[Obscuring] Place in All-Star Batman 13

by Patrick Ehlers

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

When I was a kid, my family used to spend parts of our summer vacation at a cabin in the woods outside of Hayward, Wisconsin with our good family friends, the Pfarrs. The Cabin — which was all we ever called it — had a kind of romantic mythology about it, slowly crafted by years upon years of family bonding. There was a ill-used road into town that we had nicknamed “sneak path,” and which carried a (probably bogus) story about a young couple driving too fast along it and slipping in raccoon guts and driving off the road. We were all told that the Cabin itself was drunkenly constructed backwards, so that delightful front porch was meant to be in back, overlooking the lake. I have no idea if that last one is true, but to this day it feels right. I close my eyes and I see this space – it’s a comfort, a complete flash-memory, and the most common setting for my dreams. It’s a place of subconscious and unconditional love. In All-Star Batman 13, writer Scott Snyder and artist Rafael Albuquerque tap into the connection between place and relationships. Continue reading

Batman Incorporated Special 1

batman inc special

Today, Shelby, Drew, Spencer, Mikyzptlk, and Patrick are discussing Batman Incorporated Special 1, originally released August 28th, 2013.

Grant Morrison’s Batman, Incorporated epic recently concluded with the “death” of Talia, the “end” of Leviathan, and dozens of Damian clones in jars. While we lost a few characters, some we loved more than others, Morrison’s run spawned a multi-cultured cast of goofy Batman and Robin agents, working ’round the world to do good. Forced to shut the program down, Batman is giving Batman Incorporated casefiles one last looksie before “closing” everything down.
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Batman Incorporated 13

Alternating Currents: Batman Incorporated 13, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman Incorporated 13, originally released July 31st, 2013.

It never ends. It probably never will.

-Jim Gordon

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

Batman Incorporated 12

Alternating Currents: Batman Incorporated 12, Drew and Patrick

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

Batman Incorporated 10

batman inc 10

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

Batman Incorporated 9

Alternating Currents: Batman Incorporated 9, Drew and Patrick

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

Batman Incorporated 7

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.

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Batman Incorporated 0

Alternating Currents: Batman, Inc 0, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman Incorporated 0, originally released September 26th, 2012. Batman Incorporated 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.

Drew: Up until the relaunch of Batman Incorporated, I had read the entirety of Grant Morrison’s Batman Epic in trades. At the time, I lacked the resources of a comprehensive guide to the entire run, so I didn’t exactly read the whole thing in order. I’d start in the middle and work my way in either direction; I’d hop to another trade and need to close the gap between the two. That non-intuitive reading order only exacerbated Morrison’s famous obliqueness, leading to some incredibly disorienting reading experiences. Since then, I’ve re-read everything in proper order, allowing me to understand the current run with surprising ease. I was happy to be conversant in what Morrison was doing, but a little part of me missed that sense of suspended animation, waiting for things to click into place. I was a little happy, then, to find a few fleeting moments of that confusion in this issue, though I suspect not everyone will be.

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