WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for Justice League #36 by Christopher Priest, Pete Woods and Willie Schu, on sale now.
The DC Universe currently has a Batman epidemic on its hands. The Dark Knight has never been shy about appearing across multiple monthly titles, but things have gotten out of hand with alternate and future versions staking a claim to the mantle.
But what happens when someone dresses like the Bat to commit violent crimes on the general public? The world already sees Batman more as a vigilante than a superhero, so a pretender to the cowl wouldn't have to do much to build distrust. Further, what if this Bad Batman picked up an unhealthy addiction along the way? Christopher Priest, Pete Woods and Willie Schu begin to tackle these questions in Justice League #36.
The Committee vs. The Justice League
We begin the issue in a courtroom, as Congresswoman Hasgrove summarizes the events of Justice League #34, which included Batman and Wonder Woman failing to save the life of a hostage. Many valid questions are brought up regarding the League, and in most superhero teams in general, questions regarding their surveillance techniques, civil rights violations, use of a weaponized private satellite, and teleportation technology. Normally, a person or group would submit official paperwork to government officials asking permission before implementing these protocols. Superheroes, however, don't operate that way.
Hasgrove also raises the point that there's no way to determine whether the masked avenger seen yesterday is the same person wearing the mask today. This sets up the next unfortunate sequence where "Batman" attacks her car on a rainy night, ending her life with a Batarang between the eyes, before teleporting away.
Of course, we all know this isn't the real Batman, but to the people taking pictures on the scene and those watching news reports from their homes, he looks like and has the moves of the world-famous. Whoever this imposter is, he's got pretty good aim with a Batarang as well.
Justice League: Super-Dictators?
There may be a rogue Batman running amok, but Bruce Wayne doesn't seem too concerned with his name being dragged through the mud. Besides, the Justice League has larger concerns; primarily, is the team staying true to its charter? The debate between Leaguers comes about when Aquaman discovers a submarine armed with nuclear warheads lying on the ocean floor near the Shandong Peninsula.
Just as Aquaman begins formulating a plan to disarm and move the submarine, Batman cuts him off. If the submarine were in international waters, the Justice League could step in and get involved. However, the sub was spying on the Chinese, making it their call on what actions should be taken. Aquaman, being the head of a sovereign nation, disagrees with these checks and balances. Wonder Woman isn't too crazy about them either, and lets her thoughts be known to Batman.
The topic of Batman's copycat comes back up, with Wonder Woman reminding Bruce that this outlaw is attacking people who question their methods and goals. Could the Bad Batman agree with the Justice League operating without any jurisdiction? And in his deranged mind, is he doing all he can to make sure this continues, even to the detriment of the League?