Batman’s most important weakness is worth a lot of money to Gotham’s criminals but its value goes way deeper than you’d expect.
WARNING: This article contains MAJOR spoilers for Batman: Urban Legends #11, on sale from DC Comics now!
Batman’s secret identity is known to a precious few of his allies and enemies because he keeps everything about his life as Bruce Wayne close to the chest. But his new villains just revealed how much the criminal underground is willing to pay to learn his true identity and what they’re willing to do to keep it a secret from the rest of the world.
“The Trap” (by Mark Russell, Karl Mostert and Trish Mulvihill) from Batman: Urban Legends #11 shows how that the value of Batman’s secret identity goes far deeper than previously thought. Batman fell for a suicide bombing by Hugo Strange that landed him at the mercy of a group of Russian criminals planning to sell his identity to the highest bidder. The criminals were auctioning off the exclusive knowledge of his identity but refused to look under the mask themselves because it would taint its “full retail value.” If they were to learn his identity, they would be killed to preserve the exclusivity that comes with knowing Batman’s identity.
Over the years, multiple villains have learned Batman’s identity but have mostly kept it to themselves because they know the value of his secret. Amanda Waller used her extensive resources to investigate Batman’s identity. Meanwhile, Deathstroke figured out Nightwing’s identity and from there it was not a far jump to learning Batman’s. They both know that Batman’s real name is a precious commodity that must be cared for because it’s the one weakness he has almost no solution for short of revealing his name and face to the world. Knowing his secret gives them intense power over the Caped Crusader that’s not easy to come by, so they keep it to themselves for when they really need to use it. Ra’s Al Ghul once tried to kill Vicki Vale because she was about to reveal Batman’s secret to the world because it would give Ra’s an unfair advantage in their conflicts. Every villain that knows Batman’s identity knows that they have to use this knowledge with the utmost care to properly advance their agendas.
One of the few villains to best utilize his knowledge of Batman’s identity as a precision strike was his childhood friend Hush. Working in concert with the Riddler, Hush used the secret to construct a plan that nearly defeated the Dark Knight once and for all. While Hush ultimately failed, a conversation that Batman had with Riddler revealed that Batman knows how valuable the secret is and how to best protect it. Batman deduced that Riddler’s pathological compulsion for mysteries would make him keep the secret to himself because if everyone knew the answer to Batman’s secret identity, it would be worthless. The Joker follows a similar way of thinking. If he knew that Batman was Bruce Wayne it would ruin their game of cat-and-mouse forever.
Ultimately, Batman’s true identity is a precious commodity, and the more people have that commodity, the less valuable it is. By killing people who know the secret, it leads to a meteoric rise in value. Batman knows that the very thing that makes his true identity such an expensive item is what protects it from being leaked. If it were to ever become public knowledge, his enemies control over him would greatly diminish so his villains will protect it all costs.
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