Right, so, Barbatos, the demon that’s been haunting the fringes of the batbooks since Hurt’s first appearance, the ultimate source of bat-evil and by inference the cause of everything bad that’s ever happened to the Waynes…. Yes, we originally thought Hurt might be this Devil, but regardless of how right or wrong we were – we WERE wrong – we knew there was something prowling around out there around the grounds of Wayne Manor. And now, I think, we know, but to begin with here’s some speculation.

It all starts with Annie. Annie, Bruce’s doomed lover, before she’s burnt at the stake calls down a curse on the Wayne family, damning them to destruction, a curse whose sigil takes the form of a bat. Why a bat? Because the cave represents the unconscious of Gotham and the Bat is its totem animal (it’s even engraved on the wall for Satan’s sake!) and the cave being Annie’s home, her sanctuary, the bat is also her guardian spirit. She calls the demon out from beneath the ‘ground’, the flock of Bats who Morrison identified as early on as Joe Chill in Hell with death and existential darkness, to plague the Wayne’s – and by extension Bruce – forever.

But, and this is a big BUT, Bruce learnt to outdo death and darkness a long time ago, not by fighting it. By making friends with it, taming it and riding it.

He uses the enemy by integrating it into himself. A common solution in pacifist Grant Morrison’s comics.

And speaking of common themes….

At the end of Morrison’s heroes’ quests there’s usually some form of revelation that occurs involving jumping off the gameboard of creation, something we at MO central historically refer to as ‘meeting the Squids’ (the ‘squids’ being TIME squids, not entities separate from the characters but their true selves viewed from outside time in all their many headed, many limbed glory) and that’s exactly what we’re seeing now in Return of Bruce Wayne. Batman meeting the Squids.

So this (from David Uzumeri referring to the events at the end of ROBW 5 when Bruce hijacks Prof Nichol’s time box)

‘Note how the spirit of Barbatos they summoned seems to follow Bruce through to, presumably, the End of Time, where he releases the Omega Energy, blows up Vanishing Point and then ganks Rip’s time sphere back to the present.’

is slightly misleading. There is no separate Bat spirit or Demon, there’s just Bruce Wayne and his superbody (‘What I became there, in the end…’) in all its 5D glory and the moment when the two intersect, like the Sun and the Moon. That’s what the cultists are seeing, and they’re as confused as most readers. Way back in the Invisibles, Sir Miles and the Outer Church were so confused and frightened by these superentities that they formed a whole religion about how the universe was governed by monsters beyond, so you can see how it goes and why rabid, egotistical monomaniacs like Doctor Hurt might get it all a bit wrong.

Let’s look at the weird comicbook physics of this, so we can unpack and understand it better. A realm outside of time is necessarily where one has to go when one bounces around time, yes? But what are its properties? Well, for one thing we know it’s eternal and Myth is the obvious real world correlate for this kind of thing, but for Bruce it has to embody his ur-myth, the ultimate aggregate of all things Batman, and so of course we end up with a giant, platonic Man Bat. So, via Annie, we have the instory explanation for why Bruce is saddled with this particular symbology (which of course gets all wonky when you consider that his adventures in some way brought about her situation, her death and her curse – curse you bonkers 5th dimensional geometry magic stuff!), and also a more meta interpretation of events that sees Bruce and the cultists coming into contact with the way his own franchising and comicbook looks interpreted through his readers’ collective unconscious.

Batman meets Carl Jung, basically.

And then there’s Darkseid.

‘Everything they touch turns to Myth, understand that much.’

The Nu Gods are always operating in the upper atmosphere of the DCU, they literally ARE what they symbolise, and they know it. That’s why they can do incredible things and fuck with time and space like nobody else – they can see the physics, the gears and levers of the DCU, grinding away – and why they are primal baddies and goodies portrayed with little to no motivation. They don’t need motivation precisley because they ARE the goodies and they ARE the baddies – the comicbook schematic reduced/ascended to its purest form. The meeting of Batman and Darkseid was fascinating because they really do represent the two fundamental polarities in a superhero book, the earthy, ‘realistic’, base level optimum man, the perfect bridge between reader and universe because appears to obey many of the same rules we do, and the most comicbooky, crazy ass sci fi supervillain ever – a meeting of Heaven and Earth, the Final Crisis, Darkseid ‘falling’ down to Batman’s level and Batman ‘ascending’ to his, both collapsing into each other.

And now we’re about to see the final outcome for both of them, Batman learning what it is to be his superposition, the bat god with Barbatos its shadow in comicbook reality, and Darkseid learning what it is to be a ma…..

Hole in things.

By Lightray! Is he unconsciously trying to ressurect himself?!?

I always dreaded the amnesiac martians in Morrison’s JLA figuring out who and what they were. This would be so much worse.

I was wondering why someone who to all intents and purposes appeared to be immortal would be seeking a casket of immortality and now I understand. Not immortal like a Dracula, but immortal like a GOD.

Mate, If I and the other ranting interheads are right Batman’s about to hand Darkseid his ass on a plate a second time. And I’m sold – I can’t believe I’m sold!

Hunter of evil gods made of superstition and cowardice!


P.S. As I said at the beginning this is all probably terribly obvious to most readers, but I think there needed to be a space where we got it all down, and where better than Mindless Ones, eh? We live for this weird shit.

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