November 29th, 2008
Batman the annotated adventures the second (tho’ as Botswana Beast has pointed out in our email exchanges, this is more commentary than anything else). In case you’re interested, part the first (for 680) can be found here.
Scroll down for the jump
I want to preface this by saying I haven’t read any other annotations for this comic. TRU FAX.
So let’s get right down to it, shall we?
PAGES 1, 2 & 3
I never knew Grant would be so literal, but I guess, given how GOTH this arc has been, the coffin makes a lot of sense.
And yep, we all knew it – we knew he couldn’t be beaten – and its good of the script to deal with it right away:
“Batman thinks of everything.”
There’s not even an exclamation mark. It’s just a statement of fact.
I remember how, last New Year’s eve, while my flat was being transformed into a booze-stained ashtray and people were taking the time to rip my bathroom door off its hinges, a few of us – Me, my then girlfriend, her little brother and a magician named John – stopped in the kitchen for a protracted argument concerning whether or not Batman is a superhero. Of course this is out and out cockish behaviour worthy of some nasty new breed of veritie-fuckhead, spawn of Linklater, Tarantino and Altman (all of whom I like, but….) – however we did it. So there. And it all seemed pretty serious and important at the time. Z (g/f) and I were firmly in the ‘Obviously he is, fool’ camp. and we were ranged against the rantings of said younger bruv, who insisted he isn’t. John was undecided. He likes to weigh up both sides of the argument. So my argument, which now I realise scales the heights of wankitude to an even greater degree than the subject of the conversation, ran: He’s got a cape and a cowl, he fights supervillains, defined a whole strata of superherodom and you just can’t beat him – that’s his superpower!
Clearly bruv wasn’t going to be impressed with this. To most people being a superhero means possessing the mutant ability to stretch your flaming skull-head as far as you can fire a plasma blast whilst flying. Or something like that. And Batman can’t do that yet.
Or can he?
Anyway, fair enough, I was talking drunken shit, but even if it’s not strictly a power, it’s still Batman’s no.1 schtick. It’s what makes him such a pleasure to read. Just how can he escape certain death with three murderous Martians surrounding him? He always has a back-up plan, he always knows the lay of the land before he pounces on it, and in this case he’s even got a back up personality.
Page three’s final panel is one of those laugh-out-loud-with-glee moments. Morrison’s good at those.
I know we’re retreading old ground here, I know we’ve said all this about Batman before, but invincibility really is key to the character and I really enjoy the way 681 celebrates it.
There on the walls of the temple, the wrathful deities crowd round to guard Bruce Wayne. Let’s hope he doesn’t mistake them for demons…
It’s amazing how everyone in a Grant Morrison comic, perhaps with the exception of the Kill Your Boyfriend and We3 crew, meet the time-squids. People said his Batman would fail ’cause it would never be cosmic, but they forgot about Ninjabats. Batman has to be one of the most accomplished meditators, perhaps magic practitioners*, on the planet, and that means he’s seen a whole lotta cosmic stuff (but like a good bodhisattva, after meeting it on the road, he put a batarang to it), and, anyway, the really freaky stuff in the batverse always lies….within. The outlandish villains, the weird vehicles, the asylum’s – they’re just the meaty shit’s external trappings. Batmite’s corporeality isn’t the issue, as it is with Mxypltk in Superman. It’s the arrow he points inwards that matters.
Thogal is an interesting one. It’s the latter stage, as far as I understand it, of one of the highest tantras in Tibetan Buddhism, where the self reveals itself as luminous void; where the fundamental nature of reality asserts itself as endlessly detonating emptiness: empty light/form – the rainbow body. So this is the good news – if Brucey keeps this up, we really will see the Rainbow Batman again before the day is through – but the bad news, for now at least, is that right there on the edge of being, Bruce discovers his mind’s been vandalised and realises he’d maybe better deal with that first.
And so: RIP.
Isn’t it just delicious that there’s no clue Batman can’t pick up on, no stone left unturned. It doesn’t matter that the enemy’s trail was embedded right behind his nose – he’ll scour his soul with a magnifying glass if need be and even the Devil leaves fingerprints. Sheeeeit, it’s all in a day’s work for the World’s Greatest Detective. Suck on that, Holmes.
imagine how violated you’d feel if you realised someone had not only been fucking around in your head, but that they’d even gone so far as to booby-trap it. There in the last cave, the gloomy recesses of the psyche, Batman discovers the post-hypnotic word, the mind-virus, and no wonder he has difficulty fathoming its shape! What would it look like? Zur en arhh, lest we forget, strikes me as fifth-dimensionese, Martian for ‘Surrender’, and that’s why Bruce can’t quite grokk the thing – its tendrils extended through his life – his history – writhing with his inability to save his parents, Robin, all the innocents of Gotham; with the stark fact that he’s not a superman, that he’s mortal, and he can’t reverse the Earth’s rotation; he can’t turn back time and stop Chill’s bullet. The ‘black hole’ Bruce describes is the looming shadow of ZRNRRH, the hyper-sigil of banishing, condensed planet composed of Batman’s insecurities, and a devastating reminder of what he and his mission are not: infallible, unlimited and unbounded. See how the Black Glove turns his power fantasy against him…
But Batman always wins.
On this page we catch a glimpse of his plan to hijack the memory of Zur en arrh and make it work for, rather than against, him. Batman’s ‘off’ switch, when flicked, activates the superhero Bruce dreamed he could be, without doubt, unable to even consider the possibility of weakness or human frailty.
But we know all about that other Batman. We dealt with him last time.
I’m eager to see how the sequence with the dream-ninjas attacking him in the desert fits in with all this.
‘We shall wound your soul forever, and if it is strong, it will survive the wound.’
Is ‘the wound’ they’re referring to the Zur en arrh mind-tattoo? Are the entities he summoned during the Thogal ritual, whether real or imaginary, somehow responsible for drawing down the grand soulfuck that’s been RIP, the demon that’s been prowling the fringes of his life? Is this a necessary stage in the initiation process, a resensitizing of the subtle bat-body?
Someone fire up the bat-computer!
Don’t you just love evil Buddhist monks? They really are the best! I still remember an argument between my most contrary friend, Matt, and a well traveled journalist who used to hang at our student digs in Wood Green, over whether or not she was telling the truth about the lecherous monks she’d had to fend off when she visited a monastery in Tibet. My friend gently explained how a disciple of Gautama would never stoop so low as fanny** grabbing, while she sat there wondering how her interlocutor could so confidently set about attempting to deny her actual lived experience. Matt used to engage in this sort of behaviour a great deal, but I think it illustrates quite nicely the modern, new agey westerner’s understanding of the Orient. The need we have to believe it’s the last truly holy place, where enlightenment’s bursting forth from the branches of the bodhi trees and that bloke over there, he might be an honest to goodness dragon!
PAGES 6 & 7
What is that weird billboard in the first panel all about? I’d love to know what Morrison was thinking of when he put that in the script. And if it was Daniel then, well, he’s a much more interesting guy than I thought. It’s like Chris Cunningham’s All is Full of Love video, only a bit wrong. Bjork’s snuggly, kissy android face might not have enjoyed such broad appeal had it adopted the blank, dead stare perpetrated by that creepy thing hovering above Robin, Pierrot and Swagman’s rooftop shennanigans. I imagine Gotham’s skyline is rife with this brand of disturbing imagery – the ad people know that Gothamites like their sales-pitch that little bit more…dark. Edgy.
I have no idea what’s going on with the newspaper either. I’m not going to even try with that one. ‘Knights Martini’? ‘I Forgive’? Is this some intra-continuity bat-bullshit I know nothing about? Probably. I don’t know anything about superhero comics.
Mimes in combat, villainous, fighting mimes… There’s something a little cliched about Pierrot, isn’t there? But I suppose, considering he feels like he’s always been there anyway, the DC Universe needs someone like him doing the silent bendy thing. Don’t have much to say about the subject really, but that dodge in the first panel’s a nice bit of stage direction from Grant, executed pretty solidly by Daniel. His art’s very dynamic, actually. It can lack flow, and much of the action can come off as slightly overcooked, but there’s always movement – the page feels fast and pulpy and alive – even if the action’s a little too exaggerated, over-extended and showy a lot of the time.
And the blank speech balloons prompted a little smile. You could only do that shit in comics.
Aha! One of Morrison’s seventh cavalry at the eleventh hour moneyshots! He still can’t get enough of them after all these years. Sadly none of these guys are as cool as Acid Archie, but they’re pretty fucking cool nevertheless. Years from now, a whole new generation of comic writers, weaned on Morrison, will dust off all the wonderful toys he’s gifted to the DCU and the Club of Heroes will score their very own, honest-to goodness title. I can just see them now, the first truly international superteam since the JLE, but instead of being modeled on the Man of Steel, drawing inspiration from the ultimate self-realised humanity of Gotham’s champion. I suppose they’ll set themselves up in a reconstructed, customised version of Mayhew’s mansion, the island providing a perfect base of operations, perched as it is at the tip of the southern hemisphere, between Spain and Morrocco, the gateway to Europe on one side and Africa on the other, and the whole place commemorating the dreadful events that reunited them a few years before… Shit, maybe DC will recognise my genius shortly and that writer’ll be me.
The black and red colouring is effective on a couple of levels. Obviously it’s symbolic of the fact that Bruce is in the Black Glove’s clutches, a cup of chai away from certain death, but it also somehow nicely signposts that we’re looking at a memory. Neat.
There really is no end to Batman’s arsenal of abilities. Nietzche would be proud. Magic Circle level sleight of hand? Cups switched in the blink of an eye? Pfah! Kid’s stuff! And you might think its tragic that Bruce’s paranoia’s so hardwired (‘Force of habit.’), but you’re wrong, it’s cool. Morrison’s run has been, in part, about underlining the simmering undercurrent of threat running beneath Batman’s life. As a writer he understands the need to amplify the ambiance surrounding the characters he writes – stories are nothing without atmosphere – and the pervading mood of a batbook should be one of menace. Batman’s enemies always skirt the edges of Wayne Mansion’s neatly trimmed estate. Grant knows this, and he cranked up the volume on it till it made the transition from narrative background noise to become one of the fundamental themes carrying the run.
Anyway: die, evil monk!
PAGES 10 & 11
Oh yes! Purpleness! ‘The sky is beginning to bruise…’ and all that. Daniel and Major’s skylines always feel heavy with the reflected reds, greens, yellows and oranges of the city streets below. Bleeding with neons and halogen. It’s totally over the top and gaudy, like so much of the art, but it fucking works. There’s a lovely sense of Gotham as a radiant, black gargoyle, far from the drab greys that characterised the batvisions of the late eighties. A return to the colour of Aparo, but somehow more fully realised, blended with the modern grim ‘n’ gritty vibe. It’s amazing how the the apparently divergent understandings different generations of writers have brought to the character can collide so perfectly within one palette. How even the art team are somehow caught up in the post-modern juggling of Bat-elements that’s defined Grant’s run.
Cardinal Maggi and Al-Khidr… Now I don’t know if Grant even bothered to check what these names mean, but I think it’s unlikely he doesn’t know the latter refers to an extremely mysterious and important figure in Islamic mythology. Translating as the ‘Green One’, Al-Khidr’s status as a prophet or a saint remains contested, but regardless he’s pretty important all the same. And ‘Maggi’ means ‘May’, the month sacred to the Virgin Mary. These guy’s are not just financially elite, but perhaps in some sense they are spiritually exhalted too. Above human laws, flouting them for sport. You can’t touch them for it. They act with total impunity. I don’t care if any of this was intended; you never heard of the death of the author? Still, whatever else they imply, these names, especially if they’re self appellated, are indicative of a kind of puffed up vanity. One shortly to be brought to heel….
Many moons ago, someone on Barbelith commented that there’s always a broad grin and a wink beneath the horrendous acts of violence Grant’s baddies perpetrate, and this is a case in point. Quite frankly the sheer number of indignities the Black Glove plans to heap on Bruce Wayne’s compliant flesh has, by this time, reached and breached saturation point to the extent that its become absurd. You plan to what after cracking his head open, pumping him full of smack, breaking his heart, poisoning him and burying him alive? Exhume his half-dead body? And then give him as Joker-style chelsea smile? And after that I suppose you’ll set the brain-damaged Batman, complete with his reportoire of martial skills and weapons, out on the street to begin some new, fucked up unholy mission? I’m sure, given the chance, Jez and the rest would keep going forever. It’s like some horrendous wankfantasy: the eternally wanton death-drive just begging for more.
Excuse me while I just, um, pop to the toilet.
And now the Joker. I don’t know if anyone else experienced the same surge of warmth I felt upon his re-emergence. After spending so much time around the sneering, gloating sadists comprising the Black Glove, his gleeful reference to starting ‘down the trail of bloody havoc’ and his general air of foreknowledge plus a complete lack of concern just chimed really well with me. He doesn’t give a monkeys about wealth, or revenge, pervy forced internments, or any of the other bullshit motivating factors that separate out plain jane Evil from the Chaos the Joker represents. I smiled to myself as he pranced around the room, stopping ever so briefly for a quick spot of murder, obviously getting a massive kick out of explaining how well and truly fucked Hurt and his high rollers are. It’s the point at which you realise the bad guys are out of their depth – Batman and his arch-enemy duke it out on a much grander playing field – and, realising this, the Joker prompts a chuckle from the reader also. A chuckle and a clap. This is the mighty Batverse. These guys are the shit! Did a bunch of conceited, overconfident, ostentatious dilettantes flashing their wodge around cause you to forget?
Ah, the bat-radia, occult device retrieved from a hidden world. Where did Bruce go to find it? Did he, as the bat-rationalists would argue, simply follow an inbuilt program to its hiding place, dreaming imaginary guides along the way, or should we consider it a gift from the hyper-elves? Zom and I have often argued the case for this ambiguity; not for an either/or answer, but for the gorgeous tensions of the superstate between both polarities. As I mention above with regards to Batmite, It’s an important rule of the batverse that all the really freaky elements can ultimately be figured to a very hard, materialistic ground, but that’s not to ignore the fact these elements exist and exert a tremendous pressure on the diegetic space in the first place; and we sometimes feel we should be able to float away with them. Just drift off into the asylum. Topsy-turvy land is always hovering there, just beyond Gotham’s horizon. Actually, Batman’s default religion, Buddhism, makes a lot of sense in this (super)context. Of course Dzogchen is the Buddhism du jour, so that’s the branch Grant’s got Bruce pursuing now, but regardless of what school you endorse, Buddhism is always *the Middle Way* – the path between extremes. The internal mantra of ‘Not this…. Not this…’, so common to Buddhist philosophy, is perfect for navigating this battleground of competing realities, the Gotham City that Batman stalks. Wayne, again, ever the empiricist, ever the existentialist, isn’t beguiled by either. He can get with the Miss Marpleing if occasion demands, but he’s equally at home bringing it to Darkseid. His brain’s got room for all of it.
Regardless of the radia’s hazy origins, its effects are conclusive: the lunatics are trapped in the madhouse. The thing serves as a lifeline, reconnecting Bruce to his true secret identity, to the superhero, who, with characteristic ingenuity, foresight and a hefty dose of lateral thinking, thought of a way to effectively put the dampeners on any Arkham uprising before it occured. This is the summoning, the reactivation of the bat-computer, the moment heralding the certainty that the Dark Knight’s been playing you.
Nightwing gets his shit on. Nothing here’s particularly noteworthy, but I like the way he explodes into action. You really get a sense of his speed.
Just when I think I’ve got the bat-rogues cornered, Morrison distills their primary motivation better than I ever could. Of course, they’re artists! Actually, to be honest I think I touched on this idea in my Gotham by Gasoline piece, but only ever really skirted the surface of it. The Joker and co are performance artists deluxe. Terrorists as super-situationists. Heath Ledger scrawled his philosophy across Gotham’s canvas -a body of theory composed of exploding hospitals and defaced public servants. The lunatic’s paintbrush: a test tube bubbling with multicoloured toxins. Bruce Wayne is more than familiar with this particular movement – he knows its antidotes. Right here he is soooo money it hurts. He simultaneously manages to convincingly sell a gloat-and-threaten like the most hardcore of the Black Glovers, whilst at the same time resuscitating the bad guy. He absolutely gets to have his cake and eat it – the sinister Dark Knight and the superhero combined.
‘Tell him… I look forward to meeting him.’
Again, no exclamation mark, he’s just stating the reality of the situation.
The earth begins to shift above the grave.
(lovely dramatic timing)
And with a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder, Batman is resurrected. This is Mr Miracle all over again – the initiation ritual where he did the bump and grind with death and still found a way to unpick himself from its bony embrace. Batman has at this point died both figuratively and, well, kinda literally too. He’s been to the place outside time. Batman RIP. That simple.
BAM! POW! Back in the old grey and blue.
‘Now you here, now you ain’t’
The red blood of generation and the black-hole of nullification pulsing, forever. The ‘radiant core’ evil monk describes on page 4 interpreted through the lens of the Joker. And only the Joker could discern it within the blood splattered arabesques of pulverized Robin brains. Talk about black magic. I think Batman and the Joker have been to the same place, but their response to it is entirely different. Their attempts to incorporate it into their lives birthed the Clown at Midnight and led the Batman to redemption. They both begin Grant’s run transformed.
I just want to snatch a second here to giggle at those smug bastards quaking in their boots as they begin to intuit, as the Whip described it in Seven Soldiers, ‘The presence of an altogether bigger reality’.
Moving onwards, however, and the Clown Prince of Crime’s explaining the eternal dynamic as performed by Batman and the Joker, with ol’ white face continually pulling the existential rug out from beneath his feet, only to find Bats has sealed up the hole in the World instantaneously. Batman, the aphopheniac (obsessed with pattern, shape and structure) is form, the Joker, his inverse, is void. And this is a far older love affair than the battle between Good and Evil, hence the Joker lecturing Dr. Hurt on the superiority of the wild card. The Devil’s problem, he posits, is that he is a twoness, one half of a dialectic paradigm that can’t possibly incorporate the infinitely more subtle and sophisticated intercourse between the fundamental Yin and Yang Batman and the Joker represent; the unity of zeroes and ones that makes the world. Shit, even Chaos alone eats the Devil alive. Old Nick’s just another narrative that, one of these days, Chaos, the card that can be anything, that has no fixed form but can take any form it chooses, might stop to clothe himself in and, later, tear apart. There’s no division in the fluxing, flickering twilight of personality that is the Joker. There’s no division in the gorgeous hyper-geometry exposed by the Detective’s magnifying glass. The Devil, with his silly war, has been outclassed.
And he’s a cock for assuming the Joker would ever be his Servant. At best he may enjoy the Joker’s professional respect, but only in the same way an MD might occasionally remark to himself on what a great job his employees are doing.
‘Pleased to meet you….’
After all that Devil talk and, well, just knowing Grant Morrison, anyone attempting to convince himself this isn’t a Stones reference is being very silly.
And then with the ‘Sins…’ business. Hmmm.
More on Dr. Hurt as the Devil later.
‘Ready when you are.’
Zom wanted me to point out that this is a nod back to the aforementioned Batman vs the Martians scene in Morrison’s first JLA storyline, New World Order. I’m inclined to agree. He’s set to give the supreme criminal mastermind the beating of his life, and its happy, happy time in Poodleland.
‘I want you to know I understand.’
Hh. Clumsy, clumsy Jezebel… To Bruce Wayne the Ericksonian commands embedded in that sentence glare like the Sun.
Let’s review that page from Grant’s fifth issue:
(Apologies about the shitness of the scan)
The knowledge that Batman’s figuring out Jet’s one of the bad guys sheds a whole new light on this scene. Bruce doesn’t close his eyes to shut out the tears, or to somehow commemorate his parents, he’s simply internalising this horrible truth, and when he opens them he’s steeled himself again, he’s ‘got over it.’, confident the Black Glove’s playing its hand, and one of its fingers is locked within his sights.
It’s the look a cat gives a mouse before she unsheathes her claws.
The biggest problem I foresaw with Jezebel being a member of the Black Glove was that she’s practically royalty – and a celebrity – and I couldn’t understand how somebody that conspicuous could find enough time outside of the paparazzi’s flashbulb glare to fully indulge her bad side. Morrison turns this neatly on its head, successfully arguing that, like all the fingers of the glove, its precisely because of her status that she can indulge any whim she chooses. Poor old Bruce. She’s probably right about the not trusting any woman bit, but frankly its unlikely he ever has. He found Jez out, didn’t he?
There’s always fighting in this book. Grant obviously made a decision.
The Devil again. There’s a grand tradition of the Devil cursing films, isn’t there? Morrison obviously couldn’t resist that one.
The wild card really does win the day. in the end the red and black serves as the Joker’s high-speed comeuppance. The randomness, the chaos, he prescribes to is his undoing. It had to be Damian behind the wheel – the essential disrespector of authority and established structures, bat-iconoclast supreme: the teenager. Morrison’s continuing love affair with Horus… It also occurs to me it had to be the batmobile that takes the Joker out. He just can’t escape the clutches of that pesky bat, can he? There! Implicate order and chaos mixed like water with water in the space of one panel. Neat.
I was right about Damian’s choice of car too.
The great thing about the comic’s auto-critique, even this late in the day, when the Black Glove has to all intents and purposes failed, is that it still hits the mark.
‘A deluded trust-fund orphan who vents his rage and frustration on the poor in alleyways…’
It’s the golden bullet, the gun, Batman’s alpha and omega. A seemingly indisputable truth – one that might break the back of the titular character – and it certainly topples him here. The next thought follows neatly on from it:
‘I must put away my Batman costume…and retire from crimefighting!’
But we must remember Batman also faces down monsters like the Joker, the white Martians and Dr. Hurt. He’s a member of the JLA. Not simply the Dark Knight, but the Caped Crusader also.
Go get ‘im Caped Crusader.
PAGES 25 & 26
The Black Glove really is just an amorphous architecture of evil. He’s anything that’ll HURT Bruce Wayne: the Anti-Mum/Dad/Alfred. The comic isn’t insisting we literally interpret him as the Devil, although, given all the satanic referencing (and not just in the dialogue; in the comic’s iconography, its mise-en-scene, its themes, its tone, and the gothic genre conventions that Morrison has deliberately brought into play), and, ostensibly, supernatural shit that’s come pouring out of this book since day one, we could quite confidently endorse this take, but that’s not really the point. True to form Batman 681 refuses to pick a side. It denies conclusivity. Anyone that says otherwise does not understand Morrison’s writing. That might annoy some of you out there, but it’s a fact. Sorry. The symbolic/thematic reading is just as important to this book as the literal one. The mythic sphere serving as the Joker’s base of operations that I discussed last time? Well, that’s a key component of Morrison’s comic. Grant understands the Joker’s reading of the text to be just as valid as Batman’s. Sure, we may err on the side of there being an earthly explanation, but that doesn’t matter. Bruce still awoke the last demon in the cave in Nanda Parbat/during the isolation experiment, a demon that cast it’s wrathful reflection on the surface of the material plane, irrespective of the skin this dreadful afterimage decided to dress itself in. That’s how magic works, kids.
I can’t explain it any better than that.
I should also add here that the whole ‘Did that happen that way, or didn’t it?’ thing is a staple of supernatural tales, or had it slipped your mind that’s precisely what you’re reading?
I suppose it’s significant that Bruce takes off his mask here. The received wisdom has always been that Wayne is a mask for Batman, but this stripping down to fundamentals suggests otherwise. It’s telling that Grant enjoys having Bruce refer to ‘Batman’ in the third person.
‘That’s the thing about being Batman. Batman always wins.’
Okay, Wayne can be Batman, but he can also be a whole raft of other things. Bats has just become a useful role he plays, now he’s recovered from the childhood trauma of his parent’s murder. Now that he’s become truly compassionate and altruistic. A real superhero. Morrison is telling us that the final confrontation is between the Black Glove and the man, not the bat. And there’s something so heroic about Bruce diving for the helicopter; this incredible, unstoppable human being.
Shut up Devil, he’s not gonna make a ‘deal’ with you.
I can’t help wishing a slightly more competent artist was working on this comic. I don’t hate Daniel by any stretch of the mark – in fact there’s a lot of stuff I like about him, and I think his art’s a neat fit for the book in many ways – but scenes like this, which are fantastic conceptually, sometimes just fail to hit the dramatic high-note I know they should (and would in other hands). This scene kinda sells the indomitable, unshakable bundle of will and determination that is Bruce Wayne, but it could do better: grade C.
Anyway. KAZOKWHAM! Batman’s black glove takes down the Devil.
To paraphrase Gordon:
‘Why did you decide to pick an enemy that’s older than all of us. As old as time itself?’
Because he thought he could take him. And take him he does.
And he was cowering.
Shouldn’t Talia be adddressing the assembled police officers?
A deliberate harking back to the splash-page at the end of Grant’s third ish. We knew Talia wasn’t dead then, just as we know Batman isn’t a goner now.
Ah, now this really is goood. As readers we hate Jezebel, the femme fatale, in that pure, gleaming way only a gaggle of misanthropic, misogynistic fanboys can. She does tap into something woefully sexist, I’ll grant you. But hey.
DIE JEZEBEL! DIE!!!
Talia’s a great and necessary, tho’ minor, chess piece in this game. She allows us to wreak bloody retribution on all those who brought our hero low. I have to say, I really dig the novel spin on Year One, bat-summoning tech here. A signal that summons…. Just fab. It’s also very pleasurable the way this brings the book full circle – everything’s included, even potentially throw-away, trashy ideas like ninja manbats. This and ASS really represent a new level of narrative neatness for Morrison. Maybe now I can forgive him for the confusing, plot-hole ridden travesty that is New X-Men.
And now it’s Cardinal Maggi’s turn to meet, ummm, Dr. Hurt.
This really is the age of the interactive comic, isn’t it? You can’t tell me Morrison isn’t aware that Le Bossu’s the surprise, breakaway star of the show, and now he’s setting up base in Gotham? Brilliant! Every time I want things to happen my way in a comic, I’m going to prop myself up on my mindless-soapbox and start ranting.
The last page….
A reminder of the foundation upon which Batman was originally built.
Why can’t he be Zorro?
He can, but he shouldn’t. Because Bruce Wayne’s totem isn’t the fox, but the bat. A creature of the night. Of nightmare. The masked avenger did come galloping down the sidewalk and into Bruce’s soul that night, but clothed in the form of Joe Chill’s bullets. Only later will he learn that heroism isn’t the same as revenge.
Only then will he become Zorro in Arkham.
And the final panel?
The incantation behind the scenes of everything, the last words of his Father slurred, as within that lethal moment time slows down to a halt… ‘ZUR EN ARRH’ prepares itself to pounce.
Sorry if this post is a bit scrappy, half-baked and rushed, but I’d better get something up.
Now go read my Vulture rogue’s review!
*and for those of you doubters out there, those who insist he’s always been a staunch disbeliever in all things spooky, I say thee nay: Bruce Wayne is an empiricist. It’s what works that counts. And, anyway, I don’t mean magic of the Zatanna kind but magicK, the art of self-hacking.
**I’m using the term in the British sense, you understand