Dropping this week from DC comics is Batman Annual 5, but this issue does very little with our Caped Crusader. Instead this annual continues the journey of a newish character that continues to make quite the impact on Gotham City. In this issue, Bao makes good on Batman’s offer to visit an old friend, Dr. Leslie Thompkins. The story that unfolds not only continues Bao’s story but produces a message we really need to hear in today’s world.

Dr. Thompkins character does not show up much in the Batman titles, but the show Gotham made great use of. She may be a great doctor, but more importantly she dedicates her services to the poor and underprivileged in Gotham, mainly the Narrows. Because of this she possesses a pacifism and wisdom few have. She makes it her life work to search out the good in any individual. For a boy like Bao, she gives a message of hope he has long forgotten.

For the first time we get Bao’s full accounting of the night the Harley and the Joker killed his parents. While horrific and tragic, it inadvertently backs up the pardon Bao gave Harley in Batman 105. Harley showed Joker in the door, but she left before Joker gassed his parents. Regardless, the choice to spare Harley now tears at Bao. Was he right to let her go or is he now as guilty as the other clownheads?

Batman Annual 5 – Humanity Can Be Reached

Batman makes a promise to Bao to stop things like this, but Bao watches as the Joker kills again and again. Finally when the Joker War breaks out the words of his late father haunt Bao. “We need you in the real world, doing real things.” Bao sees these crimes as a betrayal by The Batman and Clownhunter is born. The Batarang on his bat actually came from Batman, so he puts it to effective use on the end of his bat.

Then in steps Dr. Thompkins. Her message is one of hope. She sees the possibility of goodness in everyone, even Joker. She believes it takes the right person to reach for that goodness to bring it out. Violence achieves very little other than short term satisfaction, and often leads down a darker road. Of course here she talks about Bruce, unbeknownst to Bao. When he asks why she is still friends with Batman even though he is violent, she provides the perfect response. Her hope is that tomorrow she may get though to him. She will not throw away a friendship because they disagree on a topic.

Bao keeps saying he sees what she is doing with her stories. Instead of denying anything she basically agrees and says “That’s because you are smart”. In the end she pulls the subtle fast one. She does not try and talk Bao into going to therapy. Instead she asks for his help with side tasks that just happen to be during an anger management class. While he never gives her a response, when asked if she could meet the man under the mask, Bao does remove his helmet. This shows a true moment of vulnerability for Bao and the first steps towards a better future.

Batman Annual 5 – Built on Hope

The issue ends with a brief but meaningful back and forth between Leslie and Batman. This issue does a wonderful job filling in the gaps to Bao’s story, but it also advances it in a meaningful way. One does not do issues like this for a character that will be abandoned later. Look for Bao’s story to continue when the stories resume in March.

I cannot recommend this annual enough. bao aside, it provides a great message that today’s world needs. Read it through. Then go back and concentrate on what Dr Thompkins says throughout the issue. It can pierce through the skeptic in all of us and remind us that not only is there good out there, but to hope to find the good in everyone.

“Because at the end of the day, there are just PEOPLE out there, for better or worse. And the people who do the worst things are usually hurting in ways that are not always obvious.”

Dr Leslie Thompkins

Now put all your present concerns away because next week 8 new titles will jump us ahead to the FUTURE STATE!

Future State
The Future is HERE!