You’re reading The Complete Infinite Crisis, a Comprehensive and Encyclopedic look through the universe-changing superhero event published by DC from 2005 to 2006. Shelfdust are proud to provide a complete overview of the story, and everything that happens in it. The overview was going great until we got a bit confused about some of the things which were going on – so we’ve had to call in some experts to help out.
When we last left off, Superman had been acting super-suspicious of Batman, who apparently has some kind of spy network now? I’d never heard of that before. Our only option is to turn to our favourite expert on Bat-paranoia, Caitlin Rosberg, to find out more!
Caitlin, on the third page Superman says “MORE spying? That SATELLITE wasn’t enough?” to Batman. What satellite? Batman doesn’t have a satellite, does he?
Caitlin Rosberg: Bold of you to assume that Batman does not have a satellite. Asking if Batman has a satellite is like asking if Howard Hughes owned a couple planes. Does Tony Stark have satellites? Does Elon Musk? Of course Bruce Wayne has satellites. It’s honestly safer to assume that Batman does own at least one of everything he’s ever wanted. The man decorates with giant pennies, what do you expect?
Um, so Batman doesn’t trust the Justice League and has been spying on them for years? He’s THAT paranoid?
Rosberg: Bruce Wayne is an unfathomably wealthy man whose fear response was frozen at eight years old. He is, at the heart of things, terrified all the time. He wants to trust people but can’t bring himself to because almost everyone in his life has done something really fucked up once or twice, though Bruce’s understanding of what constitutes “really fucked up” doesn’t always align with what other people might agree is fucked up. Paranoia is just one of many mental health issues that, if properly treated, could save Bruce Wayne a lot of heartache and money and the Brother Eye satellite is one of many symptoms of a much larger problem, easily demonstrated by his collection of kryptonite and how secret he keeps his secret identity.
Though really, if you found out that your team members knowingly messed with your memory and violated your consent like that, you’d probably want to build a satellite to keep an eye on them too. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.
When did Batman create “Brother Eye”, and why did he do it?
Rosberg: It’s sadly impossible to talk about the creation of Brother Eye without a huge content warning for sexual assault and violence. Comics aren’t the only medium that suffers from an overabundance of bad choices, but especially when it comes to big events and milestones it’s especially disappointing to be forced to revisit some of the crueller parts of canon.
Here’s the short version: Batman created Brother Eye to surveil the Justice League (and everybody else) because he discovered that Zatanna had manipulated his memories. Zatanna did that because Batman witnessed her using her powers to wipe Doctor Light’s personality after he raped Sue Dibny in the JLA headquarters. It’s worth noting that Zatanna had cooperation and assistance from Green Arrow, Hawkman, and Elongated Man aka Sue’s husband Ralph. (What a mess! What a stupid, unnecessary mess. Batman’s paranoia is so deeply ingrained in canon and there are many other ways they could’ve introduced Brother Eye.) Since Batman could no longer trust his teammates or his own memory of events, he made a satellite that would keep an eye on everything for him and provide him with a continuity plan if something like that were to happen again.
And because Brother Eye apparently had the security of a Zoom meeting without a password, of course eventually things went wrong and everybody got real mad at Batman because they could no longer trust him not to spy on them all the time. Which is pretty fucked up in the context of why he made Brother Eye in the first place – but even divorced from that event I think we can all agree that Batman probably would’ve built a surveillance satellite at some point. Instead of greeting the FBI agent that watches them through their computer and phone, everyone in the JLA, the Justice League, Teen Titans… hell, everyone on Earth-1… should probably just say hi to Batman.
Thanks Caitlin! That explains that. I don’t know why you said “Earth-1” rather than “Earth”, though. Weird. Unless… are you suggesting there’s more than one Earth? A multi….verse?? Oh jeez, I’m going to have to talk to someone about this next week so they can explain it for me!
Caitlin Rosberg is a comics critic with bylines for The AV Club, Paste, and Polygon, among many others. For more, head to their site here or follow Caitlin on Twitter here!
The whole “Batman got his mind wiped by the JLA because he objected to them mindwiping Dr. Light” is beyond stupid. If you read Silver Age superhero stories, including JLA, you will see that superheroes go around erasing people’s memories all the freaking time! No one ever bats an eye about it in those old comics. That’s one of the major problems with Identity Crisis and Infinite Crisis, it takes something that was a standard trope of superhero stories from a time when they were specifically intended for children and tries to examine it from an adult, real-world perspective. I swear, even since Watchmen too many writers have thought they were being oh so clever by deconstructing some aspect of the Silver Age or another. Unfortunately most of the time it just led to bad stories like these.