June 11th, 2010



It’s probably an unbelievably bad idea to take DC marketing dept. at their word, but anyway. They have a difficult job, I guess.

Und so! Vorwaerts! The initial idea for this was a liveblog, but that would have involved promotion and shit, I am quite the most fundamentally lazy – physically, critically, intellectually – person I know, and also been a pretty fucking tortuous read, dying to turn the page, but having to bash out a satisfactory update before I could do so. So that didn’t happen; what we will have is the 7 pages in a polka-dotted reporter’s pad (I thought that shit was red, I was gonna give you a photo and shit, call this the Red Casebook but nah; I obviously did not buy this pad), my CASENOTES interspersed with some proper blogination. You can of course choose to believe these casenotes are an after-the-fact “ret-con”, as much a fait accompli as most Grant Morrison superhero scripts, even although Mindless Ones is the very definition of elegant verité and bold realism, and that’ll be a mystery too. Do what you like, I won’t stop you.

But one day, tomorrow, peoples will be reading Batman #700 on their infoSlates, their powerTablets, and it’ll be my polka-on-grey casebook anno’s there first; that’s my dream, and it is definitely good to have dreams. FUTURECOMICSSS.

The torrent picks up; I settle down in front of the monitor. I’m armed with the detritus of a flailing culture. It’s going to be a long night.

Batman #700


pp. 1-2

No idea WTF is  happening here? Egypt, Hawkpeople, Kha-Ef-Re Scarabs?

x Left, x Right, x Left: Game-cheats? Lockpick, p.2. Flaming arrows?

It’s a riddle, of the Sphinx

Is that the Sane Hatter?

Rubber chicken, the cane – vaudeville schtick

So you come in, expect a mystery, and there’s just this absurd… I haven’t read many Silver Age comics, truth to tell, but this is a straight fevre dream wrongfooter of an opening; one would get the impression, and I do read blogs about them occasionally, that they tend to be about oh, Jimmy Olsen or Metamorpho, and they’re doing such-and-such, probably gorillas feature, isn’t it crazy??!! Isn’t it just so FUCKING CRAZY WACKY WOW? Which can get, I’m sure you can imagine, a little – fucking – wearing. I’m sure there were other positive aspects; I have read some Stan Lee Spider-Man and the dialogue is, and I think absolutely knowingly, really, genuinely funny, catty and clever. The best stuff is Mary-Jane and Gwen, by far. Anyway, the Egyptology, it’s all for Catwoman’s sake – I tend to forget her close affinity to Bast because the totemism is generally underplayed these days. The only part of Ed Brubaker’s excellent run on her comic not collected, because – I think – of a poisonous reaction to the switch in art from the likes of Cameron stewart and Darwyn Cooke to the now-critically-rehabilitated, almost entirely because of Benjamin Marra, Paul Gulacy (loved his Master of Kung-Fu, need to say) was largely about cat-cults and Egyptology. Anyway, so Batman has to find out a bunch of shit for the Joker’s henchmen, hats, cats – all stuff that rhymes with… hey! I speculate the Scarecrow wanted something to do with rats and the Riddler… mat: to “twist together or entwine into a confusing mass”? Good start, anyway, Tony Daniel’s art looks a lot better self-inked. 

pp. 3-4

Joker sending Batman on various (Chinese Box?) tasks – simulations can go on forver, like the inside of the Despair Box.

{Baffling Box?} ¬> APOPHENIA, cf. RIP

Tennesee Williams shorthand, Southern Fried Drama

pp. 5-6

Joker Fish ¬> poisson d’avril, pre- Arkham Asylum, pre- Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told?

[n.b. I mean this - #8 on the link - issue:]


*What can we beat but never defeat? Carpet, Our meat, Drums

You can definitely beat a mat (Note for our illiterate readers: also a synonym for a carpet) but it would be, I feel, very difficult to defeat one. Obviously this is occurring before Arkham Asylum, it’s evidently very early in Batman’s career; early jokes, early comedy is a motif in the Joker’s persona here, not to mention the fact a young Richie Grayson’s also strapped in the chair. This is Pranks! And Pop-Crime! If the Joker were British, at this point, he would be asking questions re: his washboard and playing ukelele. But there’s obviously a seed of something quite awful, too, and it iterates – radiates – out from this point.

pp. 7-8

This is maybe a bit like Primer. Pop-science clues!

Manifolds, infinite shapes.

pp. 9-10


Initial instinct: Carter Nichols has offed himself, possibly a mercy killing

All these extra hours – add up to twenty extra years

(Will be quite disappointed if correct.)

I had actually considered looking into reading about How to Read Mysteries, digressing about Agatha Christie (already cited 33 issues back in Morrison’s Batman run, in the International Club of Heroes arc,) Morse on the telly, but as well as being – as I say – terminally bone-idle, I kind of knew it would be a waste of time, and that eleven years of uninterrupted reading of Grant Morrison comics and an immersion in the weirder end of popular culture would serve twice as well, in any case. Part of – the main part of reading mysteries to me is not wanting to guess correctly. It turned out the issue was indeed very much like Primer, albeit exponentially less complex [SPOILERS for a six year old film there.] I love all that anyway: mandalas, fractal shapes, although I didn’t love Primer massively. Possibly because: intellectually lazy, while modestly capable at logic puzzles. Do own, would now like to rewatch, so that’s a thing. Lynch films, esp. Lost Highway (the plot of which cowriter Barry Gifford describes as a möbius loop) and Richard Kelly which is a sort of minor subset of Lynch films anyway (my review of The Box: pretty good, he may be back on the rails,) are the only others that drew me into immediately looking up solutions on the internet after watching. Obviously Lynch has proven a massive influence on the current Batman & Robin run, with the dominoes signifying assassination a straight lift from Twin Peaks and the lighting, well. It’s a hard subject to approach, but I have often felt Inland Empire‘s stylistic countenance looming over the thing. 

 pp. 11-12

These look quite distinctly like Mutants (one can tell by the Cyclops glasses; only recently occurred to me how much reference to Mrvl. books there is in DKR.) DKR manifesting through temporal buggeration?

The Mutants just have to be there because you cannot have a Batman anniversary without acknowledging Frank ‘the Tank’ Miller; Miller’s work is muscular and hugely entertaining, but infantile probably even by the standards of contemporary SH comics – Matt Murdock also appears in Dark Knight Returns as, obviously, a lawyer, but I was struck when last reading the book how clearly and brusquely it seemed to try to reclaim Batman’s status as > the X-Men, who were the runaway de rigeur supes at the time.

pp. 13-14

Lone-Eye   LINCOLN.

pp. 15-16

 Oh, Hatman. He seems rubbish.

“Jokebook was a joke”

Grayson agrees w/ me.


This is, incidentally, the worst art I have seen Scott Kolins ever produced. Over-rendered, none of that nice no-blacks effect that used to be his signature; stupid expressions, drawing Dick Grayson to look like proto-Miller DKR Bruce Wayne. Abysmal. It’s sort of nice to have Lone-Eye Lincoln back, even although he’s a voodoo pimp and probably can only ever be written as a fairly dubious bit of cultural ventriloquism. I mostly like the name, with all it connotates. I think I hate Hatman, who is apparently a new villain, so far as I can divine (vb: google). There have to be crap versions, like False-Face and them, though eh?

 pp. 17-18

Malign items – Spare paintings, Black Casebook’s opposite…

Max’s ROBOT voice.

“Words explode over centuries”

 Max Roboto – at one point, if you weren’t reading Barbelith, you just weren’t getting the big picture on Morrison comics; for example, the bit-part Subway pirate in Manhattan Guardian #3, Fights-with-Chains, was borne of some mocking of Xorn’s costume in the Comics forum there. No longer, sadly. Anyway, I’d maintain – just as I would with far greater vanity that the army of Mindless Batmen and Wonder-poodle in Final Crisis were special swingball tributes to yr ever-lovin’ boys here – that Max Roboto is named for the oficial King of Barbelith’s a.e. Mike Robot, who solved problems such as can-opening “with his fists”. The quote’s from The Invisibles, something either Shelley or Byron says in the ‘Arcadia’ arc; I’ve no idea if this is a historical quote (the ramifications seem obvious here.) Often marvel at the potential hubris of writing both in an adventure comic.

January, January

          - Two-Face(-Two?)


Ugh. O right, not a Ventriloquist riff.

~DUALITIES, come on!~

what’s the implication?

Did Joker wedge himself in the machine somehow?

Split off a few personae?

Is this the Secret Origin of the Laughing Virus (DC1M) ??

I reread Morrison’s JLA every year, it’s usurped Dune in those stakes, the Annual Reread stakes, which I’m not certain is necessarily healthier because comic books are, as we all know, for retards. However: it is the best superhero comic of all time, probably just edging out Moore’s Swamp Thing which would be great if it weren’t for the intermittent awful issues like Nukeface. Anyway, I’d just got so far as completing DC One Million (well underwhelmed by Batmillion this ish) which features among many, many other bits the Ultimate Fate of Two-Face-Two (cured; statistically, he’d made more good choices than bad) and the Laughing Virus which is an epiphanous Joker: he can catch you with his death-bag. Since Batman & Robin began, the character has been manifesting noncorporeally, which is how chaos do. DC One Million is such a consistent wellspring of ideas, it’s pleasing to see some more fully investigated; I’m in no way wholly convinced that this does constitute a terminal step toward this excelsis, but you might recall the exhibition back in the second issue of this run that featured a horrible installation of clown figures entitled ‘Population Explosion’. I’m just putting it out there. 


Or indeed that of Batman Beyond.

Mobius loop – How’d the Joker take his dignity?


What can we beat but never defeat?



However, heed this, o clock:

Batman + Robin will NEVER DIE

Bit embarrassed about final entry, but that was really the point of the issue; it’s fairly, if not utterly, inessential in terms of the broader arc and, as the coda demonstrates, extant primarily as a celebration: “Batman and Robin will never die” is, as far as I’m aware, the new signatory catchphrase and I appreciate the effort to show the direct lineage (Morrison’s whole Batman arc has been something of a family saga (up to and including characters as far-flung as Sensei and Deathstroke) which are a rubbish genre, for blue-rinsed auld wifies: Batman is indeed a magic ingredient to all things.)

 There’s a bunch more stuff at the back, the story is actually 31 pages and there’s some pin-ups. I note with a certain amount of delight that Dustin Nguyen’s picture features Abuse, which is surely the highpoint in all Batman character names, a highpoint that is as high as the pitch of a stuck pig’s squeal; this climbs another scale when you discover his real name is Colin, and he can be referred to as Colin a/k/a Abuse. Actually, reading his character entry, it all sounds like very serious stuff and he seems like a decent chap, Abuse. And there’s some CG(?) pics of the Batcave, I love all that; I note, sighingly, that a couple of my pals in blogging - Chad Nevett and David Brothers - seem to think this comic is economically outlandish at $4.99. I tend to disagree, not because it’s a massive success, this issue, it’s somewhat self-congratulatory as I suspect most of these anniversary issues will be, but because it contains roughly 1 2/3 of the content of a standard DC comicbook. The company’s sins have been manifold, not least in producing utter shit that no one in their right mind would want to read (to the point of creating an actual innate kitsch, it would seem, in The Rise of Arsenal) but their pricing in the last year or so has been, compared to their major competitor, rigorously fair and ungouging.




8 Responses to “Criminology”

  1. Tweets that mention Mindless Ones » Blog Archive » Criminology -- Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by sean witzke, Duncan Falconer. Duncan Falconer said: One Impossible Crime. Can You Crack the Case? Mindless Ones, Batman 700 [...]

  2. RetroWarbird Says:

    “… but you might recall the exhibition back in the second issue of this run that featured a horrible installation of clown figures entitled ‘Population Explosion’. I’m just putting it out there.”

    That clown is so damned similar to the featured one amongst Population Explosion. Pop explosion. Pop crime explosion. I thought of that, too, thank god. And with Joker’s clowny killer ADD being a response to “modern culture”, a culture born from a scary rise in population and stimuli … surely chaos breeds in the over-populated world, whether it be dystopian, utopian, or just plain topian.

  3. Shiny Jim Says:

    Hatman, like nearly everything else in the book, is a reference to earlier Bat-books: he was a copycat of the Mad Hatter. Morrison’s version apparently didn’t get offed when Tetch find out about him, though.

  4. Marc Says:

    What can we beat but never defeat?

    Answer’s right there in the title, isn’t it?

    “Time and the Batman”

  5. Botswana Beast Says:

    It is, Marc; additionally, Robin threatens to clean the Joker’s Clock on p.2.

    “Beat the clock” is, to me anyway, a more signatory/normative phrase than “Beat time”.

  6. Botswana Beast Says:

    Shiny Jim – I couldn’t find any DCU wikia or anything referring to Hatman, would appreciate link to this (rubbish) character’s bio. He does seem Adam West-esque, interposed with the classic villains, like King Tut or whomever you’d get.

  7. RetroWarbird Says:

    Botswana …

    There’s actually very little about the “imposter” second Mad Hatter, because when it comes right down to it, he was just a “new look” for the old Mad Hatter. In the 60′s plenty of stuff in the comics was altered to seem more like the TV show, that being a major one.

    Retroactively, because he’s just so damn different from Jervis Tetch the real, original, creepier Mad Hatter, writers have been writing 60′s Hatter off as an imposter, because it makes sense, although it’s never gone beyond that brief explanation.

    Grant goes beyond that brief explanation by retroactively inserting “hey, you’re a poser” lines into Joker’s dialogue with the guy … then in a matter of pages resurrects the guy back into “Present Day” continuity with a new tongue-in-cheek name and a new job in the criminal underworld.

    But ultimately he’s a blank slate, other than a hat obsession eerily similar to that of the true Hatter.

    Of course … while he was a great choice for the crew of Silver Age pop-criminals to really show off the specific era referenced … I have to not-so-secretly wish that Grant had used Egghead in there, too, possibly looking for the very day, the very minute Faberge decided he liked eggs.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    David Uzumeri’s annos have a quick scan of the Stache Hatter @ work:

    I like that this issue renders the apocalyptic horror of the original #666 story a little moot.

    The 666 future isn’t just a fever-dream dystopian possibility, it’s *what’s going to happen* – and, horrible as it looks, its not the end of the world – just one more step in the grand Bat-scheme.

    As far as the Batman-Beyond stuff, it needn’t actually be changed at all – Bruce is technically coming back, and even if it isn’t him watching Terry McGinnis in the future, it isn’t too far-fetched that, as his clone, Damian would pose as Bruce. Though I love the idea that it’s actually Damian in Batman Beyond.

    If 666 is 15 years out from current Bat-time, I guess that would place Beyond @ about 35 years out. Bruce @ 65-70, Damian in his late 40′s.

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