face

Shit me

‘Wearing this wig reminds me that if Kane is Batwoman, she must wear one too.’

Oh right, that’s interesting Bruce, because seeing you in that perm-wig (and accompanying IT salesman goat-beard), that absurdist eurobaddie nightmare of a disguise, has made me remember – love you, missed you, glad you’re back alive and all that – remember just what a massively weird bloke you are.

Batwoman #0 is a very straightforward re-intro issue – Bruce Wayne (in various guises)/Batman is following Kate Kane/Batwoman around to see if they are one and the same person. It’s a reasonably natty way of having a look at Kate’s day-to-day existence, run alongside a straightforward nighttime Gotham-style bundle, with Bruce’s narrative voiceover making sure we all feel very comfortable. Supposedly. It might work like that if they didn’t make Bruce out to be such an abjectly strange man, who can’t apparently go a day without busting out some deeply maladaptive fashion choices.

Before we get into the real weirdnesses lurking just beneath the unconvincing syrups of this issue, a couple of points need to be said about this issue: 1) This is Batwoman’s big re-entry into the post-Return of Bruce Wayne DCU. As such, it is a little troubling that the entire issue is entirely voiced by the main man, robbing her of the active, autonomous and directive presence in the issue that she deserves, seeing as how it’s supposed to be her comic and everything. These men, these millionaires, these ultraviolent cosplay fucking lunatics, they can’t ever let a girl catch a break, can they?

2) The traditional rejoinder/twist/get out of jail free card in this kind of story – where the lead character is supposed to be our focus and the narrator has been acting in a wholly smug and assholeish fashion – would be to have her stick her Vs up to Bruce in the last panel, make it clear that he’s not as smart as he reckons, she’s been on to him the whole time. This doesn’t come, spoiler, and so the whole issue has this really odd off-balance feel to it, ironic given the way the art duties are split. If you haven’t seen it already, I can’t be bothered to explain – check the issue out for yourself, but they divvy up the art duties between JH Williams and Amy Reeder quite neatly.

The issue overall is only unintentionally funny really, unless it’s a masterpiece of delicate deadpan humour which – if true, is going to make the next few hundred words a bit pathetic – but it’s still Williams, so it’s still got a couple of semi-breathtaking moments in there. But the general feeling you get from it is is a bit disconnecting – does this comic think that Batman is as weird as I – on the evidence of this issue – do? Is that where Batwoman’s victory comes in, by pointing out what a wankbreak Batman is, letting him look like a freak in comparison to her well-adjusted normal life? Allow my ludicrous opinions to influence you for a moment, then go away and decide for yourself…

Basically, the whole issue is about Bruce following Batwoman and Kate Kane around, trying to deduce if they’re one and the same person. Now, you’d be thinking, ‘Of course they are. Kane clearly has the money and physical skills to do it, ergo it’s her. Because not that many people, even in crazy old GC, are rich and bellicose enough to *don the cape* and take to the rooftops. Plus, y’know, they look identical. Same hair, same build, and, oh yeah, same face.’ Although any child could perform this pitifully easy feat of deductive reasoning*, Bruce has been devoting every waking hour (which for him is about twenty-two a day – get some sleep Bruce! Listen to me: The sleep loss is making you creepy and obsessive) to this conundrum for like a fortnight before the issue even starts.

This kind of brings me to the point of this post, beyond having a look and a laugh at Bruce’s erratic and ill-advised fashion choices, get to that in a minute: Bruce acts like a fucking crazyman in this comic, revealing in some detail the depth and range of his kinkinesses. He is undoubtedly getting total bigbone jollies from trailing this hot, rich girl’s girl around town all day, but has to use, y’know, ‘the mission’ to justify it to himself. While doing this he has to engage in several small but definite acts of self-delusion. Chief among these is: if he pretends that Kate’s disguise is actually really good because it takes Me – the World’s Greatest Detective, three weeks to crack it, when clearly, no it’s not, then he also gets to continue pretending that his Batman disguise is also actually really, really good, even though blatantly everyone in town knows Batman=Bruce Wayne by now. As is highlighted quite deftly in the recent movie, it’s just they’re too scared to publicly say anything about it because Bruise Vein, as the local tabloids most definitely wouldn’t call him, is so obviously so rich and so mental and so dangerous. (And vindictive – those poor corner boys didn’t kill your parents Bruce. Stop stabbing them in the knees with your special, and one suspects rather expensive, bat-knives.)

But mainly, despite his strange justifications, he just really likes spying on folk. (Unreachable-but-hot chicks a bonus.)

(And playing dressups.)

(And loads of other things – oh look, he does have a superpower after all, and it’s his polymorphousness.)

Lurking inside all of this is a very democratic, kind of enlightened and positive in a self-helpy kind of way, acceptance on Bruce’s part of the truth of the sadistic and masochistic urges that lurk in the hearts of men. When it comes to dealing with these difficult dimensions of his personhood, Bruce most definitely has his cake and punches it too. The act of spying and stalking and ‘detecting’, of subjecting an unsuspecting woman to the full glaring judgement of your superhero gaze (and superhero baseball phallus), is an act of profound violence, heroic mission or not.

Yet the way Bruce goes about exercising this (not ‘naked’, but certainly ‘strangely-attired’) aggression is so secretive and both physically and personally humiliating, that it incorporates a healthy, if slightly non-credible, balancing dose of the masochistic impulse too. Just look at the humiliating lengths he’s willing to go to for the mission:

homely

These scans are really bad, aren’t they?

Again, it’s kind of self helpy though, isn’t it? Posing as a beggar, see from the opposing side the sharp corners of the symbolic boxes Big Other places us into blah…? Bruce is obviously enjoying it, trying to milk the moment a little bit, get right into the character, take the Honor Jackson route to enlightenment and see the Buddhamind in every wretched atom. How else to explain his weird comment about Batwoman’s dad, who is clearly a shitbag of the first military rank:

‘He can’t be all bad…He gave me money.’

Bruce is sitting there, his billionaire arse taking up perfectly good downtown begging space by the way, whatever though, and before you can say ‘guilty conscience’ Kaptain Kane has put like , ooh, maybe a dollar, in his little begging cup. The first thoughts that come too good ol’ Bruce’s mind aren’t ‘extraordinary rendition’, or ‘School of the Americas’, or ‘Fallujah’ or anything like that, but ‘Oh shucks, he can’t be all bad – he gave exactly the guy he’s spent his life ordering into warzones a buck. A buck! He has guilt! What a guy!’

That was day seventeen buy the way, well over a fortnight into the Dark Knight Detective’s epic investigation. Things get really interesting four skulky days later, when Bruce follows Kate to one of her favourite hangouts, if you get

Well I was dancing in the lesbian bar
Way downtown
I was there to check the scene
And hang around
Well the first bar things were stop and stare
But in this bar things were laissez faire

what I mean.

It’s not, I mean really, it’s not all that clear how Bruce got in there – maybe he just tagged on to the end of a group of girls, maybe he slipped the doorman a hundred, or maybe dressing up like Top Gun era Tom Cruise is a surefire way of getting into any gay club anywhere in the world, though I can’t think why it would be…

club

I may go and get some proper ones later

Shit Bruce that’s so a bad look for you. Not to mention an even worse disguise than your usual. Maybe under the parallel physics of the DCU certain assumptions are safer to make than they would be out here, such as ‘Gays are rubbish at seeing through disguises, I learnt that at ninja school.’ Jesus Christ. No wonder the barman’s taking the piss out of you. ‘Okay Mr. Wayne, sure Ok, you’re not gay, you’re just here to spy on someone. Enjoy your appletini! Nice glasses too… err, I’m over here?’ All you keen eyed amatuer Marples out there might be interested to spot a few strange details in the Bruce panels of this club sequence. Those famously strong, well defined jaw muscles are clearly undergoing some kind of unusual contortion, clenched into a lock-tight spasm, even beyond his normal gritty crimebustin’ grimace. He quickly ditches the booze in favour of bottled water. He pops outside to chill out (and watch the cool kids snogging). What can it mean? Hey Bruce, it’s cool, you don’t have to explain yourself to me man, it’s a victimless crime anyway as far as I’m concerned. Yeah sure, it’s research for the mission, I understand totally. Yeah I love you too man, I said that right at the start of this post. Do you want some gum?

(Although I can’t let it go unsaid – that’s a fucking horrid leather jacket you’re wearing there. It wasn’t expensive was it? The way it bunches in at the waist is really hideous… )

(That jacket cost about ten grand, didn’t it Bruce? Oh Bruce.)

libr

But don’t hold your breath, OK?

Disguise Three. Day Twenty-Three. Twenty-Three? Have you honestly been fannying about with this bollocks for nearly four weeksh? Look at that. He’s reading the Art of War. Come on Bruce, surely you know that only dull rappers and sales reps read that book?

For this disguise Bruce has gone for the predatory sex offender classic of a random library geek who just can’t help but bump into fit girls and knock their books out of their hands, even when there’s no-one else around…

So there he is, spying on Kate again, who’s not sad enough to be checking out the books on her own but has gone there with her cousin, who is, seriously, a superhero called Flamebird. Even this isn’t enough for Bruce – ‘Just because her family member is a superhero doesn’t mean she is too’ he reasons, betraying a staggering lack of understanding of how superheroes work, and pretty clearly suggesting that Bruce should be spending this valuable library time checking out the Graphic Novels, rather than the Business for Bastards section. He bumps into her, peers down her top, I mean, looks at the weirdo Crowley books she’s reading, and the look of utter pity on her face says it all.

I haven’t scanned that bit in though. Sorry. It would have really helped at this point.

The fourth and final disguise takes us back to where we began:

mirror1

Jesus Christ – state of that

It’s frankly incredible that a man as apparently clued-in as Bruce could bear to be seen in public dressed like that, disguise or not. This is also where he decides to pass comment on this weird beard micro-fetish thing he’s spent the last month working himself into a frenzy with:

‘Sometimes a simple wig is the best disguise of all’.

Wrong. Reality time Bruce: It’s basically impossible not to clock a bloke who’s got a wig on from right the way downd the street. Even if it looks half normal, half a million Elton Dollars thrown at it, the way humans process social information is so quick and multivariate and unconscious that people instinctively realise that that geezer’s got something odd about him , even before they can actually see him clearly enough to get a proper look at his barnet. No no, thinks Bruce, it’s a good disguise. Moreover, I look cool like this.

This sequence is simultaneously the sartorial low point and dramatic high point of the issue. Bruce’s internal monologue goes into this thing about how he’s not actually assaulting a woman with a large and potentially deadly penis substitute, he’s actually carefully doing some internal jujitsu where he directs enough ki or, y’know, ‘killing energy’ from samurai comics* at her so the attack feels real. This is all total bluff of course, the masochist hiding from himself even when the moment of orgasm is imminent.

kick

Wallop! Uuurghthatfeltgood

And there it is. that by any reckoning is one of the best facekicks I’ve ever seen in a comic, its crushing acrobatics made all the keener for the look of release and satisfaction on Bruce’s face. i’ll say it agaibn: you’re a fucking weird bloke Bruce. You need to get out a lot less, for everyone’s sake – maybe you should go and beat up a drug addict or something?

* Like you know that bit where Lone Wolf has to kill like the buddha of compassion or something, but he can’t do it becasue the buddhaman deflects any killing energy that comes his way, so Lone Wolf has to go and chill on a mountain and kill wolves and stuff to ascend to the position of buddha-of-killing, so he can kill the goodiebuddha with perfect desirelessness? That stuff.

30 Responses to “Batwoman #0. ‘Some men become awkward around members of the opposite sex.’”

  1. Werdsmiffery Says:

    OK, I’ll say it: Bruce’s wig+goatee disguise in your first scan makes him look like the spitting image of Kenny Fucking Powers.

  2. Zom Says:

    Yes

  3. Zom Says:

    Only in comics do people dress as… wrongly.

    What the fuck is that nightclub get up supposed to be? Who the fuck – which iconic beautiful rich people like Bruce Wayne – wear clothes like that? Answer: no one.

  4. amypoodle Says:

    except when he’s *ahem* cruising…

  5. RetroWarbird Says:

    It’s actually a genius move by Bruce Wayne as far as further distancing himself from the probability of “being Batman” in the public eyes.

    His reputation with the ladies – a new one weekly, but never going very far with them. His Puritanical shame-streak. His “cowardly” (sweeping broad generalizations here) streak where with Clark Kent-like fervor, he gets the hell out of dodge when there’s trouble – only for Batman to show up moments later and “just miss him”.

    Bruce Wayne allows himself to make a poorly disguised appearance at a gay bar. Rumors spread. People think “Oh, that poor kid with the dead parents who chickens out when criminals attack … ah … oh … THAT’S why. He’s in the closet, not the Bat-Cave. The Batman couldn’t be gay, he kicks ass! Voila – the perfect addition to his “cover story” of “funding Batman”.

    Really draws attention to the difference between Bruce and Dick. Bruce is pure … bridled, stifled testosterone. Discipline must be a bitch …

    Grayson, who wore a vest, speedo and pixie boots half his life drives fast cars because it’s fun not because he’s over-compensating … has sleepovers at Babs’ house and the Birds of Prey stick around for the fun …

    The denial of the “I knew you were following me … (and thereby, that’s why I dragged out the reveal in a three week annoyance by really being extra-careful)” catharsis moment was sorely missed. But could a female super-character play a game like that without fans getting some “She’s playing the game!” sort of subtext from it?

    A middle finger would’ve done it, I think.

  6. Papers Says:

    The gay bar scene is hilarious because I did indeed read it as a broad-band gay bar rather than a lesbian-specific one, and I liked the idea that Retro puts forward about that.

    I think the male gaze/voice issue with this comic is annoying, but ultimately falls to why this was a zero issue instead of a first–Bruce is back, he’s re-establishing himself in Gotham and in the franchise, and this was introducing him and Kate in this Brave New World.

    The reason it feels uneven, to me, is that this is the opening statement that shall be refuted next issue (zero = Womb = Bat-womb refuted by one = rocket = Rise of the Batwoman). We’re only looking at half of this. The first issue, I suspect, will respond to this a bit?

  7. amypoodle Says:

    funny shit aside, it’s fucking ridiculous that bruce spends a month or however long trying to figure out batwoman’s secret identity. utter bollocks, bat-editorial should’ve been all over that one.

  8. amypoodle Says:

    i should also add…

    any post containing richman’s lesbian bar is always the best post evarrr.

  9. Tweets that mention Mindless Ones » Blog Archive » Batwoman #0. ‘Some men become awkward around members of the opposite sex.’ -- Topsy.com Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by sean witzke, Jog Mack. Jog Mack said: Awesome psychological profile of Bruce Wayne in Batwoman #0, via @mindlessones: http://bit.ly/h1JklY [...]

  10. RetroWarbird Says:

    Or for that matter, you’re telling me Grayson didn’t do his homework in that year’s time? Given his borderline-obsession with redheads?

    He may not be the Dark Knight Detective, but Grayson has memorized a lot of female bodies in his day …

  11. Patchworkearth Says:

    Forget homework: I have a hard time believing that with how things played out, Dick didn’t know who she was by the end of 52.

    But so long as we’re going there: The bit about “She must wear a wig?” Dick took the wig off of her on-panel when she died and got dipped in the lazarus pit, what, less than a year ago? That much at least should be in the Bat-computer or whatever. Bruce could pull that up in seconds on the internet 2.0.

  12. Patchworkearth Says:

    Also, in the same issue, Dick met Kate’s dad, her “military contact” or whatever. Even if Bruce were to refuse to immediately tie him to Kate-as-Batwoman, Kate’s dad was responsible for rescuing Dick, Knight, and Squire – and way well have hooked Knight and Squire up with that satellite tech. “Can’t be all bad,” indeed.

  13. bobsy Says:

    Indeed. Part of what i didn’t get into with this becasue it would have gon on forever was how this issue points to just how little dick and bruce must have actually spoken to one another since he got back. i know that crime never sleeps and stuff, but you would have thought that a leisurely sit-down/catch-up over some spicy salsa and ginger ale would have been really beneficial, not just to their sense of communal ‘family’ well-being, but actually for The Mission too.

    But no, Bruce knows best: Alfred, hand me the Bat-hypnol, it’s ladies night!

  14. Werdsmiffery Says:

    Yeah, you’d think that now Bruce is on his Incorporated kick, he’d a) know about Batwoman, and b) approve. Anyway, it’s never good when writers have a character known as “the World’s Greatest Detective” act like a complete moron in order to make the story work. (The Long Halloween is a particularly egregious offender.)

  15. prooker Says:

    The decision to publish a 0# issue for Batwoman was purely DC editorial. Williams had already finished the first issue and that’s where he wanted to really reintroduce Woman-O’-Bats to readers, but well, DC just wanted to get in a bit a cash in their pockets for the holiday season. Anyways point being Williams probably was sore as hell about having to do this issue anyways, as it really isn’t anything about it that offers any forward movement, other than seeing what Bruce does for Bat-kicks.

    But hey it’s worth it for some Williams and decent Reeder art right?

    Now excuse me I have some lesbian stalking planned

  16. bacer Says:

    It was a poorly thought-out issue.

    That said, I don’t think Bruce necessarily gets a hard-on from following Kate Kane around. This is a guy who can get a Selina Kyle bootycall any time he wants. He’s also a playboy who can waltz around with two supermodels on either side of him whenever he wants. I do think it’s creepy and somewhat morally wrong how Bruce spies on people, but saying he’s got a sexual obsession is entirely your own projection.

    Because, y’know, we comic fans have some pretty weird sexual tastes ourselves, it seems. I can’t listen to a comics podcast without hearing the man- or woman-child hosts start to get pervy and, under the veiled guise of just being silly, start to sexualize each other and everyone around them, fictional character or real person.

    I had to stop reading this article about a third of the way through because it became too ironic. You’re taking Bruce Wayne to taste for being creepy and obsessive and over-analytical, when YOU’RE so hung up on this one 16-page throwaway issue? You say it shouldn’t take Bruce so long to realize that Kate is Batwoman–well it shouldn’t take YOU so long to realize that JH Williams & co. are not masters of narrative logic.

    And no, not everyone in Gotham knows that Bruce=Bats. I realize that a lot of supporting characters do, but it’s not like the whole city does. Only like 0.00001% of the population does.

    Yeah, I agree that Bruce wears weird funny costumes. That’s an interesting tidbit to think about and get a cheap laugh over…for maybe five seconds. Obsessing over it and churning out a 10,000-word essay over it and all it’s perceived implications…that’s WAY more creepy than anything Bruce Wayne does in Batwoman #0.

  17. Zom Says:

    Great points. Bobsy is way creepy

  18. Shiny Jim Says:

    What’s creepy is that Bruce is doing all that to someone that could very well be his second cousin.

  19. Thrills Says:

    Bacer, I don’t think Brucers was being ‘over-analytical’, I think the problem with the comic is that he was just basically being fucking stupid…

  20. Smitty Says:

    “But hey it’s worth it for some Williams and decent Reeder art right?”

    No.

    For all the points raised above I condemn this comic to Zibarro’s planet where it can be properly lauded as the pinnacle of Bat Narrative.

    Now I’ll quote myself, “I worry about what happens to the Batman when he gets into much less capable hands.”

    That said, I will check out the proper Batwoman #1 as that’s where Williams wanted to start anyway. If I hadn’t read this comments section I would’ve assumed this was his big splash beginning. My immediate judgement would have been to NEVER pick this up again. Also, from the scans and previews I would rate Reeder right around Howard Porter. Am I missing something further along? Should I give it the flip?

    Mind you, art is art and writing is writing which is kinda what I’m worried about. Tony Daniel – David Finch – JH Williams? Man, that’s writing pedigree.

    Hate myself for being negative…apologies all.

  21. amypoodle Says:

    bacer, it was a joke, mate.

    i think your reading is very po-faced. one example (out of many i could pick): the stuff about everyone knowing bruce wayne is batman, fr instance, *obviously* has no bearing on the diegetic reality of a batman comic whatsoever – his universe would break down if they did, or at least none of the current storylines would work – but it’s not ridiculous to assert that IRL a lot of people might by this point have become suspicious (which is what bobsy is really doing. you know, without directly signposting it and spoonfeeding you)… and it’s not silly to laugh at that assertion because it points out the inherent ludicrousness of the the instory situation. that bobsy then goes on to proffer that the most handily available solution to this poser would be for everyone to be scared of the super-rich superhero psycho in their midst is just as comprehensible comedically because it extends the joke to its logical (albeit ridiculous in terms of plot logic) conclusion.

    why am i explaining how humour works to you? you don’t sound dumb.

    anyway, i pissed myself all the way through it – esp the bit about bruce wayne’s locked pill-jaw – but it’s horses for courses i suppose.

  22. amypoodle Says:

    and this…

    ‘I can’t listen to a comics podcast without hearing the man- or woman-child hosts start to get pervy and, under the veiled guise of just being silly, start to sexualize each other and everyone around them, fictional character or real person.’

    well maybe the ones you listen to…. do we do this?

    am i SEXUALISING lactus?

  23. Illogical Volume Says:

    I dunno if you’re sexualising Lactus, but your podcast voice definitely sexes me up you degenerate pervert!

    Then again, the sight of impacted snow on a cold winter’s day has been known to get me going, so I’m very much part of the problem here I think.

    Have I mentiond that this post is brilliant yet? Becase it really is! Without it this comic would’ve felt like a total waste of time & money, which, in December… I could do without.

    Thanks Bobsy! Job’s a good ‘un.

  24. Gary Lactus Says:

    I don’t think I’m a great example to be using here. It’s rather difficult not to sexualise me.

    Sorry. Carry on.

  25. Teethbeard Says:

    This was fucking marvelous.

    I’m actually getting this comic. Thank you so so much.

  26. Linkarama@Newsarama | Best Action Figures of 2009 Says:

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  27. prooker Says:

    Smitty- Well J.H. had a really enjoyable run in his Chase series a while back

  28. Smitty Says:

    prooker – Missed it. I’ll look it up now. Thanks!

  29. Mindless Ones » Blog Archive » “Pain is Funny”: Deadpool Max #1-3 Reviewed! Says:

    [...] As my fellow Mindless Ones can probably attest, I’m the Mindless most likely to “sexualise the Lactus.” So… some of these jokes just make think of Beavis, but others finger my Butthead, [...]

  30. Mindless Ones » Blog Archive » Aggregator Bastardator Says:

    [...] GUIDE. If you’ve ever read on of bobsy‘s posts (and if you haven’t, what’s keeping you? – Ed) you’ll probably have found yourself thinking “Now here’s a man who [...]

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