Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Batman- The Grant Morrison Odyssey: New 52 Style V7

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
Part 9: Return of Bruce Wayne Part 2
Part 10: Batman Inc. Part 1
Part 11: Batman Inc. Part 2

New 52 Part 1
New 52 Part 2
New 52 Part 3
New 52 Part 4
New 52 Part 5
New 52 Part 6

Honestly...how do you even talk about an issue that has a cover such as this one or an opening page like this:

Bruce, Dick, Tim, and Alfred...the pallbearers. One grave, a contrast to how we kicked off this adventure.  Here's a visual reminder if you don't remember:

There were two graves back in Batman Incorporated #1 (which was tagged as one month earlier), and here there is just the one.  So there is still the question of who's body fills in that second grave?

We kick back into the current situation with Bruce being confronted with the monster who killed his son, a monster who (unbeknownst to Bruce) is his son's clone. Just like Damian, the Heretic is arrogant and boasts how he killed "your son" with his sword.  Just as he did with Damian (who I believe could have beat him if not for the random bullets & arrows) Heretic seems to underestimate Bruce (his "father") during this fight. He assumes (as most do) that since he beat him before he could do so again, he even calls Bruce "weak and slow" before eating the Batman's fingers into his eyeballs.

Heretic, as Dick "Nightwing" Grayson struggles with Damian's death, even pulls a Bane-moment on Batman and threatens Bruce that he will "break your back".  It hearkens back to the fight-montage of not only the previous issue in which Heretic actually did pull Bane's backbreaking maneuver out on Damian (to no success), but also to Batman #497:

Nightwing jumps to the aid of Batman (as he once did waaaaay back in KnightsEnd):

...and the comic begins to meld flash-forwards in with the "NOW" of the book as we see the four pallbearers standing graveside in one panel while the next panel depicts Dick's battle with his "brother".

On one page we have Bruce eulogizing his son while on the next it is juxtaposed with the death of another member of Batman Incorporated, The Knight (Cyril Sheldrake):

There are several intriguing things about the Beryl sequence here.  First up, she takes on the identity of The Knight and the fact that she does so in front of Night Ranger further enhances the sequence by playing into the legacy idea behind Batman.  Batman first begot the Dick Grayson/Robin creature and eventually Grayson took on the Batman mantle. Theoretically, and if issues like Batman #666 and the recent Son of Batman mini-series are to be accepted as canon, Damian Wayne would have ultimately done the same.

Second, this Night Ranger (Johnny Riley) is another representation of a sidekick (formerly known as Scout) who took on the identity of his mentor.

Third, based on the final two panels of this page...

 ...there is something out there as far as Lazarus Pits go.  Last time we saw a Pit was during Batman & Robin (Vol. 1) #7-9 story arc but, based on this conversation and the fact that we saw some empty grave(s) before, there is a great deal of mileage in this topic.

As we previously saw, Alfred "let" Damian run out into the chaos that let to his death and Bruce, based on this amazing first panel from Burnham as well as his previous page, shows us just how much Bruce is mourning Damian/blaming Alfred. Is it Bruce protecting his life-long ally or is it blame falling on the wrong shoulders?  I suppose we will find out down the line...

It certainly comes off like Bruce protecting Alfred and given that the next two pages lay out how Leviathan aims to decimate the Wayne name, it certainly plays out that Bruce is looking to shield his ally.  Gotham, WayneCorp, it all comes under fire from Leviathan as they begin to broadcast their version of the "truth" city-wide.  It is public knowledge that the Wayne name is affiliated with Batman Incorporated and it is now public perception that Bruce's son has died AND that he has CLOSE connections to the terrorist organization.  It doesn't matter what level of truth these rumors hold, all that matters is that the rumors are out there; our 24/7 media cycle will do the damage itself...

The main reason for using this page is because of the 3rd panel and how it further illustrates the FUCKING AWFUL maternal nature of Talia Al Ghul.  What kind of parent tells their child, even if it is the clone of their child, to address them by their first name AND essentially says "I'm not your mother"?  A seriously damaged terrible human being of a mother...

And as she berates the Heretic for killing Damian, not on her order mind you, he actually stands up for himself and says "I watch. I listen. I learn. I am Batman now."  This is what Talia has introduced to the world, a version of Batman that she seems to have even less control over than the real thing...

Bruce is in the process of getting his arse handed to him as Heretic continues to lecture him, in an almost son-to-father fashion, about how he is younger/stronger/faster/bigger than his father/Batman.  We are looking at the battle of generations playing out before us. This is the Hulk-Batman decimating Batman-Classic before our eyes...a version of Batman, sans morals and restrictions, aiming to kill his predecessor right in front of we the reader!

There is a difference though. Our Batman-Classic has a family and that family saves him from death at the hands of his bastard child.  Unfortunately, simultaneously, his alter-ego is being decimated through political means; Leviathan's hands are everywhere:

Batman is illegal...as he was way back in Batman: Year One and again in the aftermath of Batman: War Games...and we see Jim Gordon having to hide his allegiances as a result.  Leviathan has turned Gotham against The Bat, at least to save its own skin, and men like Commissioner James Gordon are now having to conceal their connection as warrants are issued for men like Bruce Wayne.

Thankfully we have men & women like the members of Batman Inc who will battle on despite the odds in front of them. We have people like Nightwing, Dark Ranger, the new Knight, and Red Robin who maintain contact with the rest of the organization and keep things under control.  Despite Wingman/Red Hood/Jason Todd being captured by the All-Girls School of Death from Leviathan Strikes!, the unit (shown to be consisting of El Gaucho/Man of Bats/Red Raven/Nightrunner/The Batman of Japan) persists on "finishing it" as Dick Grayson says.


The final pages, looking at them with no words, carried completely by the powerful images presented by Chris Burnham, the angst/anger/rage/sadness is carried across in totality by what is on the page. While that final page may not have any sort of screaming sound effect, it doesn't even need one.  It is a page that demands the reader put the scream in there, it demands that Bruce Wayne be screaming loud enough to wake every damn bat in the cave.  After all, he just erased his son from existence and had a bit of release via Bat-Cow...

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