Miss Squidge wrote:
Just recently gotten into comics although my boyfriend has developed an obsession with batman. I thought that batman was meant to be the more gritty, realistic hero until I read the most recent Grant Morrison arc... time traveling batman bouncing around history? Apparently he got vaporised by some evil dude (dark seide or something along those lines) but that translates into not dead just faffing about in time... sigh I do try to like them, i really, do but sometimes i feel embarrassed even thinking about the sheer silliness of it all!
... At least when reading Thor if it's questionable logic is brought up I can simply say "Magic"
supposed to be dark and gritty, and until Final Crisis
, he was
(I'll believe that
name when I see a legal guarantee from DC that it is
the "final Crisis") is one of those big, stupid crossover events that DC Comics does from time to time when their writers have contradicted too many old stories writing new histories for their characters and they need some massive cosmic-scale event to "clean up" the mess (though it usually winds up making an even larger mess of things). This time around, the story - written by none other than chaos magician and Batman
scribe Grant Fucking Morrison
- behind the madness is that the omnicidal nihilist alien "New God" known as Darkseid has finally found the Anti-Life Equation - a formula that gives whoever uses it total control over the thoughts and minds of all affected living beings, thereby granting them the power to undo Creation itself - that he has been searching for all his life and the DC super-heroes have assembled to stop him from destroying everything with it
. Morrison was playing around with themes of Armageddon and the end of civilization/the world as we know it
, an extremely relevant topic since 9-11 and all the saber-rattling going on with Iran and North Korea. Essentially, Morrison was asking, "Are we really
prepared to live our entire lives
waiting for the world to explode, or are we going to deal with it and move on with life?", only with super-heroes.
That's all well and good... until you factor in his work on the Bat-books. Somehow - I don't know whether it was Morrison's decision, his Final Crisis
cohorts' call or the DC Comics editor-in-chief's idea, but somebody is to blame for this nonsense
- it was decided that Batman would "die" during the latter issues - specifically Issue #6 - of Final Crisis
. Morrison was already playing with this idea in his awesome story Batman R.I.P.
(which preceded Final Crisis
, so the DC editors decided to make R.I.P.
a direct tie-in to Final Crisis
, essentially making Final Crisis
#6 the unofficial "final chapter" to Batman R.I.P.
I can see the reasoning for this. By keeping Bats' involvement in the huge, cataclysmic Final Crisis
to a minimum, they could claim
that the Bat-books were still as grimdark
and "realistic" (can you really
have realism in a comic series featuring such fantastically surreal characters as Poison Ivy?) as they ever were. That might've
worked... had they not stuck all the damned "Bruce isn't dead! He's just lost in time!"
references into issues of Red Robin
and made it the ultimate focus of The Return of Bruce Wayne
See, when Darkseid blasted Batman with his Omega Beams
in Final Crisis
#6, he didn't really kill Batman
, he just sent him careening back to the beginning of human civilization with no memories of who he was, super-charged with so-called "Omega Energy". The Omega energy would hurtle Batman forward through time at random intervals, and all the while Bruce would learn more about the history of the Wayne family, Gotham City and a mysterious villain Morrison had introduced into the Batman books named "Dr. Hurt" (who played a major role in Batman R.I.P.), recovering his memories as he went along. Once Batman reached a point called "Vanishing Point" (the moment just before the heat-death of the universe), he was to recover all his memories. By then, his body would have built up enough Omega Energy that he would be a living bomb that would destroy all of Creation. (Don't see the logic in that, since Darkseid would only be destroying all of Creation right before entropy will undo it all, anyway, but I'm not a super-villain, so what do I know?) Recovering his memories would be the "trigger" that would set the living Bat-bomb off, and Darkseid had his servant - some uber-powerful, silly-named fool called the "Hyper-Adapter" (sounds like something you'd use to plug a SATA hard drive into an IDE port on a motherboard) - follow Batman through time to spur him on in his time-jumps. Somehow, Batman knew what Darkseid was planning (???) and left himself clues throughout history, which he quickly pieced together to regain his memories before he was supposed to so he could say one step ahead of the Hyper-Adapter (who we never actually saw following Batman) and reach Vanishing Point with enough time to use the advanced technology there against the Hyper-Adapter. (How both Darkseid and Batman planned for all of that nonsense in the one second it took Darkseid to blast Bats with his Omega Beams in Final Crisis #6, I'll never know.)
story, isn't it? That's what you get when your big story event is nothing more than a marketing tool that has to be planned out on-the-fly by an overworked writer.
Then again, that's indicative of what I feel is the major
problem with Batman: the fact that he exists in the DC Universe
. Any other day of the week, Batman lives in a realistic decayed urban sprawl fighting (relatively) realistic criminals and total nutjobs (not to mention the occasional sci fi villain, such as Poison Ivy, Clayface, Mr. Freeze or Rah's al Ghul) using (relatively) realistic methods (martial arts, grappling hooks, a tank-car that only Bruce Wayne's money could afford, kevlar body armor, etc.). He faces realistic, though horrific
, problems (major spinal injury
, massive earthquake hits Gotham City
, criminal underworld goes nuts and turns Gotham City into a 1920s Chicago-style warzone
) and tries
to deal with them in reasonably realistic manners (respectively: undergoing radical new physical therapy while a hand-picked successor takes his place, heading to Washington, D.C. and lobbying unsuccessfully for congressional aid to rebuild Gotham City and playing the top crime lords in Gotham City against each other to set himself up as the secret Gotham City underworld boss [until the new Robin screws it all up]
). Suddenly, a major galaxy-threatening event
occurs and the Justice League calls in Batman...
See what I mean? How can you have a guy who's supposed
to be "gritty" and "realistic" also
be this galaxy-hopping, alien-punching bad-ass at the same time
and somehow keep these aspects separate
? Somehow, DC Comics managed to do this for over a decade
. Batman would do his "darn an' gritty" in Gotham City, the Justice League would call him in to help them deal with some sun-devouring whatzit or a Green Lantern reject or somesuch, then he'd hop back to Gotham City and all the galaxy-hopping adventures wouldn't even rate a mention
. It was like they never happened, at least not in the context of his stories. I thought that was a nice line of separation.
Then Grant Bloody Morrison came into the picture... *sigh*
Don't get me wrong, I'm a major
fan of Morrison's work on Batman, as I've mentioned before in this very thread. Am I a fan of any of Morrison's other
work? Fuck no.
his big finale to the "Planet X"
story in New X-Men
(sorry, but I still think having a Holocaust survivor like Magneto shoving humans into gas chambers is really uncalled for
), I was never
really interested in Animal Man
, I wasn't fond of The Filth
at all, and I found his work on JLA
to be fun yet uninspiring. In short, I have no
love for the man's work, aside from what he has done on the Batman books. For me, Morrison's work on Batman
and the other associated Bat-titles has been the pinnacle of his career in comics.
The issue at hand is his willingness to bring Batman more
into the established DC Universe and erase
the unofficial "line of separation" between Bats and the rest of DC. More than that, Morrison loves
some of the old Golden Age/Silver Age Batman stuff (like the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh
, who he brought in for Batman R.I.P. [proof]
, and the Batmen of All Nations
, which he re-introduced in Batman
#667-669 and in Batman Incorporated
) and has no problem finding creative ways to introduce some of it into the modern "dark an' gritty" Batman universe. I just wish he wouldn't try to use so damn much
The last vaguely "realistic" Batman story was probably Morrison's debut in Batman & Son
. Sure, it was a slightly campy idea - "Let's give Batman a kid!
What could possibly
go wrong with that?" - but Morrison kept it grounded in already-established Batman storylines (for those who haven't read the story yet, Damien Wayne is essentially a vat-grown, genetically perfect child of Bruce Wayne and Rah's al Ghul's daughter Talia, trained as an assassin from "birth" by his mother
). He managed to do that with the rest of his stories as well, to some extent, but he kept introducing Silver Age stuff without giving any of it a proper history in the Post-Crisis
context (lots of it was explained away by Morrison and other DC writers as "Superboy punch"
, which really
gets on my nerves).
Then he introduced Simon Hurt
in The Black Glove
and Batman R.I.P.
, where Hurt engages in an obscene character assassination campaign against Bruce's late father, Dr. Thomas Wayne
. While Hurt's identity has been left open - intentionally
(though Morrison dropped several hints that Hurt could be either Bruce's father, a Wayne family ancestor with the same name as Bruce's father or a former actor-turned-evil psychiatrist named Mangrove Pierce
) - the basic notion is that Simon Hurt is really the Devil
, and that Batman R.I.P.
is a case from Batman's "Black Casebook", a book Batman uses to journal all of his paranormal, supernatural or otherwise unexplainable cases. (The only problem with this is - as several
other stories have shown - Batman only uses black spiral notebooks
to chronicle his thoughts and case files, so all
of his casebooks are "black casebooks".) While that may be a cool notion, "paranormal" and "supernatural" are not
the first things I usually think of when I think of "Batman". It just doesn't fit with the character.
Nonetheless, you can ignore
all of the paranormal ramblings and just enjoy Batman R.I.P.
as a relatively realistic, intense, gripping, "what the hell is going to happen next?" kind of story. Even with Batman becoming the "Zur-En-Arrh Batman" and Bat-Mite
wandering around Bruce's head for no good reason (though Morrison does give some interesting explanations), the story is still very well-paced and well thought out. It's easily one of the best modern Batman stories out there, and it ends on a mystery with the helicopter Batman is fighting Dr. Hurt on crashing
, so you could conceivably
ignore Final Crisis
altogether and pretend Bruce has been holed up somewhere recovering while everybody thought he was dead
Just don't read the next issue. It introduces a Darkseid minion and about a half-dozen or so Batman clones made by Darkseid
and leads directly into Final Crisis
Then we have Final Crisis
and the damned Omega Beams. Then Battle for the Cowl
(which was good and had a fair level of realism). Then the year of Batman
, Batman & Robin
and Detective Comics
issues set in between Bruce's "death" and "resurrection"
(which were okay, except for the occasional reference to the damn aforementioned Darkseid-created Batman clone
or the fact that Bruce has been shunted back in time with Doc Brown and Marty nowhere in sight
Then you had The Return of Bruce Wayne
, which... Fuck
, man, just... Fuck.
If you're trying to ignore the whole "time-travelling Bruce Wayne"
idea altogether for the sake of your own sanity, this issue just pulls it out and slaps you in the face with the idea, whether you want it or not. I'm normally a pretty sharp cookie, and I can usually read the ending of any
comic story without reading any of the rest of it and immediately pick up on what's been happening before that final issue. Tried that with the last issue of this series. I couldn't make heads or tails of it because I never gave half a shit
about the New Gods or the Linear Men
to begin with. If I had
, then I would've read those
comics all these years instead of fucking Batman
comics, now wouldn't
I have? As it is, The Return of Bruce Wayne
doesn't feel so much like a "Who's Who" of the DC Universe's history as it does a "Who Gives a Fuck?" crossover between the Batman books and a bunch of other non-Superman/Wonder Woman/Flash/Green Lantern heroes nobody in the mainstream non-comic reading world gives half a flying fuck about. Reading this story does not
make me more interested in the Linear Men and Vanishing Point, and it damn
sure doesn't get me more interested in the New Gods or anything else
about the "Fourth World" Jack Kirby
did for DC Comics that didn't have to do with Superman (and I can barely stomach that
shit at all, primarily because of its long, involved space opera backstory that you really should've been reading since the 1960s to get into, a story totally retreated repeatedly and ruined by later writers who weren't Jack Kirby
). I'm sure all the Fourth World stuff is awesome on its own, but when it crosses over into the rest of the DC Universe, it makes things a frightful mess
. Again, if I wanted to read space opera comics, I'd have read New Gods
and all the rest of the "Fourth World" stuff (or go for the much more accessible Green Lantern). I don't
, though. I want to read Batman
, a story about a human being
from Planet Earth with human problems
- parents murdered, crime-infested hellhole he lives in, being an absolute nutcase who can't get a hot date (aside from a sexy former prostitute/dominatrix-turned-thief
who dresses up in a skintight leather number right out of a furry
's wet dreams) because he dresses up in a bat-like kevlar suit and beats up men who are trying to kill him (yes
, that was sarcasm
) - and human emotions
, being emo about his dead parents and... uh... more brooding
why I read Batman
The next stories - Bruce Wayne: The Road Home
and Batman Incorporated
- are really damn good. Morrison has really returned from the zany time-travelling nonsense and brought the material back to its real world feel. As long as you pretend Bruce has, oh, I dunno, been stuck down a well or something for the year that people thought he was dead
, then Morrison's stuff has been pretty good. If you take it as a whole - including
all the damn Final Crisis
and Return of Bruce Wayne
tie-ins - then you have a dreadful time-hopping mess that only feels like half a Batman story tacked onto half a horrible sci fi flick.
Agent Bat: Just wondering, have you read the two part "Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?" I only have issue one of the two, but I found it to be rather interesting. Especially the bit about Alfred.
No, but I've been dying to read it! I've heard it was really interesting.
As for the Crow series from '99, I actually have a copy saved to my computer. However, it's been hard to find good comic time recently. D:
It's a really interesting look at the Crow mythos. I highly recommend it, whenever you have the time to read through it.
You'll probably be a little disappointed in the rushed ending, though. I think the book was canned before the writers really had time to bring their ideas to fruition, which is a damn shame.