Bruce Wayne’s Batman now dead, Jace Fox is avoiding the same fate as his predecessor, harking back to the “Death of the Family” storyline. Family is one of the most grounding parts of Batman’s identity in DC Comics, an element that the Joker has tried use against him on several occasions. This was seen most clearly when the Joker killed Batman’s second Robin, Jason Todd, in Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo’s A Death in the Family story arc, later echoed in the New 52 storyline, “Death of the Family” by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and Jonathan Glapion. As Batman and Joker’s relationship evidences, there is undeniably a tension between Batman’s instincts as a solitary figure, and his bond with his adopted family.
Batman and the Justice League now dead as part of the Dark Crisis event, the next Batman, Jace Fox, is carving out his differences from his predecessor. Revealed to be the future Batman in last year’s Future State event, Jace Fox has made a name for himself as the Dark Knight of New York City. In contrast to Bruce Wayne, Jace is still in his “young Batman” era, where he fights crime without a sidekick. And while Jace’s family, Lucius Fox and Luke Fox (Batwing), are important Batman-adjacent characters, Jace has made it clear that his journey as Batman is one he wants to experience alone. In Dark Crisis #1, by Joshua Williamson and Daniel Sampere, Jace Fox’s Batman is approached by Jon Kent’s Superman with an offer to join the new Justice League. Disgruntled, Jace turns Jon down, citing that teaming up is what got Bruce’s Batman killed. This echoes the sentiment behind the “Death of the Family” arc, where Joker made the case for why Batman’s family was his weakness. To Joker, Batman’s care for his family made him constantly fearful of what might happen to them, making him secretly long for the days when it was just him and his rogues gallery. While it’s clear by the end of “Death of the Family” that Batman is stronger because of his children, the events of Dark Crisis lend some validity to Joker’s statement.
Jace Fox’s Batman believes that he is safer alone, estranged from both his family and the rest of the superhero community, and Dark Crisis evidences why this is a better path for him. After all, while Bruce Wayne’s Batman certainly enjoys his independence as a detective, he still has an important role to play as a member of the Justice League in Crisis-level events. In contrast, Jace is still in his nascent stages as a the next Batman, adjusting to his new city. Getting involved with a new team would distract him from his larger goals at the moment, and while he does not yet have an expansive rogues gallery like Bruce Wayne’s Batman, stepping into Dark Crisis could delay this development for Jace.
Dark Crisis will challenge characters in the DC Universe like never before, evident in how reticent heroes are to join the new Justice League. Jace Fox’s Batman has never been interested in being a carbon copy of his predecessor, and why should he? Bruce Wayne’s relationships with other heroes got him killed along with the rest of the Justice League. As bitter as this is to consider, given the popularity of the Bat-Family, it is apparent that the Joker was right about Batman’s weakness.