What’s going on with the stone age?

(This is all Amy’s thought-parade, except where otherwise stated)


What a beautiful page! The red storm of the final crisis recedes, giving way to the candyfloss horizon! You can feel the freshness in the air. The sea. Birth. New beginnings.

Is this panel a metaphor for the way Grant wants us to approach his mini-series? I for one have been all about the ‘Woah! Batcaveman a-go-go!’, but here the fantastical element, the spaceship full of magic stuff from another world, is earthed, grounded, just like the tone of the rest of the comic. This book might sound all sixties and weirdy, but Grant’s going to play it as straight as he can.


It’s kinda weird that the time capsule rocket should find its way to the exact same space/time-zone that Bruce was omega beamed to. Bit of a coincidence, eh? Also, is this the exact same spot where Anthrold Man met Metron? I’m assuming it is given that everyone keeps on referring to it as ‘holy ground’. Holy ground obviously meaning ‘synchronicity magnet’, given the amount of weird shit drawn here. Doubt it’ll ever be explained, but, hey ho!, magicky, magicky….

I wonder where this holy ground is – somewhere near Alfred’s potting shed?

The argument over whether or not the capsule’s made of sky is hilarious. The way Joker (?) insists on the point – ‘this is what blue it was when it fell…‘ – reminds me of some of the stupider arguments I’ve found myself in. I wonder if Morrison intends this as a parody of our current/perpetual state of ignorance. Probably.

Are the Deer People called same because of Anthro’s close encounter? Or is it just out of respect for their dinner?

God I love the colour of that sky.

Bobsy: (Fanwankwarning) So like whatever mechanism Metron’s chair uses, the time radiation or such, the path it took through bleedspace, is basically left behind as an echo, forever. So when the rocket is launched from the Final Fortress or whatever it was called, it follows the path of least resistance, going through the same hole in time that Metron had already made?

No, I’m not convinced either – what about all the millions of holes Metron will have left behind over the years? Maybe if that was the earliest point in Earth’s timeline that Metron had been to, the echo if it might be strongest… Whatever. Forget you, melon farmer.

I would guess ‘Deer People’ because of the antlers/Orion /hunter connection, and for the pun – ‘Dear People’, contrasting with Vandal’s Bloodmob.

And my bet’s on the nose of the rocket being in the exact same spot where the Batrocket now launches from, for symmetry’s sake.


‘They say when the shining ones come again it’s the all over.’

The shining ones: (new)gods, bombs, aliens, superheroes. Superman and co. at the end of this issue, heralding the change in EVERYTHING.

I imagine that Morrison is also keen to point out that even primitive man dealt in eschatology, which I like, but Grant, hey! the greenhouse effect is really happening and the oil will run out! I’m with Jackie, Grant. I’m with Jackie….

And now the Batcave and….

Zom: Aren’t the Shining Ones usually fairies? I know, a nice ambiguous, multipurpose term, but let’s not leave out the Sheeda, eh.


Beast recently responded to Zom’s less than enthusiastic response to this ish with a ‘But Bruce is back!’, and I’m with him. Sure, there isn’t that much going on with this one and Bruce’s adventure does sort of peter out fast + weird eclipse for no reason except the magickyness, but it’s a nice little installment basically, and so much of the thing’s power – and the book does have power – stems from Bruce’s, hardbitten, stubbly head (Grayson does NOT do stubble. Ever. Or hairy chests…).

Zom’s said that he doesn’t want Bruce back in the cape and cowl any time soon*, and in that I think he echoes the position of a great deal of fandom, and I understand why. As I said in our annocommentawesome post, there ‘s something great about Batman, a la Dick, as a team player, however now that Bruce Wayne the original survivor is back and, true to form, ploughing his lonely bat-furrow through time itself, I can’t help but feel impressed. This is some mythic shit, this hard bastard who can fight his way, alone, through any obstacle, any hardship. We normally take this stuff for granted – there’s Batman and his mission and everything – everyone – else is secondary, but now I feel refocused on the amazing, frightening mission he’s set himself.

How the fuck does he do it?

*But guys I’m afraid he will be. This book is about how Bruce Wayne has to be Batman. Nuff said.

Also, this book, Sprouse, his re-emergence, reminds us of just how sexy he is. Grayson is a girlygirl next door to Bruce. Just look at that guy! I fancy him.

I also really like the title, Shadow on Stone. At first glance it sounds a bit tossed off, but this is the primal stuff: the darkness, the cave, the concrete, the bats, the dark alleyways. Bat-shamanism.


Now it might just be me, but Bruce’s response to ‘Where’s your tribe at?’, ‘Wayrameye’, sounds a little like ‘Wayne Manor’ in Zur(ro) En Arh(kham) speak.

I know he’s saying ‘Where am I’, just to clear that up.

Zom: It’s just you!


It seems weird to me that Old Man, Man, etc. don’t have descriptive names like everyone else, but the online etymology dictionary makes sense of this by pinpointing the word root of ‘man’ as ‘one who has intelligence’, which would make sense given that Anthro is the DCU’s Prometheus, bringer of fire, inspiration and magick. Makes sense of the idea of Anthro as the first Man as well. I really hope Grant was being this clever when he wrote this.

The green in panel three leaves us in no doubt that this is a prehistoric Joker, but one who seems considerably less nasty than his latter-day counterpart. Is this how the Joker would be without all the insane, 21st century input, less schizoid because the meme current crawls here? Of course the Joker is as much one of Gotham’s guardian spirits as Batman, and in that sense his presence must always be felt in a batbook, and this iteration also ties in nicely with Grant’s and ‘primitive’ man’s ideas about mythic, cyclical time.

And the question is posed: is Surly some sort of proto-Bruce? And are Old Man, Man and Boy (Kor) his direct ancestors? If this was George Lucas or Geoff Johns we’d know for sure. Thank God it isn’t and we don’t.

Bobsy: The Surly/Serious line is like Morrison’s whole take on Dark Age comipolitics in one line. Surly thinks he’s just Serious. (Which, let’s note, he’s right to be. Hours later: all dead.)

If, as seems fair to assume, the initiation/hunting party are an early version of a superhero team (including Bruce there is six of them, with Anthro a good candidate for the missing/magical seventh), it’s weird that they seem to match up closest with the X-men, no? Either X-men team 1 or the 1980 reboot:

Giant – Beast
Man – Cyclops
Surly – Angel
Joker – Iceman
Boy – Marvel Girl (redheads innit?)


Giant – Colossus
Man – Cyclops
Surly – Wolverine
Joker – Nightcrawler
Boy – Storm/Kitty Pryde (bit of a reach, that last one, admittedly. If you smoosh Storm, Kitty and Jean into a single figure then it kind of works…)

I suppose you could make it work with the original Justice League (with that dick Jordan as Surly and Aquaman as Man, Canary as Boy etc.) but the fit definitely isn’t as smooth.

Someone stop me, there’s a danger I could do this all day.

And ‘Man’, for me, meant ‘Everyman’. People, the heart of the tribe, are just peopl. Some are huge (Giant – his size and colouring are so different, like he’s come from a different species of hominid altogether, one which is losing the evolutionary battle against the Bloodmob), some are grumpy, some are mad. But most, the most important ones, are normal men and women.

Zom: Old Man = Professor X. Those lists… I’m somewhere between wanting to tell you that you’re talking balls and the knowledge that this stuff might have something to it, as least as far as Grant’s intentions are concerned.



That’s right. Memory be damned – this is Batman.

Did he use Anthro’s flint knife to shave like in Dark Knight?

PAGES 8 & 9

I Like the way Metron symbol’s surrounded by the holy trinity of the DCU though. First there’s God, then there’s the Trinity, etc… And are those fleeing deer underneath?

In answer to Dave U’s question as to how/why Bruce remembers these symbols, it’s because they’re the primal stuff, the totems. This ish is all about the preverbal fundamentals of the DCU and the batverse. The core.


White Fawn must be the special lady young Anthro rescued from Savage in Final Crisis one. She was well impressed obviously. I can’t remember, did he sling her over his shoulder? It would be cool if Kamandi was wearing the necklace. Does he? I don’t think he does, but it’d be cool.

As Dave U says, it’s probably a plot device.


A dialogue balloon’s covering it but Bruce is Neil Armstronging it here – the 21st century superhero staking out territory in the distant past with his super-flag.

The plausibility of the name Man of Bats is very satisfying. Bruce is heralded by a flowing torrent of bats, and that’s how he speaks. Nice.


Bruce springing into action here reminds me…: I and other’s have said it before, and I’ll say it again – Bruce is an existentialist. His whole solution is in the doing, his body, his mind are tools. That’s why he’s so unafraid, because he just acts, and that’s why he can survive anything, and why in some ways he’s perfectly suited to life as a caveman. At the core of Batman is this hardcore dude who gets shit done, unconcerned by all the other stuff we layer on top of that. That’s why playboy Bruce seems so shallow, because what’s underneath is so deep. Not in a beardy way, but in a fundamental way. I know Grant was intending to get this across and I think he succeeds.

It’s telling that the person Bruce rushes to defend is a child. The core’s still there, isn’t it?


Lovely, animated fight scene. Savage is badass.

Are we to assume the Deer People are totally dead after? Oh yeah, they were scalped….


Giant is a superhero, isn’t he? But Bruce….


…GO! GO!

I was practically clapping when he smashed Savage’s head into that rock.

So exciting! Bruce Wayne!!

Bobsy: Word, as people used to say. Bruce Wayne is the real deal, the best superhero of all, and he smashes face better than anyone ever will.

PAGES 16 & 17

Good job, Mr. Sprouse! We’re in Apocalypse Now territory here. Suddenly everything seems harsher, the stone harder, travelling into the sky. The skulls. This is where we’re reminded what century we’re in, a million years before houses, central heating and comfy sofas, somewhere utterly inhospitable and horrible and the cro-magnon’s response – being total shits – seems like the only logical one. Their brutality is just a continuation of the landscape they find themselves in, and suddenly caveman Batman doesn’t seem so kooky and sixties anymore. Truly is it said that he takes the hardboiled wherever he goes!

These’re grimy thrills. Gotham’s always been grimy.

It’s interesting that everything seems softer over with the Deer People. As we’ve already established, they’re the first moderns, all about the sofas.

Bobsy: Savage is terrifying. What I’ve never grasped about him, what is so utterly awful about the mere prospect of his existence, is that he is the supervillain who has already won, who won before the language you think in was even conceived. The horror of the everyday, everything wrong with the world, is down to him and his sadism. You know the bad people in the headlines? Vandal Savage. You know every tyrant, every sweatshop owner, every bastard headmaster, every dodgy banker, every wife-beater, every drunken high-street thug, every arrogant boss? All the sons of Vandal Savage.

PAGES 18 & 19

I reckon Grant’s into sexy Cro-magnon women. First there was Aurakles Frazettaing it up over in Seven Soldiers, and now Vandal Savage here…

Supervillains never change. Even at the dawn of time they’re still screwing up in the most basic way: DON’T ABANDON THE SUPERHERO TO THE DEATH TRAP!!!!


I do however like the idea that Savage puts his longevity down to strength and cunning. The idea that if you’re tough enough, if your clever enough, you can cheat death itself is a fantastic one.

PAGES 20 & 21

Oh, those dogs, the rain – so bleak!

PAGES 22 & 23

Bruce Wayne, tattered and bleeding after his first fight, the giant bat devouring him in his fever dream… These cave-criminals really will be ‘a superstitious cowardly lot’. Never have the words, stripped bare and wordclouded, rang so true.

Batman reborn all over again.

There really is something supernatural about that one.

And, looka!, there’s Robin! Complete with bat-kohl mask.

Aaaargh! Don’t you just love the way it’s stupid -the batshield, everything! – but it makes total sense? It’s absolutely right that Kor should adopt the bat as a totem, but it’s also guilty comics’ dressing up at the same time! You’d still have trouble explaining it to your co workers though.

Bobsy: Note that Boy is the only Deer man with red hair (another cuckoo from the monkeys next door maybe). Note that the present day Man-of-Bats’ sidekick is a) similarly defined by his ‘son’ role; and b) known as Raven Red. ‘Robin’ is a latterday prettification of the original myth. The archetype comes from a carrion bird, like the ones who would have been looking forward to their share of the Bruce feast, beaks stained red. Robin is the kindly scavenger.

PAGES 23 & 24

There really is nothing to say about these pages. We all know how cool this is. Savage getting maced is awesome.

Actually, why isn’t Bruce wearing his mask and all the rest of it? What happened to that stuff? Did Darkseid’s omega beams strip him of his top and mask as well as bounce him across the centuries? Were they *sexy* omega beams?


Take that, Savage! Here, martial arts are as futuristic and hi-tech as anything in the utility belt. Savage wouldn’t have a chance even without the gadgets.

‘The Bat People are here!’

We now know, having read Return, that the raggedy bat sculpture in the secret Batcave isn’t infernal at all, but a totem revering the mighty ancestor, Man of Bats. See how the bat emerges from the remains of the deer, symbolising the day the bat tribe were born from the ashes of the deer people and the blood mob were vanquished, and all of this presided over by a black sun!

I love it that Batman founded civilisation as we know it.


More awesomeness, this time Scorpion get-over-here! style. Is that a Mona Lisa smirk on Bruce’s face?

PAGES 29, 30 & 31

I don’t really like that Bruce and Kor are running away here. This is the damp squib bit. Not really a fitting ride into the sunset for a guy who’s just changed history. But whatever.

I do love that impassive, unmoved, manlyman look on Bruce’s face as he’s swallowed up by the water however.

Good that we don’t see the time-jump. Proper who-was-that-man-of-mystery? stuff.


Vandal Savage duking it out with Anthro for the title of Oldest Guy on Earth! Where does he come from? Well, he doesn’t spring from the deer tribe, and if he’s a Cro-magnon, he’s a very pretty one. Here, he pretty much spells out that he’s not one actually. And I love this, the idea that Savage is the ultimate loner, his own tribe! With his shaggy locks, he’s man’s brutality to man, always hobbling off with his crutch at the end of his violent adventures, the eternal walking wounded.

And then he’s back, this time as King Herod or some such evil sod (but the crutch is always in the cupboard, waiting).

Cain, yeah, cool, but, it’s not just murder and killing, it’s the aftermath of the conflict too – the guy is war in microcosm. He embodies all of it.

This is probably where Vandal gets his hate on for superheroes too. If only Batman had been kinder – no DC 1000,000.


This page was a fantastic surprise. The Shining Ones are here, and the low angle and the shading even serve to make Booster Gold scary.

A friend of mine from work who, like may other non-comics people finds it hard to get his head around superheroes when they’re not gritty, decided Superman chasing Batman around in time was silly, and it got me thinking about how it’s not. It’s just fucking expedient. There’s no messing around in Morrison’s DCU. If Batman’s lost in prehistory there’s no fannying about, it’s just ‘Where’s the nearest time machine?’ We just take it for granted there’s one around! We don’t need a story arc to get us there, the bloody things are all over the shop. It’s normal. The place has a very different set-up to our earth, and, P—, you’re a good bloke, but just get over it. It’s no weirder than your christianity.

‘Alert the Justice League!’

Damn right, now let’s get going.

Zom: Like the man says, this stuff ain’t for everyone, but Superman chasing Batman through time inarguably makes sense in context.


Bruce’s speech is normal here, which I believe confirms David U’s theory that it always was and we were hearing it from the cavepeople’s POV.


Cliffhanger monster.

Bobsy: Is this a time squid that got in with Bruce? The flipside of the Shining Ones…


Y’know there’s a Morrison batcomic pretty much every other week for the next few months, don’t you? Oftentimes EVERY week.

Zom’s minority mindless opinion and micro-review: Love Sprouse, love Morrison but I wasn’t that into this. I expected Morrison to update all those self-referential (read: fanservice) Elseworlds moments in a novel way, and I don’t think he did, which is a real shame because on the whole I can do without the Caveboy Wonder and the 20,000BC iteration of Martha Wayne’s pearl necklace. It’s also unfortunate that the DCU’s structural problems with racial diversity should manifest here as the evolution of human culture being given a leg up, monolith style, by a rich white guy from the bright white future. Snot Morrison’s fault that the DCU sandbox is built that way, but it’s a shame that this story taps so directly, if inadvertently, into those wider problems nonetheless.

Roll on issue #2, there’s still plenty of time for this miniseries to ignite my interest.

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