[Ed. Note: Continuing from last week’s interview about the Loves of Bruce’s Life]
ID: But thankfully, you have a type. Specifically, journalists. Why do you think that is?
B: Because in my lines of work, I meet a very specific subset of women: businesswomen, lawyers, heroines, and reporters. Lawyers and businesspeople tend to be too... neurotic. Women in costume, well, they tend to be complicated
ID: As complicated as yourself?
B: Maybe even more so- and I’m complicated enough for several relationships. And of the four, reporters were the ones who I was obligated to actually sit down and have real conversations with.
ID: So you don't think it had anything to do with your search for the truth, about yourself, about your motives- things they were likely to root around for? Don't you wonder if it was just a hidden desire of yours to be unmasked, to be seen for the person you are, rather than the persona you pretended to be?
ID: That sounds like a yes, to me, but tell me about Vicki Vale.
B: She was a reporter, too, originally a social gossip columnist; she took her own photos, too. That's how we met. That was a fluff piece. What I liked about her, intially, was that Vicki wasn't complicated. Unlike Lois, she seemed to be happy with a superficial love affair. And I think at that time it was exactly what I needed.
But it wasn't where we went. I think it was foolish of me to think that that stage of a relationship could persist- though thankfully by the time our relationship evolved, I was a fairly different man. About that time, Vicki started investigating the Batman. I had saved her, accidentally, really, while she was investigating one of the criminal organizations- I think it was the Ventriloquist's group. She became obsessed with Batman; from the way she talked about him I think she loved him- and hated that, too. She hated feeling like a damsel in distress, hated that there were aspects of her affection that rewarded that kind of paternalistic behavior.
ID: So you were your own rival?
B: It sounds more glamorous than it was. She was being torn in different directions by her affections for different men. And I know because of it both of me were going to lose her; I thought seriously about telling her the truth. Ultimately, I didn't. And I did lose her.
ID: You sound like you regret that.
B: I wonder what would have happened. Would we have stayed together? Would I have retired earlier? Would it have put her in danger? It asks so many questions, so many possibilities… Ultimately, she’s alive, and happy, and so am I. I doubt the world would be better for the change.
ID: So she’s happy?
B: When the Luthor’s cataclysmic earthquake decimated Gotham, Vicki stayed in the city, documented the tragedy. Her photography won her the Pulitzer. She spent the next several years traveling to war zones and documenting the evil that men do. She found a purpose that I don’t think she would have if she stayed with me.
ID: Because if she’d stayed with you she would have put away her camera for an apron? It sounds like she made her career in Gotham. What would have changed?
B: I don’t think she would have left. I think she would have won a Pulitzer for her work in Gotham. But I don’t think she would have spent time in Africa, the Middle East, or Southeast Asia.
ID: I presume at last some of this gallivanting is on a Wayne Foundation grant?
B: Occasionally. I'm proud of the work she does, and happy to be even that small part of it.
ID: And what ever happened to her investigation into you?
B: I suspect she eventually found me out- and then decided not to print it.
ID: How sweet. And the last journalist whose ink you dipped your pen into
ID: I'd wanted to do something with a printing press, but it was just too unwieldy. Anyway, Vesper Fairchild. We know it ended in tragedy, but how did you meet?
B: Vesper was a late night radio host. I don’t even remember the topic of our conversation anymore. But I remember she wore these stupid, hipster glasses, but they were really worn; by the end of the conversation, I started to believe she didn't wear them because they were trendy, but because she’d always worn glasses like that.
I think that’s a suitable metaphor for Vesper: if you saw her, she seemed like a journalist, hipster stereotype, but underneath that was a compassionate, thoughtful, intelligent, incisive woman. When the earthquake hit Gotham, she left the city with me. She tried to use her contacts in the journalistic world to spread news of just how bad the disaster was.
When I came back to the city, she stayed away, because that was where she could do the most good. It was because of that that we drifted apart. And even after she got back to the city, there was always a distance between us. We tried picking up where we left off, but… I think she knew something was wrong. Maybe she even knew I was Batman, but she started looking into him. And that put a tension between us, even before…
ID: Before she was murdered, and the assassin, David Cain, made it look like you were her killer.
B: At the behest of Lex Luthor, yes.
ID: I know you humiliated Luthor. I mean, you took away all his companies, his assets, and sent him to Federal take it in the pooper prison. Directly because of your efforts- obviously with Clark’s help- he went from being the President of the United States to the most recent inmate admitted into the Stonegate infirmary for unremitting rectal bleeding. How does that feel?
B: Like it was too little, far too late. Vesper’s dead. There’s nothing I could do to Lex to make up for that.
ID: But I assume you haven’t stopped trying.
ID: I mean I have this report- okay, a facsimile of this report, which makes me feel incredibly old school. It's from the first week he was in prison. Lex had just gotten back from the infirmary after his first altercation with some prisoners. And he shows back up again the next morning. He was found after lock-down with multiple complex fractures. The prison doctor was surprised, and I’ll quote here from the report, “at the precise, methodical nature of the wounds, designed to inflict maximal pain and damage, and ensure the longest possible recovery time, while presenting the least likelihood of lethality.” Half the bones in his body were broken, some of the muscles torn away from them. This was some serious vengeance- and that sure as hell sounds like your modus operandi.
You’re not going to confirm or deny this, are you? But that looked like, almost, the hint of a smile, as I read the quote- I mean, trying to read behind all the rage you obviously feel for Luthor, and probably for me for asking the question or bringing him up. I can’t imagine.
B: No. You really can’t.
ID: But I am sorry. For your loss. And for Vesper. Truly.
B: I know. I just… I hate that she died because of me. Luthor's plot. It was just to get at me, to frame Bruce Wayne.
ID: I don't know if that's true. You said that she went with you to Washington, when you tried to get Federal and national support after the earthquake, right? And you going up against Luthor, that's why he tried to frame you, right? Well, if Vesper was there, working with you against him, it would make sense that he'd hold a grudge against her, too. What I'm saying is, maybe it wasn't your fault. Maybe she was killed for standing up for something that was right, that she believed in.
And that should make you feel, okay, maybe not better. But I hope you can feel a little less guilty. God knows you're already carrying enough of that around.