not sure how much of Wayne Industries or WayneTech or WayneBurger is publicly owned, but if I was a stockholder, even if the returns were great, I'd at least be curious about a missing hundred million dollars. I wonder if Bill Gates or Donald Trump ever get reports like that. Except, they wouldn't have to worry about their secret identities, so if an underling brought up the missing cash, they could just explain that it's for their drill to the center of the earth, or new hair, or whatever. Bruce has to play it off like he's a worthless ponce that just doesn't care.

(Don't try to tell me Gates or Trump could have secret id's: Iron Man's mask could never cover Trump's hair. Although, the hair's probably better protection.)

Some of the stolen items work in the context of Batman as Gotham's protector, but not as well for Batman as Justice Leaguer. Grant Morrison had Batman pulling out all kinds of science in JLA, like his homemade transport tube, or the "Sci-Fi Closet." It makes sense: if Batman had access to New God/Thanagarian/Rann technology, he would totally use it. The trouble is, that way lies Brother Eye...

One of the stolen items was a leased crane, so Batman didn't even steal that one directly. I think he needed it for use with the "subway rocket" Az-Bats got a lot of use out of, sort of a Batmobile that used the tunnels. Fair enough, but did you need to keep it? Saving it in case you decide the giant penny would look better on the other side of the Batcave?

(Aside: Did he get the penny back? There was a story with Aquaman not really helping him in recovering it after the Bat-quake. Bat-quake. Yeah, they actually advertised it as that, I swear. And I did find and flip through that Aquaman story: I could've sworn that penny was heavier than 219 pounds.)

What does that kind of loss do inside of a business? Do the people responsible for tracking it down get fired every year, when another jet turbine or skates that pop out of boots or uniform-concealed taser disappears without a trace? (I know Batman doesn't steal every item he uses, a ton more is probably bought through dummy corporations, like the movie again. But it's fun to harp on a point!) Is Lucious in accounting every day, demanding answers, while Bruce plays dumb and pretends to work on his golf swing?

So, it looks like the next villain in the next big Bat-crossover is going to be the Securities and Exchange Commission...

From Batman: Secret Files and Origins #1, "Lost Pages: How Batman gets his equipment" Written by Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Jim Aparo, inks by Tom Palmer.


Anonymous said...

"Saving it in case you decide the giant penny would look better on the other side of the Batcave?"

I bet Robin hates the days when Batman wants to rearrange everything in the Batcave.

Anonymous said...

In the movie, Bruce bought up all the stock and effectively made the company private again. So he really was only stealing from himself.

Is Wayne Industries a public corporation in the comics?