Just a couple of things before we dive in: keen minds have already pored over this issue, so I don’t intend to cover all the bases, instead I’ve decided to offer up a subjective and personal response (nothing new there, then), served up with some bat-thoughts you won’t have read anywhere else. Also, I haven’t included the ads as *pages*. Has anyone noticed DC was generous enough to grant us 24 pages of story this month? I don’t know if that means they’re getting stingier with the specials, or if they’re getting more generous with the regular books. Regardless, big boys, can we have our comics this fat all the time now please?

And now, without further ado….

‘To the Batmobile, let’s go!’

*

Page 1, 2 & 3

To begin with, the title. Yeah, we all know it’s a reference to Bowie and that Morrison wanted the Joker’s look to nod to the Duke’s heroin addled Berlin period, but I don’t think anyone’s mentioned the parallels between the Joker’s shifting MeMeplex of a personality and Bowie’s constant shapechanging – something that’s been, if you like, pretty much the leitmotif of his career.

Okay, the baddies are setting up here. Hmmm. There’s something extremely unpleasant about turning one man’s destruction into a fun night out, isn’t there? I get that what the Black Glove and guests are doing is only a few psychotic notches beyond Big Brother, but we’re not quite there yet. It’s the amount of work, preparation, detail – business stuff – that’s been put into the event that’s so sickening. Imagine the secretary working out the travel arrangements for those evil bastards in the limos, dealing with any problems as they arose… Problems which might prevent them arriving in time to watch Bruce Wayne bleeding out of his ears as poisoned flowers fall around him. Yuck. Just yuck.

And then there’s that horrible shit eating grin that just won’t leave Dr. Hurt’s face. Say what you like about Tony Daniel but he really nails the malevolence lurking behind those pearly whites. He has to do a lot of evil grins this issue. Hurt and the Joker should have a grinning match. I was practically grinning like a mad, clenched toothed sadist by the end too.

Can’t be bothered to comment on the similarities between the gamblers here and the baddies in Morrison’s Invisibles’ story ’100 Days of Sodom’ – it’s been mentioned elsewhere – except to say that the only way out for Bruce, it is implied, is to just stop playing along with the story imposed on him. This is why he’ll give up the cowl. Not because they kill him, or he goes mad, or anything like that, just that with these pricks as part of the narrative (indeed, controlling the narrative), maybe it’s time to call it a day. Just say ‘fuck off – this is a load of old bollocks!’ to them. Bunch of weird arseholes.

Speaking of weird, and creepy – why have none of this week’s commentators mentioned that bloody dead eyed little girl accompanying the businessman, or whoever he is? Now that is gross. Are they lovers? Is she his daughter, and is this some kind of sick birthday present/lesson? Is she the devil, like in the stories? Who’s leading who here?

I really enjoy the conflict between the decadent nouveau riche, represented by Hurt and his guests, and the noble, stately aristocracy represented by Batman. There’s a lot of talk about Hurt being Chill’s son or Bruce’s illegitimate brother (both theories sit pretty well with me, tbh), and it’s certainly true that there’s something of the old class war about the purposeful destruction of an icon as deeply embedded and as influential to the culture at large as Batman. It’s Bats as institution, as dominant power structure, folding beneath the weight of upstart newcomers.

Pages 4 and 5

Aaah, the Hunchback getting dressed. I have to say, I love the Le Bossu – he really is the best of the bunch. Morrison and Daniel have me totally convinced he’s every bit the brute he’s supposed to be – as gnarled, twisted and head-splattingly violent as that club he wields. And as for his ‘transformation’, well, yeah, like the man said ‘I didn’t realise he wore a mask’, but I don’t lay the blame at Daniel’s feet. I’m sure he didn’t know either. Maybe Morrison didn’t know until he started on 680. It doesn’t matter. The idea’s still a really unpleasant one. Puts a whole new spin on the superhero’s/villains ‘mask’, that’s for sure. This isn’t a costume to hide an identity but to make it more fully realised; to present it to the world. And the speech he gives about insert-horrendous-act-here his family is truly chilling.

But isn’t it just great that the Joker could not give a fuck?

Pages 6 and 7

I really don’t have much to add to what the rest of the blogging community have to say about the costume stuff. The Robin comment’s really nice, dovetailing nicely with the idea that, being a kid, he’s naturally full of cohones, and that it’s only the old fogeys who wear black. The Batman of Zur En Arrh really is the product of Super-penis envy, isn’t he? ‘Total Confidence’ – that’s a great way to describe Clark’s sartorial choices. He doesn’t have anything to fear so he can go prancing around like a walking target, with loads of really powerful enemies, and it just doesn’t matter. This Batman sees the world as a straight line from points A to B. There’s no ambiguity to him, just as there’s no ambiguity to his costume. It’s about as direct as it can be, and, if you’re in his way, the man inside it will plough through you, utilising all his skills in the most efficient way possible, just as the colour scheme ploughs into your eyes.

And look! There! It’s that creepy kid again.

Also – shame to see Sombrero go. I liked him. We didn’t know each other well, but he had a good schtick. Death traps, for all their apparent familiarity and banality, are really an untapped, but enormously rich seam.

Page 9

Calling Batmite ‘soldier’… Yeah ,yeah I get the whole DKR thing, but it also interests me that it’s a term he uses to refer to Robin. That the mite and the boy wonders are interchangeable speaks volumes about Morrison’s attitudes towards Batman’s sidekick. The fact that even in his darkest hour, when his mind’s been overthrown, he creates a little pal for himself suggests that Grant understands Robin as essential to Batman. The repository for his hope, imagination, sense of humour and his childhood – the linchpin for his sanity – because, seriously, without that stuff, with unending grimness forever and ever, where does that leave Bruce Wayne? Where does that leave us? Totally fucked, that’s where. ‘Might’, indeed. The true source of inner strength. So, yeah, in this sense Batmite/Robin represent the watcher on the threshold of the outer dark (that creepy thing behind him). Beyond them lies billowing, cackling madness. It makes perfect sense to me that the last vestiges of Wayne’s humanity should take the form of a funny man in a Batman outfit: shrunken, because most of the clutter that constitutes personhood’s long since left by the back door; cartoonish because, although he doesn’t realise it, Bat’s essential nature is a drawing in a comic book and silly, because Morrison’s arguing that what lies at the core of us is able to laugh along with the world.

And it can’t go through that door.

Batman, like Inanna in the old legend, must be stripped naked as he descends into hell.

One more thing. It’s really tiresome reading stuff by people conclusively stating that Batmite’s a figment of Bruce’s imagination (Yes, yes – see above), but this is Grant Morrison we’re talking about. That doesn’t matter. He’s also one of Terrence McKenna‘s machine elves. Grant, like Moore, views imagination in a completely different way to a Freudian therapist, and he’s pulling his old trick here of refusing to concretely define the little guy’s…err.. reality. Morrison wrote a whole bloody novel about the 5th Dimension – it was called The Invisibles, I don’t know if any of you remember it. Go take a look at that and then tell me that Batmite can be reduced to psychoanalysis [STRONG TRUTH! - Agreeable Ed].

Page 10

I just want to add my voice to the throngs of commentators who loved the ‘Batman is cool! Batman wears black!’ line. See this, precious fanboys, this is me and Grant giving you the finger. I love that the grimiest, most out and out nasty Batman story in years sees Batman rampaging around in a red, yellow and purple outfit with Batmite floating above his soldier like some cartoon cupid. RIP really does embody Morrison’s ‘A good comic should make you laugh and cry, etc., but beneath all that its palpably absurd bit. It also captures the (perhaps invented) ‘dark psychedelia’ trend he’s been banging on about in recent interviews. Scary, deranged and teh darque doesn’t have to mean superheroes in bondage gear. I think the current batbook, and indeed some of our Rogue’s reviews (including Gotham by Gasoline), present a very good argument for a primary coloured, day-glo approach to horror, madness and all things villainous in the batverse.

Page 11

Hurt’s still smiling. He’s really happy. Oh, and perhaps this is where he and the Joker have their *grin-off*. Whatever. Everyone’s having a really great time.

I did remark to myself when reading this for the first time that Hurt’s got massive bollocks. He’s not even slightly fazed by the hissing, toxic Clown at Midnight. Everyone else is shitting it, and rightly so.

Pages 12 and 13

I love this shit! Deathtraps rock! If only we could see more of them and that the vast majority of El Sombrero’s didn’t boil down to animated suits of armour. That’s a bit tired by this point. But what isn’t tired are talking pictures with glowing eyes. That really is spooky. And how on Earth did Sombrero have time to set that stuff up? Who cares? Hooray! You can just imagine that Silas Wayne was some kind of scary great Uncle – The Wayne family’s black sheep. Their Victor von Doom. Shame he and Bruce didn’t get to know one another better. Mordecai Wayne’s all witch-finder general, isn’t he? But in his case I bet he was dealing with the real thing, and ranged against the misogynistic superstition and hysteria that surrounded the vast majority of real life witch-trials. God, I just love speculating about this shit. Why’s nobody else been doing this? Shame on you, bloggers! Shame on you! I want whole comics devoted to these guys, Morrison! Get on with it!

It’s great having Damian back, too. Next issue he’s gonna come careening in through Arkham’s walls in that Batmobile. I wonder which one he’ll pick. I’m not sure the boy’s got enough class to go with a vintage one – it’ll probably be the new motor. Is he going to be the new Robin if’n Bruce stands down?

Pages 14 and 15

The Joker detournes what the costume represents. Instead of confidence, he sees vulnerability – bravado. In fact he sees, in his words, ‘a clown’. Batman closer to him than ever before, even after all the mind games Bruce played with himself in order to get to know his arch-enemy better. Batman approaching negative. Perhaps this is the Black Glove’s ultimate goal – to turn our hero into his opposite.

I also think the asylum itself warrants commenting on. In keeping with the idea that entering Arkham is like ‘entering a mind’ (in this case specifically the Joker’s mind), there is very little attempt on Morrison’s or Daniel’s part to depict it as a naturalistic environment. It’s vast and labyrinthine to the point of absurdity. You feel as though it rages on forever around the Joker residing at its heart. And you have to go ‘Down! Down!’ because its the black and red pit of Tartarus in there. You don’t walk through Arkham, you fall through it.

Pages 16 and 17

The Joker is the Devil.

Obviously I’m trying not to repeat stuff other bloggers have said, but I think that the Joker doesn’t make any distinction between the replacement batmen and the real thing tells us two things. Firstly, that he absolutely does not give a monkeys who resides behind the mask, and, secondly, that he’s more concerned with a kind of platonic, mythic reality than he is with tangible things [thrice yes! - Approving Ed]. To the Joker, Batman is a meme, a contagion, a virus. He’s not one man. He sees his cape drawn around the entirety of Gotham. Whatever Batman touches, whoever he affects, is in some way infected. Perhaps the Joker really does understand the world as an illness.

Page 18

I don’t have much to add to most of what’s been said about the Joker’s speech here. It really is the triumph of the Joker, isn’t it? Batman just can’t own him.

Why didn’t the Joker kill Le Bossu (other than the fact that Bossu’s TOO COOL TO DIE)? Was he setting him free – realigning his face so that he no longer needs the mask? Making the darkness visible… blah.. blah.. etc..

‘Welcome to where your soul dies.’ Could this be more evidence for the Black Glove’s ultimate aim being to subvert Batman and drive him towards proper-job insanity…. and Jokerhood.

Page 20

I just love the way the light just gets more and more red. It feels so libidinous and violent. Everything’s like some ghastly dream (my childhood nightmares were presented between red curtains). Again, it’s great that this book’s eschews the typical bat-colouring scheme, exploring what happens when you add more vivid shades to all the blues, greys and blacks. It just gets weirder and more edgy in my opinion.

It’s terrifying how, right at the heart of all the madness, Bruce’s humanity reasserts itself. It’s almost as though the Glove planned it that way – to use Jet to reconnect him to the world, just so they could expose his heart at the eleventh hour and chop it out like a tumour. Really vicious and sadistic. The scenario gets more Killing Joke by the second. More evidence…

Page 21

Jet’s laughing. It’s amazing how the book kept so many of us fooled about her part in all this despite all the really obvious clues. I mean, at this stage we could be forgiven for thinking she’s just responding to the toxin in the petals, but…

Page 22

Is this the moment, as the clock strikes twelve, when the Batman really gets his first, real insight into what it is to be the Joker?

Someone somewhere commented on the tragedy of Bruce kneeling before Jezebel clutching the batradia like it will save him.

But this is Morrison.

Maybe it will.

Pages 22 and 23

Again, on the Jezebel thing, I totally knew she could be a baddy, but I didn’t want her to be. Not because I thought it was a shitty idea, but because it’s just so awful. The idea of someone worming their way into another’s heart in order to destroy them is so unpleasant. Having said that, these last pages are brilliant. Really dramatic, really sad and frightening. Morrison and Daniel totally convinced me that Batman’s in the worst place in the world. And I just 100% dig the gothic romance of all those petals tumbling slowly from the ceiling. Eerily beautiful.

Perhaps Jezebel’s the Black Glove – perhaps not. I don’t really care at this point. It wouldn’t be unsatisfying if she is, but a further surprise would be nice too. Although I’m sure there’s plenty more of those to come.

One of the great things about RIP is, no matter what happens now (and I think it’s safe to say it’s definitely the case that Bruce Wayne’ll hang up the cape and cowl, at least for a little while), this is the story where the bad guys win. Part of Batman’s deal is that he always wins. It’s his superpower. It’s a surprisingly simple but original idea seeing Batman get trounced. The only other guy to pull it off was Bane, and RIP’s a hell of a lot more satisfying and fast paced than Knightfall. One final thought: it occurs to me that the first page of the first issue may well depict Tim Drake and Damian in the bat-outfits. Whatever happens to Bruce Wayne, as the Joker knows, ‘Batman and Robin will never die!’

Benjamin Birdie is a lovely man, but he’s wrong about this issue. I didn’t find it ‘slight’ at all. It’s just fast paced, penultimatey stuff.

*Another makeshift disclaimer. Please don’t smite us awesome Godfather of all things HOUSE, Todd Terry. We are so small and you are so big and part of music history and everything. We WILL remove the bangoing if you insist on it, and, oh, we shall always love you.

51 Responses to “Batman 680: the annotated adventures”

  1. The Beast Must Die! Says:

    Gobsmackingly astute as ever.

  2. Zom Says:

    That business about the Joker responding to a platonic reality is sooooo bang on the money. His comments about Batman shooting him make complete and very satisfying sense when seen through that lens.

    Brilliant insight.

  3. David Uzumeri Says:

    The Joker comments are brilliant; I’d never thought of it that way, but it feels utterly accurate, perfectly accompanying their enmity – if the Joker is one man with a thousand faces, why can’t Batman be one face for a thousand men?

  4. HitTheTargets Says:

    You remember that shadowy… thing? The one behind Bat-Mite? I’m pretty sure /it/ is the Batman of Zen En Arrh. The Mite represents logic & reasoning: he showed up at points in Morrison’s run where Bruce’s sanity was a risk, he made helpful and astute suggestions to Bruce throughout 679 & 680, and he cannot enter Arkham Asylum, a literal mad house.

    The shadow also shows up when Bruce is cracking up, but after he flips out completely is nowhere to be seen. Where I’m from, we keep our familiars on the inside.

    On the other hand, its visible absence could be a mark that the Mite represents the Batman of ZEA; and the thing is what lies beyond the last reservoir of sanity, its form the Shadow cast by the ZEA Persona.

    Either way I expect it to appear in RIP’s finale, having snuck into Arkham inside Bruce or being summoned to him by the Mite’s disappearance.

  5. I’ve been away for almost 4 weeks, so this is me catching up with links. « supervillain Says:

    [...] -Amypoodle on Batman #680 @ Mindless Ones. [...]

  6. manvstrees Says:

    finally a decent review for this issue. how have the web/critics/bloggers fucked it up so far? i guess reading these books does take a little skill, eh?

  7. Zom Says:

    I wouldn’t say everyone’s fucked it up. David and Tim’s annotations are both good.

    And Jog’s review is the tits (as ever)

  8. The Satrap Says:

    …a whole new spin on the superhero’s/villains ‘mask’… This isn’t a costume to hide an identity but to make it more fully realised; to present it to the world.

    Sorry, Amy, U R l33t blogxxorr and this post is brilliant as usual but “the full realisation of identities” is Basic Mask Theory, taught at undergraduate Mask 101 courses. No wonder that the Joker is unimpressed with such triteness*.

    In point of fact, and by way of gratuitous digression, I’d say that there’s at least a Bat-villain who channels that aspect of Mask Theory quite blatantly: the Scarecrow, who among other things is about cranking Batman’s costume routine up to eleven. That’s why I found Crane’s depiction in the Nolan movies to be so utterly rubbish, what with the anally retentive, “subdued” look. And the second-stringer treatment. And the fact that under the mask is a pretty man who, critically, when unmasked by Batman clearly enjoys the chance to show his pretty face . W. T. F.

    *: the strength of the…interaction between Le Bossu and the Joker lies in the brutal, fucked-up and entirely in-character lesson on honesty imparted, obvs.

  9. The Satrap Says:

    Now, let’s start with the highly speculative fanwank, shall we?

    …there’s that horrible shit eating grin that just won’t leave Dr. Hurt’s face…

    The theory, espoused on Barbelith IIRC, that Mayhew is Hurt is the BG is not entirely without merit. I still think that the Bat-mythos already has its Evil Daddy slot covered, but Excess is Good. OTOH, I just cannot look past the radical differences in body language and demeanour between Mayhew and Hurt. The one scowls and shouts, the other grins and gloats…since penis jokes are officially OK for this thread, it’s clear who cuts a better figure wearing gamma pants.

    I think I like the “Club of Heroes” storyline better if it’s about a group of good people brought together by a rather incompetent patron, rather than by the “real” BG.

    The idea that Mayhew as the BG would rock because then the “Club of Heroes” storyline would reflect the structure of the whole extended BG arc (i.e. the villain appears to die but it’s all a ruse), and that’s great, you know, because then everything comes up fractals and everybody knows that GM loves fractals… well, it’s pretty weak, really. I mean, well-worn Morrisonisms do not a good story make, without proper thematic and emotional moorings.

    PS: in the “spurious rebuttals” department, Leo Quintum needn’t be Lex Luthor, and I have documents to prove it.

    PPS: I’ll shut up now.

  10. Gunderic Mollusk Says:

    Now… on the red, red curtains, and the like. The checkerboard, the red… it’s all a little Twin Peaks “Red Room,” in a way. Batman and Joker as MIKE and BOB, Arkham as the Black Lodge…

  11. amypoodle Says:

    Obviously I know that masks (and, indeed, entire costumes) represent a character’s true self, but i’ve never seen a comic book writer present the idea is such a literal, self-aware fashion.

    It’s also made doubly horrible by the fact that it’s not neon spandex, but a replacement face.

    Shudder.

  12. amypoodle Says:

    I noticed the Twin Peaks parallels too, Gunderic. Can’t think why I didn’t mention them.

  13. The Satrap Says:

    Obviously I know that masks (and, indeed, entire costumes) represent a character’s true self, but i’ve never seen a comic book writer present the idea is such a literal, self-aware fashion.

    That’s the thing, isn’t it? Mainstream comics are so piss-poor that it’s hard not to gush when reading something that’s reasonably sophisticated. Low expectations and all.

    On another note, I’m not still done waving my black-gloved fist, ineptly, at the interwebs !!1! Look at me, internauts!! Over at his place, Geoff Klock takes umbrage at the idea that the Bat-Mite stands both for Reason and the Imagination. Now, Klock is a very smart chap and I like his blog but he’s referring to Blake like a XVIth century physician would quote Galen. Like it or not, GM tends to be pretty straightforward about this shit: to him, the rational, hard-nosed thing to do is to embrace the weirdness.

  14. Zom Says:

    I have to admit that the equation of reason with imagination sat uncomfortably with me for a minute. I’ve chosen to ignore that particular internal debate for the moment

  15. bobsy Says:

    But whywhy? Reason isn’t something that exists outside of manbrains (& ladybrains, obvs.) it’s something generated by mind, and hence, to at least a degree, a producto of imagination?

  16. Zom Says:

    We don’t traditionally *talk* about imagination and reason as interchangeable, and I think there’s likely something key and important about that. Imagination might involve reasoning and reasoning might involve imagination, but that doesn’t mean that it’s sensible to talk about them as the same thing, unless of course you’re using a very strange and confusing and highly personal language that defines imagination (or indeed reason) as meaninglessly broad.

    It’s kinda like (I can see problems with this analogy) me having a definition of football that includes all games. It just seems wrong.

    Whatever, it’s certainly a bloody complicated area for discussion.

  17. bobsy Says:

    ‘We don’t traditionally *talk* about imagination and reason as interchangeable, and I think there’s likely something key and important about that.’

    But that tradition isn’t helping us talk about the comicbook, is it? Let’s defenestrate habits of ontology to make better sense of Batman. The break between the two there, I would guess, is preserved mainly to better enable members of different university departments to find their lecture rooms.

    ‘using a very strange and confusing and highly personal language that defines imagination (or indeed reason) as meaninglessly broad.’

    You’re talking about Bill Blake. I don’t know enough about his or the Swedenborg system to know where R. and I. are placed. I expect there was some Cabbalistic influence in both though – in there, R. would usually be opposed by Emotion, with I. being the preferred inital gateway towards both.

    To be a bit Blake though, not wishing to be enslaved by another man’s system, I’m going to have to go on my own impressions: Take a common ‘reason’ based exercise – i.e. reading a map. Take a common ‘imaginative’ exercise, i.e. writing a blog post. Disregarding the physical methods used and personal goals achieved by performing the two different tasks, do they ‘feel’ qualitatively dissimilar?

    I’m going to go with ‘no’. That is, they feel, inside my head, almost exactly the same. The same chemicals fizzing, the same lights dawning. In this context, drawing a dsitinction, or more accurately an opposition, between the modes of R. and I. feels decidedly unhelpful. Certainly no more useful, and far less entertaining, than entertaining the possibility that a 5D squid is perched on my shoulder whispering the answers to both tasks into my ear.

    Cool muscle pics and sexysex man vs. god imagery aside, maybe Blake is a bit old hat, neurologically speaking?

    (Is there a modern preferred vocabulary for talking about subjective impressions of mental processes, outside the field of cognitive neuroscience?)

  18. amypoodle Says:

    You know, Batmite never says he embodies reason, he says

    ‘i’m the last fading echo of the voice of reason.’

    Meaning he’s the last thing that makes sense. He’s completely weird and nutty – but at least he’s coherent.

  19. The Satrap Says:

    I don’t have much of a problem with the broad identification between Reason and Imagination. It’s certainly not something without precedent in the history of thought. Good ole’, misunderstood Schopenhauer for example opposed the “will” ( Wille , which is prolly handily translated as “volition” when applied to people) to the “representation”, which is an accurate, but somewhat bloodless translation of Vorstellung, which can variously mean “conception”, “idea”, “illusion” or “imagination” and which according to Schopenhauer also encompasses the rational activities of acquisition of knowledge. Basically, the representational sphere of the Vorstellung is that of the assorted higher faculties of the mind, hanging on for dear life astride its sibling, the blind raging moloch* of volition, and driving it madder in the process (because the Vorstellung imposes the individuation of things, and individuation i.e. the break-up of unity entails conflict, in a word of Will).

    It sounds familiar, doesn’t it? There, the fanwank has borne…fruit, yeah, fruit. I hereby posit a Schopenhauerian influence in Batman RIP. The Joker as Wille vs Bats as Vorstellung. Now does any of you boys have a tissue?

    Now, on a slightly more serious note, let us hearken to the solemn voice of Grodd the Man-eater hisself:

    I’m not a mystical person sometimes. I got into magic to see if it was real. If someone says, “Ok, a demon will appear if you do this spell,” I just say, “Bullshit.” So, I did this spell, and then the demon appeared. So I had to revise my vision of what the world was and how it worked. Again, that’s another element of magic for me, trying to figure out, why do these things happen—what are we doing to our nervous systems to make us believe a demon has entered the room? It became to me about the actual “nuts and bolts” of it, not the fantastic thing or the mystic thing or the names of angels. I became interested in what’s actually going on.

    He’s basically saying, embracing Imagination is the Rational, Empirical thing to do.

    *: The requisite Warhammer reference, obvs. Warhammer = most Schopenhauerian fantasy bullshit ever?

  20. The Satrap Says:

    X-posted with B & A, evidently.

  21. The Satrap Says:

    Bobsy is rediscovering Schopenhauer. Ergo, he’s the Black Glove.

    Can I be Doctor Who, please?

  22. Zom Says:

    We don’t make the distinction so that lecturers can find their study rooms we make it because it makes sense to make it.

    It seems to me that imagination and reason are largely social constructs (key word there) which map very roughly, and *variously*, across certain ways of doing things, particular intellectual approaches, discrete types of neurological activity (as much as neurological activity can ever be broken down into discrete types – I think this difficulty is the root of the argument you’re making about fizzing brain bits), other stuff. As social contructs it’s possible, to some extent, to tease one from tother.

    On the other side of the debate, I’m sure Derrida would have fun deconstructing the duality posed here, and I imagine he’d make good use of neuroscience to do it.

    Look, I’m not *for* one side of this discussion. I just think that this is a very tricky area that won’t be easily settled by reference to one’s own subjective experience.

    I think Poodle has a point, though

  23. bobsy Says:

    I’ve rediscoverd something! Can I take it off this Shoppy guy and call it Nu-Bobsyism?

  24. The Beast Must Die! Says:

    Good soldier.

    Hnnh.

    Bat-zen innit?

    So. morrison has 23 pages (maybe 24) to ‘conclude’ RIP. Will he pull it off satisfactorily I wonder? Will it be the most psychedelic fractal batman adventure ever? more importantly…

    WHERE IS ROBIN?

  25. The Satrap Says:

    I’d say that Amypoodle has a point because he is providing a response to the pertinent question which Bobsy is asking here: is the distinction between Imagination and Reason relevant to this story?

    A belegueared Batman is clinging to all the good things his mind can conjure up: his elfin secret childhood pal, the crystalline thoughts of the world’s best detective, the illusion of being a bat-bat-wielding embodiment of justice, the colours of Zur-En-Arrh. Against the sadism of Hurt and an unleashed Joker, the distinction (socially constructed or not) between all those positive energies of the mind suddenly becomes somewhat irrelevant.

    Now, our writer has made the specific choice to tell this particular tale, and it’s not unreasonable to assume that GM is being GM, and is telling us that Imagination “perceives” –in its idiosyncratic way– real, existing things that honest, unbiased Reason cannot deny, shouldn’t deny in fact lest it come apart when –in true horror movie fashion– the shit hits the fan. That is to all appearances quite central to GM’s cosmology, and whether one is sold on it or not (I don’t know I am, BTW), it’s very consistent throughout his career.

    [Also, GM's cosmology does not exist in a vacuum, and it's possible to point to the long, multifarious tradition of thought that asserts that the distinction between I and R is not the most fundamental one in the world. I personally chose to focus on Schopenhauer because fanwanking requires enthusiasm, but never mind me.]

    So, to move the conversation forward, “blame” for the fact that the distinction between I and R — which the whole RIP* arc with its Bat-mites, Honour Jacksons and secret architectures has strived to blur– still has a sharp outline in your mind’s eye must be probably laid at the feet of the plot, the art or something. You’re probably unconvinced by some element of the storytelling. Which one is it, that we may gain greater insights, circle-jerking around the totem pole of the Bat?

    *: Batman RIP = Batman + Reason + Imagination + Pants?

    PS: “rediscovered” was a poor choice of words, full of condescending didacticism, Bobsy, my bad. You’ve updated Shoppy, added the missing ingredient to the Wille/Vorstellung recipe: more Batman. More Wolverine would have been OK too, come to think of it.

  26. Bots'wana Beast Says:

    Like The Prestige.

    I don’t – well, I can’t remember if I ever knew Blake’s distinction betwixt ‘reason’ and ‘imagination’ (the Romantics were all about ‘genius’ though, innit? The gin in imagination) but to me it seemed, having never thought about it before, odd to treat it like one of these new Schrodinger things George always concocts like CK’s secret ID and the truth of Leo Quintum; the function of reason is, ultimately, problem-solving right? And yet, so many problems seem insoluble prolly due to a lack of imagination in the construct of a solution. Am I blithering? Reason is a faculty, a subset of imagination, reckon. He is the Detective, so R’as al-Ghul always says, and has worked it all out.

    I hope.

  27. The Satrap Says:

    Oh fuck, I really have to shut my trap for good, but the Hunchback of Notre Dame won’t let me.

    Funnily enough, as I was going to work this morning, the teevee they have running in the U-Bahn, normally devoted to topical items and the weather forecast, slotted in this quote from none other than Quasimodo’s daddy:

    Thought is the toil of the intellect, reverie is its pleasure ( La pensée est le labeur de l’intelligence, la rêverie en est la volupté.)

    It is my understanding that cool people call things like this “synchronicities”.

    to me it seemed, having never thought about it before, odd to treat it like one of these new Schrodinger things George always concocts like CK’s secret ID and the truth of Leo Quintum…

    That’s an interesting take, Bots’, it is GM’s wont to play around with the ambiguities inherent in the ages-old monism vs dualism debate.

    At any rate, I’ll stop boorishly flogging this dead horse. This chap, “Omar Karindu”, easily one of the more intelligent contributors to Alvaro’s otherwise dreary Comicboards, has a nice bit of commentary. A tad too wordy (oh, the hypocrisy), it nevertheless nails down, among other things, the cornerstone of Bats’ characterisation in RIP: that the formidable array of defences distilled (or summoned) by Wayne’s mind is ultimately helpless before the Hurt, the original, unadressed Hurt. It would be then a logical dénouement, for the story to kill this iteration of the Batman by healing Wayne (i.e. Amypoodle’s “fuck off – this is a load of old bollocks!”). It would have the added bonus of allowing Jet to be a villainess and to be right.

    Against this backdrop, there are those who complain that the treatment of such weighty Bat-stuff in RIP somehow feels too busy and light, not “epochal” or “numinous” enough, and I cannot say I don’t see where they are coming from. However, and since I don’t generally expect franchises to be numinous but to provide intriguing “prismatic” variations on themselves, this is certainly one slightly disjointed “what-the-heck-enjoy-it-before-the-next-reboot” Bat-comic that’s doing it for me.

  28. Zom Says:

    There’s some lovely theorising on the other side of that link, Satrap, that expands beautifully on Poodle’s “fuck off”. It paints a slightly flat picture at times, but I’d be very surprised if Omar turns out to be talking bunt.

  29. David Uzumeri Says:

    Beast, actually, he has THIRTY pages. Batman #681 is an extra buck and the size of a Final Crisis issue.

  30. Zom Says:

    30 pages translates to about 300 for human writers.

    (Interview then, David?)

  31. Bots'wana Beast Says:

    I have thought of clever poetry ref, re: Omar’s (actually, kinda beautiful; I think I’ve seen him in TFO comments threads?) work – if the preface to Arkham Asylum is from Larkin’s ‘Churchgoing’, the “serious house on serious earth” then surely the coda must be from ‘This Be The Verse’; twenty years on, and it’s all too gauche for the modern superhero comic, I suppose – but how is our children learning then? I can tell you for trufax that Modern Lit got a shit-ton more exciting when I discovered the link to AA.

  32. Bots'wana Beast Says:

    Oh, one other thing I wanted to say about quantums in A*S that doesn’t really belong anywhere and therefore will be here, I can do what I like: it’s not clear at all whether Martha Kent sucks 2D air yet, is it – Luthor: “give my regards to her next time you drop by the family plot“: that could be a synonym for a gravesite, right?

  33. Neon Snake Says:

    Creepy eyed girl = Beryl, surely? The COH have infiltrated the COV, Damien will come crashing through the windows in a Batmobile (oh, please), Jezebel will revealed as a brazen temptress and baddie, and Batman will go running back to Talia on the biggest rebound ever, and they will live as a happy family for ever more.

    Surely?

  34. amypoodle Says:

    Aaah, yes! Beryl! Well done!

    Didn’t get that but it’s really obvious.

    Surprised no-one’s commented on my first page of RIP theory.

    Let’s hear you.

  35. Zom Says:

    I’ve always thought that was a no-brainer

  36. David Uzumeri Says:

    Couldn’t be Beryl – she’s too busy rounding up the troops in England. Also, way younger, and looks nothing like her.

    Still, I bet we’re gonna get that Damian moment, and it is going to be SO AWESOME.

  37. Zom Says:

    I don’t know, David, I think your main argument there hinges on the art. Personally I wouldn’t rely too much on Tony Daniel’s skillz.

    As for rounding up the troops, c’mon this is Morrison. He’s not above fudging that one.

  38. Neon Snake Says:

    She’s in teh disguise, of course and she’s hopped over from Blighty on the Squiregyro.

  39. The Satrap Says:

    The climax of the issue will be:

    *MASSIVE SPOILERS*
    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    A shower of Hostess Cup Cakes, with rich, black chocolaty icing and red creamed filling.

    The Devil’s food.

  40. The Satrap Says:

    Bad, bad linky. Hostess Cup Cakes.

  41. The Satrap Says:

    Having finally got the issue in the mail (yes indeed, all the hot air upthread was completely baseless, i.e. GROUNDS FOR BANNING, oh Mindless Ones), a couple of things stand out:

    -I’ve suddenly decided that my new favourite theory (admittedly, an extremely unlikely one, but love is blind, and a wonderful thing) involves Jet being related to Wayne, or to be more exact, that Jet is a persona constructed to conceal Wayne’s sister.
    The “damsel in distress” dies when the petals (not a “neurotoxin” but the last hypnotic trigger, for Bruce and Jezebel) fall, much as the Batman persona will likely die by the end of RIP.

    Think, oh dear reader, think! Bruce Wayne says that it is as if he had known her forever or words to that effect. Amid all the clue-dropping, her story is a big gaping hole in the narrative. In all likelihood, her father is not from Africa.

    It is my newfound conviction that the intimation of incest is the missing element in the panoply of Bat-Grimness deployed in the last twenty-odd years, and as such good for a reductio ad absurdum thereof. It is also in line with Hurt’s decadent stylings! Royal incest as a blood-lathered Morrisonism! The kind of absurdity the Joker would love! And more!

    Oh, gentle reader! Imagine a womanisin’ Thomas Wayne, begetting Hurts and Jezebels left and right! Wouldn’t it be radically awesome, if the “globe-trotting lovegod” thing and the “effete playboy” façade were also throwbacks to the lost Daddy? Just how fucked-up would Alfred’s injunction from way back to rediscover the Wayne persona be, in hindsight? Nostalgia for the good times with master Thomas, old rascal?

    A quickie Google search reveals that similar theories have been making the rounds on the presumptively illiterate DC boards. God bless them, I say! Class warfare!

    -That being said, it’s not yet time to say vade retro, Satanas. After the Bat-Mite has been revealed to be a Dream, a Hoax, an Imaginary Story, and a Very Real one to boot, I find it slightly puzzling, how some commenters still think that a “supernatural” solution is somehow unseemly. Does anybody still believe that GM is above solving a locked-room mystery with things from outside the room?

    -Whatever the matter with Jezebel may be, in the last issue she should ham it up as a hall-of-mirrors version of Martha Wayne, just as much as Hurt has been co-opting Thomas. The Mother has been the absent element, in this RIP.

    -For all its shortcomings, Daniel’s art is the right kind of ugly for the Joker.

    -”120 AM” on the Bat-Radia.

    -As remarked upon in the comments over at Funnybook Babylon, Bats has collected Caligula’s laurel wreath. Just how fucking great it is for him to have become a trophy hunter? Of all the defence mechanisms, the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh is the one at the core, the only one to go through the final gate: the revenge fantasy.

    -Some wankery concerning El Sombrero’s demise: Hurt tells him that they already have Bats, and invites him to join the party. But he won’t lighten up, and stays on the balcony to try to stop Batman. A preference of schtick over drama is anally retentive and boring, and will get you a visit from Dr. Joker (note how he wears a white coat only while “schooling” Dax and “disciplining” Sombrero, or how the latter’s body is shown while the Joker tells Batman to let go).

    -Batman throws discs with red and black stickers at Caligula’s minions. He really buys into the pattern-building BS.

  42. The Satrap Says:

    Another thing, another thing, please, my precious, Gollum, yes?

    The thing about “being the clown at midnight, where there’s only ever one joke and it’s always on you” is a brilliant way to highlight the despair underlying that Joker bit from Arkham Asylum, “laugh and the world laughs with you”. The world is laughing at you all the time, so act as if you were a comedian.

    PS: I hereby promise not to clog this fine blog with nonsense till the next BG post/thread comes around.

    Honest.

    No, really.

    Gollum.

  43. The Satrap Says:

    But this thread is still fair game, OK? Pleez?

    -”preference FOR schtick over drama…”

    -Note how making the red & black petals and tiles a hypnotic trigger turns the mockery of pattern-searching into a literal part of the plot. Batman has been chasing after the red and black like a maniac, and it was a trap, and an arbitrary mental trigger. Hahaha, what a sucker!

    -If Jezebel is related to Bruce, then inviting Damian over means we get a family reunion. Lovely.

    -Jezebel appears with a ball-gag and thoroughly panicked for the benefit of the Black Glove’s customers, not for Batman’s, who is outside Arkham. This suggests that at that point Jezebel is not still her villainous self.

  44. Zom Says:

    Or Grant is being sloppy

  45. The Satrap Says:

    Or Grant is being sloppy

    I don´t know, Zom, either Goniopteris is sloppier here than is his wont, Jezebel is a world-class actress…or ZOMG it is Teh Trigger!!1!exclamation mark. The bit where she says “I don´t want to dieHAHAHA!” really made me think that a switch had been thrown inside her pretty head.

    And the neurotoxin used by the Joker in the prose issue is deadly, isn´t it? Yet it looks like Bruce and Jezebel will be alive come next issue.

    It´s awesome, therefore it´s true. Quod erat demonstrandum.

    OK, a couple imbecilities more before we give this poor, suffering beast the coup de grâce:

    -The way Hurt has got Arkham done up in red and black is not unlike the profusion of Zur-En-Arrh graffiti that paved the way for the final utterance of the word that gave Bruce a seizure inside the Bat-cave.

    -Not being into magic(k?) at all, I nevertheless wonder whether RIP comes off as Abyss-y, whether it is legitimate to regard the Bat-Mite as a Holy Guardian Angel of sorts and whatnot. Such subject-matter is certainly not essential to the enjoyment of the comic, but you know, the curse of the infojunkie and all that.

  46. The Satrap Says:

    Hellooooo there, is the thread still open? Gosh, I hope that’s the case. I find myself talking to random strangers about the latest Black Glove theories. To the odd girl, even.

    Over on his blog, Tony Daniel has a preview of #681 and waxes lyric on our hero’s bad-arseness. Bruce’s, specifically. The preview shows him passing the smelling salts to some dude who by the looks of him could be Joe Chill, or a monk from Nanda Parbat. Or maybe both.

    Speaking of which, Guru M has been namechecking Thögal, the Bardo retreat and whatnot. Given the whole “rehearsal of death” angle associated with the subject-matter, it’s not unconceivable that the end of RIP will combine such erudite bling with equally conspicuous references to Batman’s staple mad planning skillz.

    PS: I must admit, the poll on TD’s blog went right over my head. “Rather”…what? Is it a Marvel vs DC thing?

  47. Zom Says:

    It’s a sexy thing

    I’ve given up theorising. Just looking for some bad ass action to wash over me

  48. The Satrap Says:

    I’ve given up theorising. Just looking for some bad ass action to wash over me.

    Oh, absolutely. The theorising is pretty much played out at this point. I still find it amusing, though. I don´t know whether those who say that GM designed the mystery of the Black Glove to play off of the online fan community´s propensities are giving our scribe too much credit or not. In case they are right, however, then he´s certainly succeeded.

  49. Zom Says:

    But when I say I’ve given up for x reason, I really mean it.

    Stay strong Satrap

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