WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Justice League #14 by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Stephen Segovia, Jim Cheung, Mark Morales, Tomeu Morey, Will Quintana and Tom Napolitano, in stores now.
With Lex Luthor's Legion of Doom stealing the mysterious cosmic energy source known as the Totality, chaos is unfolding in the pages of DC's Justice League. Some members journeyed to Thanagar Prime to see what clues they could garner about the fate of the multiverse, while the rest remained on Earth figuring out their next move in the wake of Drowned Earth.
This leads to one hero, in particular, uncharacteristically proving that in these desperate times, even superheroes have to resort to desperate measures. In the process, League's most unexpected hypocrite stands revealed.
In the opening pages of Issue #14, the Dark Knight is found using Jarro (his new psychic sidekick) to probe the consciousness of the newly-returned Starman. It's a dangerous process that connects both their minds, and we see the extreme toll it's taking on Batman as he bleeds through his nose. Superman and Wonder Woman arrive in the nick of time and are forced to break the link, admonishing their teammate and friend for taking things too far. However, he's clearly upset, as he believes he was close to getting Starman's secret knowledge on the Totality, as well as other information he holds on the collapse of the Source Wall.
As the other members of the Trinity point out, this is not a smart move because Starman escaped Lex's imprisonment, and Bruce doesn't know if he laid psychic traps that could compromise the entire League. Batman simply doesn't see this as he wants answers now, no matter the cost, even if it pushes him and Starman to the brink of death. It's a rash and invasive decision; not only is Starman unconscious and unable to agree to Batman using him as a tool, it puts him in harm's way -- something the Man of Steel is absolutely furious about. Seeing the Caped Crusader taking risks like this, and making other questionable decisions like wanting to weaponize the moon has his teammates wondering what's wrong.
To truly understand the hypocrite this situation has transformed Bruce into, you have to go back to 2004's Identity Crisis from Brad Meltzer, Rags Morales, Michael Bair and Co. One of DC's most controversial events of all time, the story saw a segment of the League including Barry Allen, Hal Jordan, Green Arrow and Black Canary allowing Zatanna to magically mind-wipe Doctor Light so he'd forget about raping Sue Dibny, Elongated Man's wife. At its core, the decision was well-intentioned; they didn't want him bragging to his friends and possibly enraging her husband. But beyond that, it was extremely troubling as it showed them displaying something of a god complex.
We'd find out later on that Batman walked in on the group when they were discussing the decision, and when he vehemently protested, Zatanna mind-wiped him too -- something key members of the League advocated on previous occasions whenever their identities were close to being divulged. Ultimately, this all backfired because Bruce was told the truth and Light eventually regained his memories, resulting in a breaking point for the Bat. He felt that no one should mentally probe, alter or wipe anyone's mind to the point they'd become endangered -- a discussion (and at times, a warning) he's had with Martian Manhunter when it comes to using his powers.
The actions Bruce is undertaking here, forcing a probe into Starman's mind without conscience or consent, is just as intrusive as what the League did years ago. That incident broke his trust and caused him to create the Brother Eye satellite to monitor them, leading to the Max Lord/OMAC crisis and proving that nothing good comes from heroes not trusting each other.
This fiasco ended with Wonder Woman snapping Lord's neck and the League being vilified, so one has to wonder why Bruce is being impatient and not cooperating with his teammates. A lot of what he's doing here appears to go against what his symbol stands for and the principles he preaches, leading us to wonder -- hope -- that there's more to the story than has been revealed so far.