Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Batman and Robin 15

Batman and Robin #15, the penultimate issue in Grant Morrison's run that christened the title, is where the lines that were so numerous and crossed earlier in the series come -- almost -- all together. From ten figures, some of whom proved to be the same individuals -- identified as villains in the early going, we are now down to three main villains plus countless Fiend henchmen, and the identities are rather clear.

As the entire structure of this run matches the same pattern as Morrison's longer run on Batman, this issue corresponds rather closely to Batman #681, with many story elements here intentionally mirroring story elements there. Parallels can also be drawn between B&R #14 and Batman #680, and so on backwards throughout the runs. The significant deviation from this is that everything stops just short of completion in #15, with some big finale events of unknown nature yet to come. Moreover, the grimmer tone of the Batman run is more bizarre and comedic this time around; Morrison had called it farce, and it's interesting to see that farce can happen with the plot much the same, but a few funny lines and facial expressions providing the seasoning.

Just as Batman #681 began with Bruce as Batman -- the more serious of that dynamic duo -- in a coffin, this issue begins with Damian as Robin -- the more serious of his duo -- in a coffin. The Joker, whose precise plan remains unknown, and must culminate next issue -- acts primarily to set Damian loose on Hurt, much of this shown in the preview. As Damian would want to do this anyway, the Joker doesn't actually do much here, but it is in grand form that he does it, dancing with the skeleton of Bruce Wayne's great-great-grandmother and telling a knock-knock joke. The inherent repetition in a "knock knock" joke ("knock" is repeated; so is the name used in each joke) plays on the theme of twins and counterparts that is all throughout this run. In a line that Damian doesn't understand, he refers to a friend of his as God's right-hand man. "Big Mike" is a brilliant double reference, using the name of the solder-angel Michael who leads God's army against the Devil in Hebrew Apocrypha and the Book of Revelation, and also the first U.S. hydrogen bomb, the test "Mike" being part of the series known as "Ivy Mike". So here, the nuclear bomb that we saw last time, ironic greeting painted on it as in Doctor Strangelove, is the weapon that the Joker threatens to use against his enemy, the Devil. But that's a plot that has to play out next time. The heroes might not need to worry that much: The weapon that the Joker wields in this issue, the "gun" that Damian thinks is aimed at his back, is just a banana. The Joker's nuclear bomb may be a barrel of old rags.

Hurt's plan, though, is culminating now. The city is in chaos, as we see when a woman tries to sell her children to the pimp and drug dealer Lone-Eye Lincoln, who debuted in Batman #678, and appeared wearing this same outfit in Batman #700. Hurt, posing as Thomas Wayne, makes an unknown offer to the city to stop the problem, an offer that is sure to do untold harm if accepted. Hurt also tells us that his desire is to be an evil Batman, driving around the city preying on the weak (the victims of choice named in devilish plans in Batman #666 and B&R #14, not to mention Final Crisis). Hurt's plan to recruit an evil sidekick is to Damian, bargaining for a soul that Damian doesn't even believe in. The leverage he holds is the life of Dick Grayson, who is menaced with brain damage as was Bruce in Batman #681.

But while RIP, like other Morrison stories such as Superman Beyond, had a ticking clock, this story has one that has been peculiarly fixed. Alfred set the clock to 10:47 and it remains at 10:47, even as days go by. If something bad is coming when the clock reaches a certain point, it's never going to happen. The sky, however, is beyond Alfred's reach. The eclipse that Hurt waited for appears in the window over the scene as Hurt kicks in the painting of Thomas and Martha and smashes the white knight figure that I pointed out a couple of months ago.

Outside of Wayne Manor, a chaos suggested by a detail chosen from the center-right of the Triumph of Death painting whose name was the title of B&R #14, Hurt's plan may be undone by a cure that Commissioner Gordon finds: when he is angry enough, he fights off the viral addiction. Emotion as a trigger is also a recurring Morrison theme: Damian was made vulnerable to Talia's spinal control system when he became angry. The means to overcome Hurt's citywide threat may thus be in the hands of the masses and not just the heroes. Ordinary people saving the day is also a Morrison theme from Justice League stories including the "New World Order" story that began his run and the Mageddon story that ended it. An idea that he uses to begin and end his run in another title is apt to end this one. A smaller detail mirroring the Batman run comes when Pyg stares at a snail and gives a speech about horns, duality, deuce, and the Devil, terms that came up in Damian's detective work in #666 and the Joker's sassing Hurt in #681.

Inside the Manor, we find out a bit more about the Hurt backstory: that Thomas and Martha were ultimately entirely good (Hurt's lies to the contrary convinced many inside the story and a few readers as well), plus the entirely new information that they had taken Hurt into their home. The promise of more backstory between Bruce as a boy and Doctor Hurt echoes Hurt's line to Bruce in Batman #678 ("How you've grown"). It also advances a bit the notion that perhaps Hurt planned the deaths of all three Waynes, as suggested by Joe Chill back in Batman #673, so that he could take on the role of Thomas, with this plan being irretrievably ruined by Bruce surviving, and telling the world that Thomas was dead.  Hurt's plan now includes wearing Thomas's face (symbolically, but the phrase recounts literal face-wearing through Morrison's run, including Hurt wearing Mangrove Pierce's face back in Batman #667), ruining the Waynes as immoral people and Bruce (as suggested in the dossier as told in Batman #677) as mentally ill.

Dick planned for this encounter with Hurt, but when the plan fails, Grayson improvises, an ability which is Morrison's signature characteristic for Dick Grayson in this run. That Damian knows about Hurt's backstory as a man who has lived a very long time tells us that the book Bruce holds in Wayne Manor in ROBW #5 has come into to the possession of Dick and Damian, telling them everything that Bruce knew at that point in time, including the Miagani whistle that opens the casket. This is all they need to win the day. The casket that Hurt won in B&R #12 holds nothing more than a bat-tracer and a note with the same message Bruce had to the god he defeated in Final Crisis: "Gotcha!" Then Dick and Damian take down Hurt with the signature double-punch seen several times in this series.

The who's who questions remain in principle ambiguous: Hurt believes that he's the Devil, but Damian, who doesn't believe in souls, doesn't. And the lone figure on the final page seems overwhelmingly to be whom we hope he is. There is doubt: A Morrison interview said that Bruce returns after B&R #16; post-return comics previously on sale show a Dick Grayson who seems not to know where Bruce is; eclipses have previously sent Bruce away instead of bringing him back; and, the B&R #8 reveal about the clone showed that Morrison is willing to overturn a "big moment" like the one at the end of Final Crisis #6 with a twist. But everything else is telling us that when Hurt thinks that he's summoning Barbatos, he gets the only Bat God there ever was, with Bruce Wayne speaking in words like icicles, "Turn around, Doctor. It's all over."

Update: Note the Morrison comment in a recent interview: "So in 'Batman And Robin Must Die!' it's all kind of upside down. It's not really a Batman story. It's a Joker story." This means a certainty that the Joker will figure large in the next issue, and thus a good likelihood that he is the Bat-God on the last page.

Also note that the Joker left a banana peel on the stairs leaving the Alan/Catherine tomb. To continue the idea of this story as RIP turned farce, it would be fitting if someone, particularly Hurt, slips on the banana peel next issue.


  1. love it. love that morrison is keeping us guessing until the end. something about the word bubbles at the end is bothering me. They don't seem like bruce wayne word bubbles. though they are really dramatic and *cool.*

    the "gotcha" -- doesn't that seem more like Joker writing than Bruce/Dick?

  2. Another excellent analysis Rikdad. Question: is there a panel or verbal cue in ROBW #5 that indicates Bruce placing his book in Wayne Manor? I ask because to me it seems the last time we see the journal is when Bruce reads it on the bench at Willowood Asylum. We can certainly assume he takes it with him to the manor but do we know what he does with it thereafter?

    I posted this same question in your B&R 15 Preview post. I don't mean to ply you with redundant questions but I wasn't sure if you'd still be responding to questions in the preview post now that your regular post is up.

  3. Lance, "gotcha" is what Bruce said to Darkseid, so it is his kind of line, as Morrison writes him. Morrison also gave Bruce the "Different worlds, same dumb" line in FC #1 that may illustrate the same vernacular as "gotcha".

  4. dmencey, Willowwood is the last place we see the book, but there's little reason to suspect that Bruce would have left it there. He probably brought it with him to Wayne Manor, and then he never left the grounds. He probably didn't have it with him when he time-jumped; he wouldn't need its information anymore.

  5. And robin snapped the neck of a dog and sliced the fore arm of a fiend.

  6. Got a feeling its joker in bat costume at end and icicles are him pretending to do Batmans gravely voice.

  7. Actually Rikdad, I'm going to have to go with the Joker being dressed as Batman at the end. It all makes sense with Dick's quote, "It's all in the preparation."

    I think Dick & Joker came up with this plan to take down Dr. Hurt, Damian wasn't told until the Joker opened the casket which is why Damian lets out the growl. The next time you see them, it seems like its being suggested that a plan is in place with the dialog you've quoted.

    But I'm just taking a wild stab at it and it would fit in line with Bruce being back after B&R #16. Honestly, I can't wait for the next issue and if "Bat-God" is Bat-Joker that would be one of the more awesome moments in Bat-lore.

  8. Isn't the clock in this issue set to 10:47pm, the time the Waynes were killed and Batman was born, also the time on the grandfather clock used to enter the Batcave. Our hero is seemingly born again at the same time.

  9. In My Review Of TROBW #05 Speak About Hurt Order The Death Of The Waynes :)

  10. rikdad --
    sorry that was unclear on my part -- "gotcha" is one of bruce's cooler lines of late. however, I meant the actual writing - the handwriting on the note. This varies from artist to artist, but consider Bruce's cold clinical sort of writing in the black casebook to the weird sort of scribble on the note.

  11. So what is Dr. Hurt? Bruce's adopted brother? An evil twin created by Darkseid with the Ancestor Box for Bruce? Just and evil Wayne from the 1880s?

  12. Something I was curious about, are Willowood Asylum and Arkham Asylum the same institution? If so, doesn't that screw with the Zurh-En-Ah element of the story? If Arkham was Willowood at the time of Thomas and Martha's death, how could have Thomas told Bruce they would have put "Zorro in Arkham"? (note: I reserve the right to be wrong, always).

  13. Great issue & great post, Rikdad. Truth be told, I'm waiting for your Grand Summary of the whole Saga.

    Some observations:

    1. "Perhaps you'll know by the gaping hole that remains what is it you've lost."

    Here Dr. Hurt is referring to Damian's soul.
    But immediately after this, he speaks of Thomas & Martha Wayne and their kindness to him, and then kicks a 'hole' in their portrait.

    Now this might be a stretch, but I thought
    that Hurt's line to Damian could well be a
    reference to Hurt's own betrayal of the Wayne's. They took him in and he had them killed. I know he's thoroughly Evil, but he lost something at the moment the Waynes were killed, maybe a last shot at redemption.

    2. The position of the sun w.r.t the window.
    The panel where the whistle is heard, the
    candelabra is bang in the center of the
    window. We can see the black sun to the
    left, off-center. In the next splash page,
    where Hurt gets punched out (aah, Finally!), the sun's moved to the exact centre of the window. Talk about timing. Is this a symbol
    of defeat for the 'hole in things', for what
    is an black sun, if not a hole?

    3. The last reveal of the shadowy "Bat-God".
    I would like it to be Bruce & I think its him
    because who else would know how to open the casket?

    It could be Alfred, because of the theatrical nature of the reveal (the smoke and what looks to be like a rising platform on which Batman is crouched upon). Also, because he hasn't been seen since Hurt entered the Manor.

    Argument against this, is would Hurt leave
    Alfred at liberty to roam around free? Last
    time, he broke a champagne bottle on Alfred's head.

    So maybe it is Bruce after all, and Alfred
    just assisted in the preparation of the reveal.

    If its the Joker, it will really add to the farcical elements developed so far. I don't
    think I've ever seen the Joker dressed as
    Batman (though in the Irving cover, in his
    split-brain fantasy, he's dressed both as
    Batman as well as Robin!)

    But like I said, I really want it to be Bruce.


  14. Look, it CAN'T be bruce in the final reveal. Look at the close up of his pupils in the end, thats the exact close up we got from Dick Grayson several issues back. My theory is that showing the pupils close up in these frames emphasises the mask. Batman doesn't really wear a mask, he's not playing a part. The "icey" speach ballons emphasise that this is someone "acting." Dick and Robbin are too comfortable in the end with the situation, they know too much about what is happening. When the real Bruce shows up things will should be a little more frightening.

  15. Hey Rikdad, long time reader first time poster etc. Both your Batman and Madmen stuff is spot-on, can't wait to read your Sopranos commentary.

    Interesting commonalities between Hurt's ploy to corrupt Damian and Talia's effort to extort the ManBat serum from Kirk Langstrom back in Batman and Son - countdowns to irreversible brain damage, dangled cures. Not of any plot relevance, but I always get a kick out of seeing these echoes.

    Any speculations as to what the price is for "Gotham's Recovery"? And that line about the Wayne's taking Hurt in, showing him kindness..How long has Alfred been living at the Manor? Wouldn't he remember a houseguest? Old Thomas seems like a hard person to forget.

  16. In the "next" box we see the eyes of the cowled man, which are clearly normal instead of Joker's crazy eyes so i honestly doubt thats the Joker. Ofcourse it could be a cool twist, but i really do believe this is about Bruce making his comeback, he prolly got beamed from the JLA satelite or so.

    Dr. Hurt's story is closing in and we can all make our kind theories that leave us either ambigious for more lore, we side with X or Y person with their theories, or we curse Morrison's name and call him a hack in our anger for clear answers instead of ambigious ones.

    I'd say Hurt is truly the same man from the wild western era, he became jack the ripper and then moved back in Gotham for Willowwood asylum to continue his evil, found out theres a NEW Thomas Wayne. Confronted him and received help, but decided to backstab then in hopes for immortality.

  17. It's either Alfred or the Joker in costume at the end...
    Dick told Alfred to prepare the cave in a prior issue, but did this mean Joker access? Did Dick ever speak with the Joker?

    Or is it more plausible that its Alfred underneath the mask?

  18. Great analysis as always, Rikdad. I hadn't been tracking the parallels to RIP at all, but you're right; it's structurally the same.

    And my money's on it being Alfred in the Bat-Suit. It's a ruse he's used before, and I was a bit suspicious of him greeting Hurt at the gates of Wayne Manor. He has the haunted eyes we see on all the addicted victims of Pyg's plague, and it seems that he's helping Hurt with his evil scheme by saying that he recognizes him as Thomas Wayne in front of the press. Now, I'm not buying that for a minute, but it's the sort of arrogant assumption Hurt would make, and the kind of assumption that always brings villains like him down. It also plays into the themes of acting that have run throughout the BatRob run, and pays off on all those references we've gotten to Alfred's past on the stage.

    Plus, you know, I'm all for Morrison resurrecting such a patently ridiculous idea as Alfred in the Bat-Suit. Maybe we'll even get to see him in some hysterical shoulder pads...

  19. Great post as always, Rikdad. I appreciate the thought and effort you put into these. You could teach a college course about Morrison's Batman run!

  20. Rikdad, how are you planning on reading the next 4 Morrison issues? I think it's pretty clear that Return of Bruce Wayne #6 should be read before Batman and Robin #16 and Batman: The Return and yet it comes out a week later than those 2 books along with Batman Inc. Will you wait to read it in order or no?

  21. Peter, Nikolai, I think the Joker is a great possibility, which I first saw from amuk_amuk_amuk on the DCMB. It's especially to be taken serious given Morrison's last interview: "So in 'Batman And Robin Must Die!' it's all kind of upside down. It's not really a Batman story. It's a Joker story." Has it been a Joker story so far? I'd say not. All he did was make Hurt upset, then turn Robin loose after capturing him. The big Joker stuff is yet to come. Atomic bomb for one, but also don't discount the banana peel from #15 coming back. Watch for it!

  22. TripleJ, you remind me that I somehow read the clock incorrectly. Note that this is a different time of death than Morrison used in "Gothic", but the real question is what effect moving the hands has. Does it open a door, or do something else? It may just be letting the Joker walk out of the Batcave into the library.

  23. Dispatch, Good point on the holes: they just keep coming up, don't they?

    Hurt timed this event for the eclipse; that's why the timing was not just good but perfect. Note the irony: Hurt lost trying to out-plan Bruce Wayne in RIP. Now he's trying to out-time Dick Grayson.

    I think Dick uttered the whistle that opened the box, but it's not quite clear. I think Dick read Bruce's book which had a description of the right notes.

    There are a lot of reasons to suspect that this is the Joker instead of Bruce at the end, but there's no doubt that it would be cool to have it be Bruce. There's no doubt that this moment is, in any case, giving Hurt reason to soil himself.

  24. Ha, yesterday at the Batman messageboards I wondered if maybe I should bring up the banana peel as possibly being important in a future issue, possibly as something that Dr. Hurt might slip on, but then I thought, "Naah, too silly, I doubt anyone else would even consider that." Then today I read your updated blog post and see that you posit the exact same scenario. Now it doesn't seem so silly.

  25. throwing this out there: what if the batman impersonator is Jason Todd?

    Security situation at blackgate (13). Joker -- "who do I know thats good with serious?" (14) Jason's certainly physically capable of playing the part.

  26. Can't help but think that there's some commonality between the musical note delivered by Superman in Final Crisis and the notes that trigger the opening of the box in B&R 15. What is Morrison saying about the power of music as discourse? Echoes of Nietzsche perhaps:

    “To stop the flow of music would be like the stopping of time itself, incredible and inconceivable.”

  27. Lance, I was also wondering if that was Jason at the end. I'm sure Joker could have somehow arranged his escape from Blackgate.

    I am also curious about Hurt's connection to the Waynes now. He must have looked to have been around the same age he is now when the Martha and Thomas took him in, so it's not like they adopted him (which was my first thought before realizing I had forgotten about his prolonged life). Was he a friend of the Waynes from Black Glove parties? Did the Waynes even attend those parties, or was that one of Hurt's lies/untruthful suggestions as well?

    Also, is the box that Hurt opened at the end different than the one that was appearing throughout ROBW? Is the real box somewhere in Wayne Manor?

  28. Grant M. usually plays fair with the clues. The big ending in the issue is the return of Bruce. Anything else would make it feel like a cheat.

    Remember, after all, that he called the villainess in RIP Jezebel.

  29. Fun issue. Great blog and great comments. I think the idea that it is the joker has a lot of merit. Taking off from GM comment's regarding B&R being RIP as farce, the dialogue in the issue itself and GM saying that the Joker would be used in a way that had never been done before, it seems like a safe bet, but one never knows. Another point in favor of the Joker theory, jokes are all about timing. (Rikdad loved how you pointed out the subtle timing references (clock, eclipse) as a way of pointing to Dick's strengths)

    I read the dialogue in the issue a bit differently. Damian's words to Dick (apologizing for not listening?) and Dick's words to Damian seem to me a farce/an act. Given the prominence of actors in RIP, ROBW as villains in some form, it seems like Damian and Dick and Joker acting their way through the farce with Hurt would be a fitting way to upend him. The three of them want to make Hurt believe they are improvising, but while there is some of that, there is much planning here too.

    It seemed to me that there was a lot of acting in the previous issue as well. I thought some of commissioner's Gordon dialogue pointed to acting for Pyg and Hurt's benefit. One clue I picked up on in the last issue and in this one, is that the font in the dialogue changes when the character is speaking for the benefit of the larger audience as opposed to the person he is supposed to be speaking to. For example, Dick to Alfred after speaking to the Joker. Gordon to Dick when captured by Pyg, Dick to Damian ("stall"). I figure is either whispering but more likely a comm-link. If one reads it that way then the acting element springs forth more clearly.

    Of course I could be completely wrong and likely am. But Damian's dialogue seemed telling.

  30. ehepd, when I think of "farce" and you suggest everyone is acting - acting out a "you're screwed, dude, show" to counteract Hurt's "evil show", I can't help but get a grin on my face. Even the stories of Batman and Robin have been remarked by others to have been proxies ... fair proximities of Batman stories, but with something wrong ... something off. Them being filled with characters pretending to be other people is hardly any kind of secret.

    Now we see why Joker loves Dick Grayson so much more than the rest of the Bat-Family. The kid has pitch-perfect timing and can float between the straight-man (Bruce ... or Damian) and the funny-man.

    It seemed pretty clear to me before that Joker left the antidote in Pyg's lair for Dick to find. But if the joke is in the timing, then it's possible that Joker's "cure" wasn't meant to actually work until something else triggered it. Could Joker have fine-tuned the toxin to only cure Pyg's plague when Gotham got angry, or effected some other catalyst?

    The show must go on ... and you've got to keep the audience in their seats with some suspense!

    If Bruce vs. Joker is a dynamic of ultimate planner vs. ultimate plotter ... than Dick and Joker is a relationship of competing flamboyance. They're playing Dress-Up and Doctor Hurt is trying to spoil their game by cheating.

  31. Retro, I loved your take on what I said about acting/farce and I think it works for basically the entire series from the flying Batmobile onwards. And I think you must be right about the antidote. However, the line about "everyone dies in the crossfire" from the previous issue, must mean that the Joker might still have a murderous plan up his sleeve.

    A line from this issue that I thought was interesting was the Joker remarking on how he gave Hurt dominoes and he wanted to play chess. It seems that it has deeper significance.

  32. I have been reading the DC Batman boards this morning and wondering if it is not time to revisit in light of ROBW5 Zur en Arrh. Someone (vigneaux?) made a joke about Hurr en Arrh, Hurt in Arkham, but it occurs to me perhaps it is not such a joke. I am connecting the slurred speech of Roddy with the Zurr en Arrh phrase (Zorro in Arkham) and Hurt in Arkham. Did Bruce use that phrase to warn himself of the presence of Hurt in Arkham, the killer of his parents. Using Zorro in Arkham to connect to the film and night of his parents' death? I haven't worked it all out yet, but it seemed a possibility.

    Also, long time ago I posted a comment making a connection between Hurt and OTW, actually suggesting that while related there is also something distinct. This could explain the two personalities we are seeing (a la Twin Peaks) as well as The Penitente's comment about going back to Gotham after such a long time to reclaim what was rightfully his. It wouldn't have been very long for Hurt, but very long for OTW.

  33. darkside, it seems like Old Thomas Wayne, a Wayne born in 1730 or so, who was bad and then went really bad, is how Doctor Hurt started, and that an encounter with the Ancestor Box gave him life extension, but not immortality. But this leaves a lot of blanks -- Morrison has avoided the quick, complete origin which is a staple in comics. There are a lot of additional directions where Morrison could provide more answers or more questions. It seems likely that he'll do both and leave at least something unanswered. We'll see in the next one or two (if ROBW #6 talks about Hurt) issues.

  34. Mike, excellent point about Arkham and Willowwood. The story alone makes it sensible that they're two different places. A Morrison interview hinted that they are the same, but you point out that it might be a plot hole if they are. What we saw in ROBW #5 didn't look like it operated anything like Arkham.

  35. Max, good points. I initially wanted it to be Bruce, but I think there's a lot of interesting stuff that could happen with the Joker (or even Jason Todd) in there. It might be Bruce, but I doubt it.

  36. Warren, thanks, and very good points! A countdown to brain damage is out of Talia's playbook. And brain damage is exactly what Damian threatened the Joker with in #13, and what the Black Glove tried to inflict upon both Bruce *and* Dick in RIP. Don't wander into these stories without a protective helmet.

    Hurt's dark "price" for Gotham is such a good set-up, it seems like he has to get a chance to talk about it instead of just being beaten already. Or is it dark enough just for us to guess without ever hearing more?

    Alfred ought to remember Hurt, but if so, why didn't he say more to help Bruce when RIP was going on? This conundrum actually came up a long time ago when Hurt interacting with the Waynes was more hypothetical. This is definitely a question to ponder. Great comments!

  37. Drazar, good point about the teaser box, but note that these have played around with accuracy in the past, not least of which when we saw Sexton start to unmask and he had a normal chin instead of the one that would give the Joker away. So couldn't the eyes be drawn un-Jokerly for the same effect of preserving a mystery at the cost of realistic art?

  38. Penman, I think Dick did speak with the Joker. If so, it must have happened while Dick was in transit to the Crime Alley shenanigans. Or, he had Alfred do so.

    In RIP, Hurt faked Alfred's voice and Bruce congratulated Alfred on acting lessons. If Alfred is acting here, it would resonate with both of those.

  39. Mark, thanks, and my last comment shows I can see the Alfred-batsuit possibility except that if it is him, it has to be to trick Hurt into doing something.

    That's a fantastic observation about Alfred seeming to be an addict in Hurt's service. That possibility didn't cross my mind. It definitely seemed odd that Hurt would have let Alfred stand there before the world and say that Hurt was not really Thomas. Realistically, though, Alfred's deadpan instead of something like, "Sir, you've returned!" would have raised some flags with the media who are present.

  40. Bones, I will read these issues simply in the order they come out. There might be a better order to reading them, but that would unfortunately require knowing the contents first!

    The natural reading order for RIP and FC was to read all of RIP before any of FC, but it did no real harm to read them in release order. In fact, rather than giving anything away, it sort of created a mystery where there didn't need to be one (who was "Batman" in FC #1?: Bruce). Well, FC actually did give away that Batman would beat the cloning trap in Last Rites, but that wasn't much of a surprise. Still, it seemed like a snafu.

  41. Readers one and all -- thanks for the great comments. I am excited to keep talking about some of these ideas, which are sending me to the comics to research some more things. There's lots to say before the next issue, but I'll have to break for the day.

  42. Hey Rikdad,
    I've been reading your blog for a while but this is my first post. I'm not as familiar with Batman mythology as most of you guys are, but in terms of it being the Joker in the batsuit at the end of this issue, I was wondering if it was possible that he opened the box.
    There was the cave man Joker in ROBW #1, is it possible that the current Joker is a descendant of the Miagani tribe? I've read some suggestions online that this might be the case. It might explain where the whistle that opened the box came from as it was supposedly only known to descendants of the Miagani.
    It may be a stupid suggestion, as I said I don't know as much about Bats as you and many of your readers seem to, but I thought it might be an interesting idea.

  43. Rikdad,
    Long time reader, first time poster here. I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blog, and your reviews/interpretations of Morrison's run on Batman.
    Your comment section is also very insightful, and definitely adds a cherry to the top of an already well written blog.

    That said, I'm a bit surprised no one's mentioned Prof. Pyg, maskless and acting as Dr. Hurt's lawyer (as mentioned in issue 14), as Simon and Alfred meet at the gates of Wayne Manor.

    Lovely and covered in dirt...

  44. Been re-reading the run in light of what we discovered about Mayhew, Hurt, and the Black Glove. The club of heroes story really comes to life. The Triumph of Death painting was even shown there.

  45. Sorry for the double post, but I was just thinking how ironic it is that Hurt is fascinated with the Triump of Death painting. It's a painting about how death comes for everyone in the end no matter what their status is. Sure, it has a latent anti-religious meaning showing that religion can give no satisfaction at the moment of death/end of the world. But, still ironic for a figure who is defined by his old age and at certain points his quest for immortality to have a fascination with the antithesis of what he stands for.

    Also, the painting has death rining bells to signal the end of it all.

  46. Rikdad, darksideofcomics i just noticed that is what that painting was right before you posted it.pretty cool huh? my only question would be: if that was joker in the batcave at teh end of B&R 14 next to the card, then wouldn't he know who Batman is? it is also too much of a coincidence about leaving the banana peel behind, they focused on it in three panels.