Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Return of Bruce Wayne 4

At the same time that Batman and Robin began to tell a story about the past of the Wayne family and the secrets of Wayne Manor, Return of Bruce Wayne started its story about the adventures of Bruce Wayne in the past, a past which is also being referred to by a two-part story in Batman #701-702. So Grant Morrison is weaving a story that skips around in time (both the narration and the characters) spanning three series, 24 issues, with at least two villains of absolutely godlike proportion. To this point, the connections between Bruce's adventures in time and the story in the present have interacted only weakly, with artifacts (especially portraits, hidden passages in Wayne Manor, and a casket with a bat symbol on it) bridging them. But in ROBW #4, the connections are much more direct.

Western heroes are known for their silence. Bruce Wayne says nothing in this issue -- not one word. The narrator of the story is Bruce's great-great grandfather Alan Wayne, whose name does not actually appear anywhere. The girl with the prophetic link to her Grandpa Jerome will become Alan's wife, the mother who dies in childbirth while delivering Bruce's great grandfather Kenneth. The family history is linked together by references to Alan's father, Judge Solomon Wayne. Furthermore, we get brief nods to the architects Van Derm (from earlier in Morrison's story) and Cyrus Pinkney, a religious fanatic from Alan Grant's 1992 story "Destroyer" who lived in the 1860s and believed that his buildings would ward off evil. Van Derm is the architect who began Wayne Manor under the direction of Darius Wayne. Pinkney continues the work, which is unfinished as of this issue, which is set sometime around 1870 to 1890, after the death of Solomon's brother, which has earlier been pegged to 1860. There is brief mention of Darius along with Revolutionary War hero "Mad Tony", who is a reference to a real Wayne -- "Mad" Anthony Wayne who followed up his accomplishments in the Revolution with campaigns against the Native Americans in what are now Ohio and Indiana. Geographical entities ranging from the city of Fort Wayne to the Mad River are named after him, and so is, by the admission of Bill Finger, the fictional character Bruce Wayne, because Finger wanted to link Batman's real name to the history of America. Things are really coming full circle.

For reasons that are not stated, but hang ominously over the story, Alan Wayne is headed to a bridge to commit suicide rather than face a family legacy that he considers "haunted". He mentions a rail terminal with a bleak ending, which at least symbolically calls to mind the rail line under Wayne Manor that should have been built and used in his lifetime, perhaps for a dark purpose making victims of those who tried to take the figurative historical Underground Railroad to freedom. On the bridge, he encounters his great-great grandson Bruce, his future wife, and a wagon "from Hell" carrying the story's master villains, Vandal Savage (the immortal, making his second appearance in this series) and... someone else.

As mysterious as Bruce is to the characters in the story, the casket remains to us. Bruce gets to look inside, because the girl, whose family owns the ancient necklace that belonged to Anthro's wife recognizes him as the figure that their family -- the remnants of the Miagani Bat-People -- has been waiting for and after the events of #4, waits for still. The family attacked in the opening pages is thus either Miagani or has been entrusted with their legacy and that of the Van Derms, who last had the casket. So, one reveal of this issue may be that Bruce is part Miagani, and therefore part of the line that awaits his own return.

We don't see what Bruce sees inside the casket, but he removes his book from the 1640s and perhaps some other papers. Something else is left inside, and as Bruce takes the book with him in his next time jump, the items of the casket are thus separated for now.

Of the story's two villains, one is anything but mysterious. Vandal Savage (Monsier Sauvage) has a memory that has lost some of its secrets due to the enormous amount of past he has to remember  -- an idea from Jorge Luis Borges' story El Inmortal. ("When the end approaches, memory contains no more images, only words.") He remembers encountering Bruce once before, in ROBW #1, and is much consumed with memories of a more recent encounter at the side of Napoleon a few decades earlier.

By far the most portentous figure in this story is the other villain, who shares Savage's gift of extended life, and is perhaps the reason why Alan Wayne looks so darkly upon his family legacy. The Thomas Wayne earlier referred to as a devil-worshipper, is here to confirm quite plainly the dark rumor. We also find out that this Thomas Wayne, like the later one, is a doctor. There is nothing really but the interpretation of comic book art (which is always difficult when comparing the work of two different artists, not to mention when the character undergoes the passage of a great deal of time) to tell us whether or not Old Thomas Wayne (henceforth, OTW; Bruce's father is YTW) is Doctor Hurt. He matches his demeanor, his diction, and his firm orientation towards evil. The hair color and hairline seem not to match. But it may not matter so much if the face or actual physical body match. We have already been told, as part of a different lie, "Wayne became Hurt". Seeing the older Wayne for the first time makes that seem increasingly likely to be true, at least for OTW, if not YTW. This is particularly reinforced by the line from Batman #701 about "sickness at the root of the family tree, a worm at the foundations". OTW appears to be the worm. This story affirms that he has been retroactively made into one of the devil worshippers from the 1990 story "Dark Knight, Dark City". We also know that he is an "old gambler" and is, as Hurt is known to be, linked to roulette. Hurt, as El Penitente, seems to have followed exactly Vandal Savage's suggestion to OTW to build an empire in Mexico as a base from which later to attack America (at that time, an infant nation by Savage's immortal standards). OTW also uses a Hurt tactic in destroying with dynamite the casino/brothel behind him... something like the destruction of Mayhew's house back in Batman #669 and his disregard for the house in Mexico he abandons in Batman and Robin #11, when his line "Let it all fall down" suggests dominoes as well as luxurious mansions.

OTW has been alive for 150 years (so, born around 1730 and very approximately 35 years old for the Barbatos ritual in 1765). He wants the casket, and Vandal Savage appears interested as well. It remains a bit of a mystery what he wants it for. He says it has the secret of life eternal, which is something that someone so far past the century mark with an appearance of youth might seem already to have. Maybe he has only procured, through evil means, a really long life, but not eternal, and he wants to get the infinite extension to that deal. He and the girl both have information on the casket, though they have completely contrasting goals. She says the box has bells (OTW refines that to "the bells of Barbatos") that a "dark god" (a phrase used in ROBW #2 to refer, apparently, to Darkseid) is opening his box and there's bells. When someone from Apokolips has a box that makes sounds, we have to wonder if it's a Mother Box. Did Anthro inherit such a thing from Metron? Is something in the rocket from Final Crisis the mysterious thing in the casket? It seemed that only Superman's cape was able to withstand the great passing of time. But Superman's cape wouldn't make a sound or scare Jack Valor so much when he saw it. Whatever the source of the bells, Grandpa Jerome knows that the box's "bells at the end summon another from the shadows, one who won't stop until the wicked are brought to account". He furthermore says through his granddaughter that the opening of the box will bring about the time when "all the days of the world is one day" (Vanishing Point?) "and he must be strong for us" (Bruce is always good for that).

OTW's words to Bruce are enigmatic but probably very important: "are you one too? I'll get you all in the end!" When he says "one" and "you all", does he mean Waynes? If so, the second person suggests that he is perhaps lying after all, and not a real Wayne but a pretender. If he is a biological Wayne or not, he certainly represents a darkness opposed to the good Waynes who've been part of the family line.

Jonah Hex has always been a winner in the DC canon. He shot and killed an evil version of Superman in Jeph Loeb's "Absolute Power" story, and helped beat a JLA/JSA team in a 1978 Gerry Conway story. He wins the duel with Bruce. And there part the members of this issue's cast. Hex takes, but then dumps, Napoleon's gold. Bruce jumps through time (perhaps an eclipse of the sun is taking place on the other side of the world?), once again through water. After being shot and hit by a truck, how will he survive? Maybe because he saw inside the casket?

Alan Wayne refers to his offspring Kenneth, Bruce's great grandfather to be, as "our dark son, delivered from a gaping tomb." Is this only because his birth killed his mother and Alan's wife, or is Kenneth another bad Wayne? His portrait shows him in a cemetery.

And OTW (whether or not he is a real Wayne; whether or nor he is Hurt) flees Gotham and America for England, with passage on the S.S. Orion (again, the name of the constellation as well as the New God) for Liverpool. Alan, who seems to know a lot about OTW, hints that he uses blood to achieve his longevity. Given the timing, I might speculate that OTW's activity in England could include a stint as Jack The Ripper, who was supposed to be a doctor, but that would take place off-camera.

The last time Morrison showed someone beating the Omega Effect, it was Shiloh Norman with the help of a Mother Box. Bruce saw inside the casket. He's sure to survive his injuries with the casket's help or not. The scene appears to be sometime around the "1978" seen on a newspaper in Batman #678 mentioning "Gotham's Hurt Missing". Possibly a bit later since the X-rated theaters around Bruce mention video. Bruce is thus a child in the same world where Bruce the adult has arrived. The next issue will show us the events leading up to the Wayne murders, and more about "Gotham's Hurt", who is probably in some form OTW with another century of life extension under his belt.


  1. If OTW journeyed overseas before coming back to Gotham, I think that might point toward why he came to adopt the "Dr. Hurt" identity. He leaves, comes back and finds that there's a new Thomas Wayne in town, Bruce's dad, so he decides to call himself by a different name.

    I have to wonder (assuming that OTW and YTM are indeed two different people/bodies) if OTW ever tried to replace YTM while YTM was alive.

    There's so much that could be covered next issue. Here's hoping we get mentions/appearances of Mayhew, Pierce, the "Black Glove" movie, "Dr. Hurt" and Joe Chill. And I wonder if Bruce's wounds are going to be treated by his father, the city doctor.

  2. THis was an insane issue that I had trouble absorbing at first.

    I loved the nod to Dark Knight/Dark City. It made me wonder if the Jefferson group summoned something else other than barbatos/barbathos. Its been a while since I read it, but I seem to remember that the group, with their human sacrifice, attempted to raise barbatos but something else came out. Then of course the poor girl was trapped (maybe she was miagani??) and they all fled. If OTW was a part of the group (which I think I recall was benevolent), maybe the released spirit entered him. And to remain "immortal", he needs Wayne blood (to inhabit a Wayne)

    I need to re-read this one

  3. Thanks for deciphering it for me. Bad writing at its best. Btw this was the third appearance of Vandal Savage. And the most intersting cum funny part of this issue was that the way to open the casket was through whistling seemed similar to the way Superman bested Mandrakk.

  4. heh. Great post as ever rikdad. Getting out my old SotB and TECs.

    It was a great issue, Morrison can really write some great villains with the prefect aristocratic snide tone.

    I'm pretty sure the girl (Catherine) was a Van Derm and her marriage to Alan unites the two families.

    Also, though Bruce has dealt with his omega sanciton lifes well and they are quite not as much of a Hell as they were for Mister Miracle: (his first life ends with the fondation of the Miagani tribe, he creates the casket in his second despite the heart break of losing Annie and the curse, he places more stuff in during his third), we finally see him end on a true down note/TO BE CONTINUED. Indeed, Bruce's final on the floor dead like his parents (though it wasn't raining, but it always is during his jumps: rain = baptism = rebirth) which ironically is exactly what Hurt wanted in his fantasy. Maybe the box will help him live, maybe he has his utility belt and there's an art error, but at least he's getting treated in more modern times than in the old west.

    I'm not sure if Bruce will be alive at the times of his parents; can you exist in the same time as yourself? Anyway, great predictions and we may see Bruce wearing his father's old suit/Dr. Hurt's cosume or something.

  5. Nice post as usual, Rikdad.

    I must confess, that after my first read of ROBW #4, I was totally confused, not so much because of the complex nature of the plot & the large number of characters, but primarily because of the Art.

    I thought the artwork was crude, sketchy and almost infantile, and the coloring, unsubtle & garish. I don't think any of the characters are drawn to model(I do think that OTW and Hurt are one and the same, which would mean he's a Wayne and not a Van Derm) and there might be some artwork mistakes adding to the confusion.

    Having said that, I just want to point at the mustachioed gentleman at the bottom right corner of the bottommost panel of the second last page. Could he be Bruce's dad, Thomas Wayne, and the lady next to him, Martha Wayne? Did they just witness Bruce's accident?

    Is the omission of a utility belt in the last page splash, an intentional thing or an art error? (The Kubert cover of the next issue shows the private eye batman with his utility belt.)

    Also, on being shot by Hex, as Bruce's hat flies off, how does his mask suddenly vanish? One explanation is that it wasn't really a mask but the shadow of the rim of his hat. But the way it's been rendered (with shadow and highlight) certainly makes it look like a mask to me...?

    As usual, a complex and loaded issue, but more than a little disappointing on the artistic end.

  6. DAL, also OTW can't say he's "Thomas Wayne" openly even before YTW is born; that 200-year age would flag suspicion.

    I think it's interesting that Vandal Savage is shown to be confused because of his immortality (and I bet the connection to Borges is direct). Why show this now? Hurt (but not OTW) seems to be confused about who he is. His lie to Alfred in #679 seems unlikely to persuade Alfred. Maybe Hurt is a tangle of memory and fantasy that even he can't separate.

  7. JMD, I am aware of the risk of trying to draw too many connections at once, but I think we may find out that Old Thomas Wayne had been sacrificing people for the blood he needed to prolong his life. (Manfred had to do this in "Gothic", hence the murdered boys.) Alan Wayne is aware of this and is so horrified / shamed that he plans suicide.

    The Underground Railroad set up by Solomon and Joshua Wayne could have been used by OTW as a source of humans to sacrifice; a runaway slave would make an easy victim: Nobody's going to notice their murder because they are already missing from where they should be. Maybe OTW killed his relative Joshua to cover up his crimes.

    OTW was born roughly 100 years before Solomon. He could be the great grandfather or great-great grandfather of Alan; or a great uncle of some stripe. Or not a Wayne at all but a pretender.

    The idea of sacrifice providing for his longevity is not only in "Gothic" but also "Final Crisis". It also maps to the story of "Doc Benton" which is a New England legend that has been repeated in some comics.

  8. Gautam... interesting on the whistling, but it was Darkseid, not Mandraak, that Superman used it against. Of course, the whistling was in ROBW #3, too.

  9. Rikdad,

    Good points all. I think it's worth thinking about how, past a certain point, OTW couldn't even claim his own heritage (assuming that he is a Wayne) simply because he'd be too old for anyone to believe him. As the years ticked into the twentieth century and modernity, this would become impossible for him to claim. In a way, he actually had to wait for another Thomas Wayne to be born before he could even have a chance of becoming publicly known as "Thomas Wayne" again (by assuming his descendant's identity). But in my original post above, what I was referring to was how OTW, upon returning to Gotham, couldn't even call himself Thomas Wayne without people annoying him by saying "Oh, you have the same name as THE Thomas Wayne, the famous doctor", even if OTW didn't press upon them that he was actually a member of THE Wayne family.

  10. Rikdad - You never make're just talking :)

    Morrison is, IMO, clearly tying in all of his Batman work (Akham Asylum = Joker's supersanity, Gothic = Deals with the devil). I often thought about Manfred from "Gothic" and if he was a prototype for Hurt. For all we know, Morrison may have wanted to do this years ago, tried to do it in "Gothic" to a smaller extent, and just planned for the day if he ever got the chance to do the story he intended...kinda like his Superman pitch ended up being All-Star Superman.
    Its like he's riffing off himself.

    Anyhow - Its creepy to think that OTW may have lured slaves for their blood. It would certainly account for Alan Wayne's shame.

    I really feel that if the Dark Knight/Dark City and Gothic thread of OTW being possessed by the devil come true, it would make sense. Innocent OTW would have been replaced with a possessed OTW needing blood to retain his immortality....that's be a great tie in. And like Vandal Savage explained, immortals don't necessarily think they are OTW would maybe have planned to "leap" from OTW to Bruce's dad to start the cycle again, as the two were compatible.

  11. Regarding Alan Wayne, generation relations, Jack the Ripper and Bruce.....
    I posted some clarifications about these points on your blog thread on the DC Batman board.

    I didn't want to spoil the plot of Gotham by Gaslight if there is any possibility you will have the chance to read it.

  12. I'd like to think that the reason Wayne Manor remained "unfinished" for all those years was because Thomas Wayne was the one "haunting it", so to speak. Disappearances - people going missing - Joshua's death in the cave during an Underground Railroad thing gone wrong?

    It all speaks to Old Thomas. In 701, Bruce calls him a "ghost". We know it's more likely he's using the same means of immortality as Manfred from Gothic, or Deacon Blackfire from The Cult. Bathing in the blood of someone "hung upside down". (We've been seeing upside-down crucifixes for a while as well).

    So, is it coincidence that Alan Wayne finishes building the mansion and HIDES the secret underground Satan-Worship Chapel? No ... definitely not. He couldn't have while Thomas was still around, lurking in Gotham for 100 years. But once Old Thomas left for Liverpool, he was free to complete the Manor.

    Is it a predestination anti-paradox that this is probably the moment where Old Thomas's obsession with Bruce Wayne begins?

    The thought of Old Thomas using runaway slaves as blood sacrifices is sick, and just adds to the further perversion of what made the Wayne Family "good" in the past.

    Here's a KEY question, though. In one of the paintings we see Joshua holding the Bat-Casket. But now we've learned that Joshua died PRIOR to the joining of the Wayne and Van Derm families.

    So is that actually Bruce's doing - added to the "gallery" later, same as the Mordecai painting? As "Private Eye Bruce" does he rediscover the Mordecai painting and add paint the bat-logo onto the Joshua painting himself?

    As for the "horrible thing" inside the Casket. It almost has to be a "bat", right? The Bat-Beast from Issue # 1?

    Suffice it to say, while I was thinking the Casket-Motherboxxx could be Darkseid's doomsday weapon, that seems counter to the fact that Bruce's cape & cowl relic has already been given the role of the "death-trap". The cape & cowl are chock-full of Omega Radiation, and can't leave the Cave of Barbatos for fear of doom.

  13. I think it's no coincidence that Wayne Manor is never completed while Old Thomas still lives in Gotham City. No doubt the rumors of it being haunted are because of missing people that he captured, hung upside-down, drained and bathed in the blood of, like Manfred or Deacon Blackfire.

    So when this liminal day of fate occurs in the late-1800s, he leaves, and Alan and Catherine finish the place ... and proceed to bury/hide the nasty Satanist Chapel part of the cave.

    As for his Garden of Death - I take it his motivation for building it, and for his "grandiose" crypt, was partially because of his being the progenitor of Wayne Enterprises, but also to house his dearly beloved wife, who died during childbirth.

  14. These are really interesting comments.
    Rikdad, I've been wondering whether you come back to read these comments or, for that matter, the comments on the thread that you post on the Batman board about your blog.

    Perhaps you are simply very selective in what you choose to respond to, but sometimes it seems like there is only half a discussion going on.

  15. moira (to skip ahead a few posts), I try to reply to just about every comment, but I am limited in time and have to come back to catch up sometimes. I can't type 2,000 words a day every day.

  16. darkside, this travel through time was apparently not meant to be a punishment like Shiloh Norman's. This seems to be a headgame between Darkseid and Bruce. I mentioned before that it's like a game of rock-scissors-paper. Darkseid makes Bruce think that this is mere torture or a game of survival. He's trying to make Bruce think that it is, but there is more at stake: the end of the world, and Bruce will somehow bring that about merely by trying to survive and get back home. Bruce, however, is sure to figure that out. So, it's like Darkseid hints that he'll play paper, to get Bruce to play scissors. Darkseid will really play rock, to beat scissors. But Bruce, inevitably, will play paper, to beat rock.

    In the Bronze Age DCU, a person could not time travel to an era where they were already alive. That appears not to be true in Morrison's story: Bruce is almost certainly a child in the time that he has just jumped into.

  17. DAL, the link between the Thomas Waynes is interesting to consider. Aside from the name, and what's in a name? Obviously, they're related (assuming OTW *is* a Wayne, which isn't quite certain). But why should OTW attack YTW and not YTW's father? Or, maybe he did.

  18. JMD, I continue to like the idea that OTW becomes Hurt when the Devil possesses him, thus keeping the body but gaining a new mind (and thus, effectively, identity), but still... it feels like there's at least a mix of identities. Hurt has been the Devil, but yet he still literally calls Gotham home. Presumably *The* *Devil* isn't *from* Gotham... but he's happy to visit there.

  19. And, Moira, I did read Gotham by Gaslight, around the same time I read "Robin Dies at Dawn". But my memory is pretty hazy of it now; time to re-read it, now that such a heavy JTR hint has come in the Morrison story.

  20. Retro, the bat casket appeared at the end of #3, which is either 1734 (if the journal date is authoritative) or about 1765 (if Jack Valor looking aged determines the date of the casket cameo). Either way, it seriously precedes the life of Joshua Wayne. So Joshua clearly lived after the creation of the casket... but that leaves the question of why (or if) he ever held it in his hands like the portrait shows.





  22. Something just sunk in for me today upon re-reading Return of Bruce Wayne #4, and your post on it: this issue means that Batman is a direct descendant of Anthro the Cave-Boy, doesn't it?

    Which... Bear with me here... Which means that Metron actually planted the seeds of Darkseid's defeat in more ways than one when he gave Anthro the gift of fire. Yes, he gave Anthro the Life Equation symbol to free people from Anti-Life. But he also set in motion a series of events that would, one day, lead to the birth of Bruce Wayne, the man who killed Darkseid. And then Bruce Wayne, himself, took an active hand in how those events played out. So... We're looking at a self-constructing god-machine built to fire the bullet that would end Darkseid's physical existence.

    Which means that the Wayne family is, essentially, a gun.

    Or have I just lost my damn mind?

  23. Nice post, as always, Rikdad. I would be remiss if I didn't add my hometown, Wayne, NJ, to your list of geographical entities named after Mad Anthony Wayne.

  24. That is a lovely and elegant piece of reasoning, Mark Brett.

  25. Lichu,
    We know that Bruce will be a detective, but there's no reason to suspect that the dossier referred to a real detective. Hurt all but stated that the dossier was fake, as did Alfred. If the dossier is fake, then it seems to me that whether or not there was a detective would be coincidence.

  26. Mark Brett, Morrison has been using time loops in this and other stories... there's no doubt that Bruce has become part of his own history: He saved his great-great grandfather's life, among other deeds. But you frame it in a particularly interesting way.

    Way back, Geoff Johns said that the Batman/Joker scene in DC #0 had some giveaways in it. Those are not apparent yet. Was the mimed gunshot in there a hint as to the significance of other gunshots: Bruce shooting Darkseid? Hex shooting Bruce?

  27. An interesting therory about some of Morrison's potential content.

    I particularly like the "rivers" idea, which could be linked back to RIP where Batman and Honor Jackson cross the bridge, fighting the goons as they did so.....I dont recall any other rivers. But in ROBW he is either falling into a river or crossing a water way.

    So what does a "Queened" Batman look like?

  28. I agree with Lichu. Just because the information in the dossier was faked doesn't mean there wasn't a P.I. I had previously thought that the P.I. was fictitious within the story as well, but comments from Morrison about the Return of Bruce Wayne # 5's setting in terms of era made me think otherwise.

    There were all sorts of claims in there that I don't think are supposed to be true, in fact, I assumed most if not all of it was entirely faked. But one portion that connects to that Morrison interview is the part where there is a mention of a Private Investigator hired by relatives of Martha Wayne's who uncovered the information before disappearing about 25 years prior, shortly after the murder.

    After this interview I am thinking that while most of the dossier was faked, the Waynes as drug users, Alfred as Bruce's biological father and Thomas as an evil belligerent psychopath who had his wife and child murdered, all of that was false information, that perhaps it wasn't planted DURING R.I.P., but 25 years ago, and that the Private Investigator was Bruce during the time period.

    Morrison says of the era Bruce is a P.I. in

    "GM: Well, he still has amnesia so he doesn't remember. By the time we see him piecing all that together, it might be too late. But we get to see some of the Wayne scandal that appears in Batman RIP where they try to smear Thomas Wayne and his wife as drug addicts and perverts, and we actually get to see that period and the Black Glove of that time. So it ties into everything."

  29. Nice reference to Morrison's comments concerning the PI era, Jared. I don't think I've seen that interview before.

    I am beginning to wonder now how Wayne Corp.'s money woes (referenced in B&R 10, 11, if I remember correctly) will tie in, either with the Hurt storyline, or for the Batman, Inc. situation.

    Thanks to Rikdad for the opportunity to discuss these matters!

  30. Jared, Penman,

    I re-read the Mayor's description of the detective who may or may not be Bruce (and may or may not be real). In a nutshell, he gives us three pieces of information. Whether or not the description matches Bruce depends on whether or not Bruce's activities in #5 will match those three items:

    1) He produces/finds the information in the dossier.
    2) He vanishes 25 years ago.
    3) He was hired by Martha's family.

    We already know that (2) must be true. We have no idea whether or not (3) will be true; this will be seen in ROBW #5.

    So this leaves (1). And, it will be debatable whether or not Bruce is the "same" detective if one of the pieces of information does not match. (E.g., if Bruce is hired by Martha's family and investigates the case, but the Black Glove plants the dossier, then "is" Bruce the detective the Mayor described? It's rather philosophical.)

    There's something logically odd about whether or not the dossier goes back to that period. Which is that the dossier was used in 2008 to put pressure on Bruce to cooperate with Hurt. If the dossier was produced 25 years ago, then it was produced for some other purpose and just happened to be around -- coincidentally -- for the unintended purpose of pressuring Bruce.

    That's possible. At the time of RIP, there was no particular reason to think that the dossier was older than the time of Hurt's attack on Bruce. But Morrison's comment indicates that the scandal has some basis in the past. So whether it's faked or not, the material could have come into Bruce's hands during his stint in ROBW #5. That makes two of the three points pretty much certain at this point. So Bruce "is" the same detective if Martha's family hires him.

  31. I didn't like that one stupid part where Vandal Savage is like "Mr. Hex, cut yourself shaving?" it just feels like everyone is now contractually obligated to use that quote whenever Jonah Hex is involved with the comic, but that was the only part of the book I didn't like the rest of it was all very enjoyable

  32. Rikdad..... Just want to say that i really appreciate and enjoy your thoughts. I think when OTW says: "are you one too? I'll get you all in the end!" , he means the Miagani tribe, since he isnt part of them and Bruce is, because Alan marries Catherine and hence Bruce is their descendent.

  33. I know I'm commenting years later, and on this post about issue 4 rather than 6, but I've been reading the posts in reverse and it's making more sense to me now.

    The casket does indeed seem to be the Mother Box (or Ancestor Box, or whatever new iteration of the Mother Box is relevant). In two pages in issue 6, not only does Metron appear and claim to be the only New God remaining (perhaps AS the Mother Box, or rather what's inside it . . . ), but mentions that the box/bell was created by Darkseid. Why the Mother Box is attributed to Darkseid is not clear - it may be historically accurate according to the original Fourth World saga, but it's certainly something Morrison could've retconned.

    In any case, people often wonder, was the box/casket always empty, as when Hurt finally saw inside it? I think not.

    I think in issue 4, after it's opened for Bruce, he takes out the bell, or whatever manifestation of the bell exists inside a Mother Box. I think Hurt wanted the box because he wanted the bell, so that it could never be rung (or so that he could ring it himself, somehow summoning Barbatos).

    Although it wasn't until 2015 when Geoff Johns had Batman literally become Metron, I think ROBW was Morrison establishing Batman as the inheritor of Metron's legacy (at least up to a point, until Talia made a mess of everything).