Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Batman and Robin #9

Evil Twin

The plot brought few surprises. Aside from Dick Grayson and three allies speeding back from the UK even faster than the Evil Clone, we knew what was coming: Batwoman, Alfred, and Damian survived. The clone lost, and seems not to have.

But sometimes the talking is where it's at, even though this issue had the series' best action scenes since #2.

Evil Clone, who had no onscreen speech in the last issue, did quite a bit of talking this time. To convey a Frankenstein-like slurring, Morrison used online chat conventions of improper spelling, but it was easily decoded. While quite un-Bruce-like in intent, the clone had his memories, but distorted, with the traumatic memory of its last few minutes in the lab layered on top. By telling us some things that only Bruce knew, the clone offered some interesting information, but, as has so often been the case in Morrison's work, with a lot of noise (the clone's imperfect mind) obscuring to some unknown extent the signal.

As the clone gradually loses a fight, first to Damian (and Alfred!), then to Dick, the Knight and Squire, and Batwoman, he offers the following choice bits of intelligence (some additional threatening and prattling redacted):

On himself: Blood. Tainted. Sour blood. ...  Something seriously wrong with my brain.

On the memories that were too much for the clones to take: Gunshots cracking inside my skull, day and night! ... And others, like me. Newborn, screaming, clawing pearls from their eyes. ... See her, her pearls spill down Broadway in the rain. Her heart stops and blood runs cold on Crime Alley.

So we know that the clones have something wrong with them, and there's the hint of a mystery there that was pending from their appearance in Last Rites: If they have Bruce's biology and his experiences, why did they fail? Why didn't they absorb his ability to take that psychological punishment and rebound?

Therein lies a metatextual essay that Morrison has been writing since "52". Morrison has repeatedly articulated with his stories and interviews that the darkness that Bruce experienced between 1988 and 2005 was "too much". He shows this in a montage in "52" #30, and the same scenes are repeated, almost exactly, in Last Rites leading up to the clones being overwhelmed. In the first case, it is Dick Grayson looking back, beginning the conclusion of his speech to Tim Drake with "In the end", the same qualifier the clone uses in this story. In the second case, it was Bruce deliberately piping memories to the clones, knowing that these particular memories were too much. And Morrison paid a delicate homage to the work of Steve Englehart, showing a one-panel flashback to Detective #474 (1977) as part of Simyan's effort to spare the clones; Mokkari congratulates Simyan for that choice. It's Morrison's compliment to a run which made very similar artistic choices to his own. But then, Bruce turns the narration back to the 1988-2005 period, and it does the clones in. But to give the Lump energy to rise and save the day, Bruce feeds him some memories from Morrison's run: the demon-cutting ritual, meeting Damian, and RIP. It's a small abstraction to say that Morrison grades the eras: 1939-1987 good; 1988-2005 bad; 2006 on, good. At least, if we mean good and bad for the man to experience; whether there is an intended comment on the readability of the comics, that's not implied. So the clones simply got what Bruce got, and it was, in Dick Grayson's explanation from "52", too much for one man to handle. In the author's view, the clones are where Bruce was going when Morrison took over.

On DamianI'm your father, Damian. Those tests proved what I feared most of all... You are here to replace me. They sent you to taint the bloodline, for all time. Damian, Demon's Head! In the end it was you. You were my biggest mistake.

As to Damian, we have perhaps gotten the answer as to the genetic testing first mentioned in Batman #677 -- Damian is Bruce's son, but there is something tainted. Something other than his mother being Talia? We don't know. But something tipped Bruce off what we were also told in #666, and know to be coming in the next few issues of this series: Talia intends for Damian to usurp the Wayne line for her plans of conquest. Somehow, Bruce knew this. we knew it, too. Dick is about to know it.

Upon taking a kick from Batwoman: Augghh. Kathy! How could she do this to me?

The clone mistakes Batwoman for Batwoman. That is, the one Bruce knew and loved, the yellow-suited brunette Kathy Kane (as opposed to the black-suited redhead Kate Kane; is that clear enough?).


On the verge of killing Damian: And I say, "What - what - does it take to stop the gunshots?" And city's big black voice reply "The sacrifice of a son."

Possibly the most important line of the issue: Because in #666, we found out that saving the city required the sacrifice of Damian's soul. The clone is speaking of a literal blood sacrifice, but given the looming importance of #666, there's no doubt that this is foreshadowing the deal with the Devil that is perhaps coming. It's clear that Bruce will be anguished by Damian making the deal. Perhaps that's what makes Damian say in #666 "Looks like I let him down again." The deal may be, though not the first, the most significant time.

To Dick Grayson, upon the clones's own decay, collapse (and death?): I'm what you... what you will be. Udd.

Another, more chilling foreshadowing of #666. The clone is dying and says that this is what Dick will be. There's no way the clone should know if Dick is soon to die unless it has something more than the clone's memories. Maybe King Coal was right, and it is The Beast. I should say that I think that Dick will probably cheat a coming brush with death, but the little hints and clues are making survival too tenuous to be sure of.


The Once and Future King

The first two mentions of pearls in this issue clearly refer to Martha Wayne's pearls falling when she was murdered. However, these and the third mention, in reference to Pearly, begs us to look at the character Pearly more closely. (And make me embarrassed that his motif alone wasn't enough to do so two issues back.)

Pearly's a criminal. His jailer calls him a nasty piece of work and horrible. And yet, he's the white king contrasted with black. Though it's tit-for-tat, he helps Dick Grayson without holding anything back. (At least it seems to be help before Evil Clone is the result.)

And so, we can wonder: Is Pearly really a good guy? In fact... if his name is thus bound to the late Mrs. Wayne, is he a figure of more significance? Could he even be an Omega Sanction home to Bruce Wayne?

We learn one more thing in this issue and given the writer's British roots, it may be significant: Pearly's name is Charlie English. He's a self-styled king. Was there ever a King Charles of England? Yes, there were two, father and son. King Charles I's reign was ended when he was executed during the English Civil War. After an interruption in the monarchy, during which there was no king, his son took over with the same name: King Charles II. The son was also called the Merrie Monarch. Does this father-son pair sound like any Final-Crisis-enduring Gothamites we know of? The pattern breaks when we note that Pearly's son is named Eddie; obviously, that's not Charlie II, but Eddie the Pearly Prince does have a profound resemblance to the classic Robin look, domino mask and all.

We always have to be cautious as to when a pattern is intended and when it really has something to it. I'd say, though, if this all weren't intended, it should have been, at least as a parallel if not a hint to something more about Pearly.

And if Pearly "is", in any sense Batman, who is his black opposite meant to represent? Well, I think that's someone we'll be seeing pretty soon.

53 comments:

  1. I think the most obvious reason for why the clone fails is that while it has the Bruce Wayne identity, 80% of its brain is nothing but the harshest of Bruce's memories with no context or time to make sense or peace of it all. With no emotion behind it, just a mass of senseless violence. Sort of like the Fifth Element when Mila Jovavich absorbs everything about the word War at once and almost wants to give up on the world.

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  2. Morrison: "I've spent two years in the making of this story!"

    "He is like the Buddha"
    On the basis of this comment i looked it through the prism of hindu religious teachings(buddhist)ones.I make out the following observations.
    in his comments he sort of hinted the answer not wanting to reveal, fooled us.

    Bruce Wayne acts in Morrison's metatext as the figure of Buddha, passing by the final test of Yama the devil who per se has been taunting Wayne the whole life through various occasions and as various figures (the truth of it's identity? It's simple, the great truth is: There's no real one, it's everyone and noone, it's a manifestation), yet it would not kill him before his soul gives up, one needs to acknowledge the corruption in your own, yet that's not the case in the character, Bruce Wayne will prove his faith by achieving the true wisdom on himself (prepared in Thogal with hints from his past times) and escaping the Samsara wheel of life (represented metatextually in the script as "Omega Sanction"). A fact that historically only the Buddha could do, afterall the devil will be one giving up to finally recognize the contrary of all it has seen: The incorruptibility in this being.

    "The ultimate human. The definition of humanity."

    The Buddha was a prince, who gave up his riches for abject squalor (Bruce did something similar) and I imagine a checklist could be written explaining Bruce's adherence to the Middle Way, his deep connection to Sunyata (Emptiness) and the fact that Bruce's story is rooted strongly in the Four Noble Truths, and his entire life so far is consistent with "dependent origination" (complex cause and effect, rather than destiny or fate).

    You can find all of Buddha's teachings with Morrison's Batman works in some context.yama isn't the devil in buddhism or hinduism.There is no literal devil in hinduism or buddhism. Our own evil qualities are the devil.
    As pointed before, there's no good or evil definition per se in these entities, the meaning of the "devil" is to easily access a paralel to Satan in the western putting in context their control of the hell.

    As Morrsion said, the meaning of devil may be tricky.

    This ambiguity is expressed:

    "Devil is double is deuce"

    So..

    Batman meditates for 49 days, eliminating the last traces of fear, doubt, everything else that held him back. Bruce at this point has already reached enlitenment. Hurt, who is symbolic of the evil within bruce, his own personal devil, then does everything he can to stop bruce from reaching nirvana, by causing him to go through the five paths that no other man but the buddha has gotten through?

    Morrison is one crazy cat if that's the way it all rolls out.

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  3. burts, sounds plausible. In #679, Morrison (Bat-Mite) calls what made Bruce so amazing "a miracle in Crime Alley". The clone didn't get that break, either, if there was a miracle.

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  4. The first three or four (if you count the Resurrection of Ras) stories have really been a giant love letter to Bruce Wayne and how he is really the only one who can be Batman. The failure of the clone is just another example of the burden that we already see lightening on Dick now that he knows Bruce is alive.

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  5. I think the dominoes found on the spots where b&r are can be accounted for. Damian can't be the person placing it.As we see in #2 a guy called toby omi is seemed to be missing from the place. He can be the person who placed the domino. Also one domino effect of jason's accusaton was batman leaving gotham giving time for dr. hurt's next plan to set into motion with sexton. And placing its pieces where he need them to be. Haven't yet read issues 7-9 therefore can't further comment on the course of the arc.

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  6. I have to say i actually feel abit sorry for Damian, if Damian now is aware he is nothing more but made to replace the Waynes and his father knew, how will he cope with this? It makes Bruce seem much more of a heroic father aswell that he took his son despite knowing this horrible truth. Go Go Team Batman!

    Did anyone else btw hype themselves too much for this arc? I really hyped myself for the Undead Batman vs. Dick so im having some hype backlash. :( It was a good arc but i found the first 6 issues much more awesome, but hey each for their own. :)

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  7. In issue #666, Damian Batman kills the Lane batman and doesn't die when police shoots him. And says apocalypse is cancelled until I say so. What does this all signify? That he is the anti_christ. The same can be inferrred from what the clone batman says on damian wayne.Like to know ur view on that.

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  8. Also if bruce dies in the future then maybe the batman beyond series may be declared non-canonical. I hope not.

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  9. Will the next arc include the impostor bruce? If not, why and viceversa.

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  10. Damian doesn't die because he sold his soul to protect Gotham. Thus he either gained regenaration powers or he just drug enchanced himself with SCIENCE!

    His deal is to protect Gotham and thus he could defeat Lane, while Lane supports the devil, Damian hates the devil, still Damian had the superiour deal with the devil.

    This has been discussed before in one of Rikdad's blogs. They're all enjoyable reads, you should check em out. :)

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  11. Thanks drazar. Have read it but it missed few points like in it is mentioned the world got sick
    and about quarantine, epidemic, etc. This means el pentite plan becomes successful. As it is mentioned in issue #4 the new model of crime is grassroots, viral.What you think of it and please
    tell me about BATMAN JONEs mentioned in BFTC#3.

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  12. You can wikipedia Batman Jones. He's a silver age character that Tony Daniel decided to re-use, nothing to do with Morrison's run. I mean in BFTC it could have bene "the hooded guy" or "the guy with a batman mask being a fanboy" but Tony decided to use Batman-Jones, because hey Silver Age is the shizzle. ;)

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  13. Good stuff, Rikdad.

    I too thought that the stuff about "the sacrifice of a sun" was the most important dialogue in the issue. As I read it, though, these lines were literally referring to Bruce's OWN sacrifice. Bruce asked the city what it would take to stop the sort of violence that robbed him of his parents, and the city replied that he (the son) would need to make a sacrifice of his life (by devoting it to fighting crime). Of course, there are other meanings that can be extrapolated from this (that the clone feels the need to try to kill Damian, that Damian himself will make a sacrifice to protect the city), but I think the original "son" at the root of the dialogue's meaning is Bruce himself.

    I was also struck by what the Knight says to Dick at one point: "You know, I used to be absolutely TERRIFIED of you when you were ROBIN. This rough and raucous little DEMON BOY, always somersaulting around, cracking weird JOKES [...] I was RIGHT to think you were a bit bloody mental, wasn't I?"

    Since Damian has repeatedly been referred to as if he were "demonic", this dialogue ties Dick-as-Robin to Damian in that respect. (Dick also notes that he has changed since he was Robin, which points towards Damian also changing eventually as he grows up.) More importantly, however, I think this dialogue from the Knight underscores Dick's ties to the Joker and to Hurt. Morrison has made the point before that the way the Joker acted in the '60s (roughly) was for Dick's amusement; and I think this past fact will be very important in considering how the Joker will react (or "already has reacted"?) to Dick-as-Batman.

    In the Knight's dialogue, "JOKES" and "DEMON" are italicized, as if to point us toward the Joker on the one hand and the Devil(and Hell(/Death?) and Demons(/Ra's(?)) on the other. The latter stuff leads us to something I've been meaning to bring up for a while, an almost etymological connection between "Robin" and the Devil.

    "Robin Goodfellow" was another name used by the character Puck in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Deam. Morrison has referenced Shakespeare a few times before in the run (and in Last Rites even had Dick himself reference Shakespeare and use a Shakespeare analogy to describe the Bat-verse). Another character in AMND is Oberon. And we've got an Oberon (Sexton) and numerous Robins in B&R. Robin Goodfellow is, on one level, a happy little sprite--which corresponds to how Dick-as-Robin brightened up Bruce's life. But Robin Goodfellow is also a mischievous trickster--which corresponds to how Robins have been connected to (and manipulated, in a way?) by the Joker. And "Robin Goodfellow" is also a name by which the Devil is known--which corresponds to the influence of evil over the Robins (Jason's been turned to the dark side, Damian is fraught with demonic overtones of all sorts).

    The question is, what does all this portend for Dick's future, particularly his imminent confrontations with the Joker and Hurt/the Devil?

    Two final things:

    -I'm not sure, but Batwoman's comment of "What the HELL am I looking at?" seems like a callback to a previous line of dialogue. At first I thought I might be remembering how Bruce reacted to the "ZEA"s on the Batcomputer screen, but maybe there's a clearer past correspondence.

    -Alfred washing the Batmobile at the end of the issue recalls how he was washing the previous Batmobile in Batman 677, right before things got crazy.

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  14. DAL, always good to have you ring in.

    The first rendering of Robin (Dick, in flashback) in "52" #30 has an unmistakably devilish look to it -- his hair flicks up on both sides like two horns. I imagine that to be scripted. Of course, Robin Goodfellow was used in Gaiman's "Sandman" run.

    When Hurt and Dick meet, they will be able to recall their previous meeting, seen only in Batman #156.

    That particular line recalls, for me, another line in #677: Gordon says of the dossier, "What the HELL is this?" But dialogue reuse is just that. Gordon also reuses in that scene a line that Mayhew had used.

    Good point about the washing. Another mirrored scene here is Dick using a rocket to cross the Atlantic in "no time"; Bruce went east in #658 and Dick's coming west here. And dialogue: Dick says "It's all in the timing", while the Joker says (obviously, in a bad way) in #676, "The comedy's in the timing".

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  15. Rikdad, just wanted to say that I enjoy your thought provoking blog. For someone like me, who doesn't always have time to re-read back issues, it is your commentary that helps tie the continuity of the arc, as well as, expose clues and questions that have been missed.

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  16. Gautam, "Tober Omi" is circus slang for the boss. That line is referring to the siamese triplet's boss -- either Pyg, or Pyg's boss.

    I'm not sure what they'll do with the clone body.

    I've never watched Batman Beyond.

    I can't break down all of the Buddhism comments today, but "devil is deuce" refers to the fact that one of the meanings of "deuce" is the Devil. That actually has a totally different word origin than the other meaning of "deuce" (one means "god", the other means "two"). The Joker's making a clever wordplay to say that the Devil is a low-ranking card.

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  17. What about thomas elliot playing bruce? Nothing is being mentioned of him in these arcs.

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  18. Morrison doesn't handle every character. Thomas Elliot is in Paul Dini's hands along with Zsasz.

    Morrison never has handled all the characters when hes been on DC team and thats not going to change. The writers got their characters they use and they discuss this thing in their meetings.

    Hush was referenced in the 2nd arc more or less as the public views him as Bruce, but it's Paul Dini whos handling him mostly.

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  19. Rikdad- excellent observation regarding the fact that Dick already *knows* Dr. Hurt. I'm curious to see if there will be any fireworks or recognition of that (and would be a bit disappointed if there was not).

    The "sacrifice of a sun" line struck me as particularly important, but also the "I'm what you will be" lines. The clone obviously has no special knowledge of the future, and is only using Bruce's formidable knowledge and the hazy intellect of his half-destroyed brain. But still - what does it mean?

    DAL's comment that the sacrifice may be Bruce's sacrifice seems the best interpretation of that line.

    As for "what you will be" - was that a reference just to the futility of being Batman? The clone discusses how he gives everything and "this" is his reward.

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  20. This may spin the allusions out of control, and there isn't a lot to go on as far as what the most useful interpretation would be, but "sacrifice of the sun" also caused me to think of religious implications regarding Jesus and the Devil. Historically, Jesus--who was sacrificed--was melded to the concept of the Sun, already worshipped by many ancient peoples, in order for Christianity to spread easier. Satan/the Devil is also Lucifer--who "sacrificed" himself in a fall--and the "light"/"Morningstar" stuff connotes to the Sun. Morrison has to know all of this stuff, as well as the conspiracy rumors that some of the supposed Illuminati or whatever are also said to combine Jesus and Lucifer in their philosophies. I don't know much about this, but I've heard that higher-level Freemasons are taught that the supposed "big secret" is that Jesus and Lucifer are somehow the same. Morrison must be aware of this concept. It sort of reminds me how a) Bruce Wayne is the "Christ" of Morrison's run, and b) Hurt the Devil/Lucifer tries to tempt or ruin Bruce's soul, AND c) Hurt looks like Bruce and there are theories about Hurt BEING Bruce or an aspect of Bruce.

    The "devil is deuce [two]" line reminds me of the duality Morrison associated with the upside-down pentagram in #666.

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  21. Always thought provoking to read your blog. I actually took the lines "the sacrifice of a son" and "what you will be" to be connected to Dick and more clear foreshadowing of what is obvious in #666, Dick's death while being Batman. Interpreting Dick as Bruce's first "son". Barbara's reaction to Damian does not make sense, unless the dead friend is Dick.

    It will be very disappointing for me to see Dick die. He is my favorite character and he has not been written this well since the Titans heyday, despite some deliberate lines to make him seem less of a detective than Bruce, Tim and even Damian.

    Your comment about homage to Englehart, reminds me of a comment I made earlier here, that Dick leaving Wayne Manor to setup in the Penthouse is what Bruce does in E&R's run. Clearly, Hugo Strange is not a villain Morrison is using, but I did wonder with the "Circus of Strange", the replacement of Bruce by another Batman if there weren't some clues or at least allusions to that run.

    Finally, the connection that you and DAL have made between Robin and the Devil, and the rapport between Dick and Damian, makes me wonder if there is some genetic relationship between Dick and Damian. What I mean, is it at all possible that one of the reveals in the next arc, will be that Talia stole some DNA from Dick to use in her genetic engineering of Damian. Just a thought.

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  22. DAL certainly one of the "urban myths" regarding the Freemasons is what you mention, but I have it on very good authority this is not the case. On the other hand Morrison could be making use of the myth, rather than the reality. You'd have to be a "Grade 33" (translating here, I don't know what they are called in English) to really be in the know.

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  23. Hey Rik, this may be a little off topic but I'm rereading Morrison's whole run at the moment and still haven't figured out some of the R.I.P. stuff. Do you have any theories on what that thing on the back of Bat-Mite is? Or why one of Joker's eye is dilated and the other isn't?

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  24. Devin, Morrison implied in his Wizard interview that the thing IS Bat-Mite, and the imp is just a facade it presents because it is too ugly.

    The eye dilation was apparently Tony Daniel's idea. He liked the effect, but it doesn't have a meaning.

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  25. Thanks Rik that helps a lot. Can you tell me what issue of Wizard this was in? Are there any other mysteries left unsolved in R.I.P.?

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  26. Last comment. Something comes up in this issue wrt to Dick Grayson's that Morrison has mentioned at least twice before. "with me it's all in the timing". Morrison has Batman say that to Nightwing (paraphrasing, perfect timingt) in the last issue of RIP, and Batman to Squire earlier in this arc. A comment on Dick's style? Able to save the day even after seemingly not having planned properly? A comment about he may cheat death (or not by his timing being off?). Interesting.

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  27. Bones, I talk about the Wizard interview here:

    rikdad.blogspot.com/2009/05/wizard-211-platinum-batman-rip.html

    I think a lot about Hurt and the Waynes has been left unexplained. Otherwise, there are some small tactical details I would enjoy asking Morrison about. Eg, if Hurt didn't want Bruce dead, how did he see the efforts of the monk and Mayhew to try to kill him? When "ZEA" downed Bruce, did he know that he wasn't ready for it?

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  28. ehepd, I think you've made a huge observation there.

    In the "Batman" run, we were told three times that Bruce had said that "victory is in the preparation". Lo, in #681, we found out a huge backstory of preparation beyond what we'd seen as the story went along.

    If Morrison is going to run a similar story here, I'd expect Dick to have missed the big picture at times, but then to squirm and twist his way out of whatever Hurt has planned by sheer force of effort at the time of the attack. Probably yakking to annoy Hurt at the same time. That's Dick Grayson!

    I think there's an excellent chance that you've identified the clues that are serving to foreshadow Dick's equivalent of "Victory lies in the preparation".

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  29. I think a lot of this is going to go back to Bruce being in the past. The fact that the gargoyles from RIP pointed out how Gotham was made to create Batman. Who could see to his own creation better than Bruce?

    And the previous issue contained a line where Batwoman says something akin to "we've traced a religion of crime dating back to the dawn of time." Could Bruce have written the prophecy, created the religion, and established all the other variables necessary for his rescue?

    Bruce becomes Omega Point, the beginning and the end: everything that all of human history has been building towards.

    As for Damian, I believe the mention of the corrupted blood is directed at him. How's this for a theory? Talia wanted to have Bruce's child and ensure he became the next "Alexander". Now, who would she turn to for this? Ra's, it seems, was absent for most of Damian's "life". Bruce, as well.

    Are we supposed to think Talia had that much faith in herself as a mother? Are we supposed to think Damian's genetics alone would really be enough? I don't.

    Enter Doctor Simon Hurt. Talia makes a deal with the Devil. Now, there are a number of ways Grant could go with the idea. Damian could have some of Hurt's DNA, a literal "son" of Satan. Or what if Talia's reasoning for having Damian kill Dick is similarly attributable to Hurt?

    If Satan can't have "Bat-God", then how about the next best thing? His son.

    My prediction? Bruce's intervention prevents the prophesied #666 timeline and saves everyone, both Dick and Damian.

    And besides, think about this: Bat-Clone was brought back to life. That means, for a while, he was dead. Now, I don't know if Morrison is suggesting an afterlife, but, if he were, who might we find there? Hurt? Could Hurt be responsible for telling the Bat-Clone to kill Damian? To sacrifice the "son".

    On a less speculative basis, I'm really enjoying everyone's comments on the Dick/Joker similarities. For a long time Bruce and the Joker have been presented as pretty much polar opposites (yin vs yang), but we've never really considered what that means for the Robins.

    In this issue alone we have Robin being called a demon boy, Joker wearing the Robin costume, and Robin wearing the Zur-en-Arrh costume, suggesting the following transverse relationships:

    Joker -- Robin -- Zur en Arrh Batman (the Joker of Batmen)

    In the last arc we had:

    Joker -- Red Hood -- Robin (Jason Todd)

    This, to me, suggests a Robin either has one of two ways to develop. They can become a Batman, or they can become a Joker. But not entirely. Like Platonic ideals, no one else can ever really be Batman, and no one else can really be the Joker.

    Jason is the Red Hood.
    Dick is Zur en Arrh.

    Dick even describes himself as Bruce "without a net". The circus Bruce. The chaotic Bruce. He was the demon-boy Robin, while Cyril was the polite, Bruce-like Knight. Bruce is order, Dick is chaos.

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  30. Now, however, we have Dick and Damian. This is Chaos and...something else. Something that doesn't quite fit. Damian is the fly in the ointment, disturbing the traditional values of the Bat-Family. Like Jason, he was brought in to a world unreceptive to him as a character. Damian is hated. If it were up to some fans, he would be dead. Hell, Morrison almost killed him off, himself.

    But he survived.

    Unlike Jason, he prevailed against fan discontent.

    He stands out as Order fighting against Chaos.

    Like Bruce fighting the darkness of Gotham, Damian fights the darkness of himself, of his heritage, and of his comicbook origin. Really, he's a Bruce forced into a childhood of absolute chaos.

    - Batman, the idea, is Order.
    - Joker is Chaos.
    - Bruce, himself, is Order-Chaos.
    - Dick is naturally a mix of the two, Order/Chaos, but expresses it through order, making him Order-Chaos/Order.
    - Damian is the opposite, Chaos-Order, but expresses it currently through Order, making him Chaos-Order/Order.

    I would argue that other figures of similar archetypal distribution would be none other than:

    - God [order]
    - Absence of God [chaos]

    - Christ [order-chaos]
    - Satan [chaos-order]

    - "Adam" (the abstract idea of the faulty man) [chaos-order/chaos]
    - "Lucifer" (the abstract idea of a sympathetic devil) [chaos-order/order]

    So what is Hurt? Hurt is Satan. Hurt wants to be the Joker, but he is not. The Joker is something much more primal than Hurt. Where Hurt uses order and precision to advance chaos, the Joker is chaos absolutely. There are no elaborate, intelligible plans from the Joker's side. He is a chaotic force, nothing more. There is no evil in what he does. It's something more fundamental than that.

    Damian, like Hurt, is Chaos-Order, but he expresses it through his role as Robin, making him, ultimately, . What's holding him back? Either the al'Ghul blood or something more sinister. Either way, I imagine his connection to Hurt will become as deep as his father's.

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  31. Sorry, by the end I forgot what I was saying. lol

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  32. Rikdad, you stated that "Otherwise, there are some small tactical details I would enjoy asking Morrison about. Eg, if Hurt didn't want Bruce dead, how did he see the efforts of the monk and Mayhew to try to kill him? When "ZEA" downed Bruce, did he know that he wasn't ready for it?"

    I think that is easy enough to answer - if Bruce had died at the hands of the Monk (or the Black Glove party w/ mayhew), he wouldn't be worth the main event.

    As for the ZEA q, I don't think he knew that Bruce was preparing. He seemed surprised to learn that Bruce was running around in the ZEA costume.

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  33. regarding the Grayson/timing thing, I think this could be a metatextual comment on Grayson's role in the Batman mythos that Morrison is working off of - Grayson came in just in time to save Batman from the darkness consuming him.

    its a really rich idea, ehepd

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  34. rikdad, lance, thanks. What you mentioned in your comments occurred to me later. The equivalency of preparation with timing for Grayson. For Dick Grayson who is an acrobat timing is always crucial. But it does not come from luck but
    from training. If rikdad is right and these lines are foreshadowing of how he may cheat death, then I might see Damian's line in #666 "…I'll never be as good as my father or Dick Grayson" in a different light. It's wishful thinking on my part but perhaps Morrison has layered the storytelling with a message to fans of both Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. One, a direct affirmation that Bruce Wayne is the one and only Batman because of his superiority and preparation, and the other a more subtle nod to Dick as a worthy replacement Batman because he has other qualities: Natural ability, timing, and not taking himself too seriously. Nods to fans of both characters?

    Related to the possibility of Dick's death there might be some foreshadowing in Last Rites. Bruce Wayne finds Dick Grayson's corpse in the well, while searching for Ace, after telling Alfred, he feels he could have saved him. His greatest fear? But because it is imagined perhaps it means it will not happen?

    Lance, I wondered if it was also a metatextual comment on Grayson's career. The way he is portrayed he is going back to his roots of quips and acrobatics, a past of show-stopping performances. Not as cerebral (i.e. Batman-like) as in his New Titans days, which eventually gave way to a breakdown in confidence. By giving himself over to what comes naturally, performing, talking, he is also saving himself from the darkness, and there was no shortage of darkness and angst from the mid-90's onwards for Dick Grayson. Surely, I am stretching interpretation too far…..straying from rikdad's measured approach of focusing on what is shown in the books, but it's fun.

    I do find Quinn's Chaos/order suggestions intriguing and perhaps with a basis in the books. It seems to me that's what Pyg's lines are about. His references to Taimat and tofu va. Pyg's last line in the jail cell about having what happened to him happening to Gotham, having unleashed chaos? (toppled the dominoes?). Looking in the mirror and finding Pyg creeping in. The Batman/Joker (Order/Chaos) duality is in the Killing Joke and Morrison has been using elements of that in B&R from the beginning. Wonder if Pyg's mirror line could possibly have some reference to Dyonisus, his mirror and the fragmentation of the self. No, probably not.. we see what we want to see.

    Rikdad, you mentioned upon Oberon Sexton's first appearance that he seemed genuinely happy to see Dick. That would be a clue I think pointing to both Bruce Wayne and Grant Morrison.

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  35. I just wanted to comment, in a literal sense the clones of Batman, created by Darkseid in Final Crisis went crazy because they had Bruce's memories, but not Bruce's will.

    I think the clone is saying that Dick Grayson will eventually end up crazy if he stays as Batman because he doesn't have Bruce's willpower.

    www.nightwingfanclub.com

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  36. Btw in which interview did Morrison state he had intended to kill off Damian originally?

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  37. A poster in the comic bloc forums (Astro I think) remarked on the pearl and black and white motif (dominoes) in this arc. That got me thinking about RIP and some of your comments regarding the identity (or lack thereof!) of the domino killer. In RIP the Joker, in a comment clearly directed at the readers, talks about apophenia and how the red and black tiles meant nothing. Although frankly that always puzzled me, since the red and black seemed to me clear evidence of the devil. In any case, is it possible that Morrison is doing the same thing here? Planting patterns of misdirection with the black and white motif and dominoes?

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  38. Ehepd, that is a good and tempting comment, but I think people are still up in the air about whether or not the red and black truly meant nothing. I think the Joker may have meant it to mean nothing, but I don't think Morrison did.

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  39. I think somebody may have mentioned this, but another way Dick and the joker are related is the timing thing. In RIP the joker says comedy is all in the timing.

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  40. Red and Black and the card deal in DC #0 are worthy of their own [flashback] post. The Red and Black in #663 meant something specific. Until Batman mentioned it in RIP, the Joker never brought up red and black, except in playing cards, and it's actually pretty unlikely (about 11%) to deal four cards without mixing red and black.

    I think Jason's calling cards (which were red and black!) have to be considered in considering the dominoes. Dick thinks they're the same thing. I think he's going to turn out to be wrong. I think the upshot of the whole run will be: Dick's not the detective (or planner) that Bruce is, but he gets the job done his own way.

    The solicit for #12 says that the identity of the Domino Killer will be revealed. My top two guesses, Morrison and nobody, would be even less conventional than the villain reveal of RIP. Will he go one of those routes?

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  41. Rikdad any chance you got the interview to share where Morrison stated he originally planned to kill off Damian?

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  42. Drazar, I don't actually remember Morrison saying that. I haven't saved all of his B&R interviews to my computer (which I did with RIP), but doing that would be the way to find out. Google away?

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  43. If you can not be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.............................................

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  44. I stand by my theory that the dominos were not planted but all the people already had them in their possesion. I think the horrifying truth is that the dominos are the drug that has been vaguely mentioned. So bascially, I am starting to think, although I am a huge fan of Morrison, that Morrison did a bad job over hyping the whole domino killer thing, and a lot of people are going to be very dissapointed when 12 arrives in stores.

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  45. For what it's worth, I do remember Morrison saying that originally he was going to kill Damian in the fourth part of the "Batman & Son" arc. I think he said this in a Newsarama or CBR interview a few years ago (before RIP).

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  46. I was pretty sure someone here said that Morrison did say he had planned to kill off Damian originally in "Batman and Son" arc. >_> It's kinda like those old interviews where he refers to David Lynch, you saw those references back 2-3 years ago but barely any mentions anymore.

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  47. In relation to the clone's statements, in particular his one about Damien being Bruce's son, we need to keep in mind that the clones recall of past events cannot be trusted. We see in the beautiful page of the clone recalling many of Bruce's history that his memory is confused and incorrect. He is generally in the right ball park, but not 100%. For example he remembers Knightfall as Bane dressed up like Azreal breaking a stick in two. All elements are part of the correct history (to an extent) but he is putting them together wrong.

    So if his statement of Damien being Bruce's son is a disjointed truth, then what is Damien to Bruce? This adds weight to Damien being Bruce's clone. And unlike this Darkseid clone, Damien recieved enough strength, will and care from Talia in order to withstand the demands of being Bruce...(oh, and he also didnt have an onslaught of memories either, lol)

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  48. Drazar, I can't find the comment about killing Damian in any of the RIP-era interviews I have saved as text files. I'm not particularly impassioned to track it down, but that info might help you out.

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  49. Gutter, that distorted-memory page is very interesting. It is Azrael with Bane's gloves and the Scarecrow's hat who is breaking a stick or a straw.

    The other five figures are a mashup of Catwoman and the Riddler, a mashup of RIP's Joker with Robin, the Robin of Zur En Arrh, Jim Gordon (does the pipe mash him up with someone else?), and a fallen (dying?) Kathy Kane Batwoman.

    The other significant thing is that the backdrop is a circus tent, key to Dick Grayson's origin. The two women may be hinting at the Graysons' deaths (Catwoman airborne; Batwoman fallen). "Bones cracking like glass" simultaneously suggests Knightfall, the Graysons' deaths, and the test tubes that held the clone.

    The circus theme to the first arc stands a good chance of being more significant than it seemed. Maybe Doctor Hurt's way of starting to mess with Dick's mind?

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  50. Despite possible meaning behind the images, I think it moreso indicates that Batman clone's comments can't be taken at face value, which is very unique in a Morrison story.

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  51. At the risk of being redundant..... I am not myself of the opinion that red and black meant nothing in RIP. Rather, what I was commenting on was the possibility that the presence of the white on black motif might be used as the red and black tiles in RIP. In other words, I thought, that it bolstered your interpretation of the Domino killer being nobody (i.e. no meaning as claimed by the Joker for the red and black tiles).

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  52. Just wanted to comment again on the paired themes of Bruce-as-Jesus and Batman-as-a-devil (i.e., the weird Jesus=Lucifer idea that pops up in some sources). In Animal Man #5 the coyote character Crafty plays both a Satan and a Christ role. Crafty is made to suffer for the sins of his people and dies on a cross, but he earned his suffering because he wanted to rebel against his God/Creator, and in the issue he still dreams of somehow overthrowing his maker.

    Less than a week to go till B&R #10 (yes!).

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  53. Drazar, I still haven't found anything about Morrison killing Damian: This quotation seems to say the opposite. "What's been fun for me is the way readers are really starting to warm to the character, because I always thought we had something really good here and a lot of readers just hated Damian when he first appeared."

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