Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Batman 701

One day in Gotham City, a thug wearing a gargoyle mask stabbed Batman in an otherwise futile attack. The blade of the knife was coated with a chemical that made him susceptible to psychological attack. Visual exposure to the trigger phrase that was to bring on an attack on his mind had worn away at his well-being for months, but due to the influence of the drug, Bruce Wayne fell unconscious when he heard the trigger phrase aloud. As he lay on the floor, Bruce was injected with heroin and methamphetamine. Then a tracking device was surgically inserted under one of his teeth, and Bruce was dumped unconscious in a Gotham alley. After a day of wandering the city sick and amnesiac, Bruce managed to activate in himself the blunt, hyperactive Batman of Zur En Arrh personality. In this identity, Batman tracked down criminals, winning some tactical battles, until he had to fight his way through a large number of henchmen in Arkham Asylum. Upon sweeping the Joker aside, Batman had to break through glass, upon which, he was dosed with the Joker's lethal nerve gas. Surviving because he had administered himself an antidote, Bruce woke up in a coffin underground. Once he escaped from that and he tunneled to the surface, he fought another round of thugs, resisted more mental attacks from Doctor Hurt, and then entered the city harbor in a helicopter crash. Batman #701 begins the next moment, with Bruce underwater, needing to surface and swim out to survive.

Because we already knew that Bruce would talk with Alfred in the Batcave, then partake in the events of Final Crisis, the general trajectory that Bruce follows in this issue was largely what one would have expected. The added details are, however, very meaningful. Or, enigmatic, but indicative of something important, lacking only clarity as to what they mean.

One mystery is cleared up right away. At the end of RIP, it was a curiosity (in my mind) as to why Bruce would remove his cape and cowl during his face-off with Hurt. When he tells us that he was not aware that his cape and cowl were missing, we can conclude that he did this as a partial response to the mental command Hurt attempted to trigger by telling Bruce to "put away his Batman costume and retire from crime-fighting" (a line originally from Batman #156). Bruce doesn't remember taking his mask off because he didn't do it voluntarily: He began, as Hurt asked, to "put away his Batman costume", but his will was too strong for him to retire from crime-fighting. According to the RIP backstory, this command affected Bruce for "a couple of weeks" the first time Hurt employed it, back when Dick Grayson was Robin. This time, it hardly affected Bruce at all.

Bruce's swim is a kaleidoscope of minor, but intriguing details. We see in the form of charts showing the weather, the value of stocks, and the stars in the sky (Sagittarius -- no, this does not mean that Green Arrow is in the story), that the world continues to go on while Batman is submerged. The first person whom Bruce sees upon reaching land is Ellie, the former prostitute who was last in the story right around the time that "devil ears" and an "enemy as old as time and bigger than all of us" were invoked back in Batman #665. She has taken the job with Waynetech that Batman offered her back then; her return symbolizes things coming full circle as well as redemption.

Much of what we learn in this story concerns Bruce's reaction to and interpretation of the villain who had just made the past five days of his life a living hell. He at once tells himself that swimming away from the crash is, for anyone less than himself, impossible. Lane, one of the three people in the helicopter, is a serious athlete on the superhero level. Hurt has never proven any physical ability, and Bruce deems his escape impossible. But Hurt never surfaces. More than five minutes go by in addition to the time that it took Bruce to swim out. And yet, when he later checks the wreckage, there is no body. And so, Bruce cannot explain Hurt -- he remains for Bruce "a ghost" as well as a threat.

Alfred, paraphrasing the opinion that Morrison attributed to some readers, doesn't want to accept the supernatural explanation. We already have Morrison's reply to this, when he said "For me, this is the ultimate supernatural Batman story." Alfred gets another shadowy form of that reply when he sees that the clock in Wayne Manor had stopped at the precise moment of the helicopter crash.

Bruce himself expresses uncertainty when he says that Hurt "may or may not be some manifestation of the Devil, or my dead father." But he takes the curse absolutely seriously, calling it "a death trap".

Many of the small details in the issue reinforce, conveniently, details that we saw for the first time quite recently in Batman and Robin. Bruce goes to the Barbatos shrine under Wayne Manor. He knows that Hurt had been there, and he sees the paint that Dick Grayson told us was relatively fresh. We find out that Bruce's parents knew about the room, and it becomes increasingly likely that it was the scene of a Black Glove party. So we find out that Bruce knew about the things that Dick Grayson discovered so recently, but only partially. He knew that those things were there, but not why.

Bruce enters that room through the library in Wayne Manor, standing almost on the exact spot where Doctor Hurt shoots Dick Grayson. He looks at the paining of his parents that is to overlook Dick's shooting. Martha is again shown with lighter hair, so we know that it is Martha, because Bruce does not react in any unusual manner. There is a figure before them, an art piece whose strangeness -- a large knight from a chess board -- suggests that it has some special role. It, too, is to look down upon Dick's shooting.

The "three days" reference to Easter from Batman and Robin #13 also appears here. Bruce tells Alfred that if he sleeps for three days, not to wake him. Sleeping for three days then rising -- Bruce will be resurrected.

The most important symbol in this issue, though, is the one that represents Hurt. In his own words, a hole. Bruce ends the issue looking at a hole. But more important, he calls Hurt a hole. An empty space. An absence. Bruce has an empty space in his life -- maybe in that sense, an enemy who is an absence represents not Bruce's father but the hole in his life where his father should be. Bruce suspects that Hurt goes back in his own family tree. An anti-father. An anti-Bruce as well. As Bruce is the one who sleeps for three days then rises, an anti-Bruce is symbolically an anti-Christ.

The story ends with questions. Part two of this story within a story is yet to come.


  1. I was confused by the hole in the ground at the end. I know Orion was killed by the radion bullet that Darkseid sent backward through time, but why would there be a hole in the ground?

  2. Hi Rikdad!

    Some observations and/or questions:

    1. About Hurt's survival:
    Check out the last two panels of Page 3. Its showing the wreckage of the helicopter, Hurt and Lane were in. The (bat)boot kicking open the collapsed debris is probably Lane's (he was in his Batman outfit while flying the chopper). The gloved hand gripping the window in the next panel is Dr. Hurt's. So, Hurt's escape was not really supernatural. He had Lane to help him get away. And Lane with his bat-like athletic training would no doubt have been upto that task.

    2. Another stopped watch reference: When Bruce is in Darkseid's captivity & hallucinating during the memory transfer, in one of the flashbacks of the Jason Todd murder (as shown in Final Rites), Alfred checks his wrist watch and comments that its odd that it has stopped.

    3. The hidden room:
    Now that we know that Bruce knew about the hidden room and stepped into it for the first time in this issue (because of his promise to his parents), my question is, how much further did he venture beyond the initial Barbatos graffiti? Did he also see the man-bat statue? And the cowl shrine with the black sun??

    Can you kindly illuminate :)?


  3. Jeff -- good question. The time-traveling bullet supposedly entered Orion's head and exploded inside his brain, then went into the past and entered the sidewalk, ending up there fifty years ago.

    In FC #2, there is a hole where we see it in Batman #701. John Stewart is digging in. That doesn't make it clear if the hole was made by the bullet, or by John Stewart. If the hole was made by the bullet, then when? It might have been made decades ago, whenever the bullet popped out of the time stream in the past.

    So apparently, Orion walked into a place where there was a hole. Then the bullet that made that hole appeared in his head and killed him. Then it went forward another month and was fired by Darkseid.

    Time travel makes it tricky, and probably nonsensical, but I think I described how it must have been.

  4. Dispatch --
    Great breakdown of the escape, but it still doesn't explain how Lane and Hurt would get to the surface without Bruce seeing them. Can Lane swim so far underwater that he comes up farther away than Bruce expects? Can he do that while hauling Hurt?

    Did Bruce go past the "Barbatos" room? Dick had to stand on the bat-symbol to get a wall to slide back; that opened to the rail tunnel where everything else was. Dick knew to do that because he fell through the bat/rose symbol. Did Bruce fall through the rose symbol? If so, why was it intact when Dick got there? That's one oddity.

    If Bruce went further, then did he have the big bat vision that Dick experienced in the same location? Apparently not -- that would be a big detail to skip.

    Did he find the book? If he did, then he would have figured out that he had been in the past. That would have huge implications! That would mean that when Darkseid threatened him with the Omega Sanction, Bruce knew that he would skip through time. (He might also know things we don't know, especially if more is added to the bat-casket in ROBW #4, 5, or 6.) If he saw the old cowl, then he would also know that he would make it from the ancient past to the 1640s to 1718. So when Bruce said "Gotcha", he may have known that what Darkseid was hitting him with was not only survivable, but necessary.

    So maybe at the end of #701, Bruce is already confident that he'll beat Darkseid in some upcoming confrontation. But he's uncertain about Hurt's escape and inevitable return.

    But if Bruce found the casket, why did he leave it there? Did he leave a note in 2008 for Dick to read in 2010? Could that be -- for some reason -- why Dick is so confident that Hurt has already lost?

    As exciting as that possibility is, it probably couldn't have happened. Dick asked in B&R #12 if they had any evidence that Bruce was in the past. So he didn't find the casket before #12, and it wasn't there by the time #11 ended. Once again, we have an out -- maybe Dick read Bruce's words from 2008 but forgot them -- we know he had amnesia about that experience.

    Lots of pieces, but it's hard to see how the puzzle fits together.

  5. Hmm. I was under the impression that Bruce was dreaming about going into the room (same page as him sleeping). That was a stupid assumption, based on the fact that Bruce mentioned that Hurt had been in the secret room.

    The room has alot of significance in Bruce's past, we find out. I had thought that the Waynes didn't want Bruce to go in for 2 possible reasons....either:

    1) Black Glove ceremonies happened there and they didn't want Bruce to see them


    2) Bruce's parents know about the casket and are keepers of the secret. But does that mean they know that Bruce will become Batman? Do they know they will be murdered? Or do they just assume that Bruce is very important and when he's of age, they will tell him the details ("Now you'll never tell" in Hurt's fantasy).

    Its Dick could Bruce NOT know about the other cave. Being the detective he is, he would have had to find the trap-door. He would HAVE to have seen the cape and cowl. No? That means that he was ready for Darkseid.

    I hadn't made the link between Hurt's command and Bruce removing the cape and cowl...good find, Rikdad.

    I don't know how GM keeps the layers of stories from being jumbled. Its nothing short of amazing that he's mapped this out. Not only is he still telling his run on Batman...he's still telling stories about Final Crisis.

  6. JMD, back before RIP ended, Morrison said that we will learn (in RIP, which has been over for almost two years now) something that changes everything. I think that either means:

    a) The epilogue, hinting that the Waynes were murdered by the Black Glove, was that thing.
    b) Morrison changed his mind and has saved that thing until now.

    In any event, your suppositions about the Waynes and the room might fit with (b).

    Re: The cowl, I was embarrassed that I never considered until last night that it could have been Hurt's command that made Bruce take the cowl off. In fact, I thought it was something I would ask Morrison if I ever interviewed him. Because Bruce showed no other signs of the command working. But, given what Bruce said in #701, it is clear now.


    It seems #702 will delve somewhat into RoBW #1 issue one. This issue was interesting with it's inner monologue, but Tony Daniel's stunning art just stole the show really.

    I'm just really waiting for #702 to learn more, perhaps B&R#13 will give alot of answers aswell.

  8. I though in the last issue of RIP that Bruce was being macho by removing his cape and cowl....the thought hadn't even occured to me until you mentioned it here. I wouldn't be embarassed....for all the microscopic details you've looked at, you've been the only one to catch most things so far. :)

    I think the revelation GM stated was the last panel of RIP, but it hasn't been explained yet. I think the murder of the Waynes was planned by the Black Glove. I think the Waynes were in the the Black Glove as well, but in what capacity I'm not sure.

    Maybe, like the knights templar, the Black Glove kept the Migani secret/casket...but was corrupted somehow by the devil (like so many good ideas, corrupted by bad men). Maybe the Waynes represented the "old guard" that refused to turn on the secret, and were murdered for it.

    Funny thing is, Hurt has always been the devil in the story. The loose thread is if the devil "possessed" someone like Thomas Wayne (or the elder Thomas Wayne).

  9. One part of the issue struck me as a bit odd. In B&R #10, Alfred says "I've been debugging [present perfect progressive tense] Wayne Manor after the entire place was booby-trapped by El Sombrero." This suggests that Alfred is probably still in the process of doing this, which is kind of confirmed by the fact that he's shut the power off. Yet Batman #701 implies that both Bruce and Alfred are walking around freely inside at least parts of Wayne Manor -- Alfred racing to the front door to greet Bruce, Bruce walking upstairs from the cave, Alfred checking out the clock, Bruce apparently sleeping in his bed. Think I'm reading too much into this?

  10. Thanks for the detailed reply, rikdad.

    I always thought that Bruce lost his cape and cow at the end of R.I.P. so that Nightwing could find it and pose heroically, foreshadowing his role as the new Batman to come! Or to mislead the Black Glove that he was gone. But your explanation is so much better!

    Now the question is: Why did his parents forbid Bruce from entering the hidden room? And does Hurt's knowing about the room somehow confirm that he is a 'Wayne' or a 'Van Derm' (the guys who built the Manor & quite possibly the hidden room itself. Maybe Hurt has the old blueprints of Wayne Manor (maybe the same one Alfred was referring to)? Or maybe he was part of some 'rituals' held in that room in the past (in the 1760's or during Bruce's parent's lifetime?). Too many questions!!!

  11. Does anybody have a read order for post-FC Batmorrison?

    And are there any thoughts on moving this 701/702 story from where it is to inbetween RIP and FC when it's set?

  12. Just found this blog and I am loving it. I was wondering about Bat-Mite in R.I.P. Specifically, it looks like there's a spider on his back. Is this a Sheeda perhaps? This could tie in with GM's supernatural declarations. If you've already answered this I must have missed it. Keep up the great work and thanks from one fan to another.

  13. Sean, I think the lack of booby-traps is just an oversight. One could explain it by filling in some details [Talia and Damian cleared a swath in and out, and Bruce and Alfred kept in that path], but I think it's just a convenient little oversight to move both plots along.

  14. JMD, I like your casual assertion that the Miagani may have evolved into the Black Glove. Somehow, things went bad, but they are really, perhaps worshipping Bruce. It would be a great moment to have Hurt's people in some ceremony where they raise "Barbatos" and Bruce pops out of the air and starts kicking their asses because they unknowingly raised him. Even better if that got around the universe-destruction that Darkseid planned. If Hurt's plan and Darkseid's plan actually cancelled out, it would be a great Three Stooges -level win for Bruce. ("You knuckleheads!")

    On a related note from ROBW, it occurs to me that just as Bruce's trip to the end of time may release him from Annie's curse, it is possibly how he gets out of Hurt's curse as well. Hurt says that the next time Bruce wears the cowl will be the last. If his wearing the cowl at the end of time could somehow "count" as the next, then it would also count as the last, because it would by definition be after any other time. Then he could wear it for the rest of the 21st century (and then some) without worry. Do people beating curses need lawyers to prove that their "out" is legal in the rules of curses?

  15. Dispatch, Hurt knowing about the secret room could mean that the masquerade ball took place there. Or that Hurt is really old and was in there in 1765 (or some other time). Of course, he had Bruce under his spell for ten days, so he also could have found out then that there was a room, although he wouldn't find out from Bruce what was in it.

    I think probably the first and second one will be true. "Gotham's Hurt Missing" probably happened after the masquerade ball. And also tie into ROBW #5. Possibly the "orgy" in B&R #13. And possibly Bruce's sense of a void when he was five years old from Batman #673, although that has other explanations (young Bruce finding the cave, in DKR among other old sources).

  16. One of the biggest things that struck me about this issue was the omission of the other Thomas Wayne. Thomas Wayne the First isn't mentioned. Bruce's narrative basically tells us to entertain two possibilities: Devil or Father. But what about the earlier Thomas Wayne who was a devil-worshipper? Not saying that's going to prove the solution but it's certainly a "third-way" that co-opts both of the others, yet Morrison seems to be directing us toward the extremes (it's Bruce's biological father, or the Devil).

    (By the way--speaking of doubles, deuces and "Double You"s--the name "Thomas" itself means "Twin". I'm sure someone has mentioned it before on some message board, but there it is here, if it hasn't been stated yet.)

    The supernatural/Devil explanation seems offered here very heavy-handedly by Morrison. Is that a fake-out, or is it actually very in-keeping with the overriding use of spending two issues on this story: to lay out the obvious so that lackadaisical readers can catch up? But does Morrison only want them caught up so that they're more susceptible to the next twist in his long line of revelations?

    For all the effort put into the helicopter escape and what Bruce says about who could/n't escape from it, it just seemed like a cliche Scooby Doo moment, nothing more. I don't dislike what Morrison did, but the whole thing seems played for the "Oo spooky" effect it will have on readers who wouldn't seriously entertain the Devil-explanation otherwise. Hurt and Lane could have just had scuba gear or breathing masks in the helicopter, if anyone really needs a logical explanation to what seems to me an obvious toss-off to build mystery.

    My best guess right now, as to what Morrison's driving at? The whole series continues to be about pointing out the similarities between Batman's imagery and the imagery of the Devil. Whatever happens within Morrison's narrative, on the metatextual level Morrison's fighting to redeem the idea of the Devil and put it to good use. Batman = good guy who appears as if he were a bad guy, and does some not-so-good things to criminals, all in the service of good. It's sort of like the idea of how Satan really works as part of God's plan, because the idea of Satan and the prospect of Hell is enough to scare the "superstitious" into being good. But opposed to Batman/Satan-as-God's-helper is the prospect of a Devil who wants to act as an independent agent, thwart God and actively corrupt humanity and do evil for evil's sake. This latter "bad Devil" might actually be more in line with Lucifer, which fits with SIMON Hurt's intellectual know-it-all stance (Lucifer being the illuminated one; "No one knows more about Batman than me!"). You sort of have the same dichotomy between the two (twin?) doctors: Doctor Thomas Wayne (Bruce's father) was a doctor who used his power and knowledge for good; Doctor Simon Hurt was a doctor who used his power and knowledge to hurt people and brainwash them.

    So when trying to figure out what exact "devils" we're talking about here, I think considering the big picture is indispensable: on THAT level (at least), this is Morrison showing how "Batman beats the Devil", i.e. Devil-as-good-guy trumps Devil-as-bad-guy. This is an optimistic take on things; Morrison's run is philosophically optimistic. Morrison seems to reason that it's far more useful and productive for a daemon to be working in the service of humanity (by playing on man's mythic/superstitious senses) than for a daemon to simply do evil for evil's sake, to HURT God and man.

  17. Dirtyharrington,
    Last Rites (BM #682-683) and this story (BM #701-702) actually overlap with one another, and the narration in the former skips around in time, so it would be hard to put them in a strict order. One might say: RIP, then FC 1 and 2, then Last Rites, then 701-702, then FC 3-7, then ROBW, then B&R 1-16. But with time travel and narration that skips around, this is approximate. You'd have to use scissors to cut the books apart and paste individual scenes into order. And decide whether you're following World chronology or Bruce chronology.

  18. Skip, Morrison hinted very strongly in his Wizard interview that the thing on Bat-Mite's back IS Bat-Mite and the bat-imp is just a disguise it uses to look acceptable to Bruce. Thanks for the comments!

    By the way, when Bruce says "Think fast, Batman" at the end of #701, I immediately thought of Bat-Mite. A voice in Bruce's mind calling himself "Batman"... that's usually meant Bat-Mite in the past.

  19. I was under the impression that nothing actually happened when the red and black flowers touched in rip, and that it was all a big joke by the joker to subvert expectations and thus not be trapped in another box by Batman. With regular flowers joker has forced Batman to waste time preparing for a threat that was never real. I mean, that's funny, right?

  20. Peter, the Black Glove members said in #681 that Bruce had given himself an antidote. But the crisis was still a bluff, because Jezebel didn't really need (or deserve!) to be saved. Ultimately, Bruce could have won just by staying outside of Arkham and nabbing the people who came out. But it definitely made a better story the way it was.

  21. "By the way, when Bruce says "Think fast, Batman" at the end of #701, I immediately thought of Bat-Mite. A voice in Bruce's mind calling himself "Batman"... that's usually meant Bat-Mite in the past."

    And Bat-Mite was, for Bruce during RIP, the voice of rationality.
    I think this moment we are looking at at the end of #701 is the moment when "the hole in things", and "now we know why there is a Black Hole at the base of creation" came together in Bruce's head. He's thinking rationally; he doesn't have one yet, but he knows he needs a plan.(We know he doesn't have one yet because his capture by the "alpha Lantern" surprises him.) But he has held on to the bullet and he already knows it traveled in time.(he'd told Wally)'s interesting to think about how Hurt's curse ties into Darkseid's plan for Bruce.'s as if Bruce figures out that Hurt's curse isn't just something that Hurt will deliver but that it is somehow tied into the ultimate and, in effect, continuing engagement he will experience (and is still experiencing)with Darkseid.

    Random Points:
    I have to politely disagree about Bruce taking off the cape and cowl. When Hurt says his line, Batman is falling off the ladder as Hurt shoots him.
    Then, as Bruce is getting up, Hurt has moved on to his main talking point....I am your father, Thomas Wayne. Bruce're not....etc.(starting to lift cowl.)
    Hurt...if not, then who.....
    Bruce....having removed the cowl, shows Hurt his face...Manfred Pierce my father's double, and mine.

    A side issue about "double"...People were wondering about when Pierce might have "Doubled" for Thomas. I really don't think "double" meant any more than look-alike when Morrison wrote this dialogue. Sometimes we might be looking too hard for meaning.

    When Bruce realizes, on the wharf, that he doesn't have the cape and cowl...(Though he does still have a cowl of sorts) I think that was simply to re-emphasize the importance to him, allow him to say out loud to us, what will happen if he puts them on again.

    The clock.
    That one is interesting. I don't know what era it was,but for a significant period of time in the BatBooks, that clock was either stopped at the time of the Waynes' deaths or Bruce would move the hands to the "death" time to open the entrance thru the Clock.

    Survivor! To Survive! As is his habit, Morrison really starts by telling us in no uncertain terms what the point of this story will be.

  22. Rikdad - I started thinking this when I saw the second cave and the "Thomas" writing on the wall around Barbatos. When we saw in ROBW #3 that the Miagani carved the stalagmite to look like Bruce in pre-historic form, I figured that somehow, the Black Glove knew about the cave.

    I made some assumptions on it, though:

    - At some point, devil worshiping Thomas Wayne (the elder) tried to raise Barbatos (with good intentions) and instead, raised the devil himself. This would mean that the devil somehow pretended to be Barbatos....
    - The devil corrupted the Miagani into the Black Glove we know today. Cause that's what the devil does.
    - The devil needs to occupy a Wayne to remain earthbound? He's linked to them somehow...and Thomas Wayne would have been the perfect host? But Bruce trumped him by simply existing and giving Chill a second thought.

    I've possibly derailed....but this is the thread I've created to link things.

  23. actually, Rikdad, I think this issue really resolved the whole ambiguity of why Batman acted as he did in #680 - quite satisfactorily for me.

    First, the end - he didn't get the dosage on the joker poison correct, hence why he collapsed before activating the "bat-radia"

    and as for why he was there (as opposed to just staying outside as you suggest) - the dialogue between Bruce and Alfred suggests that even up until the very end he wasn't sure that Jezebel Jet was in on the plot. Which makes sense - he had his suspicions, but if he had been able to conclusively determine that, he already would have cracked into the Black Glove's circle and ultimately probably wouldn't have been as caught off guard by the whole thing as he was.

  24. A friend of mine sent me a note indicating that there are actually a *LOT* of references to 3s all over the place in Batman right now, not just the sleeping for 3 days reference, including:

    * three helicopters with the searchlights
    * three roses
    * caption of "three days earlier" in Batman and Robin
    * the "days to omega" count down in increments of 3, first 30 days to omega and then 27 days

    Wonder if there's any more significance than the resurrection theme?

  25. This is a little off topic, but I would love peoples opinion regarding this.

    While this point has probably been covered here prior (my reading of the blog has been a bit slack recently) I wanted to share a thought I had over the weekend while I was re-re-reading “Batman RIP”.

    There are a lot of comparisons between RIP and Return of Bruce Wayne. And in actually fact they are primarily telling the exact same story, in relation to themes and characterisation focus, but from a slightly different angle.

    In RIP we were told the story of “what would happen if Bruce Wayne was removed from the Batman equation”. Over the course of the story we see an amnesiac Bruce Wayne act upon his muscle memory (?) in performing expert hand to hand combat moves (against the thugs on the bridge), using his detective skills (in deducing that because he talks with a posh accent and has short neat hair that he must have been wealthy, lost his money and only been on the street for a short time), and using the creation of a more primal Batman costume he strikes fear against crime gangs.

    In ROBW we are told the story of “what would happen is Batman is removed from the Bruce Wayne equation”. Over the course of the story so far we have seen an amnesic Bruce act out expert hand to hand combat skills (issue 1), use detective skills (#2) and utilise the theatricality of a costume (#3).

    The similarities as striking.

    Based on how the rest if RIP unfolded I assume the remainder of ROBW will involve escape artistry (Batman in the coffin in RIP), rescuing a damsel in distress (attempt of rescuing J. Jet) and cracking a crime ring to capture the head of said ring (Black Glove and going after Hurt).

    With these being the aspects Morrison has highlighted as being what Batman is when you remove Bruce Wayne AND the aspects of Bruce Wayne when you remove Batman, it all leads to the ultimate conclusion of his ENTIRE sage, which is BRUCE WAYNE IS BATMAN….BATMAN IS BRUCE WAYNE!

    Which also suggests that Dick may not succeed in his mission within the pages of B&R, at least not without Bruce’s help, because he is not Batman.

  26. "With these being the aspects Morrison has highlighted as being what Batman is when you remove Bruce Wayne AND the aspects of Bruce Wayne when you remove Batman, it all leads to the ultimate conclusion of his ENTIRE sage, which is BRUCE WAYNE IS BATMAN….BATMAN IS BRUCE WAYNE!"

    Very nicely said.

  27. JMD -- lots of attractive possibilities there. It seems very hard to pin it down just yet. One thing for sure is that Hurt is an unreliable narrator. He could be a Wayne, or someone else (a Van Derm) who is perpetually envious of the Waynes, or simply the embodiment of all liars.

    Something I mean to do again soon is stare down every line Hurt has ever spoken, looking for patterns. He alternately speaks in favor of and against wealth. Does it depend upon his audience? Or does he actually have two minds? Could El Penitente actually be a different body than RIP's Doctor Hurt?

  28. Justice, I definitely saw a connection in the #701 / #13 "three days", but the others are interesting. For what it's worth, 27 = 3 to the 3rd power.

    Also, Bruce, Dick, and Damian are three Batmen -- past, present, and future.

    And there are three Waynes in the nuclear family: Thomas, Martha, and Bruce.

    The three roses seem to be particularly important. They symbolize the belt of the hunter, Orion. Is this related to the utility belt, which was in ROBW #3, but gone by the time of the present?

    Roses keep coming up. In "Gothic", the absolute key clue was about a rose, and the rose was connected to a plague. The rest of the story may play out a lot like Gothic.

    I'll post soon on the symbols in B&R. There is one that is perhaps not a giveaway to the plot but is nevertheless certainly deliberate and almost hilariously "in our faces" and nobody has pointed it out yet.

  29. Gutter, this is all undoubtedly right on the money. In fact, it's hard not to read ROBW Bruce's detective work and not think of #678, but the bigger pattern wasn't obvious to me until I saw this.

    Repeating story patterns is a Morrison standard. We also have enormous similarities between the opening of Batman #655 and the opening of B&R #13 (good man appears to be overtaken by evil; bad guy appears to kill Batman). And #700 had the locked-room mystery, but that one isn't likely to play out to resemble Toad's death (which was murder by the Joker). So I'm not sure that a partial match in plots is enough to let us solve the rest of the plot.

  30. Let's not forget about the "Three Ghosts of Batman".
    Speaking of which, I was doing a bit of rereading of Grants work and noticed in #666 "The Third Man" doesn't exactly sound like Michael Lane, his dialogue reads more like Hurt to me.
    Of course, Damien then kills him.

  31. Hi Rikdad

    I posted the following message on the DC boards. Wonder if you saw it. Posting it again, below (please ignore if you've already read it...)

    I found this quote by accident while reading Batman #681. It's Bruce talking about his thogal experiences with the Evil monk, just before the tea poisoning event.

    "...As I lay in darkness, I began to experience vivid hallucinations of the past, present, even the future.
    But then I came to the END of even that. I found myself in a place that's not a place."

    Do you think Bruce having flashes of his entire time travel experience?? And that the "place that's not a place" refers to the Vanishing point as shown in ROBW#2 ??

  32. Hi Rikdad!

    I'm from Mexico City, and I've got to tell you that I really enjoy your blog, it's awesome!

    After reading all the comments from you and other readers, I have wonder if the name "Manfred Pierce" has any connection with the devil worshiper from "Gothic" (also by Grant Morrison) Mr. Whisper. Mr. Whisper was a monk, and his true name was Manfred.

    And maybe it's not the right moment, but I need to ask you a question (it's off topic) about Batman mythos. Do you know who is sister Agnes? She is a nun and I have seen her in a lot of Batman stories, but I don't know who is she for real.


  33. @ Moira - in the early Legends of the Dark Knight issues, the grandfather clock had to be set to 10:47 in order for the Batcave to be accessed.

    The clock stopping at 1:15 corresponds to the exact time of Dr. Hurt cursing Bats in Batman 681.

  34. I like the rollo tomasi approach to Doctor Hurt (it's from LA confidential, get some culture if you haven't seen it no offense) and I don't believe him as Mangrove Pierce I believe more that he is some evil thing, like the devil I guess who is wearing Bruce's father like a glove (I'm sorry that was terrible of me)

  35. PS
    Does anyone know the meaning of the final phrase "think fast Batman"

  36. Oof, Lido -- I haven't seen LA Confidential in a while myself, although I saw it in LA, which was fun.

    I think Mangrove Pierce is either dead or faceless and wishing he were dead.

    And I doubt that it's Bruce's father being possessed by Hurt. But that *is* possible.

    "Think fast Batman", on the surface, is just Bruce telling himself that he has a huge problem and not much time to solve it. He can't even take off the cowl anymore. What's striking to me is that he calls himself "Batman". It reminds me of his dialogue with Bat-Mite.