The Black Glove. Yijing. Three.

September 21st, 2008

The Black Glove! Yijing! Round 3! That’s right – we’re back with more probably-rubbish and definitely-disrespectful divination disasterism. After a bit of a break, my mate the Classic of Changes and me are returneth to look at another bunch of perhaps less-than-likely suspects in our current Batman whodunnit. (Don’t worry, only another couple of Thursdays before the next issue comes out, and maybe we can all pretend this giant game of guess-who never happened.)

This week, we’re looking at the good guys, so lets ‘ave it.

Suspect 1: Robin, The Boy Wonder.

Check out the gloves.

Alongside Jezebel Jet, who I’ll probably look at in the next Misc section of this trawl (though I don’t think she’s TBG, just one of his weapons) Robin sticks out as a suspect because of the Red and Black thing that he’s been rocking with his new ‘mature’, post-Infinite Crisis costume. Red and Black in combination, and all attendant associations and correspondences, have got something to do with TBG (or possibly just to The Joker – he’s rocking the colours a lot lately, too).

Seem to remember a few weeks back one or other of the FB fellas promised to take a look at another curious thing that Robin’s been dong in the RIP storyline – eating. (Still want to see that ‘un pleaee FunnyBabylonians.) It’s kind of a tradition that the Boy Wonder is partial to a tray of Alfred’s milk and cookies (does that sound a bit wrong?), but especially in #678 Robin is conspicuously junkfooding. In Morrison’s usual scheme ‘food’ means ‘fuel for a metamorphosis’, hungry caterpillar style. So it could be that big changes are in store for everyone’s favourite laughing bouncing daredevil. Well, okay, second favourite – Jason ‘ripping the tyres off the Batmobile’ Todd was obviously the best one, but we don’t like to talk about him. Actually, that’s not true, we probably should talk about him. As far as skeletons in the Bat-closet go, he’s a big one, and thanks to Optimus Superboy backhanding the multiverse around the chops, he’s back up and running around, so he’s probably a good candidate – another one for next week’s ever-growing ‘Misc’ pile.

(Readers, were YOU one of the thousand-odd people who phoned in to pass the infamous and historic death-sentence on poor old Jason? If so, get in touch – we at Mindless Ones Dot Com would love to hear from you. Justify yourself. Ask for our understanding. Seriously though it’s a huge and unique event in DC fandom, but I’ve ne er read a thing about it. Someone out there must know someone who picked up the phone…)

O Yijing great and wise – is Tim Drake the Black Glove?

Hexagram 32. Heng. Duration.

DURATION. Success. No blame.
Perseverance furthers.
It furthers one to have somewhere to go.

Thunder and wind: the image of DURATION.
Thus the superior man stands firm
And does not change has direction.

Interesting. But before we go any further – I’ve got a couple of moving lines in there, so we also get the dominant fifth line:

Six in the fifth place means:
Giving duration to one’s character through perseverance.
This is good fortune for a woman, misfortune for a man.

It’s really quite clear that Tim has been going in one direction since he arrived on the scene twenty or so years ago (Tim Drake has been around for twenty years already! Time is strange there!) This maynot be to his long-term advantage though.

There’s another moving line in there too, so the whole thing flips into:

Hexagram 43. Kuai. Break-through.

BREAK-THROUGH. One must resolutely make the matter known
At the court of the king.
It must be announced truthfully. Danger.
It is necessary to notify one’s own city.
It does not further to resort to arms.
It furthers one to undertake something.

The lake has risen up to heaven:
The image of BREAK-THROUGH.
Thus the superior man
Dispenses riches downward
And refrains from resting on his virtue.

Loving the references to ‘the King’ and ‘one’s own city’ – how cool is this shit?

So is Tim the Black Glove? No! We all know that really – he’s too Henman, too goody-good. We know him and like him even though he’s more dependable than thrilling. He’s put in the time and deserves his shot at the big big league, and according to this, he’s going to get it: Is Tim Drake a future Batman? Yes! Remember the scene in Morrison’s JLA where Batbruce on The Key’s dream machine has a dystopic Batman Beyond kinda vision where he and Catwoman are married and at home, talking Batman and Robin through another bad night in Gotham on their bluetooths?? In this future, Robin is their son ‘Bruce Jr.’ (i.e. Damian) and Bats is none other than our boy Tim Drake. Is this the team we saw in the six-month flash-forward at the start of Batman RIP? Expect to see a version of this partnership at the end of the arc, if only for a while. But don’t expect to see his time under the cowl as a permanent arrangement or unqualified good news for Tim.

Suspect 2: Alfred Pennyworth, nee Beagle, the Butler.

He wasn’t always a butler.

As some fool said in the comments to the last post in this little series, Alfred really shouldn’t be The Black Glove, if only in consideration of the basic genre-fic rule that says your most obvious suspect shouldn’t actually be the final culprit. All the creepy winks and nudges in Batman RIP have pointed big neon arrows at Alfred, with lamplit leers to camera and references to his shady past and off-panel activities. He even wears white gloves, for Neron’s sake. He’s just too obvious a candidate, and as you all know the reveal in a successful whodunnit shouldn’t just be the guy who it always looked like dunnit in the first place. According to the rules, what Alfred should be is a feint or red-herring, and I’m not just, I hope, convincing myself of his innocence because I love him and dream of having knockabout Wodehousian japes with him, here in fullflesh 4D 21st Century English seaside. He’s too big a part of the franchise to be permanently fucked by genuine, not-a-dream, not-an-imposter, not-a-hoax culpability for TBG’s pretty nasty crimes (several murders and counting). He’s a big man – could he have got so far out of shape?

O book, is Alfred The Black Glove?

Hexagram 42. I. Increase.

INCREASE. It furthers one
To undertake something.
It furthers one to cross the great water.

Wind and thunder: the image of INCREASE.
Thus the superior man:
If he sees good, he imitates it;
If he has faults, he rids himself of them.

Nine at the top means:
He brings increase to no one.
Indeed, someone even strikes him.
He does not keep his heart constantly steady.

Can’t help but see ‘Increase’ here as being close to ‘escalation’ in military speak. To me, it looks ominous – the gap in the middle of the hexagram feels to me like a space where tumultuous things can grow. This bit: ‘If he sees good, he imitates it; If he has faults, he rids himself of them’ leads me to an ominous chain of thought. It is saying the same that Alfred, in one of his recent eerie moments
said, about the steps Brucebat will take to perfect himself. Steps that other people might think reckless, dangerous – even evil…

The mover at the top changes everything to:

Hexagram 3. Chun. Difficulty at the beginning.

DIFFICULTY AT THE BEGINNING works supreme success,
Furthering through perseverance.
Nothing should be undertaken.
It furthers one to appoint helpers.

Clouds and thunder:
Thus the superior man
Brings order out of confusion.

Alfred is a helper. The storyline has made much out of the twists in the boundaries of the normal that Bruce and Alfred, together, had to make at the start of Batman’s career. Order out of confusion stands for so much right now; TBG’s identity; the freshly orphaned Bruce’s confusion when the miracle on Crime Alley occurred; Zur-en-Arrh Batman emerging from trhe wreck of Bruces’ mind etc etc.

Better admit here – this post is being written with the benefit of hindsight – the coins were thrown days ago and I know what the next Hexagrams are going to be. Let’s move right on, for reasons that will become apparent…

Suspect 3: Bruce Wayne, The Batman.

Check out the glove. Particularly, check whose glove he’s holding at the end of #673, the torture-porn/buddhamind-flashback issue. If ‘The Butler did it’ is one screamingly obvious red-herring / crap cop-out in situations like these, the only worse one is ‘The Goodie did it’. (But maybe a combination of the two..?)

O classic text of all changes, is Bruce Wayne the Black Glove? (Say it’s not so!!)

Hexagram 31. Hsien. Influence. (Wooing.)

Influence. Success.
Perseverance furthers.
To take a maiden to wife brings good fortune.
A lake on the mountain:
The image of influence.
Thus the superior man encourages people to approach him
By his readiness to receive them.

Nine in the third place means:
The influence shows itself in the thighs.
Holds to that which follows it.
To continue is humiliating.

‘Taking a maiden to wife’? Like, bewitching a rich young orphan into a superhero? Or seducing a loyal retainer into the accomplice of a supervillain? Are you getting scary chills yet?

Three moving lines here gives (I hope you are sitting down):

Hexagram 3. Chun. Difficulty at the beginning.

DIFFICULTY AT THE BEGINNING works supreme success,
Furthering through perseverance.
Nothing should be undertaken.
It furthers one to appoint helpers.

Clouds and thunder:
Thus the superior man
Brings order out of confusion.

Bang. Same as Alfred’s. Now, as is horribly terribly obvious by this stage, I am barely literate when it comes to reading this particular Book, but even I can tell some things: When two queries asked one after the other, on a related topic, give the same hexagram, you are onto something big, and true, and there is a link between the two subjects that can’t be ignored. Could Batman and Alfred, together, really be The Black Glove? Or two clawed fingers of it, at least? It makes a sick kind of sense that ties in with the arc’s self-help theme: he has to create the ultimate villain, just to have something to test himself against. I don’t want it to be true, but remember – the Book is never wrong (though i often am). Be excited, Batfans. And be a little bit scared.

(Some interesting thoughts in this direction towards the end of this page here.

See also my painful final extrapolations of grant (not that one)’s excellent insights on my last Yijing post.)

Next week: Miscellaneous In what will probably be the last post, at least before the next issue comes out and we get a whole new load of information and misdirection to digest, we’re going to look at the weirdos, dark horses and rank outsiders, some of whom have been suggested by you, my excellent readers: Phillip K. Dick (or maybe not); Lex Luthor; Jezebel Jet; Jason Todd; Ras Al Ghul; Xorn; Chubby da Choona; and maybe even a couple of surprise others….

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