Thursday, November 12, 2009

Batman and Robin #6

As Grant Morrison's 12-part run on Batman and Robin reaches the midpoint, its intrigue is at an apex. The run has been structured as four three-issue story arcs. But the fourth one will from all indications be the greatest among equals, showcasing characters who have held the power behind the scenes during the three initial arcs.

The third arc was full of action, with the dynamic figures of Philip Tan illustrating clashes between two dynamic duos, as Jason Todd and his sidekick square off against the title characters. And finally, the four of them barely matching a newcomer, Flamingo. The great majority of issues #4 through #6 were devoted to this plot. I'm not, however, going to say too much about it here, because that plot was in some regards self-contained, and has come to a neat end with Jason's incarceration.

However, just as Sasha, the human fallout from the first story arc "fell into" the second one, a comment from Jason at the end of this second arc, is falling into the third one. I use the domino metaphor because of its obvious importance to a mystery behind this run, a story element that was in concrete terms absent from #6.

For the purposes of the future, #6 ended with two short scenes that were almost bursting with hints about where the story is going. In the first, Oberon Sexton receives a phone call from a man who identifies himself with or as El Penitente. In the second, Dick Grayson, goaded on by earlier comments from Jason Todd (whose resurrection was aided by a Lazarus Pit) appears to visit the body of "Batman" in a sealed vault, with the dialogue as well as two different preview panels indicating that this body may be placed into a Lazarus Pit. For the moment, these two sets of clues appear to lead in two different directions, although the El Penitente and "body of Bruce Wayne" stories will likely end up colliding by the fourth arc.

I'm going to take the unusual (for me) step of putting a lot of pieces together in one effort. I grant that some of what I posit here may not be true, but there is such an inter-relation of clues that it would seem coy to talk about each one for a while before assembling them into a story.

The seated man is El Penitente. The "penitentes" are, after all, a Latin American sect within Roman Catholicism whose essential trait is acting out the crucifixion, including self-whipping (Jesus faced whips before the cross). And the seated man has a whip in his hand, scars on his back, and has bared himself, evidently, for that task. He is definitely "a" penitente if not "the" penitente (note that Santos was wearing the tunic of a Penitente in #4). And his language also indicates that he is the principal player on his side of this war: He uses the the first-person singular when he says "I have unfinished business in Gotham City, and scores to settle." He's not a follower.

More significant, the seated man is evidently Doctor Hurt, or is somehow or another channeling whatever essence was Doctor Hurt before. He wears the Thomas Wayne batmask. He has the same distinctive hairline. He uses the phrase "your sins have found you out" (Doctor Hurt said this in the final issue of Batman, RIP). His speech is dense with statements of his own power and his listener's weakness, something Hurt has done in every panel where he's spoken. The newspapers and notes on Oberon Sexton's bed indicate two Devil / Black Glove elements: A five-pointed star (key to the Satanic future plot of #666) under the indecipherable photograph of one person, and the exact headline seen in the "Six months later" scene at the end of RIP: "Gruesome Slaying of Beloved Cardinal"... surely Cardinal Maggi, a Black Glove member.

Somehow, Doctor Hurt has reloaded very rapidly, taking command of a large criminal organization running out of Mexico. The scores he has to settle in Gotham probably have a lot more to do with his failure to best Bruce Wayne in Batman, RIP than with a cash-driven drug pushing ring. And if he's punishing himself for anything, it's probably that loss. And the fresh injuries in the shape of the W more than likely mean that he's conscious of the name Wayne as the source of his woe.

El Penitente's comments hint that he has a past association with Oberon Sexton. We've been told that Oberon Sexton's face was "scarred" and his "wife" killed. And that suggests that Oberon Sexton is actually Mangrove Pierce, last seen hanging upside down before Mayhew's party, with Hurt about to skin and wear Pierce's face. Apparently, Pierce was let go, faceless, and has put together this life for himself. His lover, the former wife of Mayhew, was killed by her husband. He's tracking down whoever killed the Cardinal and probably other former members of the Black Glove. Which suggests that the Joker, who vowed to "collect his winnings" from the members of the Black Glove is the same serial killer that Sexton is tracking down. Remember also that in Batman #680, one of the Black Glove members mentions that Doctor Hurt is fond of utilizing actors. As he reaches out now to Sexton to do something for him, it's possible that Sexton, as Pierce, was one of the actors who has worked for him previously.

So this page gives us good reason to believe that a number of pending mysteries for the year can be tentatively resolved from the clues in just three panels. Case closed? No. In principle, all kinds of other possibilities are still open. But this is the most economical reading of the clues.

Furthermore, the Domino Killer is probably not the "serial killer" that Sexton is after. The faulty solicit for #1 said that Batman and Robin would be on the trail of a child abducted by the Domino Killer. Sasha was abducted by Professor Pyg. Pyg used the word "dominoes". His drug / plan matches El Penitente's very well. An addiction you can catch -- sounds like the sort of soul-destruction that the Devil yearns for. The Domino Killer may likely be an agent of El Penitente.

And what of the body and the Lazarus Pit? The preview at the end of #1 showed us a "Batman" rising from what we now must feel sure is a Lazarus Pit while Batwoman appears to resist Dick Grayson's efforts. The previews at the end of #1 show her and some bat-hand (almost surely belonging to the body that Dick looks at at the end of #6). Which leads to a sharp contradiction with the belief that Dick has expressed quite clearly, that the body that Black Hand exhumed as part of Blackest Night is Bruce Wayne's.

This amounts to two conflicting assertions regarding a body being Bruce Wayne's. (Let's forget about the Bruce in the past for now -- that's not a direct conflict with any Bruce body in the present.) Moreover, We have been told in an October "DC Nation" column by Dan Didio that Batman and Robin "7 was so important to events in the DC Universe that it had to come out after Blackest Night 6". The most economical reading of this is that the conflict between the two assertions will be resolved by Batman and Robin #7 but will not be resolved by Blackest Night #6. The solicit for the former advertises "the details surrounding the 'death' of Bruce Wayne!" Evidently, Blackest Night #6 has some drama that is better served if we don't know that.

If if comes down to one or the other, the odds are far on the side of the body that Black Hand stole being the real Bruce. He has used it for some nefarious raising-the-dead purpose and his project has worked. Moreover, we have reason to doubt that the Lazarus Pit project will work -- it's probably too early for Bruce to come back. Granted, Dan Didio has also said "There were two Batmen [in Countdown, or with Earth Two?]. And that, honestly, is one of the cruxes of the storylines that will be playing out in 2010." So Bruce and Dick may overlap. But January seems too early for that. Batman and Batman and Robin? So my guess is that Dick knows that the body in the grave is the real one and he takes something else to the British Isles looking to test a Lazarus Pit on it and getting something that is not Batman. Naturally, Batwoman, who's been running into devil types on her own, would have reason to be concerned and perhaps to want to stop the effort.

We have been told by Grant Morrison that the Bruce in the past is Bruce. So a body in a Lazarus Pit is probably not the way we'll get Bruce back. (But who knows what rules exist governing spirits in the past, Lazarus Pits, and bodies in the present? A writer could make anything happen that is convenient for the story.) I think Dick will get a body to rise up and do something, but it won't be Bruce. The teaser title reinforces that: Blackest Knight. That sounds like, at best, Zombie Bruce, not "Hurray -- Bruce is back!"

Given that Squire appears in the promotional art for the next arc, I should add that in the Club of Heroes storyline way back in Batman #667-669 (where Mangrove Pierce first appeared, too), the story of the Knight resembled considerably what the Black Glove soon did to Batman -- he lost his fortune and was on drugs in the streets. If I were to interview Morrison, I would ask if that was the Black Glove practicing on a lesser superhero or was it foreshadowing on his part, or some subconscious expression of the larger plot that was coming. (The Musketeer also had a story that accurately foretold the final setting of RIP as a situation in which Batman faced two of his deadliest enemies in an insane asylum.)

There's a lot of uncertainty still out there, but I think the clues in #6 makes it likely that we know who most of the players are for this run. I think we'll see Dick Grayson try something with a Lazarus Pit that will one way or another fail to bring Bruce back. (Maybe one of the clones from Last Rites.) I think that will serve as our confirmation that Black Hand, indeed, has Bruce's actual skull in his hand. And we'll see the Black Glove's supporting cast move to the forefront when this story moves into the fourth arc.

In the meantime, we can scrutinize the clue-filled pages of Batman and Robin #6 as much as we want, looking for other possibilities -- the next issue of the series is two and a half months away.


  1. Ah lol i knew you could help me out on what a Penitent is. =p I first thought Joker could be Sexton, but i completely ignored the possibility of Mangrove Pierce, great work!

    Also do you think theres any value that Batman's corpse had a batarang/sharp object on the hand? Maybe it's just a red herring for us easily fooled ones lol. ^^; Great and interesting blog as usual Rikdad!

    Also abit off topic but i'm curious. What monthly titles do you read?

  2. Hey Rikdad,

    great, great blog. Do you plan on expanding it to include more of G-Mo's work, or are you going to cover his Batman material and leave it at that?

    Regarding Bruce's body: I'm beginning to wonder whether there might be *two* bodies around right now. We know that a charred corpse was left behind in Final Crisis #6 after Bruce got hit by the Omega Rays. However, we also know that Bruce was actually not killed, but transported through time and space. If he was merely thrown into the past, it seems that his remains could turn up again somewhere in the present. Has anyone considered that possibility?

    Either way, I sure hope we get a good explanation for Dick hiding all this from Tim, especially if the two-corpse-theory turns out to be true. That would be a major hint that things are not as they appear and that Tim might be right.

    In any case, I'm almost certain the story behind the body in the vault will be somewhat mind-boggling. I mean, the access code is "Zur Enn Arrh". Which, as we all know, stands for "Zorro in Arkham" or, more bluntly, "insane Batman". I don't see why Dick would choose a term straight from Bruce's Black Book of inexplicable cases if the story behind this body wasn't a mystery to him.

  3. Drazar, thanks! I think the weapon was just a funereal object of no great importance, arming Batman in his "mausoleum".

    Vinzenz, I talked about the past body in this post:

    I've basically been reading this title, Batman, Detective, Red Robin, and otherwise following these characters: Superman, Green Lantern, Barry Allen, Booster Gold, and the JSA. The JLA is getting me interested again after a long time during which it didn't. I liked where Wonder Woman was going, but just drew a line for how much attention I had the time to allocate. I've also been reading a lot of old comics this year and have read a very big fraction of every DC superhero story from about 1937-1941, and I'd like to carry that forward about a year further, and then pick some characters and selectively follow them all the way forward to the modern age. That's a big task, so it won't happen soon, but it's how my interest points. I've previously read just about every JLA story from 1960-1987 (and much of what followed, including all of the 1996-2005 run).

    I've been reading other Morrison works lately, going back to read Flex Mentallo, for example. I've re-read Final Crisis many times this year, but it wrapped up right before I started this blog, so I haven't put any comments on it here.

    Thanks for asking -- all of this (reading those comics and talking about them) is a lot of fun.

  4. At the start of the second paragraph, you mean "second arc".

    Great post. Very accurate synopsis of where we're at.

    I'm not so sure, though, that Sexton is Pierce. I don't recall Pierce having been billed as British (of course, he was an actor), and it would be a stretch for him to claim that he had a wife when he was really fooling around with Mayhew's. Moreover, wasn't Pierce imprisoned for quite a while? Hard to cultivate a false identity as a minor celebrity when you're locked up. I think it's a fair assumption to say that Pierce would have only recently vacated jail (in the previous year of continuity, around the time Hurt came back into the picture), yet Sexton seems to be an established author with multiple books to his name. Still, this is comic book logic, with comic book timelines.

    (Personally, I'm not so sure Pierce was who we saw on the first page of #667, either. Those who have investigated this run have already turned that idea over in their minds enough to figure out what they think of it, but I'm not 100% convinced. I still think "Hurt" may be the Devil inhabiting Pierce's body--"wearing his face" in that way--the way the Devil once wore the body of the girl in "Gothic". This brings up back again to the question of whether the "Club of Heroes" arc was "Mayhew's party", or if the "Mayhew's party" referred to in Batman #681 might referred back to the real (non-figurative) PARTY to which Thomas Wayne wore the original Bat-suit. If it's the second case, then the Devil would have been inside Pierce since way back then, which would roughly coincide with Pierce's dissappearance from continuity. I can imagine Morrison giving us a flashback sequence to that original costume party: Mayhew welcomes his guests: Thomas Wayne dressed as a Bat-Man, Mangrove Pierce dressed as a doctor, and then something happens at the party that causes powerful men to want to use Joe Chill to kill the Waynes. Or...more likely...I could imagine Morrison never giving us any clear answers to any of these behind-the-scenes questions.)

  5. (continued...)

    I think the Joker as Sexton is a stretch too, but at least that would have the advantage of the guy--whose face was also disfigured--having lost his actual wife. Would the Joker have cultivated another identity as a British author who is anti-crime? Unlikely, I admit, but from the Joker's perspective that might be funny. The Joker certainly knows that there've been multiple Red Hoods, as "Oberon" says in the interview; would Pierce know that?

    It's also hard for me to think of Pierce as hunting down whoever killed the Black Glove members. Surely Pierce--whether he was only a rival of Mayhew, or a victim of Mayhew AND Hurt--would rather hunt down the Black Glove than he would hunt down the guy who's been preying on them. I think the idea that "Oberon" is hunting the Black Glove's hunter is a front; I think he's actually hunting the Black Glove directly, and the newspaper clippings are souvenirs of his own murders / convenient clues for the readers. (The Black Glove is also more of an "international serial killer"--or whatever the exact phrase was--than the Joker is.) Again, if this is the case than it makes a bit more sense that "Oberon" is really the Joker rather than Pierce.

    The last line that we hear "Penitente" say to "Oberon" lets us know that the former is about to give an order to the latter. I can't see Pierce at this point--no matter what he's gone through--having any reason to do what Hurt tells him, ESPECIALLY not if Hurt is the guy who disfigured him. The Joker, on the other hand, might want to do a little something more for the Devil again, if only for giggles.

    Maybe I'm just playing, uh, devil's advocate here, because I think an Oberon-as-Joker reveal would be a lot more interesting than Oberon-as-Pierce. Broadly speaking, I'm not even sure if Morrison is going to really bring obscure background material like Mangrove Pierce into the 12-13 issues of Batman & Robin, which is supposed to be more reader-friendly. We pretty much know that he's going to bring the Joker in, though.

  6. great comments everyone, and great post as always Rikdad.

    I'm sure I'll have some thoughts but I just wanted to congratulate everyone on not just complaining about Jason's hair! :-)

  7. DAL, Pierce's being framed happened a long time ago. I wrestled with the possible timeline and it's impossible to nail it down, but I figure it might have been, say, 19 years ago or longer. Key fact: Pierce and Lamarr played "young" people in the movie. But we know from the dossier that they are old enough to have socialized with the Waynes, who have been dead for about 25 years! If Pierce was "young" in the movie but at *least* 18 25 years ago, then the movie had to have been several years ago -- 8 to 19 or so. So he could have served time for murder and then been released.

    Would he have a reason to do what a man who gruesomely disfigured him asks him to do? Sure, if he's being threatened.

  8. Rikdad i have a question. Don't you think the Satan Batman in #666 is Jason? If you look closely to his eyes you can see his skin isn't as black as ever Lane was portrayed. Also how Jason talks about the sons of Batman, how he asks him to join him (a very COMMON trait for Jason) and whatnot... what if Dr. Hurt now gets him out of jail and makes him the next Satan-Batman?

    He couldn't defeat Bruce Wayne Batman so all he can do is now dimish the legacy of Batman pretty much. :)

  9. great post. However, RIP left me very confused. I was hoping B&R would be less convoluted, but I should have realized not given that this is Morrison.

    So Hurt and Penitente are the same person? And this is the person with the W on his back. I thought it might be R'as given the hairline, but I can see how that is the mask Hurt wore too.

    One last thing, have you ever spent some time with us on the nightwing fan club site?
    we have a forum too.

  10. Drazar, Damian identifies the Satan Batman as the third of three replacement Batmen who plagued his father years ago. So clearly Damian thinks he's Lane. I don't see the story giving us any reason to suspect it's not. Remember that Lane was first alluded to in #665, which was set many years before #666, but was printed just a month earlier. Also note that Morrison said a few months ago that he hadn't written Jason before.

  11. Will, thanks. I think that the self-lasher with the W is El Penitente and is Doctor Hurt. Maybe there's some trickiness there. My hedge was that he is "somehow or another channeling whatever essence was Doctor Hurt before". Maybe the spirit hopped bodies. Maybe it's always been a dual identity for him. Maybe he just became El Penitente recently. But the gist is that he's the big bad of this run... he's the main force behind El Penitente's organization... and he's Doctor Hurt, and therefore, to the bigger point -- he's the Devil.

    Thanks for telling me about the Nightwing site. This is Dick Grayson's biggest year yet.

  12. Hey Rikdad,

    Yes, the timeline's very difficult. Again, we're talking comic book logic--but if Pierce had been released from jail years ago for murder, then why wouldn't Bruce have simply tracked him down last year, especially since Bruce's best guess was that Hurt WAS Pierce? On a realistic level, if Mayhew had the power to frame Pierce for murder, wouldn't he have put a stop to any judge who would give Pierce such a light sentence?

    The 'Black Glove' movie is a very interesting background piece of the puzzle. Don't you wish there were a virtual 'imdb' for DC continuity, so we could just look up facts about it? I remember you made some posts last year about your ideas for Bruce having seen that movie as a child, and the movie scared him so much that it implanted a deep-seated fear that became real when he learned of the Black Glove organization. Morrison's story has so many jumping off points that provide readers with opportunities to use their own imaginations to figure things out.

    If it means anything, Hurt in 681 says that he "skinned Mangrove Pierce ALIVE and WORE him". To me that sounds more like Hurt claims to have worn Pierce's entire body ("him"), not just his face. But my idea that Pierce became "Dr. Hurt" at the costume party is a lot like your idea that young Bruce saw the "Black Glove" movie--it's just an idea that I think is interesting, that would put a lot of pieces together. Relatedly, toward the end of 681 Bruce says: "Mangrove Pierce, star of 'The Black Glove'. My father's DOUBLE, and mine." This again--we've encountered this idea before--points to the "BG" movie being a fictionalized account of the Waynes. Pierce is supposed to look like Thomas Wayne. Hurt claimed he was Thomas Wayne. Hurt is a "doctor". Pierce was an "actor". Put Pierce in a cliche doctor's outfit (as Hurt first appeared), and you get someone aping the look and tropes of Dr. Thomas Wayne. But, again, Morrison throws out so many thematic overlaps that this could be nothing. I know we've already been over the fact that Hurt and Thomas Wayne (and you and me--I used to be magwomp) are doctors.

    Someone else on another board put out the idea that Sexton could really be Whisper. This has a big advantage in that Whisper is English and would certainly follow Hurt's instructions. There are disadvantages as well, as I'm sure you'll understand once you think about it for two seconds.

    It's interesting to me that Oberon evidently has to cover himself head to toe. The Joker would have a reason to do this, since even a tiny bit of his skin showing would give away who he is. A guy who loses only the front of his face would not need to cover his hair and his hands. If Hurt literally skinned (and wore) all of Pierce's body though, I guess Pierce would need a full bodysuit for protection.

    It's just hard for me to imagine Pierce (if he's Sexton) caring about Hurt's threats anymore. What else does Pierce have to lose, if he's dedicating his life to offing Black Glove members and/or hunting international killers? I would think Pierce would rather forsake his identity as Sexton than help the Devil out in anything, since the use of that false identity seems to be fighting evil, not aiding it. Further, it's tough for me to think that Hurt would've even let Pierce out of his clutches.

  13. February's Batman & Robin cover. BRING IT ON! :D

  14. BATMAN AND ROBIN double-ships in February with part 2 and 3 of “Blackest Knight” guest-starring Batwoman, Knight and Squire! Only months into his new role as Batman, Dick Grayson faces perhaps the biggest threat of his life. In hopes of attaining his heart’s desire, has Dick instead unleashed a terror the likes of which the world has never seen?
    Meanwhile, back in Gotham City, Alfred and a recuperating Robin are at the mercy of someone both fearsome and familiar…

    Oh man i am so excited! Who is this fearsome and familiar guy? A Part of me says it could be Dr. Hurt but we know issue 6 ended with Hurt forcing Sexton.... which could lead to Sexton being the Joker. =O (Or its completely not related to Hurt or Sexton for now, but i doubt it since were drawing to the conclusion of B&R)

  15. Nice summation. Interested to hear what you make of the latest cover solicitation

  16. DAL / magwomp (welcome back!), you make some good points and raise good questions about the various pieces of the puzzle. I don't see Whisper reappearing (he was Austrian, incidentally). It's not clear that Pierce getting out of jail means that the Black Glove let him off implausibly easy -- suppose that Hurt skinned him the day after he got out of jail. Then they let him go, faceless (like the models in Flamingo's plane). And after Pierce has roamed free for a while, Hurt calls him up and says that if he wants to stay alive, he'll do something else for Hurt. None of that is necessary, but it is plausible. Lots of room for more posts on the Penitente / Sexton dynamics... and lots of time for them.

  17. Drazar -- cool stuff! It's possible that the Blackest Knight plot will stand alone without direct ties to the El Penitente plot. I'll post (speculatively) on Arc 3 soon.

  18. Rik, ah so Whisper was Austrian. I remember that now, but was caught up in thinking of how he had taken on the identity of a British-type schoolmaster. I guess he could come off as British, but I agree with you in that I don't see him making a reappearance in B&R.

    Yeah, I've recently come back to looking at what Morrison's been doing. B&R thus far has not demanded that the reader become obsessive, which I'm somewhat thankful for (even though I enjoyed RIP much more). A month or so back I read Gothic for the first time, and now I'm rereading the rest of Morrison's Batman again for the first time since last December. It's strange to reread it. I enjoyed the experience much more in issues, despite the delayed gratification of waiting for each installment. On some level the lack of suspense this time around has allowed me to appreciate the run in a different way, but at the same time I MISS the suspense. Morrison's actual plan, once you strip away the false leads, reveals itself as quite simple, really, at least compared to all of the theories about what other things COULD have been going on. It's still a great run...but reading it in issues as it was unfolding, THAT was a once in a lifetime experience. Now it "just" feels like I'm watching a recording of a great sports event or something.

    I have hit upon a few passages that may speak some toward where things are going. In 670 Ra's says to his henchmen, who are chasing Damian: "We can REGROW what you cut away...maim him if you have to!" We already pretty much knew that Talia was going to fix Damian, but I thought it was neat to see the precedent of Ra's clearly stating what his technology could do.

    In 681 Hurt says that he will unearth Bruce from the coffin right when "His brain will begin to die[...]whereupon he will be raised up like a drooling LAZARUS...". So will THIS be how the Batman raised by Dick will act, braindead and drooling? We've suspected as much, and in the above quote Morrison might be giving a hint.

    Also in 670, I-Ching (some of whose quotes were repeated in 681) says, "But you do believe--don't you Batman--that one man's disembodied consciousness can possess another man's body...and take it for a ride?" This passage immediately refers to the possession of one of the thugs that Batman has just taken out. The guy turned violent when he puts a mask on (cf. Morrison's mask motif). It also refers to the idea of Ra's possessing people. I think we can take it even further, though. It might refer to demonic possession, stuff with Hurt (or "Hurt"). It also can refer to a skewed way of looking at ACTING (a big theme throughout the run). Alfred tells Dick to treat Batman like a role. But on the other hand you could say a mask/cowl in a sense "possesses" whoever wears it, because that person takes on the personality dictated by the mask.

  19. Nicely catched Dal! Also lets take a look at this very spoilerish variant cover for Blackest Night #5 look at it at your own cause, spoiler warning!

  20. DAL, I agree that this 12-issue (or so) run seems to be headed for a less-complex outcome than the Batman run (of about twice that length), but then again, we may be counting our chickens too early. The depth of the story is about how plot elements interact -- when we only had B&R #1 in our hands, I gave it a quick read and didn't think too much about it, but it's hard to say what elements in the background of #1 might be full of meaning as the story moves on. The phone call in #6 would have seemed humdrum if we read it two years ago: With the weight of context, it was incredibly intriguing.

    Good call on the drooling Lazarus line, and it calls for a re-read of all of the GM Batman run to see how things might connect (per the first point in this comment). I can't say if Morrison intends the connections with lines line that or if he just keeps going on riffs that he likes, eg the Knight in "The Black Glove" and Batman in "RIP".

    I always felt like the "disembodied consciousness" line introduced (whether GM meant it explicitly or not) to call up the sort of villain that Twin Peaks had, a possessing evil spirit. As my TP/RIP post mentioned.

  21. Excellent work as always, Rikdad. I'll try and chime in soon with some thoughts of my own, some of which you beat me to, as soon as time allows. Busy week, this week.

  22. Drazar, thanks for the link to that variant cover. I wouldn't've seen it otherwise, and it's gotten me excited for the next issue of Blackest Night. I think the only thing we can bank on is that Blackest Night #'s 5 and 6 take place before B&R #7. It will be interesting to see WHY BN #6 HAD to come out before B&R #7.

    Rikdad, I definitely think the connections to Lynch's work are very much intended, the allusions to Twin Peaks especially. It is always a question of whether Morrison's just "riffing", though, or whether thematic returns are really intended to sow seeds of later narrative revelations (e.g., "Was the Black Glove behind the Knight's troubles?")

    It often benefits us to examine this stuff in order to forecast Morrison's forthcoming stories, but on the other hand I'm very much of the school of not putting much stock in authorial intention as far as APPRECIATION of art goes. Taking off our detective hats and putting aside questions of whether Morrison meant any specific allusions or not--questions which often prove unanswerable--there's a ton of potential thematic correspondences to just flat out enjoy.

    I'm actually not much of a Batman expert (although Morrison's run in itself has almost made me one), but in the '90s one of my favorite comics was Doug Moench and Kelley Jones' Batman run. I haven't gone back over those issues (#515-#552, if my memory serves) with a fine-tooth comb, but certain things have jumped out at me as presaging some of Morrison's run. The first Moench/Jones storyarc involves a character called The Sleeper. I thought of this after rereading Lane's line about "The SLEEPER has awakened." Sleeping and awakening are obvious themes of Moench's story, which includes ideas about mind-controlled "sleeper agents": "Someone 'awakened' to KILL--with a TRIGGER-WORD or some OTHER preprogrammed stimulus, like the 'Manchurian Candidate.' (Batman #517). (Lane's line might (also) be a replay of a line from Lynch's Dune movie: "The sleeper must awaken.")

    A later Moench/Jones storyarc (#544-546) involves the Joker and the Demon. In this story the Joker starkly changes his personality (cf. Morrison's MPD idea) to that of an old school alchemist obsessed with demonology and the occult. He wants to conjure up the Devil (because, he says, he admires him and wants to shake his hand), but ends up getting Etrigan instead, and the Joker wants to use him to bring Hell to Gotham. Rooftop gargoyles are also used in the story (cf. #679), though they don't talk. Of course, this story kind of informs how we might see the Joker's relation to the Devil or "Hurt" ("Fan of your work...") before he met him. For some reason the writing in the story reminds me of Morrison's prose in #663, too (Moench calls the Joker "The Harlequin of Hate"; Morrison had "The Harlequin of Hell").

    Just some interesting stuff--thought somewhat beside the point--if you guys want some further reading.

  23. Are we getting a Blackest Night blogpost soon? ;) Here's #5 spoilers if interested:

    Nekron did it. He rises Bruce Wayne of Earth! We finally get an explanation what Black Hand meant by "youre connected to them all". Batman is the key for Nekron to get all the heroes who once died, but are now alive as Black Lanterns. The only thing regarding Batman that happens is that he gets a body, spits 8 rings out and then Nekron deems his part done, but what will TRULY happen in issue 6? Its bound to be something important since B&R got delayed. Was the "Bruce Wayne of Earth" indeed someone else? I personally doubt it, even tho the Lump clone is a popular theory, we just need to wait hehe.

  24. Holy Batman news week, Batman! Rikdad my man, i demand a new blog post soon about our caped crusader! Have you checked these two out:

    The 4th Batman & Robin arc is titled "Batman vs. Robin" and we learn about the Wayne family tree... meaning we might get a answer whenever Thomas and Martha were Black Glove members and whatnot, and yeah Batman (Bruce that is) escaping the ultimate death trap, oh boy!

  25. Thanks for the updates, Drazar. I have had two Batman posts in the works -- one timeless, one timely -- while the Flash post kept me busy, and this new information definitely adds to the thinking about about timely one. I'm reading the Tony Daniel issues of "Batman" carefully, looking at hints in interviews, and needless to say, those two links plus the USA Today interview with Morrison add some important material.

  26. Well to help you out. Check out RIP #5 Page 12. ;)

    I believe we're seeing the Pilgrim Batman right there. ;)

  27. DAL -- I have been re-reading the run and can say that I found at least one undeniably intriguing image that was hidden in the background art. I'll add that picture in a blog posting this week.

    Drazar -- Thanks for the links! Bruce definitely has some prim and proper ancestors in his family tree, and he'll be a contemporary of them whenever he is in the past. Silas Wayne in that image was actually the subject of an Era C story.

    There may not be much to say about the details of TROBW so far, but how it may mesh with B&R is an interesting thought. Seems far off, though -- beyond any clues we have yet.