Stepping out of Divinity: Tom King's “All-too-human” Batman


Comics Superhero Comics Superadventures Revamp DC Comics Batman Bruce Wayne Myth Mythology Close Reading Tom King

How to Cite

Barbosa, T., & Passos, M. Y. (2020). Stepping out of Divinity: Tom King’s “All-too-human” Batman. Galactica Media: Journal of Media Studies, 2(3), 89-118.


This paper focuses on American superhero comics – i.e. superadventures and their likeness to mythology. Our goal is to understand how subtle changes in the characterization of a superhero may make them more congruent with the present day morality and ideals of the society, even if a given character is willing to directly challenge that morality. Through a close reading of Batman #53, in which Bruce Wayne states that Batman is like a god and that he does not believe in him anymore – nor should the people of Gotham – we discuss the symbolic meaning of Bruce Wayne's phrase and the implications for the readers' understanding of who the Batman is and what he stands for. One of the main impacts of this characterization is that Batman ceases to be the “interventionist god” as he was portrayed in many stories in the last decades, and learns to embrace the frailty and limitations of the human condition.


Assis, E. (2008 Jun 16). Briga de gigantes nas comic shops dos Estados Unidos. [Giant fight in comic shops in the United States.] Omelete. Retrieved from (In Portuguese)

Bakhtin, M. (1986). Speech Genres & Other Late Essays. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Bible. Biblica – The International Bible Society. Retrieved from:

Brown, J. A. (2018). Batman and the Multiplicity of Identity. The Contemporary Comic Book Superhero as Cultural Nexus. New York: Routledge.

Busiek, K., Pérez, G. & Smith, T. (2008). JLA/Avengers. New York: DC Comics/Marvel Comics.

Cazelli, F. R. (2019). No dia mais claro, na noite mais densa: Mito e religião nos quadrinhos do Lanterna Verde. Teoliterária, 9 (19), 144-172. Doi: 10.23925/2236-9937.2019v19p144-172

Coogan, P. (2006). Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre. Austin: MonkeyBrain Books.

Cortiel, J. & Oehme, L. (2015). The Dark Knight’s Dystopian Vision: Batman, Risk, and American National Identity. European Journal of American Studies, 10 (2). Doi: 10.4000/ejas.10916

Costello, M. J., & Worcester, K. (2013). The Politics of the Superhero. PS: Political Science & Politics, 47(01), 85–89. Doi: 10.1017/S1049096513001625

Cruz, A. L. & Cruz, P. H. P. B. (2019). Religiosidade, linguagem significação: considerações sobre os aspectos religiosos presentes na capa do romance gráfico Reino do Amanhã. Teoliterária, 9 (19), 40-64. Doi: 10.23925/2236-9937.2019v19p40-64

Dawkins, R. (2006). Deus: um delírio. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras.

Dubois, A. (2003). Introduction. In F. Lentricchia & A. Dusois (Eds.) Close Reading: The Reader. (loc. 25-631) Durham/London: Duke University Press.

Dubois, L. (2019). Superheroes and "the American way": popular culture, national identity, and American notions of heroism and leadership. Honors Theses, University of Richmond, 1380.

Eco, U. (1972). The Myth of Superman. Diacritics, 2(1), 14-22. Doi: 10.2307/464920

Fish, S. (1980). Is There a Text in This Class?. The Authority of Interpretive Communities. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Gomes, N. S. & Barbosa, V. L. (2019). O aspecto messiânico do Superman na graphic novel Reino do Amanhã de Mark Waid e Alex Ross. Teoliterária, 9 (18), 133-170.

Grabowski-Górniak, P. (2019). The Death of the (Super)Hero: The Duality in Depictions of Death in Superhero Narratives. Symbolae Europaeae, 14, 61-73

Guynes, S. (2019). Worlds Will Live, Worlds Will Die: Crisis on Infinite Earths and the Anxieties and Calamities of the Comic-Book Event. Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society, 3(2), 171–190. Doi: 10.1353/ink.2019.0014

Hammer, J. H., Cragun, R.T., Hwang, K. & Smith, J.M. (2012). Forms, Frequency, and Correlates of Perceived Anti-Atheist Discrimination. Secularism and Nonreligion, 1, 43–67. Doi: 10.5334/

James, D. (2020). Introduction. In: D. James (Ed.). Modernism & Close Reading (pp.1-16). Oxford: Oxford Univeristy Press.

Jung, C. G. (2018). Os arquétipos e o inconsciente coletivo. Petrópolis: Vozes.

Karp, L. N. (2009). Truth, Justice, and the American Way: what Superman teaches us about the American Dream and changing values within the United States. Oregon State University, Corvallis.

King, T. & Weeks, L. (2018). Batman, 53, New York, DC Comics.

Knowles, C. (2007). Our Gods wear Spandex: the secret history of comic book heroes. San Francisco: WeiseBooks.

Lawrence, J. S. & Jewett, R. (2002). The myth of the American superhero. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Manning, M. K. (2017). Os Arquivos Secretos do Homem-Morcego. Rio de Janeiro: Leya, Rio de Janeiro.

Madrid, M. (2016). The Supergirls: fashion, feminism, fantasy, and the history of comic book heroines. Minneapolis: Exterminating Angel Press.

Miller, F. & Mazzucchelli, D. (2005). Batman: Year One. New York: DC Comics.

Morrison, Grant (2011). Supergods. New York: Spiel & Grau.

Proctor, W. (2017). Retroactive Continuity and Reboots. In Mark J. P. Wolf (Ed.) The Routledge Companion to Imaginary Worlds. London: Routledge.

Reblin, I. A. (2012). A superaventura: da narratividade e sua expressividade à sua potencialidade teológica. Universidade do Rio dos Sinos, São Leopoldo.

Richards, I. A. (2017). Practical criticism. London: Routledge.

Rogers, V. (2020 Apr 1). Batman's complicated history with guns and firearms. Newsarama. Retrieved from:

Sbardelotti, E. (2019). Batman: O Pai, o Filho e o Detetive! [Batman: The Father, the Son and the Detective!] Teoliterária, 9 (19), 85-109. Doi: 10.23925/2236-9937.2019v19p85-109. (In Portuguese)

Thigpen, A. F. (2017). Batman as Monomyth: Joseph Campbell, Robert Jewett, John Shelton Lawrence, Frank Miller, Grant Morrison, Scott Snyder, and the Hero’s Journey to Gotham. Lynchburg: Liberty University.

Tye, L. (2012). Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero. New York: Random House.

Waid, M. & Porter, H. (2015). Liga da Justiça: Torre de Babel. São Paulo: Eaglemoss.

Waid, M. & Ross, A. (1997). Kingdom Come. New York: DC Comics.

Wolk, D. (2007). Reading Comics. Cambridge: Da Capo Press.

Zachary, B. (2018 Aug 21). Comic Book Resources. Tom King weighs in on Batman’s ‘Atheism’ revelation. Retrieved from

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.