Knowing Your Opponent in Batman 42

By Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

About halfway through my first read of Batman 42, as Poison Ivy (through her minions) dangled Catwoman upside-down from a skyscraper, I suddenly remembered that the two characters are supposed to be friends. As if reading my mind, a few pages later Tom King and Mikel Janin addressed this head-on, with Selina appealing to their friendship and Ivy claiming that Selina doesn’t know the first thing about her. Apparently Ivy’s bid at world domination is meant to be benign, charitable even — a genuine attempt from her to fix the world, to redeem for past crimes. Apparently there was a rock of regret inside her that not even her closest friends and allies knew about — but Batman knows. His entire plan, and his eventual, inevitable victory, revolves around him having nailed down Ivy’s motives and methods.

Remember that old saying about how Batman could win any fight with enough prep time? Well, he’s had several weeks to prepare to face Ivy, which is a testament to how truly insurmountable Ivy’s control over the world seemed (and, perhaps, to the pureness of Ivy’s motives as well. It’s completely to her disadvantage to leave Batman and Catwoman alive, but she’s trying to do something good, even if she’s vastly missed the mark). Now he faces Ivy armed with a seemingly vast and complete knowledge of her motives and methods. He knows how Ivy enslaved the world, and thus that there’s still one other man alive free from her control. He knows that she thinks she’s helping, which is how he knows that Ivy won’t let him die (or that she’ll fix any damage done to him). He’s observed how Ivy’s used the heroes under her control (and smartly, King and Janin shows readers as well, allowing all the moments Batman cites as evidence to play out on panel), and can thus predict whose skills she might call upon in any given scenario. In just about every aspect, Batman’s got Ivy’s number.

And it isn’t just Ivy that Batman understands. He knows everything about his friends and teammates, which is how he and Selina are able to counter their attacks — for example, Batman knows how Superman’s enhanced hearing works, and thus knows that Ivy won’t have full control over it, and is able to use that fact to his advantage. Despite her iron grip on the world, in just about every sense Batman’s knowledge gives him the upper-hand over Ivy; he’s able to predict everything she’ll do, while Ivy can’t even begin to do the same with Batman. Neither can readers; we certainly don’t know what significance there is to the young man not under Ivy’s control, nor why Batman wanted to draw Harley out, but King and Janin have made it abundantly clear that there’s a master plan at work, and almost certainly a good one at that. Batman’s two steps ahead of us all, which not only makes him nigh unstoppable, but fascinating to watch.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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