Clio (ladyclio16) wrote in ship_manifesto,
Clio
ladyclio16
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Clark Kent/Bruce Wayne (DC Universe)

Title: The Dichotomy of Dark and Light
Author: Clio ladyclio16
Spoilers: Mild ones for the Superman/Batman comic series
Email: ladyclio16 @ livejournal.com
Personal Website: Slash Slut's Recs (older) slashslutsrecs (newer)



Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne (better know as Superman and Batman) are two of the most iconic characters in comics history. To say it was difficult deciding where to start with this essay is an understatement. I thought of beginning with a brief overview of the characters, but really they've been around for over 60 years. It seems redundant to go over their histories when so many probably know the details already. If people don't it's easy to do a search on Google and find out. (Or for some insight into Bruce you could just check out lexalot's amazing Bruce essay for idol_reflection.) So I decided to skip that part and just dive right in with why I love the pairing so much.

I think the main thing that draws me to the pairing is the "attraction of opposites" aspect. I'm always a sucker for that element in a pairing dynamic. On first glance Clark and Bruce seem to have absolutely nothing in common. They appear as different as night and day. (Quite literally in some ways.) Or they do on the surface at least.

Superhero Identities

When it comes to Clark, Superman is the mask he hides behind. Clark Kent is the real deal. He didn't even name himself Superman, Lois did, he called himself Kal'El. For a long time, I think, he viewed himself more as the farmboy turned reporter than he ever identified himself as Superman. It took him a long time to come to terms with his alien heritage, his "otherness". Now I think he has gained more of a balance. Clark allows him to express his humanity. To connect with people on a basic level. While through Superman he expresses his Kryptonian nature. He's come to realize he needs an outlet for both. To be fully who he is he can't hide parts of himself. He's integrated these aspects to make up a whole person.

Bruce is an entirely different story. Bruce Wayne doesn't exist. (At least, not the one the public knows.) He's the facade, the false face that protects Batman and all he cares for. He made Bruce into the perfect mask. He's just what everyone expects him to be. A flighty, womanizing playboy who seems to not have a care in the world. No one would ever expect Bruce Wayne to be Batman, they wouldn't think he had it in him. Which is exactly what he intended. He's the perfect diversion. Few people in Bruce's life know just how deep his pain, grief, rage, and trauma go. In his mind Bruce Wayne is that weak, powerless little boy who could do nothing as his parents were murdered. He's so traumatized that he has almost completely disassociated himself with Bruce Wayne. Even Batman isn't sure there is anything left of Bruce within him. I think he's in there you just have to shine enough light into the dark places of his soul to find him.

World Views

Clark is the eternal optimist. He brings hope to situations where none seem to exist. He tries to see the good in everyone. He even holds out hope that some part of the man he once called "friend" still exists within Lex Luthor. Hope that redemption is still possible for Lex.

While Bruce is the epitome of pessimisim. He's a very practical man. Instead of looking for the good in everyone (like Clark), he's just waiting around for when someone shows their true darker nature. He's suspicious of everyone and the people he truly trusts could probably be counted on one hand. I don't think he even fully trusts himself.

Reasons for donning the capes and costumes

Clark does it out of responsibility. Living on this world has gifted him with an awesome amount of power. Hiding this power and staying safely hidden just wasn't an option for him. Beyond the desire to express his alien abilities. He was raised by people who taught him to care for others. To try and help when he could. So it just wasn't in him to sit back and watch terrible events occur when he had the power to stop them. He couldn't watch people being hurt when his abilities could prevent it. He knew he could use his abilities to help others and has become a savior to many.

Bruce's desire to become a masked vigilante was born out of a need for revenge. He has always hoped to find the person responsible for murdering his parents. More importantly he made a promise over his parent's graves to never let anyone go through what he has. To do his best to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening to anyone else. He feels a sense of responsibility, but it is a more personal one that he feels towards his parents and the promise he made them. So he acts as a spirit of vengeance lurking in the night doing his best to prevent crimes from happening.

Yes, these two at first glance appear to be true opposites. Clark represents everything that is light and good in the world. He even draws his powers from the sun itself. A bright shining Apollo who more people love than fear. While Bruce dwells in the dark. Seeking out those who would prey upon people at this vulnerable time. A dark spirit of vengeance that uses fear as his weapon. It coud be debated that more people probably see him as a menace than a savior.

Looking Deeper

At least on the surface these two seem complete opposites. When you look deeper you can see that they both have the same goals. That though their methods are different they are working towards a singular purpose. They both want to protect people. To use the gifts they have to make the world a better place. They are both men who long for a time when the world no longer needs them. They both have a strong desire to help make the world a safer place to live.


Family Ties

Another thing the both have in common is that they have people in their lives who love and support them. Growing up Clark had his parents helping to guide him. They never stifled him. They encouraged him to learn to use and control his powers as they grew. They taught him the necessity of hiding them, but to never be ashamed of them. They understand why he needs to be Superman and are proud of the good he has done. He also has a select group of friends who know about his abilities and support him too.

Bruce has always has Alfred. Who knew the pain he went through. Suffered right along with him. He has stuck with him through the worst of times. Helping him however he can. He fears for him, but he is truly Bruce's rock. The touchstone that reminds him he is human and deserves to be loved. One can't discount the Robins either. Dick, Jason, and Tim all have acted as lights that shine into his darkness. Making him love them, keeping him grounded. They are what keep him from crossing the line. They give him someone to love and protect on a more personal level. They, along with Alfred, give him a connection to the world. They manage to reach those places where Bruce dwells within the Bat.

Clark is another light that shines into Bruce's darkness. They are the most unlikely of friends. Yet, they have managed to become so. They have gotten past the differences in order to see just how alike they are. They compliment one another well. Clark helps Bruce lighten up a little. Reminds him to try to see a little of the good in people. To not judge so harshly. While Bruce reminds Clark to be a little more skeptical. To not trust so easily, lest he get burned. They balance one another out quite well.

Hard earned trust

Trust is something they have as well. It has been hard to come by. It has taken many years for the ever suspicious Batman to begin to trust Clark and see him as a friend. To me trust that has been earned over time is alway the truest kind. One specific instance of this is, Clark entrusting Bruce with Lex's Kryptonite ring. When Clark managed to obtain it he gave it to Bruce "just in case". Knowing that if anything happened that would require it's use Bruce would do what was necessary.

Canon evidence

With so much canon built up over the decades it seems impossible to slog through it all to find something to back up the slashiness of this pairing. Well, you really have to look no further than the Superman/Batman comic to find evidence of it. This comic is like a slashers dream. If you want canon support for the pairing this is a place to start looking. I mean they saved us the trouble and slashed their names together in the title for goodness sakes. This is the comic that "can make you forget Clark Kent has a spouse other than Bruce Wayne" (quoting thete1 I believe).

In this comic you truly see how well these two know one another. How connected they really are. If you want evidence of how deep their friendship goes you need look no further than the pages of this comic.

The book has these nifty little captions where each character gives you insight into what each of them are thinking about certain situations. Not only do they know what the other man is thinking, they know what the other person is thinking about them. They are never wrong. They always know exactly how the other person is going to react. They have a deep connection that is plain to see in this comics title. You can tell just how much they love and care for one another. Their respect and trust is evident too.

This is a pairing about the attraction of opposites. One where you find that though the characters appear to have little in common that a little deeper digging is all that's needed to see how wrong that assumption is. This is a pairing that is truly about balance. Dark and Light in a perfect harmony. It's also about deep friendship. One that spans a great many years. That has seen it's fair share of problems, but gotten past them. All this and more is why I have come to truly love this pairing.

General Info Links:

The Superman Homepage A great place for everything you ever wanted to know about Superman.

DC Comics

The Dark Knight

Where to find the fic:

Clark/Bruce fics This is a list of the Clark/Bruce fics at the dcfic_index. A good place to start looking.

DCU Slash and Adult Archive Look under Batman and you can find a long list of Batman/Superman stories.

Batman Slash Has some B/S stories in the archive.

Wonderful World of Makebelieve Archive Now automated, you can search for Batman/Superman stories and get a few hits.

LJ Communities:

dcfic_index
batfic
jl_fic
comicslash
scans_daily

Mailing Lists:
Batslash
Comicslash
DC Comicslash

Recs:

thete1 - Just read everything she has written. Not just in this pairing, but in the DC Universe. There's something for just about every flavor on her website.

Express and Admirable by buggery - An extremely hot PWP. That will just scorch your screen.

The Penthouse by hesychasm (Jintian) - Is one of my absolute favorite Clark/Bruce stories. It's another heated PWP that I just adore.

The True Adventures of Batman and Superman series by J.C.
Face to Face
In Unfamiliar Space
World's Collide
Sky High
Night Watch
Revival Instincts
This is a series that tracks Superman and Batman through a progressing relationship. (With lots and lots of sex.)

Restoration and Restoration: Kal by Kerithwyn Jade - Two lovely stories told from the POV of both of the men. Kal is coming to the surface and has decided what he wants is Bruce.

Tags: #manga/comic, batman, dc universe
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