Secret identities may be hard to maintain, but Batman discovered the best way to protect his alter ego is to hide it among online conspiracy theories!
Bruce Wayne’s hidden life as Batman is one of his most protected secrets, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t above using this confidential information as part of a next-level mind game to keep the public in the dark. When Batman took his operation global for the first time, Bruce had to step up the way he keeps his secret identity a secret and discovered posting deliberate misinformation online may be the key.
When Batman was shot by Darkseid’s Omega Beams in Final Crisis, Bruce Wayne saw a dark vision of the future and upon returning, enacted a plan to prevent it from occurring. He launched Batman Incorporated with a goal to “fight the idea of crime with the idea of Batman.” Bruce Wayne even took the bold step of telling the public that he had been funding Batman for years and would be the financier behind the new venture. Wayne also began a plan to keep the public distracted and confused amid his international crusade as Batman.
In Batman Incorporated Vol. 1 #6 by Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham, Nathan Fairbairn and Pat Brosseau shows Bruce Wayne’s new enterprise beginning to boom. With new operatives joining Batman Incorporated at a rapid pace, the criminal underworld takes note of the changing atmosphere. Remaining several steps ahead, Bruce counts on attempts being made to reveal the identities of the members of Batman Inc., especially with the threat of terrorist cell, Leviathan, on the rise. To combat the potential threat, Wayne takes to the internet and begins to spill some highly sensitive information on a public forum.
In one of his most gutsiest moves ever, Bruce Wayne publicly outs his secret identity, albeit under an assumed name. He also manipulates the same forum with intentionally misleading theories such as Bruce Wayne being dead and Batman replacing Wayne with a body double or Batman never having been one person. Bruce justifies the gambit saying that if the worst does happen and identities are leaked, the truth will be lost amid a sea of conspiracies. The plan not only reflects Batman’s insane preparedness, but shows his awareness of how online communication can be weaponized. Misinformation has long been seen as a problem facing social networking sites and the ease with which Batman is able to post an entire thread’s worth of conspiracy theories has only made the comic that much more prescient. However, as a narrative tool, it’s a highly effective method for Batman to keep his identity a secret in the digital age, something some comic writers have abandoned altogether.
The days of wearing a mask and having an elaborate excuse aren’t enough to keep a hero’s alter ego protected, so Batman might just be onto something by flooding the internet with fake news.
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