Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Batman: The Grant Morrison Odyssey - Level 8, Part 2

Part 1: Batman & Son
Part 2: Club of Heroes/Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul
Part 2.1: Devil-Bats & The Bridge to RIP
Part 3: RIP
Part 4: The Missing Chapter/Last Rites/Final Crisis
Part 5: Batman Reborn
Part 6:Blackest Knight/Batman vs. Robin
Part 7: Batman & Robin Must Die!!!
Part 8: Return of Bruce Wayne Part 1

Right off the bat we are dropped into a murderous situation with a dead dog, a man being hung, and a woman being dragged by her hair out of a house. One of the thugs seems intent on rapping the blond woman but one of his compatriots stops him while a third man comes out of the house with another red headed woman in his grasp and a now-familiar Bat Casket in his hands. The possession of said casket would mark this family as the Van Derm's whom were seen with it last issue when Jack Valor gave them certain papers after his encounter with Pirate Bruce.

The thugs, who I presume are the ones seen hiring Hex at the end of last issue, making these story beats take place BEFORE that scene, kill the young son, kidnap the blond daughter, and leave the redheaded woman clutching her dead child's body wishing for an angel of retribution (akin to what Annie in #2 claimed she did). She gets her answer in a similar form too:
Briefly we are given a piece of a journal entry from some heretofore unseen narrator and we are dropped now from The Old West to Gotham with our thugs & Jonah Hex. They reference the "ghost" who attacked them as they lead Hex to "Monsewer Sauvage" as they call him, or Vandal Savage, the once & former leader of The Blood Tribe, as we know him.

Savage is apparently the money here, the one looking to hire Hex to stop the "cowboy in black", as he chugs on laudanum & laments how "that dwarf Bonaparte" betrayed him; "They all betray me.." Savage says, obviously in reference to The Blood Tribe as well.

A Native American (Midnight Horse) comes out of a room, smoke coming off his body, talking about Bat-People and how opening the box (the Bat-Casket presumably) will be the end of the world. Hex wants more money which is readily given with more to come "...just as soon as you lay our DEMON to rest"; there are lots of references to ghosts, demons, gods, throughout "Return"...

Cowboy-Bats hits the scene, engages in a little gun-fighting, using makeshift batarangs rather than guns to stop his foes (always non-lethal even without a memory), and Midnight Horse begins to freak out, thinking Bruce has come for the box, something Savage agrees with, so he wants Midnight to open the box immediately despite his end-of-the-world warnings. Savage even says "The end of the world could only come as a relief", having lived for so many centuries already.

Savage, in the midst of ranting about immortality, tells Hex that the blond woman is with a "qualified doctor" and is Catherine Van Derm. That doctor, as it turns out, is named Thomas and it's safe to assume that this is none other than Thomas Wayne aka Dr. Simon Hurt, and he wants the box open for the "secret of life eternal". Catherine, in some sort of trance, begins to mutter out loud:

This isn't the first reference to bells in this story, last issue mentioned the "Bells of the All-Over", and for Thomas it equates to the "Bells of Barbatos" as he flashes back on the "Dark Knight,Dark City" ritual when he drank the "starry venom" of "batwinged Barbatos".

Catherine, a drooling mess with blackened eyes that look like an eclipse, rambles on about "a dark god opening his box and there's bells...but the bells at the end summon another...from the shadows...one who won't stop until the wicked are brought to account."

I think it's safe to say that the "dark god" is Darkseid, that the box he is opening is the hyper-adapter as seen in "Missing Chapter", and that the other "from the shadows" is Bruce himself.

Midnight attempts to draw on Thomas, calling him an "old gambler" which is cute in light of the Black Glove, but the doctor shoots firsts, killing "the only man who could translate anything at all of the lost language of the Miagani tribe" according to Savage. Vandal also confirms that Thomas is a Wayne when he calls him Doctor Wayne, meaning Thomas is still alive 100 years, or so, after the Barbatos ritual in "DKDC" (meaning he already kinda has the "life eternal" he's looking for).

Also, something I never noticed, something I honestly read elsewhere, something that could be given significance is how Savage mentions going to Mexico to build a new empire...which is exactly what Dr. Hurt did after the end of "RIP" with The Black Glove falling apart. Neat...

Bruce descends on the house, using some tried-and-true tricks to shake things up (gas pellets, darkness, fear), and ends up fighting inside a casino, smashing some thug (the one who shot the child I believe) into a roulette wheel (BLACK AND RED).

Swooping out of the sky onto Savage's carriage, the old caveman seems to recall how this happened to him before, issue 1 again. Bruce attacks, breaking Thomas' hold on Catherine in the process, freeing her to smash the Bat-Casket across his face. The journal entry narrative returns with references to Pinkney, the narrator's father, a Judge, and the revelation that this is all being written by another Wayne; Pinkney was commissioned by Judge Solomon Wayne to build the Gothic structures of Gotham AND the only child of Solomon's was Alan Wayne, our narrator.

Alan is apparently trying to off himself, ending the Wayne lineage ("Better a house unfinished than one forever haunted"), by standing in the path of the rampaging chariot upon which Bruce, Catherine Van Derm, Thomas Wayne, & Vandal Savage are engaged. The carriage overturns in the nick of time, bringing Alan & Catherine together for the first time, and allowing Bruce to give his great-great grandmother White Fawn's necklace which was apparently in the possession of Catherine's mom. So that means to me that at some point (especially considering Catherine refers to the necklace as being from "the olden days") the Miagani Tribe & The Van Derm family crossed paths, married, something like that, to bring that Prehistoric artifact into their possession.

Catherine hands Bruce the Bat-Casket, whistling it open in the Miagani language, quoting her grandfather Jerome Van Derm "All the days of the world is one day and he must be strong for us all"; all time is simultaneous being one of Morrison's favorite themes.

Thomas tries to claim the Casket, getting brained himself by Savage who then hallucinates Bruce as the giant Prehistoric bat only to eat a knee to his face. Thomas questions if Bruce is "one too?" (one being an immortal or perhaps a Wayne, not sure here) and threatens to get them all in the end. Hex, fulfilling his deal, shoot Bruce, sending him into the water as is the theme with each of his death/rebirth moments. Only difference this time is that there is no eclipse to accompany it...an art error perhaps?

The journal of Alan Wayne notes his wedding to Catherine, the birth of their son Kenneth that also caused Catherine's death, and how the rumors of Thomas swirled (150 years old?). The visuals show him boarding a S.S. Orion bound for Liverpool, perhaps establishing The Black Glove while in Europe, and making another connection to Orion as in the "B&R" issues during Dick & Damian's search of the mansion.

The journal also goes on to note how Alan & Catherine completed the construction of Wayne Mansion, how Catherine's final request was to keep the Bat-Casket safe, thus the building of the "Garden of Death" in which it was hidden until Dick & Damian recovered it in modern times. As for Bruce, his next stop on his magical history tour brings him to one most painful moments of his own life as he spins ever-closer to the present...

Before we check in on Bruce though, it's time for our visit to the JLA as they still try to figure out what to do about the Omega-Bomb that is Bruce. Being a Tim Drake fan, I am loving this stuff as he is essentially dictating to the big guns. I also appreciate how Morrison puts a little time-stamp on things, mentioning how Tim had been Robin longer than anyone else. We hear a little of the recording Bruce made in the "Missing Chapter" before stepping out into the prehistoric world, and Tim mentions how Bruce will essentially blow "a hole in time" if he gets back to the present. "A hole in time" makes me think of the "hole in things" as Dr. Hurt referred to himself, which is also indicative of the hole created by Darkseid's fall through time...

Now to Bruce, waking up in a hospital bed after arriving in a very noir scene, a dame walking into the scene, looking for help. This time the help is finding the murderer of Martha Wayne...

Yeah...he has to wear the costume his own father wore, the one that Dr. Hurt trashed in the present, the one that is inspirational for the Batman outfit, while solving his own parents murder. How twisted is all this!

The woman asking his help is Ms. Lamarr, one of the actresses from The Black Glove movie, and the only thing on Bruce's person when he was shot was his journal of notes. Yup, it's got a hole in it....another hole in things...

Bruce gets some clothes, begins reading through the book which was started by Mordecai, but in handwriting Bruce recognizes as his own. A group of guys seem to be harassing Ms. Lamarr, but Bruce dispatches them while cutely remarking "I don't much like jokers with guns".

Ms. Lamarr references John Mayhew and how he wants her to be in "The Black Glove" movie, they pay a visit to Martha Wayne's mother who essentially trashes Bruce's father to his face (thankfully he has no memory of his identity). She believes Thomas Wayne had her killed and that the pearls were a means of identifying her to the gunman. Betsy Kane also notes that they were a Van Derm heirloom, bringing the connection to White Fawn's necklace full circle, that necklace that is so symbolic in Batman's history ties into the dawn of time AND is only still in circulation because Bruce returned it to Catherine Van Derm last chapter.

Roderick Kane sits there, trapped in an iron lung or something, having suffered a stroke after selling Kane Chemicals to Ace Chemicals (where The Joker was presumably "born" years later), Betsy mentions the drugs & rape surrounding Thomas Wayne, charges leaked to the modern press by The Black Glove in "RIP", and how Patrick & Silas covered it up. Silas would by Bruce's great-uncle, & Patrick his grandfather. There's mention of a secret room (which we've seen several times over now) where Thomas was treated while Bruce was at boarding school (a reference to Morrison's "Gothic" story perhaps).

The crazy really kicks in when Betsy mentions how Thomas told her, AFTER his death, how he turned Martha into a drug addict. Betsy swears that it wasn't Thomas that was killed with Martha while Roderick grunts something that resembles "Hurt" from his iron lung-y thing. Betsy mentions him having a new face & a new name (Simon Hurt perhaps), and essentially hires Bruce to find him. Now, remember back to "RIP" where it was mentioned how The Kane's hired a PI to investigate Martha's death and he abruptly disappeared...

Bruce goes home, more or less, with Marsha at his side and she begins to explain to him the history of the manor; the underground caves, the bat-people, the Black Pirate, etc. Bruce finds the tomb of Catherine & Alan and the words "deep into the darkness, peering..." are carved into the mausoleum. Bruce notes that the door was opened recently despite Marsha's claim that the manor had been empty for months. She mentions the total eclipse coming that night then tells him they need to go to Willowood Military Psychiatric Hospital...last seen, in brief, during the "Missing Chapter".

There, a very familiar looking doctor talks to another man with a familiar name, Carter Nichols (ish #700) about his time hypnosis technique & its applications. The other doctor is quite obviously Dr. Hurt and he offers Nichols a deal, just as he did with Bruce & Damian in the present, and I think it's safe to say based on how Nichols was living in the present that he did not accept. Hurt also confirms my suspicion that he is responsible for the condition in which Roderick Kane now lives in.

A man in a wheelchair, very Metron-like, mumbling something about "Batman beware the hole in things", but Nichols enters the scene to inform Bruce that he can't speak since the war (Final Crisis?). Marsha officially introduces Bruce to Carter Nichols who asks what Bruce is reading, he responds that it's a story close to his heart but "The plot's got a few holes, but I think it's starting to make sense", some Morrison meta-commentary perhaps?

Loeb (from Year One) and some other people arrive for whatever the hell it is Marsha has planned to root out Martha's killer. Bruce puts on the Bat-costume, kisses Marsha in a scene very reminiscent of his kiss with Jezebel Jet, although in that one he was de-masked. She calls him her "dark knight", which seems to strike a chord in Bruce as he reflects on the content of his journal. Ever the detective, Bruce realizes that this is all a show, a "black mass under a black sun" as he calls it in light of the impending eclipse.

Yup, Marsha dolls up like Martha, while Bruce gets dolled up in the bat costume, feeling like he's done this before. Apparently he has, way back in 'Tec #235, where he used the costume to catch Lew Moxon.

At the Wayne tomb Carter Nichols, alongside several other robed men, one of them presumably Commissioner Loeb as his arrival was mentioned earlier, and including Dr. Hurt, enter the mausoleum where Hurt (or Brother Simon) insists Barbatos will lead them to the hidden casket of immortality & life eternal...the bat-casket. Hurt tells Brother John (Mayhew) to fetch his camera and the performance begins...

The eclipse is in full effect, thugs & Marsha attack Bruce, he realizes he was poisoned by her kiss (like Ivy) and comes to with Hurt explaining the situation, of how he tried to summon Barbatos 200 years prior with no understanding of what he was doing. They have arranged the scenario to look like Martha Wayne committing murder , the murder of the detective her parents hired, making this the footage leaked to the press in "RIP" AND the footage used in "The Black Glove" movie!

So in this early version of The Black Glove we have Hurt, Nichols, Mayhew, Loeb, Mayor Jessop, and the Kane's butler Groves as members...crazy that Morrison tied the Black Glove's foundations in Gotham all the way back here.

So this sacrifice of a "human bat" (i.e. Bruce in the costume) is designed to free Barbatos and grant them all eternal life. What makes this all really intriguing is that Hurt is reciting passages from The Crime Bible in this ceremony. Here's the short of it, The Crime Bible is the text for Intergang and The Religion of Crime. They worship Cain, Cain is Vandal Savage who has had roles in "Return", and their God is Darkseid. The Crime Bible played a role in "Final Crisis" too...

So what this all means to me is that Barbatos is Darkseid, or at least a form of Darkseid, in the same way that Boss Darkside & Turpin were avatars for him in "FC". I suppose that also makes Dr. Hurt/Thomas Wayne a vessel for Darkseid given the original Barbatos ceremony in "DKDC".

Marsha tosses a lit cigarette on the gasoline-soaked body of Bruce, Betsy & Roddy Kane are watching the eclipse and she hears bells ringing, Carter Nichols refuses to use his device to open the hole in time & summon Barbatos, and his box looks a lot like a Mother Box btw.

Bruce takes the box, hops into time with Barbatos riding shotgun it seems, Roderick dies, Carter Nichols actually wins the wager, and we jump to present day where Red Robin & the JLA have removed the cape & cowl from the caves under Wayne Manor. Remember the Miagani said if it was removed it would bring about the "All-Over"....

Bells are bad...

We start the next chapter back at Vanishing Point, last seen when Bruce, dolled up like an Archivist, stole a time bubble and left Super & The Time Masters crew behind:

So we're at the end of time, "everything that can ever happen has happened", and Bruce's story is the last to be archived, freezing his defining elements in time.  The first, as seen above, is the pearls which we have now seen endured from the prehistoric times of The Deer People all the way through to Martha Wayne wearing them at the moment of her death at which time they were trashed.

Also archived are a bell (the sound heard several times over) and the gun while the Nichols engine is also secured for archive.  I assume the Nichols Engine is either the Mother Box-like contraption Carter Nichols made in the last chapter, or it's Bruce himself, loaded up with chronal & Omega energy from his travels through time.

Upon his arrival to Vanishing Point he is dying, presumably from being burnt alive as his body still is smoldering & smoking, thus the Archivists shove him into some suit, a "lazarus transfusion" they call it, as the timeline counts down to its eventual fall into the black hole at the end of time.  Another "hole in things"...

The archivists detect the infestation of hyperfauna that has followed Bruce through time, officially labeling it an Apokoliptian Hunter-Killer "Curse" Machine.  Bruce acknowledges his curse being that the successive iterations of the Omega Sanction are bringing him closer to his present and closer to death, "the only escape".

And there's the bullet...

Bruce refers to the Archivists as "bush robots", as the archive being the entire history of the universe (important to "Batman Inc." I belive so remind me to bring it up there) thus the most precious thing ever.  The Archivists refer to him as "the solution to one of history's greatest mysteries", and confirm that he is the Nichols Engine, another "hole in things", a "gap in the archive", and I imagine that these gaps are Bruce's own history which will be filled in in due time.  One of the archivists acknowledges that Superman's search party, as seen in ish #2, hasn't arrived yet, putting this particualr moment in a chrono-context.  Bruce realizes that if things proceed without his intervention than the Hyper-Adapter will be free to trash the archive and maybe even hitch a ride with Supes & crew.  So he asks for a disguise (the one we saw when Supes & The Time Masters visited) and for his memory to be wiped.

The Archivist makes mention of Batman's "final adventure...and his new beginning" before transforming him, and while this happens another "infestation of hyperfauna has been detected" warning pops up.

Supes & the crew arrive, Rip leaves the keys in the time sphere, and the events of ish #2 happen in between panels.  We also flashback to the moment of Batman's birth, as seen in "Last Rites" & "Year One", and there's that bell! The bell marks the moment of Batman's creation, when the bat crashed through the window and gave a bloody Bruce his inspiration. 

We also "hear" the voice of Darkseid from just before Bruce's "death" uttering the words, "There you are", although it looks like a bat talking, which could be significant in that the Barbatos/Bat-Demon that Dr. Hurt summoned was seemingly an avatar of Darkseid.

We catch back up to the last page of ish #5 as Batman, looking like a cross between his costume & that of the Archivists, arrives in the present via time sphere, greeted by Red Robin & some version of the JLA (or maybe just a gathering of available heroes).  Cyborg freaks out, of course causing the rest of the group to jump the gun and attack the Bat-God. 

As for Supes, they are stuck in a time sphere watching the end of everything , trying to fight the bubble, with Skeets playing the lone voice of reason, "Batman did tell us to...trust him...".  The group finally realizes Bruce left them inside a time sphere in mid-construction, the "ultimate time machine" according to Skeets, and their way home.  Rip makes an off-handed comment about how Bruce "...could have known potentially knowing everything for awhile" due to his bond with the Archivist, which, as I said before, plays a part in Inc.  So essentially the Time Hunters crew is there to witness the end & rebirth of time, a recursive loop, the big All-Over is finally happening.

So I'm calling him a Bat-God right now because he single-handedly decimates Cyborg, Jesse Quick, Congorilla, Starman, & Starfire in large part due to the awesome power of his Archivist get-up.  Wonder Woman is watching the relic costume as you can see above, while Red Robin attempts to contact Dick & Damian but notes they are unreachable, Gotham City is on quarantine, and The Joker is on the loose.  So essentially putting a time-stamp on these moments, telling us they're going down at about the same time as the events of "Batman & Robin #13-15".

Red Robin steps up to the plate to confront Bruce, this time without violence, talking him through the problems of, ya know, being a walking Omega Energy Bomb.  Only problem is this Bruce asked the Archivists to take his memory so he's not quite remembering the names and events Tim Drake is schooling him on.  He tells Bruce that Dick is now Batman, that Damian is Robin, and Damian's name seems to strike a chord of memory.  He reminds Bat-God that he is Bruce Wayne to which he responds "...not yet...", reminding me of how Zur-En-Arrh Batman was also essentially a version of Bats without Bruce Wayne present.

Once again Morrison lets Tim shine in these scenes...just want to say how cool that is!

Wonder Woman confront Bruce as well and her mention of a box brings back memories of Ancestor Box and the hyper-adapter as well as those wierd words Annie spoke to "Mordecai" & the iconic WW & Supes emblems that hung in her room.

Diana uses the Lasso of Truth on Bruce which forces him to remember that he is Bruce Wayne but also give the hyper-adapter a foothold as well, something it apparently didn't have when Bruce had no memory of himself. WW points out some details about The New Gods that are pure Morrison concepts, describing them as "...self-aware ideas. They use concept weapons, anti-life equations, hunter-killer metaphors", she requests Bruce to let The Archivist speak and all hell breaks loose again!

The hyper-adapter has infested the Archivist which we got a hint of when Bruce was transformed in the first place, and all those images seem to be scattered memories.  The pearls, an eclipse, a bullet, a rose, the WW & Supes sigils, "HAHAHA", the horse, Martha's murder, Orion's belt, and a bat of course.  The symbols that have repeated themselves throughout this book as well as in "Batman & Robin". Tim wonders if this is what time looks like...

The Hyper-Adapter is trying to turn Bruce into Darkseid's weapon, he in turn uses his memories to fight back at the H-A....wait H-A...HAHA....Hyper Adapter...am I just seeing things there?

Supes & the Gang show up in the present as the H-A points out that only in death can he & Bruce be separated.  So GL takes the first step to do just that with assistance from Supes, WW , and Bruce himself.  Bruce orders Supes & WW to toss the H-A into the time sphere which he has set to turn back on itself.  Still, the H-A adapts as it is designed to do, becoming a giant bat, the very same bat that scared the crap out of Dick during his search of Wayne Manor during "Batman vs. Robin" AND ultimately becomes the giant bat that Vandal Savage had on a stake back in the first part of "Return". 

Wow...so perhaps it was also the H-A Bat that Dr. Hurt/Thomas Wayne encountered during the "DKDC" Barbatos ritual in the 18th century.

I wish I could have just found the first image by itself because it's the main reason I used this image. The "gotcha" is a reference to what Bruce said just before the Omega Effect made contact in "Final Crisis", it's what was on the note inside the Bat-Casket when Dr. Hurt opened it, and as Bruce learns us in this image, it's what Jack Valor contributed to it a century earlier.

Supes makes reference to time distortions, which is what I assume the Tetris symbols on this page represent, and a dying Bruce essentially verifes that Darkseid was/is trying to incarnate inside Hurt just like he did with Boss Darkside & Turpin in "FC" (think I said that already).

Wonder Woman's statement of "Batman Must Die!" makes me think of the "Batman and Robin Will Never Die" that closed out "RIP"...

Such an awesome spread there depicting everything from Bruce's experiences in "52", the Isolation experiements, Nanda Parbat & the Thogal, and Metron...basically confiriming that he was the wheelchair-dude at Willowood Hospital and is kind of controlling this whole thing. "The 5th World is my experiment..."

Bruce summons the All-Over by ringing the bell, conceptualizing the Batman, but that moment was also Bruce reaching out for Alfred's help, which agains makes me think of how "Batman Inc" was conceptualized in Bruce's mind.  More on that next blog...and maybe bells aren't so bad.

Bruce is dying, rather dead for two minutes, again making me think of a moment from earlier in the series, just prior to "RIP" when he died at the hands of Devil-Bats for a few minutes, but Red Robin, every the loyal partner knows just how to bring him back: show him the cape & tell Bruce Gotham needs him.

A flash to the help Bruce had over his time travels from Valor, a casebook-type entry covering what I stated earlier, how 250 years ago the H-A infected a human being...Thomas Wayne.  The entry also goes on to point out "The first truth of Batman...the saving grace...I was never alone. I had help."

Bells are still ringing and now "Return" meets "B&R" for the final part of Phase 2 of Morrison's Bat-Saga!

But first, a flashback to the "Dark Knight, Dark City" Barbatos ritual definitively binding Morrison's first two phases to this story due to Thomas Wayne/Dr. Hurt's involvement in it.  These pages are both an interpretation of the pre-existing material as well as a fresh take on it, the take that binds the original Thomas Wayne to the Omega Adapter, the product of Darkseid, the H-A we just saw Bruce & company toss into time.  Thomas Wayne, obviously ignorant to the words "Barbatos" is saying to him believes he's being called "Omega Adeptus" which Wiki tells me is essentially the most adept magician. Wayne also takes on the name Simon at this moment in reference to Simon Magus who was a biblical figure, a powerful magician, and may have buried himself alive to be resurrected like Jesus. Thanks Wiki and David Uzumeri!

So homeboy eats the bat, taking the Hyper Adapter into himself essentially, and gaining the immortality he has always been searching for (and was still searching for at the time of Bruce's parents murder).  Wasn't the fact that he was 200 years old and still breathing a sign? WIth the history lesson completed, Bruce officially reenters the scene:

So cool....out from the fireplace, right at the secret room where Thomas Wayne/Dr. Hurt was treated (I think) by Bruce's father Thomas.  The 99 Fiends attack, Bruce has Dick & Damian at his back, leading to another awesome multi-panel fight sequence as well as some catch-up dialogue like Bruce reminding Dick how he told him not to wear the costume (I believe this was in "Battle for the Cowl" or the Nightwing "Last Rites" issues) followed by Dick's retort of how Jason Todd would be wearing it otherwise.  Oh yeah, and a little reminder of how Hurt shot him in the skull.

With some of the 99 beaten there's a little catch-up, Dick reciting to Bruce what he figured out about Hurt, Thomas Wayne, El Penitente, and what not.  More of the 99 wander in but burst into laughter, presumably induced by The Joker who is still down in the Bat-Bunker with a nuke in hand. The moment of Dick having to tell Bruce that The Joker is "...on our side, kinda" is painful and funny.  Bruce finding the desecrated portrait of his parents is just painful.  Bruce instructs Damian to get Dick home safe while Damian, in a rare moment of showing his true feelings, tells his father "...we can entrust the rescue of Pennyworth to you, I hope".  He does care about Alfred after all...and Grayson as well given that he saved his arse from a gunshot during the fight montage.

Hurt, speaking to Bruce via speakers in the Bat-Cave perhaps, informs him that he has Alfred captured and while Alfie begs Bruce to not come looking for him until he's done. Bruce, in light of his "first truth of Batman", totally ignores that request while Hurt, reverting to his gambling motif, drops a "place your bets" comment. Bruce searches the cave, Hurt mentions a "truth chamber" which I have no idea about so I looked that one up...

Wierd shiz huh?  And the return of Morrison's love for the old no longer canon Bat-stories...

Hurt continues to taunt Bruce via speaker, "That's how it feels to be the devil in hell", "I am the hole in things! I bring hell on earth and to the world debasement".  He references the isolation experiments, makes his own version of Batman R.I.P, this time meaning "Rot in Purgatory" as he leaves Bruce trapped in the mirrored Truth Chamber:

Meanwhile in Gotham, Pyg has gone completely nuts, Dick & Damian have arrived to save the day, turning his drug-addled Dollotrons on him before Dick collapses again, sending Robin after Joker.  Oh yeah, and Pyg is still the creepiest villain in a loooong time: "I made you to love me but remember I'M NOT WEARING PROTECTION, MY DARLINGS!"

Bruce breaks out of his "trap", it's a trap he created so if he couldn't it would be kinda sad now wouldn't it?  He also tries to explain to Dr. Hurt who he really is, what happened to him with the H-A, how Bruce's father Thomas tried to treat him in that hidden room, but Hurt refuses to accept that, still spouting that he is Bruce's father, that he "...built this endless puzzle for you, my poor, insane son!"

Hurt puts some distance between he and Bruce, hoping into the water in the cave, reminiscent of both "RIP" and every "rebirth" scene in "Return of Bruce" (minus the eclipse)...or wait, scratch that, there is any eclipse going on during this fight as scene in the window during this DOUBLE PUNCH scene:

Bruce elects to save Alfred, trapped in what I assume are the remains of the helicopter from RIP OR the remains of the spaceship from "Return" #1 that was launced in "FC".  While Bruce saves his life-long friend & surrogate father, his life-long enemy & faux-father escapes only to stumble upon a trail of dominoes. So remember that banana peel Joker discarded so haphazardly....

The "devil", the personification of evil, the "hole in things" gets undone by the oldest trick in the book, a freakin' banana peel.  That's actually amazing and leaves Hurt in the position to get Jokerized & buried alive (like his namesake Simon Magus), and just like happened to Damian at the hands of The Joker and to Batman at the hands of The Black Glove.  Full circle I suppose...but there's still that pesky old nuke.

Damian is on that one while Bruce tracks down Joker, catching him just before he escapes Wayne Manor grounds, just as he caught him right before he escaped Arkham Asylum in "The Clown at Midnight" prose ish.  What I dig about Joker's ramblings here is this: "The Joker fights crime! When there's no Batman...the gravediggin' clown gets to be the good guy...what could be funnier than that?"

So in the moment, thinking that HIS Batman is dead & gone, Joker actually wants to become a hero? Amazing...and possibly the inevitable conclusion of his Super-MPD. Alas we will never see that world as Bruce decks him...

The world settles, so we think, as we learn the quarantine has been lifted after three days, the Mayor whom Gordon thought dead still lives, Pyg has been locked up in Arkham, and the corruption in City Hall & the plot to smear The Waynes are under investigation.

So with Bruce back Dick naturally assumes he will revert to being Nightwing now that he's recovered from his gunshot wound.  Bruce, in a somewhat surprisingly compassionate move, orders him to take 2 months off.  Damian worries that he will be forced out of his Robin role, Bruce busts out the "Batman and Robin will never die" line, and tells him to get ready to meet the public.

A press conference, the half-truth revelation that Bruce Wayne has been financing Batman in secret for years, and then the whole world changes as Morrison's Phase Two ends & Phase Three begins:

The Era of The Black Glove is over!  Dr. Hurt was 18th Century Thomas Wayne kept alive by blood & contact with Darkseid's H-A (who he thought was the demon Barbatos) for 250 years! Bruce Wayne created his own inspiration and Barbatos' inspiration, by tossing the H-A, then in the form of a bat, into the time sphere! Darkseid essentially started it all by tossing Batman into time in the first place! Batman, only the 2nd man to survive the Omega Sanction, can escape any trap! Hurt paid to have The Wayne's killed! DOUBLE PUNCH!!!

Thanks to whomever created this piece I found in a Google image search, I think it's only missing the Knight & Squire one...

So now we venture into the territory of "Batman Inc" where Bruce Wayne's support of Batman is public knowledge and his experiences lost in time have shaped his outlook on the mission.  Most importantly, always remember the first truth of Batman: "I was never alone. I always had help"

1 comment:

  1. WoW! Well done. Swimmingly good; outside A FEW Misconceptions (& grammatical errors which are absolved on account of your passion).

    One misconception -of your applaud worthy breakdown- is 'the whole in things'. You should of cataloged (on a side panel perhaps) all of the allegories.... Hmmm? just a thought But--
    The BIG ONE U MISSED was - The Black Sun ITSELF "The Eclipse" = A Black whole in the sky, A visual portal. Especially to ancient civilizations who practiced what we now call archeo-astronomy. Mezzo-Americans like the Maya, considered an eclipse A very special event. Where openings in the sky invited the return of their gods (modern-day extra-terrestrials). To them it was A Portal/ 'A Whole in things', A Star-gate; in which the unusual, the uncanny & the divine could fly through *Batman E.g.The Barbbaros/ Barbatos Bat thing*.

    & Why do you refer to "The 3 Ghosts of Batman" & the "RIP." bridge as "Devil Bats"???
    The main Dr, Hurt (torcher) trained Batman fill in (flying the B#681 Helicopter) is Micheal Lane *Key on LANE*.

    - "The 3 Ghosts of Batman" (B#664-666) is what makes the first B#655 opening sequence so special.

    - & Marks the initial first mythos of the "Bedlam" Damian Future as Batman in B#666.
    (Continued *from B#666* in B#700, B INC.#4 (vol,2//Nw52), Superman Batman #75 & B #23.1 (Nw52) "Joker one-shot" (Jack'A Knapes origin).

    & as for Dr. Hurt he knew he was already immortal, He was clearly lying.
    - He wanted something else perhaps, for the curse to be lifted?
    - Maybe Dr. Hurt was HUSH's Dad &/Or wanted the Wayne fortune for him-self...
    - Or he is Batman's asylum committed adoptive brother, from some old Batman ish i cant seem to find.
    - Dr. Hurt/ El Penitente is the Whole in things.
    - Dr. Hurt remains controversial. Batman's ultimate adversary- exactly what Grant Morrison promised we would get! He Delivered!

    *On a final note Morrison's Batman saga (Pre B INC.) was THE BEST thing to ever happen to Batman. So good its like why would I (or anyone) ever read another Batman epic. Especially with low-grade New 52 type "Death of the Family" laughable garbage were Snyder (current 2013 Batman flag-ship writer) is trying too keep readers in suspense with meaningless sentimentality framed story lines. That will NEVER hold a candle too what remains the Batman "RIP." saga.

    PS: Again Mr. Shane Hagadorn well done. All real Batman fans should applaud your blog.

    Adum Strange