Mikyzptlk: Origin stories. We are getting a lot of origin stories from DC Comics these days. I suppose it’s only natural given the relative newness of the New 52. It’s been a few years now, but there are still a lot of lingering questions and a lot more room to reinterpret certain origins. Still, I’ve been suffering from “origin-itis” lately, especially with Villain’s Month throwing a ton of new origins our way. While Peter Tomasi didn’t use the Two-Face Villain’s Month special to explore the origin of the villain, he’s certainly using this current arc to do so. So, how does he do? Well, Tomasi brilliantly circumvents my origin-overload by tying Harvey’s past directly into his present. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Batman and Robin 23.3: Ra’s al Ghul, originally released September 18th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.
Drew: I’m not sure I’ve ever “gotten” Ra’s al Ghul. Sure, as the immortal leader of a criminal empire, he’s a great villain, but I never fully understood why he’s a Batman villain. The best Batman rogues highlight some important element of Bruce Wayne: Joker’s gleeful chaos reflects Batman’s brooding order, for example. Without a gimmicky hook, I was always left thinking that Ra’s was meant to highlight Bruce’s mortality, which is kind of a defining characteristic, but one that is brought up every time he’s put in moral peril, so not really specific to Ra’s. With Batman and Robin 23.3: Ra’s al Ghul, writer James Tynion IV finds that parallel in the way both men wield myths to make them stronger, turning in a character-defining secret origin that actually builds on the character’s history, rather than simply rehashing it. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman Incorporated 13, originally released July 31st, 2013.
It never ends. It probably never will.
Drew: What does it mean to end a run writing Batman? How do you “end” a story featuring a character that has been published in perpetuity for over 70 years with no signs of slowing down? Sure, Grant Morrison “killed” Bruce Wayne, but that was back at the close of his epic’s second act. No, the ending here had to be something much grander, something much truer to the unrelenting nature of Batman. The sheer scope of Morrison’s epic is deserving of the same pomp and circumstance of “the definitive end” of Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern, but Morrison manages to approach that same grandiosity with modest deference, keeping in mind that, while the he may be done, Batman will keep on going. That simple nod turns his elaborate love letter to Batman’s past into an equally impassioned love letter to Batman’s future, and gracefully shifts Morrison from center stage to the audience. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman Incorporated 12, originally released July 3rd, 2013.
Drew: I don’t know when exactly I learned the phrase “grand finale,” but for much of my childhood, I only associated it with Fourth of July fireworks shows. I don’t know if it was just youthful impatience, or just excitement over getting to use those special words, but that was the only part of the show I ever cared about — who wants to see brilliant explosions paced out slowly when they can all go off in rapid succession? To some degree, I think there’s still an expectation for finales to be grand — remember everyone’s reaction to The Sopranos finale? — even if that ignores that narratives aren’t the same thing as fireworks shows. A satisfying conclusion to a narrative features consequents to the antecedents set up throughout the story, effectively closing all of the open parentheses. That job is already tough (think of how many otherwise decent stories have been totally ruined by a botched ending), but becomes exponentially tougher as the antecedents and open parens pile up over the years — especially when Grant Morrison is writing. His Batman Epic has been truly epic — it features both a global scope and a historical perspective, and has introduced countless characters, relationships, and histories — all of which require additional consideration as the story winds to its close. This entire final chapter of Batman Incorporated has been about starting that process, but issue 12 suggests that Morrison might actually intend to close ALL of his open parentheses AND give us the grand finale our inner child has been begging for for the past seven years. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman Incorporated 10, originally released April 25th, 2013.
Drew: One of the defining characteristics of Batman is his relative plausibility. Fictional technology aside, he’s basically an extremely wealthy, extremely determined individual — no alien DNA, no radioactive animal bites, no magic. Writers will vary in just how plausible they want their version of Batman to be, but most respect that believability as one of the character’s biggest draws. Every so often, writers will break that rule — Jason will be resurrected via magic, or Bruce might call in a favor from Superman — to show you just how big the stakes are. In this issue, the situation is so dire, Bruce turns to not one, but several such outlandish solutions, tapping into every corner of Batman-exess he can. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman Incorporated 9, originally released March 27th, 2013.
Drew: In Batman Incorporated 0, Grant Morrison asserted that “the first truth of Batman” was that he was never alone, and backs it up with the fact that Alfred was there from the start. But is that the first truth of Batman? If Batman was born that night in his father’s study, he was surely conceived 18 years earlier as Thomas an Martha died, making loss the first truth of Batman. With that loss comes the loneliness that Morrison’s “first truth” was reacting to. Sure, Bruce sought comfort in his friends and wards, but every moment of his life was shaped by the crushing loneliness he felt watching his parents die. The death of Damian reemphasizes that point, distancing Bruce even from Alfred, who — as Morrison asserted — was always there. The result is a uniquely lonely Batman, spinning another take on the character into the tapestry of Morrison’s epic. Continue reading
Today, Mikyzptlk and Drew are discussing the Batman Incorporated 8, originally released February 27th, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: Spoiler Alert. Hahaha, just kidding. Fuck you very much, internet. Alright, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system–Seriously, couldn’t you have just kept your mouth shut for a few more days?!? Okay, it’s okay, I’m all better now. As I write this, I’ve just finished reading issue 8 of Grant Morrison’s Batman, Inc. and I’m still not quite sure what to make of things. We all know by now that Damian “The Boy Wonder” is dead. And though I have some wild theories that say he’s not actually dead, the issue leaves us with that conclusion. Grant Morrison has stated (a bit earlier than he should have mind you) what the death of Damian means in the greater sense of the themes he was presenting us with, but I’d like to focus on the character of young Damian and what his death means in the context of the world in which these characters live. I’ll leave the heavy lifting to Drew. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing the Batman Incorporated 7, originally released January 30th, 2013.
Patrick: If the last issue of Batman Incorporated was a little heavy on the heady themes and explicit symbolism (it was), then issue 7 is the antidote. The issue starts with Batman in free fall, then zips ably through surprise reveals, heartwrenching goodbyes, booby-traps and betrayals. As Talia calls the members of Leviathan into action — be they security guards or children — it’s immediately clear that The Plan is in motion, and Damian is uniquely positioned to put a stop to his mother’s attacks and save his father.
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing the Batman Incorporated 6, originally released January 2nd, 2013.
Patrick: There’s a moment early in this issue when Batman realizes that Talia is going to put him through the Ten Ox Herding Pictures before being able to confront her directly. Batman asks, “Can’t we just have a conversation, like normal people?” to which, Talia replies, “We’re not ‘normal people.’ We’re special.” Batman’s got a point: Batman Incorporated is in ruins and Leviathan is everywhere. To make matters worse, Talia is moments away from making Bruce choose between his city and his son — with conflict so clear and so immediate, what room is there for a Zen parable about the process of becoming enlightened? Continue reading
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman Incorporated 5, originally released November 28th, 2012.
Drew: Patrick once pitched me an idea for a comic designed to simulate the sensation of picking up a long-running, densely serialized series late in its run. Batman Incorporated is already a fantastic example of the kind of comic mythology Patrick was aiming to lampoon, but with issue 5, Morrison flexes is own insane mythology muscles, dropping us into a future we know nothing about. Except for when we do. While Morrison’s Gotham of the future still relies heavily on hilariously vague, yet vast-sounding mythologies, it contains enough hidden rewards for longtime readers of Morrison’s Batman epic to set up some emotional through-lines for that future. Unfortunately, that same coherence can only make it more frustrating for newcomers to this series.