Wednesday, November 10, 2010
What happens? Through a narrative that is tangled in time, story lines, different titles, and themes, with characters who are moving forward, backward, and sideways in time, the myth of Batman is rebuilt from the beginning to its absolute end. One very particular adventure concludes: The Hyper-Adapter that Darkseid set loose must be beaten. This, of course, happens. In that respect, the story is very simple. What it says along the way is incredibly complex. I would not want to count the panels, including tiny insets, in this issue, but I suspect that the total number is several times that of an ordinary comic.
How does the final encounter between Bruce and the Hyper-Adapter play out? The Archivists who inhabit Vanishing Point automatically snare it for him, in a trap that will last a while, but not long enough to doom it at the very end. Bruce must escape it, and because his mind is what attracts it, he asks the Archivists to wipe his memory once more. He also asks them to build a time sphere that his friends can use to escape from the universe's heat death while he borrows theirs. And so he jumps, amnesiac, to the Hall of Justice.
The Hyper-Adapter, as clever as it is ugly, has bonded with him, and so it is the Archivist suit that Bruce wears upon his arrival. Satan, as Bruce says in ROBW #2, is hairy; it is not merely a disguise he is wearing: Bruce is essentially possessed, still as dangerous as ever, taking down the JLA while they try to stop him. The Hyper-Adapter directs Bruce to do its ill bidding until Tim Drake talks the half of Bruce that is still himself into slowing down his attack. Bruce allows Wonder Woman to lasso the composite pair and let them both speak their truths. At that point the Hyper-Adapter becomes its full self, still bonded to Bruce, threatening his life and all of time. And at that, Bruce's plan is itself revealed. He knows that he is not a god and cannot face true evil on a mythic scale, but that he is not and never has been alone. He cannot beat the Hyper-Adapter, only purge it from himself. And then his friends take over. In the time of superheroes, the JLA is unbeatable: Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Superman can beat the Hyper-Adapter, and by bringing it to the JLA, Batman has made it just another monster for them to beat. It has destroyed Nichols' time machine so that Batman cannot banish it, but as always, he is a step ahead. As soon as the time sphere brings the rescue party into the fight, the three big guns of the JLA wrestle the Hyper-Adapter inside, and it is taken into the past, in the form of a giant bat, where it is turned into an element of its own story: Vandal Savage kills it, where it inspires the bat legend that Bruce's adventure in ROBW #1 created for the Miagani.
This leaves Bruce barely alive, a medical threat which is resolved with ice water and by telling him that Gotham is in peril and needs him. That sounds like a necessary lie that Tim Drake thinks of, but it happens to be true: Bruce, having returned safely to his own time with his health, mind, and life intact, leaves to go help Dick and Damian beat Doctor Hurt, which we already saw take place.
On the simplest level, that is how Batman escapes from the trap that Darkseid created for him in Final Crisis #6: With his brains, his ability to survive, and a little help from his friends.
The larger part of the narration, though, embeds inside the plot the resolution of numerous plot points from Morrison's entire bat-saga, along with a sort of essay about Batman and the most endless Batman story of them all. That will be the subject of a second post, appearing here later today.