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Before we get into this.

Zom constantly upbraids me for caring about such things, but I’m just too irritated by the internet’s monthly refrain of  ‘it was too all over the place’, often followed by ‘it was too hard to understand’ not to have a moan. It’s almost the stock criticism of Morrison these days and it’s simply a question of who will be uttering it this time around. One month someone over here is complaining that the writing is too ‘scattershot’ and dense while over here someone else is defending the comic as a shining example of Morrison at his most accessible, and the next the roles are reversed, a tango unto death. I say balls! to this and hereby usher in the long overdue Age of The Three Rereads. From now on no one is allowed to utter the words ‘hard to follow’, ‘confusing’, ‘unrelated plots’ or the like without having read the comic three times. We all know it takes a while for the massive info-dump to settle, so it’s only fair we behave accordingly and give the comic room to breathe after a breathless first hit. Obviously this rule doesn’t apply if you’re a casual reader, but critics owe it to themselves and their readership. My general feeling is that the tonal shifting and fizzing ideas add to the reading experience, creating contrasts, generating depth and a sense of length and substance. And isn’t this super important in the case of a twenty page comic (not that this one is, mind)? It’s not density and narrative commotion I’m concerned about, but slightness, and although you can’t fashion positives out of negatives it’s hugely refreshing for me that Morrison’s books never suffer from this problem.

Sure, it’s not as simple and streamlined as Inc’s first two issues, but just to be clear, this comic, inspite of some of the negative press out there, isn’t very hard to understand and will be remembered fondly. I’d hate to be a critic of DC comics generally, I really would. There really is no comparison between a book like this and most of the crap that gets produced. The measure of its goodness is completely different and an undifferentiated grading system that doesn’t take this into account is just nonsense.

PAGE 1

We know that this must take place after the events depicted at the beginning of Batman Incorporated 3 because this is evidently Doctor Dedalus trapped on the as yet unspecified falkland island. We do not, however, know if this is the present day or if it’s already happened, if Dedalus has already escaped. I like the spider motif here, the idea of the monster not trapped but waiting at the heart of his web, fingering and fine tuning each of its invisible chords, conducting an invisible symphony of evil, or just flailing around like a mad bloke.

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With his Cloak of Smoke he’s the first storm cloud in the sunny Batman Incorporated sky.

And then there’s the similarity between Dedalus and this guy.

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The Ouroboros is afterall an alchemical symbol and there’s something peculiarly magickal about Dedalus. The old hermit on the island with all the secrets of the world in his head, working the great work.

Anyway, I love the ‘ring around the world’ thing. It’s beautiful. Turns the Earth into Saturn or Uranus. Makes everything alien.

Johnny Valentine’s acid spray might be easily obtained on Gotham’s super-crime infested streets, but there’s always the equally likely possibility it’s not and that this common thug’s been kitted out by….  someone else.

Kane’s Kolossal Karnival… Is this code? Were the Kane family involved with the Klan? Did they make their money in the plantations? The curse of Kane implies doomed, evil endeavours, a family fated to do the wrong thing and pay for it.

Part of me wonders if this is the same carnival the Joker and Pyg used as a base of operations, revived now in the wake of trapeze artist Dick Grayson donning the cape and cowl. I wouldn’t put it past Gotham. Metropolis definitely, but not Gotham.

PAGES 2 & 3

This is the part of the story haunting the margins of Batman and Batwoman’s. Not only is it directly related to the overarching narrative of Batman Inc the comic, but to both characters’ investigations and the emotional core of Batman and Gaucho’s fight, so shut up non-critics. It’s also doomed, the bright sunshine resolving into the noirish, german expressionist shadows. Hands up who guessed agent 33 was Gaucho!

PAGE 4

Gaucho’s still a charmer.

And you get a special no-prize if you guessed Agent Zero was Dr Dedalus. Zero = ring.  Also the card’s a pretty big clue.

A spiral zeroes down into infinity, like the numbers of the agents counting backwards to their commander.

‘I’m doing what any grieving widow would do on the day she buried her husband. I Plan to flirt with Death until his bony little heart breaks in two.’

It’s pithy little asides like this that more than anything else keep me reading Morrison’s comics. Kathy’s clearly reckless and suicidal.

Anyway, one thing I particularly like about Burnham’s pencils and Fairbairn’s colours is the way these flashback sequences evoke Quitely circa Flex Mentallo. I could go on about the excellence of this art team forever. OMG we’re being spoiled with this book. I dread the coming of Clark. That guy looks proper baby-time.

PAGE 5

Kathy Kane, then, was clearly a match for the young Batman. When I first read RIP I was like ‘bollocks is she Bruce’s equal‘, but Morrison clears that up in a single caption box. She was a polymath: a spy, critically acclaimed film maker, poet and accomplished martial artist. She was a celebrity and a mega-rich heiress. But more than that she was adventurer and she was driven. Probably the only woman in the history of Batman’s love life to mesh with him so completely. I’m sold on this love affair and I’m sick to the gills that it didn’t work out and she died. Poor Kath. I’m surprised she lasted as long as she did, though, given her devil may care nature. In the old comics Batman seems painfully aware that more than anything else she’s in it for the thrill.

At least her marriage to Nathan Kane clears up any worries about her and Bruce being cousins or whatever.

It’s interesting that amongst the films she directed there’s one called Ariadne’s Sewing Machine, which of course is another iteration of the maze theme that features so predominantly in this book, Ariadne being the provider of the thread that led Theseus out of the Minotaur’s Labyrinth. There’s another, oblique, Borgesian connection here – his short story, the House of Asterion, tells the story of the minotaur from his own perspective. It’s excellent. You should read it. Other than that there’s also the circular title Mirrorrorrim, a word-ring if ever there was one. Does this mean Kathy Knew something of Oroboro before she joined Spyral? She was a spy afterall. Will Batman find clues to avoid disaster in these films? Will Ariadne’s Sewing Machine provide a way out of the maze?

PAGE 6

‘We have to play for time until I can hack the locks on the doors to the boiler room.’

Fuck all explanation or exposition, just action, just movement. I’ve talked before about how, because he’s a detective, Batman is perfect for Morrison’s compressed style. Part of the reason this comic is able to race ahead at the speed It does is because its characters process information so quickly, quicker in fact than many readers. Batman just needs to glance at the video screen and he knows where Sombrero is and what to do. I love this approach. Not only does it allow for lots of story, but it also frames Batman, Batwoman, etc. as being better at this shit than YOU. Most of us have to go back and reread to figure out some of the action, and while this might alienate some readers, it makes perfect sense in a comic about detectives who never miss a beat.

I don’t know if Morrison intended all this when he came up with his name, but Sombrero’s pretty cool in the translation: maker of shades. Of course this can be taken two ways, as a cover, a shelter or a house or, more metaphorically, as describing a killer. Combine the two and you’ve got a house full of deathtraps. Now of course that’s what he’s become, his body, his house, a lethal trap for his soul. The guy’s so much nastier like this too. More motivated.

And did you know some types of scorpions glow blue when exposed to UV? Scorpiana’s well disco.

Nice.

‘Batman! Tell me did you suspect our noble Gaucho was responsible for the death of the first woman you truly loved?’

I like the way Scorpiana’s all about the venom all the time. Even her words are poisonous. She doesn’t speak unless to sting.

PAGE 7

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Kathy Kane was indeed murdered, rather summarily, by Denny O’Neil and the Sensei’s men in Detective Comics 485. I haven’t read around the story in much detail, but it seems even then the Sensei’s informant was in doubt. It’s suggested that it was Ra’s al Ghul, but in 485 at least it’s never really confirmed.

I can’t remember, but I’m sure it’s already been suggested that the head of Leviathan/KULTEK might be the Sensei. It would make sense given that the yantra in the background of the last scene in Return is Kali’s, the Indian goddess of death. Dedalus and the Sensei would probably have a lot in common - a couple of nasty old men out to destroy civilization. Having said that, though: two evil old men?

PAGE 8

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What a great panel. I hate to say it ’cause Burnham’s his own man, but, again, it’s pure Quitely.

At this point I think it’s fair to say that the murders are sacrificial and in part magickal in intention. Three represents the first return to unity after the primordial dot – dot, line, triangle – a theme which is reemphasized by the fact that each of the victims is of the same type, everything an articulation of the qualities of the Ouroboros. It’s difficult to know what these triple slayings will actually mean in real world terms, but the death of the marines may connect to the international incident that leads to Sombrero’s prophesied war.

As for the swinging on the funfair ride thing, it’s great and of course it’s always fun to see ‘acrobatic’ superheroes negotiate space other than skyscrapers. This was one of the great pleasures of Blackest Knight’s opening sequence and a way into handling superheroes outside of America.

PAGE 9

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Morrison clearly really digs Batwoman. It’s criminal that a superhero with a look as iconic as her’s is still lacking her own book. Zom reckons it’s due to homophobia. I hope he’s wrong.

Shades of Mickey Eye on the ghost train car’s detailing. Suppose it’s reminiscent of the eye in the web too.

Have to say, it’s weird that the bad guys are theatrical enough to get one of their agents up as Batwoman. I mean it’s cool and all, but does it serve any purpose other than to freak Kate out? Is it bait to reel Kate in?  I love the little detail of her beckoning while reaching into her utility purse for God knows what killer kosmetic.

PAGES 10 & 11

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That first panel. Just Wow. Burnham: WOW.

‘She’d known men with the single minded drive and resources it might take to wage a one man war on crime….. The widow Kathy Kane considered the best way to attract one-pointed attention of that kind of man…’

Kathy Kane is just too cool. She’s positioned so convincingly as someone who could at least temporarily get the better of the young Bruce Wayne. My g/f, who is a massive feminist, loved Morrison’s Catwoman in Batman Inc 1 (it was only insecure men who couldn’t see past the theatrical leg rubbing and purring in the sexy scenes – any full bloodied woman could see both gazes, male and female, were catered to) and even though she hasn’t read this issue, I’m sure she’d feel similarly about Kathy Kane. Another strong, interesting female character from Morrison. The bastard, I hate him and his schtick for making me care about dead characters. I want this lady back. But I don’t want her back too. Fans shouldn’t be given what they want.

The action in these two pages is a mash up of the events of Tec 233, which features Batwoman’s first appearance, and the results of the Comics Alliance competition where they offered the winner a chance to ‘star’ in the comic. The acronyms DCU and CBA stand for DC Universe and Comics Alliance respectively. I think I’ve found Stoja’s pic online and he’s not as chubby as Burnham’s drawing makes him out to be.

Seems Jimmy the Jackdaw’s a Morrison original. Jackdaw’s are traditionally associated with stealing shiny objects.

PAGE 12

Now’s as good a time as any for this little rant.

I appreciate why some people might find the campy fifties’ dialogue jarring – afterall, it is - and in this issue there’s a big fat chunk of it, but it works for me: like the benday dots it not only serves to indicate the past but a romantic past, part of a semiology of reminisence. It also creates a lovely tension between itself and the nastier scenes, a trick employed in comics and especially by Morrison since year dot, and did we forget how it’s fun?

But.

Do you know WHY they did it? Why they spoke like that? That’s the real question. Well you have to remember they were still figuring it out. Nowadays heroes take it for granted that they can come to a fight as themselves, with all their worries about the cat and the flooded bathroom in tow, and they’ll be accepted anyway, that the public not only trust or are resigned enough to the sight of a  superhero by now, but that they’re active participants in the meaning of the superhero event. Not so in the old days. Back then the superhero was an awesome, world shaking thing to behold, let alone wield. The primary concern was to inspire trust, not only in the frail mortals within whose midst they made their battleground, but in themselves, because it would be so easy to slip up, so easy to lose control of all that power. When you think about it in these terms it makes perfect sense that a distinctly superheroic language emerged, ripped straight out of pre-existing heroic narratives, films, adventure stories and myth, narratives where there was no moral grey area, where heroes were always heroes and no one ever slipped. Not everyone sounded like that, but most of the big guns did, and remember a lot of them were packing kids. Another thing that can’t be underestimated was how embarrassing it all was. Everybody felt a little bit silly beneath those costumes and some people simply found coming off like a comic book hero or bad guy a really good way into their role. Oftentimes on missions it was just too much hassle to continually switch modes, depending on whether you were talking to your partner, Commisioner Gordon, the Joker or the general public, so these were often seamless performances.

I wrote a whole bunch of stuff about why and how Batman embraced this stuff more than any other superhero, but I deleted it. We can hammer it out in the comments if you like. And I don’t want to hear any dumb shit about rationalisations etc. Morrison’s work encourages this sort of game playing and it’s fun.

The last panel

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kinda inverts this one.

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Bruce’s rather unreconstructed attitude is offset nicely by Kathy’s joke. Just as in the third panel where she responds to Batman’s ‘Nobody can where a Batman costume in Gotham but me’ with an incredulous ‘Ridiculous!’, I love the way she refuses to dignify his bullshit with a real argument. Women have had to quietly tolerate this sort of stupidity for ages. Here, Batwoman, with her handbag of tricks and her glamorous unutilitarian costume is Sex and the City vs The Wire and in typical male fashion Bruce poo-poos what he doesn’t understand, dismissing it as a silly frivolity. I dig the way even Bruce Wayne can slip up in his gender politics.

What Bruce doesn’t know is that Kathy’s flashy for a reason, she wants his attention, and she’s not really a superhero at all, but a spy – specifically a spy spying on him.

Psych.

PAGE 13

We last saw this sequence in Last Rites but it’s accreted a ton more depth this time around.

That kiss is great. I want it blown up on my wall. Batman is totally pwned.

I’ll let Bobsy have a crack at the Robin sequence.

‘the best scene was robin playing with ace – his protestation about batgirl forcing himself on her (note no indication that he fought her off [Drake would have done - Amy]); and his wonderfully acute and totally fan-centric judgement that the proliferation of masks makes things seem silly, like they don’t matter. I am generally of the adult opinion that the more superhero costumes exist on the planet the better, but I remember feeling that way very keenly when i was about his age.’

It’s hard to say whether or not prismatism damages a hero’s brand integrity. It’s working fine for me at the moment.

‘The year turned, spinning on wheels within wheels.’

Like a spiral. Plans within plans. Ever since Sandman these sorts of cutesy flashbacks always spin out into an inevitably grim end.

PAGES 14 & 15

Back to trippy land. And here we get Batman Gold! When I annocommentated Last Rites I mentioned how the weird alien beastie

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looked a tad like the busted and abandoned Archon ‘vehicle’ in The Invisibles

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and I think its worth reprising again here.

This sort of scene can be taken in two ways. There’s the hard literalist materialist interpretation, that this is all in Batwoman and Batman’s head, and then there’s the wacky DCU/lovecraftian interpretation – the drug’s a super drug and the freaky world they’re half in and out of is real, perhaps all around us all the time, but unseen. I prefer the second reading, obvs. Just to say, too, that I love the moebius-y colours and tiny alien bloke here:

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Don’t know if was in the script, but whoever thought to make the reference is a good time good boy.

And just when things get really pink…..

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it’s that Leviathan red again. Obviously Leviathan is what Spyral’s become. A Spectre for the Batverse.

That room with the spider tank is totally terrifying.

Even though it’s hard to say if Dr Dedalus’s plans are specifically fascist in the Nazi sense of the word, from one point of view there’s something distinctly fascist about the Ouroboros as a symbol. Let me hand you over to Plato for a moment and his description of the first living thing.

The living being had no need of eyes when there was nothing remaining outside him to be seen; nor of ears when there was nothing to be heard; and there was no surrounding atmosphere to be breathed; nor would there have been any use of organs by the help of which he might receive his food or get rid of what he had already digested, since there was nothing which went from him or came into him: for there was nothing beside him. Of design he was created thus, his own waste providing his own food, and all that he did or suffered taking place in and by himself. For the Creator conceived that a being which was self-sufficient would be far more excellent than one which lacked anything; and, as he had no need to take anything or defend himself against any one, the Creator did not think it necessary to bestow upon him hands: nor had he any need of feet, nor of the whole apparatus of walking; but the movement suited to his spherical form was assigned to him, being of all the seven that which is most appropriate to mind and intelligence; and he was made to move in the same manner and on the same spot, within his own limits revolving in a circle. All the other six motions were taken away from him, and he was made not to partake of their deviations. And as this circular movement required no feet, the universe was created without legs and without feet.

If this being were to manifest in our world, we might be looking at a fascist society – no differentiation, everything utterly self reflexive, eternal and in perfect unity. In fact the snake eating its own tail is probably a better description of fascism than the Roman’s bound twigs. This is some Outer Church shit right here.

Again, depending on your point of view.

Whatever, Dedalus is scary as fuck.

‘Do you wear his ring but call him Batman in bed?’

I might have mentioned this before, but I love the grand old tradition of superheroes wearing their masks in bed. One of my first kinky sex experiences was the Black Cat telling Spiderman to keep his mask on while they were making out. I reckon Kathy could get with this kind of stuff. She’s a bad girl…. and we all know Bruce is a bad boy. God knows what he and Jezebel Jet got up to. They must’ve really been working out some dark shit. Or maybe they liked the tension between the mutual hate they felt and the sweet, sweet missionary they made.

Have I gone too far? Surely not! This is the Post Neonomicon Age!

PAGES 16 & 17

‘….Me, Dance? What? I was busy working out how to survive a SWAT team assault when people my age were out dancing.’

If I need to explain the amazingness of this to you then there’s no hope.

‘Think of it as a martial art.’

Like when I was a kid learning about soft martial arts like Tai Chi. …I’m sure Tango del Muerte can be used for punching though, ’cause otherwise this is well gay.

Rationalised the furrowbrowed fan.

Just as the traditional forms of tango describe the heat of love, the coming together of two bodies in unison, so the slow, resigned movements of the mournful Tango del Muerte tells the tale of their parting. Joking aside, people’s reaction to this – not that I’ve read anything negative yet – probably tells us something about their attitudes towards traditionally feminine interests. This comic really does have a secret, gentle and cheeky feminist agenda.

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Anyway, this is a great scene. Just as cool as the fight that would normally take its place. The sixties TV show is alive and well in the pages of Batman Inc.

‘Because… Sometimes I watch you and your teenaged pal bounding across the rooftops with big grins on your faces… and I remember how Old I am. I don’t want to feel like Mommy at a costume party that has to end sometime. And I don’t want bat-babies, Bruce.’

You get the feeling that even though Kathy’s been forced into this position by Dedalus, there’s a smidgen of truth to her words. She certainly wouldn’t be the first woman to raise an incredulous eyebrow at Bruce’s obsession. Batman, with his constant veering into ‘realism’, is the hero most open to this kind of criticism. He subjects himself to it the most readily.

The way the picture unravels like Bruce’s heart is an oldie but a goodie.

PAGE 18

It’s the modern crime fighting woman vs her unreconstructed counterpart! In the light of women’s emancipation how does this figure look now, with her mace face-powder and hypno-lipstick? Are we ready to own these things again? To enjoy them? I know I am. I like that Kate Kane has a choice though. That she can be as Batman as Batman if she chooses to be.

The advanced meta-material (codenamed ‘oroboro’, I assume) in question is still a mystery but it sounds an awful lot like it shares the same properties as the Invisibles’ Magic Mirror, that’s if I’m right in assuming it collapses time. We’ll see. I wonder how it’ll look this time.

What’s Dedalus’s cloak made of?

PAGE 19

Well, I have no idea where Kate could’ve ‘seen this girl before’. Are we supposed to be able to guess?

‘I have reason to suspect there’s something on an island in South America that could blow a hole in the world.’

Will we see Batwoman pursue this in Inc or in her own, much delayed, book? Whatever, Grant’s going with the tradition here, locating an escaped nazi superscientist/nazi plot in South America. Makes sense that Dedlaus would’ve worked for the UN or the American Govt first too. We all know so many of them did.

PAGE 20

‘I always wanted to build a death trap as big as the world!’

The Earth, the Maker of Shades.

PAGE 21

I can almost hear the William Dozier-style narration. These cliffhanger bits are just marvellous. Especially effective here, I think, because of the way each different story strand comes together for the cliffhanger, the text serving as verbal exclamation marks, ramping up the drama. I also really like the way these cliffhangers provide Morrison with very definite questions to be answered in the next ‘episode’. I think it might force him to be more concise. This time we did indeed find out all about the ‘bitter sting of betrayal’ and perhaps next time we’ll have a much clearer picture of what’s going on with Dedalus.

Anyway, let’s go through each panel.

The first one is just great. The day’s end. Sad and beautiful. Not melodramatic, but understated. I presume those are Dedalus’s doctors to his right.

And the next one…

‘”They will be here soon to set me free…”‘

Who? The Leviathan people? I imagine so. Maybe Batman fucks up and somehow sets him free.

‘Give my regards to the Maestro when you meet him… You venomous bitch….’

Maestro meaning master musician. Suits the symphonic stuff there in the visuals.

The stuff about Scorpiana and Sombrero having been lovers is a nice detail. This issue is a Batman romance comic afterall, and it’s interesting to set the villains selfish desires off against the heroic Batman and Batwoman’s. As in the story of the fox and the scorpian, in accordance with her nature Scorpiana’s only ultimately able to betray. I’ve never thought much about the love lives of the supervillainous. The female villains only seem to want to flirt with the heroes and most of the male villains are either completely desexed or their sexual urges so bound up with the thanatic as to be impossible to separate out into anything resembling normal, everyday desire. Judging by the language Sombrero employs here  – ‘venomous bitch…’ – I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t want to get too close to these two and their weird anti-love.

And, lastly…

‘Most days it does not snow on cue…. Today is different.’

I presume it’s snowing in the first panel, but… It’s definitely snowing here, the video screens flooded with static.

PAGE 22

Not Burnham’s best drawing this issue, but scary nevertheless. What’s particularly creepy and alarming is the way, in a beat, Scorpiana’s disappeared and been replaced by the vengeful Batman. You can almost imagine the rhythm of breath on Sombrero’s neck remaining unbroken. Both Batman and Scorpiana are leant an air of the supernatural by this sequence. Oh yeah, but in keeping with the ‘only scares the guilty’ thing, in the background the kids have been freed. We get both Batmen here, then – the unholy bat-terror and the superhero.

I wonder if he’s going to torture the fucker a little bit before he hands him over to the authorities. Just a little bit. A quick burst of a few hundred volts and a nose rubbed in sewage, nothing more.

91 Responses to “Batman Incorporated #4 annocommentations”

  1. werdsmiffery Says:

    Gotta admit, I laughed out loud at Sombrero’s “Oh, shit!” expression in the final splash page. Cause you know Batman will totally fuck up a quadriplegic. Oh Bruce, you lovable psycho.

  2. Quadrivium Says:

    Great stuff!

    This is my favorite comic of the year thus far. By a mile.

    Re: Your opening rant: Maybe I just haven’t been frequenting the worst parts of the comics internet lately, but I haven’t seen any typical negative reactions to this issue. A few weeks ago, however, I encountered a message board post in which a comics podcaster said something like “I’ve just given up trying to ‘get’ Morrison comics.” The comic under discussion was Arkham Asylum–not nearly one of the densest reads.

    I think what the Morrison poo-pooers most need to understand is that the problem isn’t with the comics but with themselves. They don’t need a secret decoder read to understand these comics. They don’t even really need to force themselves to do “homework” or look up references. They just need to be open to different types of reading experiences, and the rest will follow. What’s so depressing is that anything resembling “avant garde” art in all its denominations–everything from a “conservative” T.S. Eliot to a liberal Picasso–has been marketed for mass public consumption for over a century now. The particularly blind Morrison critics and their like are over a CENTURY behind the time. You just want to calmly tell these people, “You know, you don’t have to LIKE all of it, but can’t you get it through your heads that art can do different things than just passively entertain you on a purely superficial, instantly forgettable level? Wouldn’t you WANT to experience art like that”?

    Wish you gents would do a podcast on Morrison… Cheers again.

  3. Zig Zag Zig Says:

    Mindlessones!

    I’ve been looking forward to this! This issue was straight up fantastic.

    I’m pleased that you’ve teased out such an interesting Platonic echo within Morrison’s work! That bit’s from the Timaeus, yes? These echoes are to be expected from someone operating within the sort of Iamblichan Neoplatonic metaphysic that Morrison operates within. I was also struck by the thoroughly Platonic characteristics of Hurt, who reflected almost perfectly the elements of the unjust man described in the (I think) the fourth book of the Republic. Sadly, Bruce doesn’t jive with the description of the just man.

    Although I think that it is a little anachronistic to ascribe Fascist tendencies to Plato in the manner you have done in order to draw a parallel between the ouroboro and Nazism, I do wonder if a connection is there nonetheless. I’m thinking specifically of Roger Griffin’s work regarding the relationship between Fascism and Modernism. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say: “Modernism and Fascism locates the mainspring of the fascist drive for national rebirth in the modernist bid to achieve an alternative modernity, which is driven by a rejection of the decadence of ‘actually existing modernity’ under liberal democracy or tradition. The fascist attempt to institute a different civilization and a new temporality in the West found its most comprehensive expression in the ‘modernist states’ of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, which also revealed the destructive and self-destructive nature of all fascist political projects to ‘regenerate’ the nation or achieving cultural renewal.” It’s that last sentence about destruction and regeneration that evokes the image of ouroboro to my mind.

    On a completely less pedantic note, this issue helped me to understand why Santiago was so angry when watching Batman tango with Scorpiana’s minion (or Scorpiana herself?). He recognized the Tango of Death. This in turn reminded him of Kathy Kane, the woman he too loved. Did she teach him the tango as well? Did he teach her? Whatever the case, the memory came to the surface at that moment, leading him to break his glass and storm away like a child.

    Thanks again for these comments. They always give me something to think about.

    ZZZ

  4. RetroWarbird Says:

    Either that, Zig Zag, or Scorpiana IS Kathy Kane. I mean, how would the Blue Lady Scorpion know all about the Sapphire-Eyed Kathy Kane? Even Scorpiana’s alias last issue roughly translates to the same description of a woman that Agent-33 calls Kathy by trying to recruit her.

    Then again, the venomous bitch would use an alias meant entirely to piss off Santiago, who I guess we can presume either talks in his sleep, or falls for women WAY harder than Bruce ever did.

    I mean, Bruce would recognize his first true love, no matter if she was passing as a scorpio-assassin … no matter how much he put those hard memories behind him, right?

    Nah. Santiago just has a “type”. The “live dangerously type”. The duende type. Was that Kathy’s old Bat-Cycle I saw parked in his garage?

    This issue put a grin on my face – the Last Rites remixes, now with real drama! – and the post-Wolfman/Dixon Dick Grayson transposed into the 60′s “Old Chum” world.

    Dick’s distrust of that “fake” Batgirl comes from his intuition. Or maybe gypsy omens. He’s a savvy kid. It put the thought in my mind that the girl who Kate recognized might be her. Either way … Dickie Grayson probably lost something very special a lot earlier than I ever thought. Babs? Starfire? Every other lady in the DCU? Nah, it was Fake Betty. (Christ, we want to count how many Katherine Kanes there are … what about Elizabeths?)

  5. Tarnov Says:

    Amazing, amazing annotations. I feel I must comment on the ouroborus reading, too.I agree, that it seems particularly representative of individualism, but that can also be mean individualist anarchy. That dichotomy reminds me of Aeon Flux, which I just recently rewatched and a show that I deeply loved because it’s conflict was that of the only two perfectly free people the Fascist leader and the Anarchist terrorist. Which of course is reminescent of the Invisibles, and we all know how that conflict ended. And of couse, the complete denial of the outside sounds pretty buddhist to me. Zen fascism indeed. Wow, it truly is like looking at the snake.

  6. Papers Says:

    To be honest, this issue is the first in “Inc” to really catch my interest. Burnham’s artwork is very satisfying to me (particularly when inked and coloured as it is here, rather than that mess over in B&R when he filled in for a few pages), and Morrison’s take on Kathy Kane (as well as Kate; I actually have really enjoyed it whenever he’s written Kate) made me feel a lot of things. People are calling Burnham’s artwork Flex-Quitely-esque, but the issue as a whole feels like an interlude in gloomy canyons of Satellite City as much as All-Star Superman felt like a spiritual successor to Flex.

  7. Papers Says:

    Also, the fake Batgirls! Bette and Betty and all of that weirdness. Who is Flamebird now, and how does she relate to either Batwoman? I feel as though I’ve lost track (much like the Boy Wonder presumably lost his innocence).

  8. Zom Says:

    I don’t know about the Plato bit, but each Poodle to his own!

    The fun thing about that page with the hallucinations is the juxtaposition of the alien world with Batwoman’s meeting with Daedelus. Talk about creating a freaky context.

    I’d also like to join Poodle in prasing the density of this issue. 22 pages is fuck all and in the hands of most writers even that limited currency is being devalued. Morrison, on the other hand, seems to give a shit about pamphlets as a format.

  9. plok Says:

    Fucking hell, what a great review. I haven’t got these yet, been too broke…but man I’m looking forward to it.

  10. amypoodle Says:

    I’m right about the Dedalus thing. He wants to make a fascist empire that never ends. This isn’t new for Morrison.

    You will have noticed, of course, that I didn’t say the Ouroboros had to equal fascism, just from a certain perspective it could.

  11. Zom Says:

    Oh, I’m sure you’re right. Morrison can’t leave that one alone, I just wouldn’t have used a massive quote from Plato.

  12. Zig Zag Zig Says:

    Yeah, I had taken your point as it was offered: as an interesting suggestion. The suggestion triggered my boring academic side, however, and I couldn’t resist!

    Post-hypnotic suggestion planted by fifth dimensional aliens when I was seven. What you gonna do, right?

  13. amypoodle Says:

    i just thought the quote was pretty.

    plok, you are in for a total treat. the first issues of inc are light and rompy while juggling all sorts of interesting elements and tonalities, but the last two, they’re just superdense awesomeness! the most mealtastic morrison comics in an age. you will not believe #3 is just 20 pages.

    the ‘criticism’ is there – IGN and others made a fuss. but the point is, it’s always there and it’s really boring. batman inc 4 was not a massively hard book, just as batman inc 3 wasn’t; what they *were* was FULL. i even read one guy who seemed quite bright, waffling on about how morrison’s books are all about the cliffhanger and mystery generating compulsivity and little else so he’d rather wait for the trade. total nonsense! sure, you’re kept slavering for more, but morrison gives you your money’s worth too, much more so in fact than any other writer. as zom says, he’s aware he’s writing for pamphlets. i just think its bloody weird that people don’t get this and don’t celebrate it.

    as for kate kane: morrison’s written almost as many comics featuring her as greg rucka now.

  14. Zom Says:

    waffling on about how morrison’s books are all about the cliffhanger and mystery generating compulsivity and little else so he’d rather wait for the trade

    Well they are a bit, but surely that’s an argument FOR reading them on a monthly basis. Wallowing in mystery and cliffhangers is a pleasure for gawdsake.

  15. RetroWarbird Says:

    Critics always seem baffled by any references to things pre-1988. Don’t they know Batman isn’t just cooler than James Bond, he’s a good thirty years older?

    It was the fascist Dedalus done killed Miss Iron Lady Thatcha, ain’t it? Caught in the web she was.

    How high (ascension-wise) will those strings go? We know the Multiverse is a cosmic fretboard … is Dedalus, who seems at home in the unconscious mind with his all-seeing eye and psychic horror broadcasting in the midst of acid trip fallout … capable of playing the cosmos like a Harp from Hell?

  16. RetroWarbird Says:

    (Somebody is using Bruce’s predestination paradox thought construct existence as a weapon against him. Active villainous retcon via the hole in things. But Brucie’s game for a go at it.)

  17. amypoodle Says:

    they are a bit, but the point is that’s not all they are. you still feel you’ve got your money’s worth. whereas with brubaker’s daredevil, say, very often that’s all it was. just mystery, little else.

    morrison’s comics are absolutely not unsatisfying reads.

  18. Thrills Says:

    They really aren’t. Morrison’s are aboot the only comics I still buy monthly, as they are a totally satisfying chunk of pop entertainment (I realise there are other comics I should buy monthly too, but I tend to be incredibly poor so wait for trades as a Big Special Gift to myself every so often).

    BatInc #4′s been an ace read all three times I’ve read it.

  19. Anton Says:

    ‘And then there’s the similarity between Dedalus and this guy’.

    Hmmm. Not sure that isn’t a bit of a reach. Apart from the floppy hat. Care to ellucidate?

    Actually if we’re gonna go Tarot referencing then the ourouboros worm can also traditionally be read as the wreath encircling the dancer in the final card 21 – The World; and is also symbolised as card 0 – The Fool (or the Joker in regular decks!) So if Dedalus is The Magician, Batwoman is the Dancer and Ourouboros is The Joker who is Batman?

  20. Collin Says:

    Could the blonde-haired femme-fatale that Kate nabs (and recognizes) wearing the original Batwoman costume be the original Betty Kane Batgirl!? She would be older and if so, she could very well have always been and agent sent to keep tabs on Kathy Webb Kane (thus making her yet another person responsible for Kathy’s murder), or another agent meant to shake out Batman’s secrets by shoving romance onto a hormonal young Boy Wonder.

  21. amypoodle Says:

    oh. uh yeah. she could.

    there’s a real nagging lacuna where batgirl should be. nice one!

    yeah, the hat was the thing, but dedalus *feels* like a magician. The wide brimmed hat echoes an infinity symbol, another never ending ring. check your tarot cards – either the magician is wearing the hat or the symbol floats above his head. i’m not that interested in taking the tarot symbolism too far though and, i should be clear, i’m not trying to say any similarities are intended.

    the ‘ring around the world’ quote works with the tarot card very nicely, however.

  22. amypoodle Says:

    The World tarot card.

  23. hilker Says:

    Dr Dedalus is a longlived evil mastermind who seems to have some sort of smoke powers. He’s exiled/trapped on an island where he appears to be able to control/predict the weather. There may be some temporal manipulation involved. Is anyone else wondering if Morrison came up with a fan theory while watching LOST that didn’t pan out but was too good not to use in a story of his own?

  24. Anton Says:

    Yeah I thought it was Betty Kane too. The whole double double agent thing seems to be a trope with the Batwomen doesn’t it.

    As to the tarot references, I’m not so sure it isn’t worth further investigation. If the Spyral path/dance through the labyrinth is to be a mystical one the tarot provides a ready made map and clearly Morrison would be aware of the symbolism. We’ve already had the Devil and Death in RIP so why not the rest of the Major Arcana?

  25. amypoodle Says:

    yeah, why not? i was just stating for the record that i’m not attached to it or anything.

    man, i hate you guys for spoiling the betty kane thing! you’re just too right. she was the thing in the background prodding at my poor brane…..

  26. amypoodle Says:

    i hope we get her secret origin too.

  27. dylearium Says:

    Fanfreakingtastic annotations – sombreros off to you.

    here are some observations and comments of my own in no particular order- appologies if these echo other’s thoughts. just trying to add to the conversation.

    -Ourouboros: an alchemical symbol, also known as a Benzine Ring in chemistry (I think); the ring-around-the world could be referencing crime syndicates around the world (crime rings); it echoes R.I.P. and the RoBW in the ringing/hearing bells/all over imagery; the Ourouboros also brings this to this to mind in the re-presenting of images from old batman stories, the circular nature of Batman having just returned from having a hand in his own mythos, and looking at it ina word-play sense, the Ourouboros
    is a serpent eating its own Tale.

    - Retro- there is something to your Scorpiana/Kathy Kane observations. Kathy Kane, nee Webb, daughter of “Nets,” with eyes of sapphire, who dances the Tango of Death reflects the azure arachnid lady quite nicely. I thought this line was particularly telling. “The widow Kathy Kane figured the best way to attract the one-pointed [heh] attention of that kind of man, and decided, in the end,on a strategy she’d used before to great success. First she figured out exactly how he did what she did.. and then she did it better.” This does a fantastic job of explaining how she went about being Batwoman, but it got me wondering as to who she had set-up before. I found myself wondering if she had previously set-up Agent 33/Gaucho and now I am looking at the Karnival scene with Widow Kane and Agent 33 very differently.
    - and just echoing this, but my god, Kane Kolossal Karnival? This is a messed up family and hints at Kathy being a bad, bad lady.

    other minor points:
    ~why is the statue of justice peaking from underneath her blindfold when Batman & Batwoman kiss?

    ~maybe others have pointed this out already, but has anyone brought up the Borges notion of a map the size of the world from “On Exactitude in Science” to Sombrero’s “deathtrap the size of the world” idea?

  28. Zom Says:

    Dave Uzumeri’s hit on that one I think.

    Why’s justice having a peek? Here’s a clue, it doesn’t have much to do with alchemy.

  29. dylearium Says:

    I get the joke, thanks. It’s just that it jars with the image from Last Rites, and if any images should be mistrusted its the Lump influences painful memory safari. That line of thought got me to wondering whether this was a reliable flashback.

  30. Zom Says:

    I think it’s more likely to be a gag than anything else.

  31. amypoodle Says:

    i love the webb/netz thing. totally missed that. dense comix.

  32. amypoodle Says:

    where’s uzumeri hit on the world map/trap thing? he hasn’t annotated the comic, has he?

  33. Zom Says:

    Last ish’s annos werenit?

  34. dylearium Says:

    I am really curious about the narrative text surrounding Dr. Dedalus and Kathy Kane in this issue. As far as I can tell we haven’t been presented with this voice prior to issue 4.

    When concerning Dedalus the tense is both future and present. When it is concerning Kathy Kane, the text is all in past-perfect tense. Not sure if I have those precisely labeled, but the same narration addresses only these two characters (father/daughter super spies) but in different tense modes. The plot thicks.

  35. amypoodle Says:

    but sombrero doesn’t mention a global deathtrap until 4, so dave couldn’t have made the comparison.

  36. amypoodle Says:

    wrt the text, there’s every possibility we’ll never find out who the narrator is. could just be a god’s eye view. morrison’s all about the text at the mo’ and it’s really improving his books.

  37. Zom Says:

    I was wrong, here’s the quote (via Comics Alliance)

    many of Borges’s short stories were truly twisted metafictional tales, including “Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,” the story of a fictional encyclopedia that becomes so massively popular that it overtakes the actual culture of Earth.

    There’s a lot of art references or similar in this arc

  38. dylearium Says:

    Uz’s annotations are what led me to thinking about the Borgean World-as-Map/World-as-Death-Trap connection, and he’ll probably address it in his next notes, I’d think. i wuoldn’t have been surprised in the slightest if he had already addressed this and I’d just missed it.

    As for the narrative voices – I have been loving the William Dozier issue-outros/next ish set-ups, both in their appeal and their function. Also, I would willingly accept that this new narration is some god’s-eye-view type of thing, but it is so nuanced I can’t help but think it is something else. It’s far too early to tell.

  39. Zig Zag Zig Says:

    I had started to think of the narration as an anti-Black Case Book.

  40. dylearium Says:

    The narration certainly seems to echo (or mirror) or ((mirrororrim)) the Black-Case Book. Now someone else may be able to present this point more clearly, but the BCB consisted of previously written journal entries (written in the past) and we read pieces of it as the “present” progressed.

    This new voice is one that writes authoritatively about the future, (Kathy Kane – Widow in Black), the present and seemingly the future (Dr Dedalus – Mr. Netz, Head of Spyral). We already have time loops and flashbacks associated with Dedalus, and now his narration addresses the future. Whatever is narration is, it is rather perfect for a master manipulator and string-puller- it is suggestive of an omniscient narrator. If the narration IS Dr. D- one can easily imagine him thinking in this way.

    The Black Cloak Book? We’ll see, I guess.

  41. amypoodle Says:

    or maybe it’s a future entry in the black casebook.

  42. Anton Says:

    Yeah that texty voice-over is a kooky amalgam of silver-age continuity announcer and lit-crit omniscient narrator. Or perhaps, uncannily, ‘telepathic author’ If the mysterious Doctor D turns out to be Morrison I’m gonna get post-modern on his ass!

    Borgesian? Ooh that’s gonna be a convoluted maze then. Read his collection of short stories – Labyrinth.

    Wow these annotations are deeply great.

    Not sure about the ‘ring’/'bell’ connection but there is this quoted by Borgese in Labyrinths -

    So the Platonic year
    Whirls out new right and wrong
    Whirls in the old istead
    All men are dancers and their tread
    Goes to the barbarous clangour of a gong.
    W.B. Yeats; The Tower

    If there’s a tarot card reference in issue 5 then the chase is afoot!

  43. RetroWarbird Says:

    Kathy as Ariadne struck a chord with me. And what’s any Labyrinth without a certain Thin White Duke?

    I’ll refrain from dragging some of my wilder Spyral … Spy … I, Spyder … Alias the Spider … The Shade rampant theory-mongering into this, but will say that Dedalus is remarkably consistent. And that his finances going toward murderous mayhems with huge death themes in common with Joker is a sure way to make a ring of Batmen around the world as well.

  44. dylearium Says:

    ok- more Kathy Kane stuff.

    p.g when she is standing post-motorcycle flirtation w/ Death and staring at Kane Manor~ two things caught my eye:
    1) tons of bats flying from just over her towards the mansion, almost like they are leading the way
    2) the view is of her back. we can’t see her expression. her torn dress and hair are being blown to the right in a way that is all very reminiscent of Dr Dedalus’ smoke-cloak from the opening panel

    Perhaps it is just a coincidence, he emanates smoke- the shot of future Batwoman echoes this with the bats.

    Also, her underground film “Inanna Unbound” – in addition to bringing to mind “Prometheus Unbound” (dudes w/ foresight fighting God) and “Isis Unbound” (esoteric treatise on science and mysticism), I thought it particularly noteworthy that Inanna is the goddess of both erotic love and war~ also known as Ishtar.

    That is a poo-poo platter of associations and themes right there, but thought they were worth bringing up.

  45. RetroWarbird Says:

    Moz playing fast and loose with continuity and getting complaints from the same people who crassly disregarded that continuity … I hope he laughs his baldy head off about that sort of thing.

    So Kathy Kanes aside … which Elizabeth Kane needs more light shone? Betsy? Betty? Bette? Rucka’s “Alice”?

  46. dylearium Says:

    Decent amount of light but needs more focus?

    I really would appreciate Betty being Bette; it would seem so much cleaner that way. Hoping that’s the lightshow.

  47. Papers Says:

    Wait, people were reading the black-hatted man trapped on the island with penguins as not being specifically Otto/Dedalus? That felt so terribly obvious to me, though I’m not sure I could dredge up specific evidence, beyond a repetition of the wide-brimmed hat and the “caught in a web / actually, waiting for prey” vibe.

    Also, Jeez, hadn’t made the Labyrinth/Thin White Duke connection. I hope not, of course; occasionally, Batman stories need to not empty into the basin of the Joker.

    The Tlon connection is a bit dodgy to me — obvious, yes, but I feel like Morrison may veer away from it because he’s already gone to that well with Orqwith.

    Hadn’t considered Scorpiana as being possibly Kathy Kane all twisted up, but I suppose it’s possible. Maybe with the opportunity to be reborn as Batwoman before the end of the night.

  48. amypoodle Says:

    nah, scorpiana’s her own villain i think. we already have a young woman in a batwoman outfit, i don’t think we need to go to scorpiana.

    and the idea that the guy on the island *isn’t* dedalus is just silly.

    sorry, youse goise.

  49. amypoodle Says:

    did anyone really say that about dedalus though?

  50. RetroWarbird Says:

    I posited the Scorpiana/Kathy theory, but I hardly expect it to be the case. If Kathy wouldn’t turn Bruce in to dear old Ded, she wasn’t about to lobotomize Dick under Hurt’s orders.

    No doubt about Gaucho falling for similar arachnid types, though. Santiago can’t get enough of the Duende.

  51. Zig Zag Zig Says:

    1) Yeah, I’m gonna third the Scorpiana not Kathy Kane thing. I am wondering, however, if there is a Heretic connection. That thread needs to get picked up at some point. Does the Curse of Kane have anything to do with the Crime Bible, that book and cult so strangely interested in the fate of Batwoman? Could Kathy have become the Heretic of such a Kane related cult? Kultek… (note the spelling if you haven’t already…)

    2) Bette Kane is probably not the girl captured at the KKK this iss. I could be wrong, of course, but if so, shouldn’t she have put up a better fight? No, I think that Bette Kane will likely make her way into the story later on. In fact, I just re-read the issues of Batman involving Bruce and Kathy’s atavistic hallucination. During that period (fighting KARN, the agent of an alien dictator), Dick and Bette experience something similar. At one point, Dick is even unconscious. Did Bette learn the secret of Bruce’s identity from Dick then? And did that information filter upwards to Dedalus? Is SHE the Heretic? Place your bets Mindless chumps!

    Gonna spend this evening reading over her earlier appearances in the 60s for some sort of ‘hint’. Not that it’ll do me much good with Morrison’s slippery mind, but it might turn something up.

    3) The Sensei is currently making the rounds over in Tony Daniel’s Batman book. Which, if I might say, is pretty decent for what it is. But that excludes him from the who-runs-Syral or whatever competition. I hope.

    Also going to look at the various forms of narration from Batman The Return through to Batman Inc. 04. We’ll see what happens. My original thought was, yes, some of what we are reading is the Black-case book written at a later date. However, other parts seem to be the writing of Dedalus.

  52. dylearium Says:

    The new-narration mentions the Curse of Kane twice in ish 4, so something is certainly happening there. It is a nice link to establish early on between the two Batwomen and could further connect to Betty/Bette Kane as well.

    I am finding myself wondering about DC spy organizations and wondering who KK1 worked for prior to Spyral. Is Morrison going S.H.A.D.E. with her?

    I agree theat Scorpiana isn’t really KK1 but the two are being linked. The series started off with Catwoman, another lover/ally/villain. Iterations on a theme. If KK1 was so complex and impressive, if she was this super-spy-savant, are we sure that the heart-first Agent 33 was able to pull one over on her? If she was able to fool a young Batman, I question believing that she would be duped by a young Gaucho. Just speculating.

    Really loving the hunt. Great work, Mindlessone&all.

  53. dylearium Says:

    ah man… it’s weird when they’re just right there in front of you. the panels in ish 4… you know the one’s that form double-spread webs… these frame set-ups. the first web is in Sombrero’s trapped-house. the next one is when KK1 steals Batman’s thunder. the third is in the fight between KK2 and pseudo retro-Batwoman.

    the flies are in the web(b) indeed.

    the first and third ones are rather obvious as being part of the webs since the ORO clue is left for both Batman and Batwoman. the interesting one is KK1′s web. Was that because it was her way of netting Batman, or was it displayed because her netting Batman was part of Dr Dedalus’ plan in the first place?

  54. Zig Zag Zig Says:

    Wow. Sorry to be one of those annoying guys who posts past his welcome, but we’ve missed a lot of things!

    1) Traktir and Spidra. The Heretic is also called Fatherless. Kathy Kane is herself fatherless in a way. Connection?

    2) 3 murder victims in Issue 1-2. Later there are three assassins, children, letters, Kathy produced three films.* Seems pretty obviously, but three is a clue!

    *atavistic hallucination takes place at Ace Film Company Plant, by the way.

    3) Lord Death Man’s trap is designed to break Jiro’s code of honor, much like Sombrero’s is designed to break Batman’s. The death trap the size of the world will likely prove a similar challenge.

    4) Again, this might seem obvious, but Batman and Kathy experienced duende during their hallucination. The lust for life when close to death.

    5) Espartaco Extrano = Strange Spartacus. Batman? That weird creature of the night? This mentioned anywhere yet? I don’t remember it on Comics Alliance.

    6) And, yes, that is Kathy’s bike in Santiago’s cave.

    7) Batman Issue 139, Batman, Robin, and Batwoman are fighting the Cobra Gang (Oroboro anyone?) when the gang leader throws AN ELECTRONIC RING AROUND THEM. Suddenly, Batgirl shows up to save everyone. Turns out Kathy’s niece just happened to show up and just happened to figure out Kathy’s secret shortly afterwards…

    ZZZ

  55. Papers Says:

    Poodle: looking back, the person in question may have been referencing Sombrero rather than the man on the beach, but the sentence wasn’t very clear.

    If the blonde fake-Batwoman *is* Betty Kane, it starts to make me seriously irritable about the number of duplicates names used in the Kane and Wayne families. I’m assuming based on timelines that KK1′s sidekick was Bette Kane/Flamebird? I have trouble tracking all this shizz sometimes.

    I really hope that DC decides to put out a “Best of Batwoman” trade with some KK1 stories surrounding this whacked out adventure; the first KK1 story I ever encountered was the Autobiography of Bruce Wayne, so it was the Earth-2 version and she was only in-panel long enough to fire my wee little gay lad brain into strange super-diva country…

  56. Jon Says:

    Kathy’s ride in the Motor Drome requires I direct you to the greatest short film ever made: Motodrom by Jörg Wagner.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDlnRr3rsww
    http://shop.shortfilm.com/product_info.php?products_id=36

    Also, you missed Bruce’s best line to Sombrero: “You blew your budget.” Corporate failure is what he hates now. Inefficiency. Waste. This is different than his historical vengeance motivation, and reckons morality as a capital asset (without cheapening it).

  57. Zom Says:

    Interesting but… Jon, I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming that you don’t have anything to do with that production. You should know that our spam filter wanted to eat your comment for dinner.

    Surely the blew your budget line was a throwaway reference to the corporate angle and nothing more. I wouldn’t say Amy missed it so much as didn’t care.

  58. amypoodle Says:

    I missed it on my first pass, but i think the motor drome features in the background of PAGE 1 as the ‘wall of death’. this being the dark time, however, it’s decorated with images of immolated drivers and skulls in cycle helmets: death’s gloomy response to all kathy’s flirting.

  59. Botswana Beast Says:

    The best thing is: the best thing is the smiling, laughing, relieved children delighting in the tasing Bruce is going to give to a paralysed sadist; it’s one up on vs. Prometheus’ “Professor Stephen Hawking!” PUNCH

  60. hilker Says:

    “Atavistic hallucination” is mistaken – the hallucination (“Prisoners of Three Worlds,” Batman #153) and the atavistic transformation (“The Batman Creature,” Batman #162) were two different stories.

  61. amypoodle Says:

    i noticed that too. imagining you’re a disembodied spirit on an alien world isn’t really an example of atavism, but you know that ziggy zag man, right?

  62. It Burns Says:

    I was under the impression the Tango of Death with KK1 took place nights after the hallucination and, consequently, Batz was referring to “The Batman Creature” with that line.

  63. amypoodle Says:

    yeah. he was. we were clearing up some stuff zig zag zig man was talking about. he appeared to be confusing the two events.

  64. Zig Zag Zig Says:

    My bad.

  65. RetroWarbird Says:

    A death trap the size of the world being provided by death-themed super-criminals …

    Kane’s Kolossal Karnival … I chortled at the KKK idea but then passed it over. Honestly, I can’t count the number of time’s I’ve seen a business name belonging to a “K” surname changing C’s into K’s to make it more Kooky or Kitschy or Kampy. Had a friend marry another friend and her initials ended up being K.K.K. I see it everywhere.

    (Then again I see real racism from “whites” everywhere, living in the backwaters.)

    Aren’t the Kanes … the New Kanes … Jewish?

    And haven’t the Kanes … the Old Kanes … already had some Mozzed up references to W.A.S.P.ish behavior? One reference is poking … two can’t be coincidental.

  66. RetroWarbird Says:

    Have to point out the symmetry as well. The Waynes have a dark past of Gothic Americana, but freed slaves on the underground railroad. It’s poetry in motion if the scion of their dalliance with the Kanes, Bruce, comes from both grim Gothic Waynes who freed slaves and died for the underground railroad … and light-of-day Kanes, who owned slaves and had Klan affiliations.

  67. It Burns Says:

    I C. Hi-C!

    The scenes with Dedalus on the beach reminded me of the Tempest.

    Back to Burnham … FUCKMEWOW!!! Not that Dedalus wasn’t frightening in #3. But I feel like I could touch his deteriorating cloak and his rotting skin because of Burnham’s lines and them colors, I forget who did them.

    And those caps! Mozzy using a new rhythm is something I was unprepared for in Inc. I don’t believe caps were used as liberally in either Final Crisis, BatRob or ROBW, were they? At any rate, the book feels BIGGER, not just the amount of content, but the scope of the story.

  68. RetroWarbird Says:

    I think Dr. Daddylus’s hat warrants more discussion. Especially in a series where guys like El Sombrero are showcased, and even Mad Hatter imposters are getting upgraded into Hatman. (And if your name rhymes with Batman, you get an automatic bump in interest. See: Catman.)

    It’s got a bit of a Masque of the Red Death feel to it, right? Sort of a bourgeois wide-brimmed costume gala hat … or is it a bit of a cowboy hat? Death on a black horse … Nazi Cowboys in hiding in Argentina …

    I’m sure that if we determine exactly what type of hat that is, we’ll have cracked Grant’s whole mystery wide open.

  69. taters Says:

    Full-’bloodied’ woman here who sincerely disliked *all* the gazes re the sexifications in Inc #1. And let’s be honest, there was no female gaze equivalent to ‘I’ll just descend this rope in the most ridiculous fashion because ‘Head Down, Ass Up, That’s the Way I Like to Fight Crime and Steal Stuff Because It’s the Best Tail-Lifting Metaphor I Can Give You’ in that issue at all.

    Thanks for the annotations! But one of your pics has gone bad (P 10-11).

  70. Jon Says:

    I agree with taters.

    Many of the shots of CW in #1 were just embarrassing. Sexy and sexualized are two different things entirely.

    Batwoman (the new one) is a great feminist hero, by contrast.

  71. amypoodle Says:

    it’s difficult because i think morrison intended bruce to be just as sexualised and just as much a sex object as catwoman in the hotel room scene and i thought this point was a glaring omission from most reviews at the time, but then, yeah, the book doesn’t balance out.

  72. amypoodle Says:

    and, taters, my point wasn’t whether or not *you’d* enjoy looking at a post/pre-coital bruce wayne in his trunks, flat on his back and pumping iron, only that it’s definitely a sexy and kind of submissive image that *some* people – women and gay men – would definitely enjoy.

  73. amypoodle Says:

    flaws should be pointed out, but so should attempts at inclusivity, i think.

    hmm. i don’t know, there’s other stuff in there too. i’m not sure i think the porno shot of catwoman at the beginning undermines it all either.

  74. Zom Says:

    There’s also the suggestion that they have sex and that’s it, they’re both happy with that. You know, like mature adults with sexy sex drives.

    Women aren’t often allowed to be mature adults with sexy sex drives.

  75. amypoodle Says:

    Yeah, s’what I was thinking. The sense of equality, the lack of ownership, the sexual agency as opposed to insatiability. There were definitely big pluses to the depiction of Catwoman in that book and they were largely overlooked.

  76. It Burns Says:

    Yeah, I’d be interested for Jon to elaborate on how the shots in Inc #1 were sexualized rather than sexy. I agree they are two different things, but just saying that isn’t enough to count as criticism.

    And Taters, although I can appreciate the Ja Rule reference, I think that’s a surface level observation that isn’t accurate at all. Although it may have connoted exploitation for you, it also connotes the sleekness of a cat, the outrageousness of a super-heroine dressed as a cat, not to mention it’s an iconic introduction for a character in the first issue of a new series.

    I think comments like the above tend to deny these characters their legitimate sexyness. Catwoman is a sexy character. It’s a part of her character in a way that separates her from other buxom heroines who are sexualized for no logical reason in a story. Black Canary’s ass popping out of her pants in the foreground of an action sequence is an example of sexualization. It isn’t sexy because it’s obvious the artist or writer just wanted a shot of her ass. But Catwoman doing what she does and looking good doing it … it’s natural.

  77. rev'D Says:

    It Burns:

    The argument of “sex” v. sexy likely isn’t helped by the fact that Yanick drew ‘Harem Nights’, which is about as unsexy a Hughes impersonation as you can get. (He was younger then, but still.)

  78. Zom Says:

    And a different comic book…

  79. taters Says:

    It Burns – I fundamentally disagree that it’s all to the good. Catwoman’s MMRRRRRP kittysex cries are part of her character, but they’re part of the reason I dislike her character. She’s the most celebrated sexual harrasser in all of comics.

    I’m also not a big fan of how Bruce lays around and she drives all the sex. I don’t think it should go all the other way by any means, but I do get tired of how he’s the deserving recipient of all pleasure, passively inciting her with lash-lowered eyes to come over and ride the big batpole. It’s just not enjoyable for me, on a personal level. It’s one of the most unpleasant relationships in all of comics for me, to be frank, outside of the ones which are just straight up abusive, because it’s so often a massive male fantasy I’d expect from Brubaker, etc., and doesn’t offer me much myself.

    Sure, shirtless Bruce is nice, but honestly until he’s got a visible erection in his tights, there’s nothing like equality in the gaze serviced. She presents herself for sex, he’s just present for sex.

    I feel quite bad saying these things, because I genuinely like Paquette, but this was clearly just not a book I could enjoy. At least, not this arc. I don’t feel like I can argue my point here with much confidence, though, because I actually set the book aside until #4.

  80. It Burns Says:

    Actually I don’t think we disagree that much. I in no way think you HAVE to like Catwoman or this comic book, I was just responding to the whole “sexualized” comment (which you didn’t make) because I thought it was a bit silly. We both seem to agree that her depiction in issue #1 was natural, I just happen to enjoy the character and you don’t. No harm done.

  81. amypoodle Says:

    I don’t know much about brubaker’s catwoman book, but i’ve read selina’s big score and crooked little town and i don’t remember selina being bruce’s sex toy. in fact all i do remember of their relationship in those books is them chasing each other across the rooftops, which was kind of sweet really. i’m not saying the relationship wasn’t as you say though, taters, so if my selina-fu is weak here that’s fair enough.

    i guess where i currently stand on this is that, of all the dcu women, selina’s character has been built up the most and that, for me at least, this complicates readings of one dimensional voraciousness. this isn’t to say a writer can’t deploy her badly or frame her in a sexist way, but like burns i find it difficult to view her inbuilt sexuality as a problem so long its not shown to be all she is. and i suppose i don’t feel selina is reduced in this way in batman inc 1 and 2. she’s isn’t bruce’s pet cat, basically. her wit, cohones, sheer fighting ability, self-centredness and elusivity make her next to impossible to own and she’s definitely not in japan purely to service bat-cock.

    it’s a shame bruce doesn’t have an actual boner in the hotel room scene, but his bodywork is foregrounded in more than one shot and while, yes, the cat is rubbing around his legs, he’s also flat on his back pumping his iron. it’s all there, symbolically speaking, right down to the look of concentration on his face. is this not enough? is he still too passive, the master to catwoman’s servant? i think mileage could vary a great deal here. is it definitely not the case that he’s performing for her as much as she’s performing for him?

  82. Zom Says:

    And they have sex and they’re both cool with just sex and that’s unheard of in most popular fiction.

  83. It Burns Says:

    We all agree there should be more Bat-Boners.

  84. dylearium Says:

    also, dudes, Bat-Boner is not the preferred nomenclature. Batpole, please.

  85. It Burns Says:

    ROBIN: “Gee Wizz, Batman! Catwoman sure is a looker!”

    BATMAN: “Quickly, Robin: TO THE BAT POLE!”

  86. RetroWarbird Says:

    We talked a fair bit during Inc # 1 & 2 (at least, I think we did …) about how Grant’s use of Selina fit the whole overall concept of reintegrating the parts of the 60′s Batman TV show that deserve to be restored to Batman comics.

    She’s Julie Newmar again. Thank god for that. Interjected back into Catwoman’s character at this point in her canon. (Semi/sort of allied with Bruce.)

    The beauty is, even in a moment when Bruce and Selina know it’s about to get sexy, it’s hard to say who’s using who for sex. Enemies With Benefits.

    Batwoman brought her along to steal from a super-villain … and to have sex. Catwoman came along to help Bruce, steal priceless museum artifacts … and to have sex. Bruce knew Catwoman had a third motive in there, and still was cool with the sex, since he’s Bat-God and she’s Cat-Goddess and they are who they are.

    Even as closely allied as they are now, even in a place as intimate as a bedroom suite, they’re still playing the same games.

    Jezebel Jet told Bruce that he “loves puzzles/mysteries” and Bruce said “I love solving them”. Catwoman’s the perfect puzzle – one that can be solved over and over again and who doesn’t get hurt feelings about it.

  87. Zig Zag Zig Says:

    Completely unrelated to the above discussion of sexual politics, I’m wondering about the appropriateness of the Theseus/Batman analogy that Grant appears to be constructing.

    Now, I understand that Grant is attempting to enrich his text by making such analogies. When at the beginning of time, Batman remarks that he must lay down a guide home, like Theseus, it signals to the reader that this shit is Epic. Furthermore,it evokes the images of monsters and heroes that authors and artists have employed within their works for the past 2000 years or so. This allows Grant to echo the content of those works within his own, rewarding the careful attention of readers, and to say more than is being said.

    So then wouldn’t Odysseus be a more appropriate figure to evoke? Especially during the Return of Bruce Wayne storyline, when Bruce reveals himself to the Suiters lead by Dr. Hurt,and aids the beleaguered Telemachus/Grayson. This after having been cast into a foreign land, lost without memory of his own identity.

    Of course, the idea of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth are certainly appropriate images, but what other aspects of the Theseus myth reflect Batman’s story?

    These questions are less criticisms of Grant’s choices than they are an attempt to understand them more fully. Should a more thorough criticism emerge from the answers, we will cross that bridge when we arrive there.

  88. dylearium Says:

    I am really liking this train of thought.

    Although Grant is clearly invoking Daedalus, Theseus, and the Labyrinth – I suspect the Labyrinth/Daedalus imagery is more to serve plot/symbolic functions, and that the Batman-is-Theseus is more of a Batman-is-Archetypal-Hero motif, but perhaps that’s just my take.

    Your observation of Batman-as-Odysseus, is spot on in a myriad of ways; Odysseus is the aristocratic master-tactician who succeeds on wits alone. Batman vs. Darkseid resonates nicely with Odysseus-Traveling -by-Boat vs. Poseidon. It makes me wish the D.C. Circe were involved in the Return of Bruce Wayne.

    Grayson-as-Batman has more than just a note of Telemachus-on-His-Own to it as well.

    I think the only major difference between Batman and Odysseus is the the Greek always had a sense of family that defined him whereas it is Bruce Wayne’s lack of family that defines his.

    That being said, It is remarkably easy to imagine Odysseus, Telemachus, and Laertes fighting off the suitors as Bruce, Dick, and Alfred.

    ~Perhaps off-topic/perhaps not: I have always found it interesting that both Odysseus and Hamlet’s father is named Laertes.

  89. dylearium Says:

    grrr – both are named Laertes, rather.

  90. Zig Zag Zig Says:

    Something else that occurred to me that would explain why Batman need not be a perfectly apt analogue to Theseus (and it is probably too early to decide these things anyway but…), perhaps Batman, Inc. is the story of Kathy Kane, rather than Bruce?

    What if this is the story of Ariadne, Daedalus,and the Labyrinth, and Batman is Theseus to the extent that he is drawn into their myth?

    If so, I’d still like to see stronger connections between Theseus and Batman, if only to more strongly evoke the ancient story and to give everything a deeper meaning. I understand the notion of the ‘archetypal hero’ but it’s not one that I think is especially useful for analysis. Yes, it allows fellows like Grant to evoke more than a single mythology within their stories, but it does not do justice to the original sources. Indeed I think it only serves to produce the illusion of universality.

    Particular myths are historical constructions with particular narratives and details which differentiate them substantially from other mythologies. Cramming diverse myths together into a single category–even if broad parallels do exists–is, it seems to me, to rob the story of an authentic mythical resonance.

    Anyway, this is a tempest in a teapot. I’m just sayin’ is all.

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