Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Return of Bruce Wayne 6: The Myth

While Bruce Wayne scored his inevitable victory over Darkseid (or rather the plan that the now-absent Darkseid set into motion) in ROBW #6, the ornate narration visited numerous details of Morrison's run and other aspects of Batman and DC mythology along the way. In so doing, it provided final explanations for a few of the lingering mysteries of the run and also made a tremendous number of comments about the character. Because I have already commented on the basic plot of Bruce beating Darkseid's Hyper-Adapter, I will focus here on the many expressive details that came along the way.

When Bruce first arrives at the end of time, thanks to Professor Nichols' time travel machine, the Archivists use the occasion to store his history into their permanent archive of the Universe. Bruce has an exalted role in the history of the universe – his is the last story to be stored and all of the final events in the universe involve him. The Archivists have a flair for the artistic: They create representations of the key items in Batman's mythic story: The pearls his mother wore, the bell he used to summon Alfred on the night he chose to become Batman, the gun and the bullets that took his parents' lives.

While completing their primary purpose for existing, the Archivists go to great lengths to help Bruce. He takes off the burning gangster clothing from ROBW #5 and undergoes a revival, what they refer, biblically, as a Lazarus Transformation. Affirming the essential, mythic characteristics of the situation, and Morrison's love of sigils, they arrange themselves in a "cardinal configuration", like the four points of the compass, as they begin to work with a Bruce who has regained his memory. Bruce describes the situation as familiar, because the urgency of the moment, and being hunted, is how Batman has spent his entire existence. At that comment, the original menace to Bruce, a bullet, is recorded as the absolute last detail to go into the archive of the universe.

Reflecting Morrison's love of science and technology, Bruce cannot help but be curious about the beings, assessing their hairy appearance as a characteristic of what roboticist Hans Moravec calls "bush robots." They, in turn, are fascinated by him, calling him and his appropriation of Nichols' time machine as one of history's great mysteries. They converse of platonic, universal matters while addressing the specifics of Bruce's problem. The timeline of Morrison's larger story, which began with a being dedicated to knowledge appearing before Anthro, ends with Bruce being assisted by these other beings dedicated to knowledge. Exemplifying Bruce's mythic stature, these beings who record the final archive of the universe are "honored" to assist him. They also tell him that this is to be his new beginning, which reminds us that Morrison's next season with Bruce will be something different and tells Bruce that these beings who know the full history of the universe already know that he's going to win this battle.

When the search party arrives, we have the first of many times that a scene or dialogue from a previous issue is repeated, this time from ROBW #2. This cuts sharply to the origin of Batman -- not the shooting, but the scene from his first night fighting crime, based on a scene in Detective #33, revamped by Frank Miller in Batman: Year One, and tweaked by Morrison to give it the characteristics of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven in Batman #682, illustrated like this issue by Lee Garbett. This scene is referenced three times in ROBW #6, highlighting the importance of the bell that Bruce rang in a way that only becomes clear upon the third instance.

At Vanishing Point, Booster Gold's assistant Skeets becomes the voice of wisdom, telling the search party that the trap Bruce created is actually a time sphere, and it carries them from their doom to the battle in which they will be essential. They escape from the timestream only moments before it ends; this is the third of three final significant events in the DC Universe. Let it be noted that Rip Hunter gets the universe's last words: "The big all-over!"

In the present, the Bruce/Hyper-Adapter hybrid easily takes down a group of JLA members which conveniently contains none of the original or Satellite Era members. When his rampage leaves only Tim Drake standing, Tim plays a card that Bruce used to stop the monster of the original Blockbuster story in Detective #345 -- he removes his mask and allows his humanity and familiarity to stop the invincible threat. Bruce, amnesiac, remains hostile, but slows to a creak, chilling the room because of the contact he made with the universe's heat death. His nose bleeding to reflect the internal struggle, Bruce's words turn tender. "I know you. Tim." More meaningful than first names, he later, more poignantly says, "Robin."

It is this measure of control that Tim helped Bruce achieve that leads him to submit when Wonder Woman arrives. In Batman #701-702, Bruce reminds us that while he is a man, these other heroes are themselves mythic and gods. Wonder Woman sees the story in her own terms, calling the Hyper-Adapter a Fury and probably in reference to Pandora, asking if Darkseid opened a box to let that demon out.

Under the power of Diana's lasso, Bruce speaks the truth while we see the words of the Hyper-Adapter struggling to manipulate him, associating the identity of Diana with Martha Wayne by saying "Mother betrayed you! Mother lied! Mother Box lied! Tell her nothing! Tell mother nothing!" Apparently compelled to obey the letter of its command, but not the spirit, Bruce continues to tell Diana everything she asks while triumphantly and hilariously vexing the Hyper-Adapter by punctuating his words with the non sequitur "Nothing." It asked him to tell her nothing. He told her everything and also told her, as it commanded, "Nothing."

As a hint of the Darkseid-Doctor Hurt association which is reinforced later, it continued its rant with lies about Thomas Wayne, much the same as Hurt would have had Bruce believe: "Father hated you! Stay lonely! Stay dead forever father fear!"

With his memory intact, the Hyper-Adapter goes on the attack, with "time" being shown to us, in the form of the Hanged Man tarot card, which symbolizes devotion to a worthy cause and also displays the petrine cross which was so notoriously removed from the cover of B&R #15. We also see the pearls and bullet and the Wayne murders, the eclipsed sun from Bruce's legend-inspiring adventure in ROBW #1, the "HAHAHA" of the Joker, symbols of games -- cards and chess, a bat and the bat-symbol, and a constellation. These tokens of what Batman is are alluded to with single-word speech balloons covering everything from the Wayne murders to the Joker's apophenia-inducing puzzles to a "ka-pow" right out of the Adam West television show.

We know that Batman must win. But he once again out-plans the enemy plan. Batman needs a time sphere for his plan to work and though the Hyper-Adapter disabled one, the search party arrives with a second one. Batman reckons that urban pollution alone is one weapon against the Hyper-Adapter -- for air to pose a danger to an alien threat is as old as The War of The Worlds. But he hits every right note at once with the masterstroke of his plan -- he has brought the monster to fight the strongest members of the Justice League on their home ground. They are empowered not only by who they are but because this moment now is the Age of Superheroes (the importance of the era itself being a thing that Libra acknowledged in Final Crisis) and presenting a theme to be developed more later, the monster must moreover fight his friends.

The superheroes, however, cannot tear the Hyper-Adapter out of Bruce -- he has to do that on his own. But once it is out, it stands no chance. In the grip of Wonder Woman, Superman, and Green Lantern, it is helpless, and they throw it where Bruce instructs them, into the time sphere. As they do, Bruce tells us that it, like the New Gods, is an idea made real. He says of it what Vandal Savage's evil thugs said of him at the end of ROBW #3, that it "never tires, never stops." Becoming the image that has defined Bruce, it becomes a bat, as it begins a trip backwards in time to its own defeat. Along the way, it makes the appearance during which it briefly fought Dick Grayson during B&R #11-12. Compelled by the time sphere, it goes back like the time-traveling bullet from Final Crisis, probably making the stop along the way to encounter 1765's Thomas Wayne as part of this voyage and not as a residue from Bruce's previous visit in 1718. Finally, it arrives in 9,000 B.C. where it is killed by Vandal Savage. Its skin later adorns the site where Savage's tribe binds Bruce to the ground and Bruce wears it in triumph, creating the bat-legend that carries forward in time, ultimately linking back to this story and itself. DC Message Board poster dangerdrventure notes that consuming the flesh of this bat form of the Hyper-Adapter may be the source of immortality for both Doctor Hurt and Vandal Savage. Its death is a part of the same story that it thought it was using to doom Bruce and his world, another dramatic example of the folly of working against Batman.

A powerful fever threatens to kill Bruce in the wake of his possession. As he falls, he puts clues together, telling us that Darkseid had tried to incarnate in Doctor Hurt. Given the evil with which 1765's Thomas Wayne began, this does not meet the requirements of incarnation from Final Crisis #4, "the ruin of a powerful, noble spirit." Maybe because of this, Darkseid was not able to use Hurt as he was Turpin.

The narration switches to pure symbols and flashbacks as a near-death experience with Kirbyesque art shows us a conversation between Bruce and Darkseid in the silent battlefield full of tombstones and broken Ozymandius-style statues where the "war in heaven" that beat the good New Gods before Final Crisis had taken place. Moments after Bruce had expelled one bat-demon, we see a flashback to what was truly Morrison's first Batman issue, the scene in 52 #30 in which the Ten Eyed Men cut away Bruce's demon -- a scene that RetroWarbird notes showed a Barbatos-like demon floating away. Lines from throughout ROBW and Batman #701 appear in fragment and show the rush of the story to this one end. We also see that the man in the wheelchair from ROBW #5 was, as many suspected, an avatar of Metron, who reveals that he has set up the Fifth World and says that Bruce can end this threat to his life, and the threat of Darkseid, by articulating the first truth of Batman. And at that, we see the third flashback to the "bell" scene and realize its true significance -- though Joe Chill's gunshots left Bruce alone, vulnerable to the fear of loneliness, he was never alone. He is staring at a bat, perhaps a stop of the Hyper-Adapter on its path to the past. In Batman #682, it is called a "peculiar, beady-eyed specimen, quite unafraid." It ends with Alfred disposing of it in humiliating fashion, sweeping it up and burning it. But at the moment of Bruce's impending mortality -- as in Return of Bruce Wayne #6, he had salvation awaiting. In that story, Bruce's help came the moment he rang the bell -- it was Alfred, who looms gigantic over this story though he is never shown and is named just once. In this story, it is Tim -- Robin. It is Wonder Woman and Green Lantern. Superman. Batman's friends.

The ringing of the bell in the flashback sends a pattern of sound across the whole world. Batman is a figure far more prone to give his assistance than to need it himself. Tim, his partner, recognizes that the way to revive Bruce is to tell him that Gotham is in danger. This is not just a claim they make for its therapeutic value. It happens to be true -- these events take place during the culmination of Doctor Hurt's attack which played out in Batman and Robin #16. Bruce's thoughts reveal in flashbacks that wrap up the mystery of the casket, that it never held anything of power. It was always a red herring for Doctor Hurt to pursue. Its note reading "Gotcha!" was a second barb aimed at Darkseid and his servants using that word, because Bruce knew that it would eventually be seen by them, as it was when Hurt went on to open it at a moment that is probably just slightly after Bruce rises from the icy bath that cools his fever. He thinks of the evil that is Doctor Hurt, and underscores for us, speaking to a mystery that has spanned two years, exactly what Hurt is: "A pure strain of platonic evil." And that there is still time to stop it. Going alone to join the battle with Dick and Damian, Bruce reminds us that his mission is not done, and will not be until "the night is over." As the Archivists knew, the knight's not over yet.


  1. First! Just wanted to say that, haha. Loved all of this, it's a little sad that the 2 series are over but now we have Batman Inc to debate and theorize about next week.
    johnj1978 DC MSG Boards

  2. Thanks, John! There is still a great deal to say about how all of this may lead in to Batman, Inc., and then when a new series starts... I'm sure there'll be things of great interest.

    To tease my upcoming post on where Morrison's run is pointing, though, note that ROBW #6 makes yet another Morrison Batman story (along with both Batman issues of "52", RIP, Batman #702, Final Crisis #7 and even B&R #16) that end with Bruce unmasked, as Bruce and not as Batman. Coincidence? I think not.

  3. whole morrison run is great and enjoyable but it would be a task to put all of it in correct reading order

  4. First off thanks for all your great analysis, you've been a tremendous help in letting me understand this epic run, keep up the good work.

    What do you think or Morrison writing himself in as Metron?

  5. my first comment on your blog! great job rikdad, thanks for making these comics even more interesting.

    i agree with R, massive task. what do you think the reading order for the entire grant morrison's run should be?

  6. Hi, Rik. Some thoughts to complement your own:

    "Darkseid is trying to incarnate in Hurt"
    This reminds me of Sublime on New X-Men, where its methods of contamination were both physical and memetic; this time, the Hyper Adapter is the physical method, whereas Darkseid itself, as the idea of a god, is the memetic one. The problem is the phsyical incarnation of Darkseid in a human avatar demands the "total and utter ruin of a noble spirit", something Hurt was definitely not. Maybe that's the goal Hurt is trying to achieve during R.I.P., trying to ruin Bruce Wayne in order to pave way for Darkseid, even if Hurt himself isn't aware of it, just like Magneto, Quentin Quire or Henry McCoy weren't aware of Sublime's presence on NXM.

    Darkseid may be "dead" now, but he can be thought back to life, can be believed back to life, not that difficult a task in a society obssessed over negativity and gullible enough to believe in myths and ethereal dogma like god or "the devil". A similar theme was also used by JM Straczynski on Thor, with the asgardian gods being believed back into existence, even after Ragnarok (and god forbid I'm comparing JMS to Morrison).

    "(Hurt is) a pure strain of platonic evil"
    Essentially, "the devil". And that's quite probably what atracted the Hyper-Adapter on his way through time (was he travelling backwards, forward? or all scenes happen at once since "all time is now", a common theme through Morrison's body of work?). Plus, being both a Wayne patriarch (who all share a remarkable resemblance) and the ultimate evil man, he's the dark twin to Bruce's ultimate noble spirit (he resisted what Dan Turpin couldn't; Darkseid himself says, in Final Crisis, about Batman "he would have resisted longer than I wished").

  7. Rikdad. Thank you for that second post, which put the whole run into context. I have said this before but I will say it again, there is one drawback of Morrison's run, I can't read anything else and really enjoy it, because this has been so tremendously good.

    He has redefined the Batman myth as he promised and really has had the whole story planned out from the beginning (e.g. 52!)

    First, with this story Batman becomes a myth, a legend, an idea, as much as the New Gods. The idea of the bat/batman. Encapsulated in the dialogue. "Everything they touch, becomes myth". Fabulously well done.

    Second there is al hint of Prometheus. You said "The timeline of Morrison's larger story, which began with a being dedicated to knowledge appearing before Anthro, ends with Bruce being assisted by these other beings dedicated to knowledge. " Prometheus gave humans the fire of knowledge and humans became dedicated to the
    pursuit of it. I think something similar is happening here, with the pursuit and defeat of evil or evil ideas.

    There is a lot of mingling of other philosophical ideas of our time (Eco and the semiologists) that ideas, concepts become real when you name them, but I won't comment on that further.

    I did want to bring up something else that I found interesting regarding the hyper-adapter, the hole in things and the idea of evil. It has been said and Morrison has echoed it, that when we are confronted with the unexplained and perhaps unexplainable we give it form as a monster. So in the distant past, we might have called them dragons, today we might call them UFO's. I think the hyper-adapter is a comic book manifestation of that. Morrison has run with that idea and merged the manifestations we give to the unexplainable with also making evil the unexplainable, the hole in things. I find that fascinating.

    Continued in second comment…

  8. Finally, I was wrong about many symbols and patterns (the pearls, etc.). The symbolism of Orion was only meant to signify the hunter and the hunter-killer curse associated with having touched New Gods. But I think there is something in those symbols and Morrison's
    magick roots that I think pertains to ink. Hidden away in all the stories are symbols and ciphers pointing to all the secret societies of the past. Some were dedicated to good and others to evil. I think with Batman Inc that Morrison will explore this concept. The satanic cult of Hurt and others, which will always exist, trying to do evil in the world (i.e. Hurt is not finished) and a Batman secret society determined to battle it. He has dropped enough hints with paintings, quotes of Yeats, etc. to point in that direction. Only as a general framework of cours, not in detail. He is not recreating the Knights templar (perhaps Hurt was with his 99 fiends.. or at least the false evil motives ascribed to them), or theosophic society, but I think as a general framework that's how I am reading the overall story direction.

    And rikdad I think you are absolutely right that the unmasking is no coincidence. He is saying that Bruce-Batman will be more effective as Bruce the man than as Batman alone. He has also laid to rest the notion that he is still driven by the death of his parents alone or that he doesn't work well with others. All the idiotic (imho) directions of the last 20 years. And now we go back to run of the mill writers....who will probably undo this amazing tapestry.

    I read that in DCMB that you are very fond of Spanish and Italian and your work will be appearing in those versions of the Black Glove. Just wanted to ask why, if you don't mind sharing. Those are my native languages.

    Thanks for the ride, it would not have been the same without you. I must focus on work, so I won't be able to participate even sporadically anymore, but I have had a fantastic time reading Morrison and your blog over the last few years.

  9. Mario Freitas, I think your post helped me wrap my mind around the Hurt-Darkseid relationship a bit. And Rikdad, your entire body of blog work has been essential to me comprehending the details of Morrison's Batman run.

    So let me see if I understand things here. Bruce says that Darkseid wanted to incarnate in Dr. Hurt (Thomas Wayne). He was unable to because Hurt's spirit was not noble enough. So instead he sets out to incarnate in one of Thomas Wayne's descendants, Bruce Wayne, a man of much nobler spirit.

    The Hyper-Adapter bonds with Dr. Hurt, who then tried to break Batman's spirit in order to pave the way for Darkseid's return. Is this caused by Darkseid in preparation for his attack on Bruce, or is this caused by Bruce sending the Hyper-Adapter (in the form of Barbatos) into the past?

    I like to consider myself a pretty intelligent guy, but this story has spanned so many years and titles, and time in the story bounces back and forth between present, beginning of knowledge, end of the universe, colonial period...Sometimes it's difficult to keep up with exactly what's going on and what caused it to happen.

    Thanks again Rikdad for the great work, and thanks to the other posters whose comments add a great deal.

  10. Really interesting stuff. This was one of those issues I needed to read more than once to really "get."

    I find it interesting that the Hyper-Adapter possesses both Old Thomas Wayne and Bruce Wayne, one of whom succumbs to it while the other manages to cast it out. Which further makes Dr. Hurt seem like Bruce's "dark twin."

  11. My head is spinning truly! Both your posts have helped a lot in clarifying what exactly is going on in ROBW 6, but a ton of questions still linger.

    Q1] Is the Hyper Adapter travelling both forward as well as backwards in time, simultaneously?

    If so, Is the Forward Path something like:

    1640: Annie/Mordecai/First sighting of Hyperfauna
    1718: Jack Valor/No actual appearance of the hyper adapter. But I'm assuming its still stalking Bruce?
    18something: Jonah Hex/First appearance of OTW/Savage sees the cowboy Bruce as a giant bat
    1980: Wayne Manor/Marsha Lamar/Hurt/Nichols
    End Of Time
    2010: JLA headquarters

    And the Backward path something like:
    2010: Dick's encounter with the Giant Bat underground
    199?: Bruce's first night out as a vigilante. The bat on his father's statue
    1980: Wayne Manor/Marsha Lamar/Hurt/Nichols, at the end of the ceremony when Bruce and Barbatos seem to merge. I am wondering if this is the moment when the Hyper Adapter crosses itself in time??
    1765: Thomas Wayne Ceremony
    Prehistoric times: Vandal Savage of the blood mob spikes it (and probably gains immortality in the process?)

    Q2] Is it of any significance that the Hyper Adapter abbreviated spells H.A.???

  12. An observation:

    When Bruce lands up in 1640 & battles the hyperfauna for the first time, he loses consciousness. He wakes up in a dark panel with Annie muttering some incantation, one of which is:

    He then opens his eyes and sees Annie & the wonder woman/superman logo necklace hanging on a tree branch

    In the JLA HQ, when wonder woman asks Bruce, "Did Darkseid release something...from any kind of box?" Bruce thinks: Ancestor Box, Hyper Adapter

    And then there's a close-up of that same necklace hanging on the tree branch & the incantation

  13. so that explains the "gotcha" but what about the bat-tracer thing in the box?

  14. Lastly,

    Q] About the casket content & event chronology in the light of ROBW#6:

    The first time Jack Valor sees the casket, it is at the "Wealthy brother and sister's" house in Gotham town. These are members of the Van Derm Family. Jack sees an old book (Bruce's journal as entrusted to the artist Van Derm in
    ROBW #2) plus "something more" he can't speak of. They put Jacks papers (The "Gotcha" Note?)in the box solemnly. In ROBW#6, a reverse angle of the same scene is shown. In the panels *before* this, there is a scene in the cave with Jack and the Miagani, where he puts the bat tracer in the box, the Miagani whistle & shut the lid. Since Jack encountered the box at the Van Derms' house, how did the box come to the cave?? Did he carry it back from the Van Derm's to the cave? If so, how did the box end up with the Van Derm family again as shown in ROBW#4? And what was that thing in the box that Jack couldn't speak of (It can't be the bat tracer or the note, since he himself put them there, the only other content we know of to be in the box is Bruce's journal)? Is there some mysterious content of the box that none of the issues have mentioned thus far (or ever will again)??

    Thanks for listening!

  15. I love it. I really can't wait for when I get the chance to sit down for a day and re-read the entire run for the past few years. I think I am going to read Batman 701 and 702 right after RIP, and put Last Rites in the middle of issue 702. I think I will then read ROBW after B+R vol.2- That might be the best way to do it all, even though knowing the outcome of ROBW#6 kind of takes some of the drama and suspense away from Batman and Robin Must Die.

    Anyway, I have been thinking about this whole story, chewing over all the meanings in my head since I read #6 yesterday. This blog has been invaluable to me. I still am curious about the nature of the Hyper-Adapter and what it was doing.

  16. Darkseid's revenge was definitely an attempt to "try, try again", and incarnate within Bruce Wayne. In fact, Tom Wayne is the perfect weapon - look how many "possible" candidates he went through for a Darkseid host-body (or as practice for doing it to Bruce). Emptying Flamingo's mind. Exposing Pyg to 5-dimensions. The Three Batmen (Reminiscent of the "Clone Batman Army").

    So not being able to occupy Hurt, Hurt still remains the primary weapon for moving on to Candidate B - Bruce.

    It's fairly probably that the Hyper-Adapter is multi-functional, not just being the "Anti-Bruce" device - its ability to "possess" Hurt (and Bruce) indicates it is meant to bore out a hole in their soul-space for Darkseid to go and live within. You can't just move in ... you have to hollow out a Cave for yourself.

    Anyway, it seems clear enough that Darkseid's Revenge consisted of an adapting plan, and that while Hurt was never Darkseid, he was a candidate, and that's consistent with his being the Adapter-Incarnate, still providing Darkseid with a means of going after Bruce's body. Better a tool in the hand than a tool thrown away.

    Anyway, the best thing about the Hyper-Adapter's fate is that Bruce up-ended its own myth on itself. By sending it back in time to be slaughtered by Vandal Savage (Himself the recipient of ... well, SOME sort of cosmic voodoo + Red Rage of Cain) it starts a new myth. The Second Myth of Barbatos is one of humiliating defeat at the hands of the DCU's worst villains. Vandal Savage ... Joker ... who's next in line to humiliate Darkseid's shade? Ra's al Ghul? Luthor? Deathstroke?

  17. Another example of humiliation - as the beady-eyed bat inspiration, it was killed and swept up by Alfred.

    Rikdad, the Ten-Eyed Man thing is in such perfect context now that we know that all those "years of Batman getting worse" leading up toward his pulling a gun on Alexander Luthor during Infinite Crisis were literally examples of his noble spirit being corrupted. ("My soul feels black and I feel sick.")

    His exorcism was real - Barbatos had wriggled its way, just a little bit, into his mind - the psychic attack. But once he exorcised it, apparently it made its way back to Hurt.

    Hurt's "hole" of a soul, for the record, does not require that Barbatos occupy his mind 100% of the time. In fact, his disappearances, split personality/dissociative disorder and penitent overtones could indicate that the Hyper-Adapter came and went. Why else would he continue to seek out immortality? Because it had left him and was wearing off, perhaps.

    But after its first failed attempt(s) to ruin Bruce's spirit and hollow out his mind (The "hole" Bruce encountered in his meditation was probably the initial burrow-mark where the thing tried to worm its way in - his exorcism might've driven out the demon, but it was probably Thogal that let him "plug the hole") it returned to Hurt like a home-base. Cue The Black Glove plot. Cue R.I.P. Cue Darkseid's memory wipe forcing Bruce to survive-survive in a way that would force him to once more lose his noble spirit and blow a hole in time that he could step through into Bruce Wayne's omega-dosed body.

    It's a hell of a plan. But to paraphrase a different kind of Batman ... "The Apokolips is CANCELED. Until I say so."

  18. Some thoughts -

    I think we have good reason to conclude that the hyper-adapter only made the two stops in its movement back to 10,000 BC. We see the time bubble shattering around it during its attack on Dick, and we even see some shards when it emerges in the stone age to attack Vandal Savage. We don't see this effect in any other panel to my knowledge.

    Not sure that I even like the idea on narrative grounds that it also visits Thomas Wayne during that trip backwards through time. On its backward journey, the adapter has already been defeated, its hand already played. It takes its final futile shape as a large bat for much the same reason that Bruce took the mantle of the bat - it needed to adapt and become something fearful, and for the hyper-adapter at that point, bats were clearly not something be trifled with. It's an admission that Bruce had already won.

    Further, if the most notable thing the hyper-adapter managed to accomplish was AFTER its defeat by Bruce and the JLA, what exactly had it been doing all those centuries? It showed up once as a Cthulhoid monster and then...laid low until making a big show at the end of time and in 2010? A pre-robw6 empowerment of Thomas at least gives it something to be proud of.

  19. Rikdad, thank you for your thoughtful analysis every week. As someone who has only just recently picked up comics a lot of the story elements just really go over my head. Coming here puts everything into perspective. I look forward to all the great analysis that will surely come with Batman Inc and co. =)

  20. Although with more reflection, the whole "Crashing through the window" bit provides pretty good cover for the shards of glass effect, and it does make a point to show the bat in Bruce's study as having red eyes. I'm pretty open now to a 3rd stop for the backwards-traveling hyper-adapter. Any ideas why the bat would have attacked Dick, attacked Vandal, but not attacked Bruce in that moment?

    And I'd like to second Dispatch's points re: the casket. Valor writes of the Van Derms as having the box already, and the language doesn't indicate that he's familiar with it from years earlier - but the panels in ROBW #6 show him placing the tracer in it there in the Miagani's cave (and then later returning as an old man to place the Gotcha note inside???) If the box hadn't been drawn in those 2 panels in the cave, the easiest explanation would be that the Van Derms built and guarded the casket, but now we know that it spent at least some time also with the relic in the cave, and that someone who looks a lot like Jack Valor had been doing things with it as a young man. All very strange - and that doesn't even get into what could have possibly freaked out the older Valor (or looked so much like an empty grave to Alan Wayne), except that the spooky thing may have been under the note, and obscured to us in the panel from ROBW #6.

    Also unanswered is where and when the Van Derms became associated with the Miagani. We're shown the eventual fusion of the Van Derm\Miagani line with the Waynes, but it's left tantalizingly unstated when the Flemish painters family fell in with the native Bat-People..

  21. Warren, there was broken glass during Year One, when it smashed through the window and apparently Darkseid "spotted" Batman.

    But while I haven't had time to go back yet and really figure out its timeline ... I agree that it's reverse-exile and death fits with the "One timeline, forward-then-back" format, possibly without the need for a "two timeline runs" scenario. In the "two run", the thing technically still exists buried alive with Hurt and isn't "dead", and it survives to find Bruce once more at the End of Time having been freed from its grave somehow only to be trapped in a causality loop by a clever Batman.

    In the "one timeline, forward-then-back" scenario, Bruce simply sets it on "rewind" and sends it back where it's slaughtered by Savage, inspiring the myth that creates Batman, rather than the myth that revives Darkseid.

    Causality loop vs. cosmic irony. I guess the irony version is more apropos.

    It bears further examination, I have yet to re-read ROBW#6 in context with other issues and really hunt for clues.

    It does make one wonder just what parts of the Crime Bible prophecy what, and where it overlaps. The Apokoliptian prophecies (preached by Libra or Coal or Mannheim under Morrison and Rucka) seem to have plenty of overlap with the more Biblical/Classical stuff spearheaded by Greg Rucka in The Question/Revelations/Spectre areas.

    Cain of the Red Rage, Vandal Savage ... as the weapon that destroys the shade of Darkseid, Barbatos ... and Joker as chaos taking down Hurt? Whose cult is the right cult?

  22. Speaking of cults, Warren, while it's left unclear when the Van Derms came into association with the Miagani (Surely it seems AFTER Annie's hanging and Martin's inheritance of Bruce-Mordecai's book), one has to connect the Miagani back to their original origins - "Batman: The Cult" and Deacon Blackfire. What year was his flashback supposed to take place in?

  23. Rikdad, I think the casket wasn't just a red herring. Bruce was suffering from amnesia and there were only a few things he remembered from before Darkseid zapped him. The box was filled with things to remind himself of who he was, in case he forgot again during the Omega Sanction. It was a mnemonic device.

    Look at the first page of ROBW #3, we see a couple of things there: Bruce is telling himself to "remember", and then we see Darkseid's face, Bruce saying "Gotcha!" and we see Bruce of course, with the bat symbol on his chest. So bat symbol = batarang. I think he puts the note and the batarang in the box to remind himself of what's going on, so that he doesn't forget again. "I am Batman, I killed Darkseid and then I was sent here."

    It just so happens that Hurt started to suspect that the box had special powers because of how the Miagani revered it...

  24. Three thoughts

    1) Given that the Barbatos Hurt met seemed calm, and not panicked, I'm assuming it was on the forward journey. As an aside, you can almost hear the God voice speaking behind Hurt in B&R 16.:)

    2) The box is still an issue. We know Hurt wanted it before possession by Barbatos due to the Miagani revering it, so that's cool. But why did it freak out everyone who saw it? Did it have to do w/ Bruce's things leaving behind trace Omega radiation that was affecting people who opened it? That's my only idea.

    3) Did you notice that after Bruce wore the giant bat/hyper adapter in RoBW 1, he jumps forward in time and the giant bat carcass is gone and all of a sudden the giant Cthulu-esque monster is present. It didn't come earlier than Bruce, as Annie said he "rode in on it". So, my question is, did the jump forward in time revive the HA? It seems possible, because we have no idea how it functions/dies/etc. That's be an interesting time loop. Seems too weird...

    Oh, and poor Annie. She barely got a mention :(

  25. That's an interesting thought, Aiden, I like the idea of him "riding in on it" in ROBW#2. He was wearing it and then it transformed into it's original form.

    This book is going to be picked over for a while now. There are just to many layers here, its like an onion. I am going to relish getting all my trades and issues together and re-reading it all from scratch

  26. I imagine the Hyper-Adapter, as a 5th Dimensional construct, doesn't necessary exist in any specific "time". It's perfectly logical to think that the Bat-Beast cloak transformed into the Time-Squid with Bruce's quantum leap, and maybe that it "adapted" each time Bruce jumped. Existing during all times, since it's an idea rather than a linear being, it's still affected in reverse by Bruce's plan to rebound it and kill it back at the beginning.

  27. I hate to set the conversation back with this question, but what exactly were the other two big DCU events?

  28. You mean at the End of Time? Or in general?

    At the End of Time, the Ultimate events (meaning "final") are:

    1. Bruce arrives thanks to Nichols Engine. Is given the ultimate form of Lazarus. Disguises himself.
    2. Superman & Rip Hunter arrive. Have their Sphere stolen by Bruce.
    3. Superman & Co. escape into rebooted timeline in newly made Time Sphere.

    1, 2, 3.

  29. Great annotations.

    @Mário Freitas:

    >Darkseid may be "dead" now, but he can be
    >thought back to life, can be believed back to
    >life, not that difficult a task in a society
    >obssessed over negativity and gullible enough
    >to believe in myths and ethereal dogma like
    >god or "the devil". A similar theme was also
    >used by JM Straczynski on Thor, with the
    >asgardian gods being believed back into
    >existence, even after Ragnarok (and god
    >forbid I'm comparing JMS to Morrison).

    Uh, society's feelings don't reincarnate the New Gods. In Final Crisis Darkseid used technology to make people feel pessimistic, but societal beliefs didn't have anything to do with Darkseid's reincarnation. Besides that, Morrison himself believes in a lot of ideas you probably think are naive and stupid. Look at the letter column in the last issue of The Invisibles: Morrison says that the Devil is real. You should really leave your own mean-spirited beliefs at the door before trying to analyze something like this. Even though I have a feeling that I'd actually AGREE with you politically, what you're suggesting isn't even true: people across the globe have been steadily weening themselves off of religion for centuries now. And if you think "negativity" would have anything to do with Darkseid's reincarnation, I think the increasing use of anti-depressant drugs would disprove you on that point. Based on your criteria, despite a recession, 2010 would be one of the LEAST likely times in history for Darkseid to reincarnate. If your criteria had any merit, Darkseid could have been King of Earth during the Dark Ages and the first half of the 20th century, but that suggestion has never been made.

    >"(Hurt is) a pure strain of platonic evil"
    >Essentially, "the devil".

    Uh, no. He's a strain of platonic evil only after he's been touched and endowed with power by Darkseid (via the Adapter/Barbatos). In the RIP Missing Chapter we read that DARKSEID IS this "platonic" evil. (Besides, I thought you didn't even believe in the devil!) The logic of what you're suggesting goes right back to the old "Does Darkseid = the Devil?" argument, which is very hypothetical and never-ending. Rikdad has basically conceded this point: Hurt isn't "the Devil" in any cohesive way. Someone could even argue that, even if there is a Devil, there could be other forms of "pure evil" besides Satan (child molesters, Hitler, Stalin, Mammon, dark gods such as Darkseid). And in fact, in the Missing Chapter we already did learn that Darkseid (not any "Devil") was this platonic evil.

    >And that's quite probably what atracted the
    >Hyper-Adapter on his way through time

    No, again. He was attracted by the men summoning a demon (much as Bruce was attracted to summons for help). There's nothing to suggest that Hurt was some kind of "magnet" or that he was PURE "platonic evil" before the platonic evil of Darkseid's influence entered into him (when he bit the bat). Maybe Barbatos was attracted to the Satanic ritual by "fate" or whatever, but you can't say that Barbatos is attracted to evil men, because he appeared to Dick Grayson...and perhaps to Bruce as well (IF the bat that flew through Bruce's window before he rang the bell was an avatar of Barbatos).

    Oh! Last point on that: Don't know if it's been mentioned, but when that bat flew through the window, right when Bruce made up his mind to become Batman, it made shards of glass on the floor. And when the Zombie Batman in "Blackest Knight" talked about being born in the cloning tank, it talked about broken glass at its birth as well.

  30. Gannon, is Metron Morrison? I think what Metron says is near enough what his character in the story should say to think of him as a character. The Time Tailors in Seven Soldiers are avatars of Morrison. Do you mean like that?

  31. pablo, thanks. The whole reading order? One way to do it:

    Morrison's Batman run in publication order through the end of RIP
    Final Crisis #1-4
    Last Rites
    Final Crisis #5-7
    B&R #1-9
    ROBW #1-5
    B&R #10-14
    ROBW #6
    B&R #15-16

    How about that?

  32. At some point between 1718 and Valor's late journey to the Van Derms, someone visits the Bat cave of the Miagani. The problem here is that the art draws the person looking a bit like Valor, which is causing some confusion. I don't think it's Valor -- I think it's a Van Derm. Valor was never allowed to pass to the part of the Miagani Bat-cave containing the cowl, but a caretaker of Bruce's legacy would. In fact, the cave is probably described in Mordecai's journal from his visit there with Annie, giving the Van Derms incentive to investigate Wayne's origin. The hair cut of the figure, straight and parted down the middle, is also evocative of the two Van Derms we have seen up to RoBW #3. This is how the Van Derms and the Miagani become connected. In these panels, White Fawn's necklace is around the neck of one of the female Miaganis. By RoBW #4, circa 1880s, it is already in the hands of Catherine Van Derm.

  33. I am not sure if FC is necessary to re-read as part of Morrison's run anymore, now that Batman 701, 702 have come out. I love FC, and by all means read it, but I think RIP missing chapter fills in the holes so to speak.
    I am thinking my re-read might go like this
    Black Casebook, the scene from Year One, Dark Knight/Dark City, 52 #30, then Morrison's Batman, RIP Missing Chapter / Last Rites, Batman and Robin Vol.1 and 2, ROBW 1-5, Batman and Robin Must Die, ROBW 6, Black Mass

  34. Qabiri, that seems to work for me. The figure in the 'flashback' panels has a pretty plausible resemblance to Martin Van Derm, taking into account the rather unique art styles involved. Good catch on the pearl necklace too.

    Retro, I recently picked up the trade for The Cult but I haven't read it yet. How much background is there on the Miagani?

  35. Warren, The Cult portrays the Miagani fairly briefly and without much in common with Morrison's take on them.

    Morrison mistakenly said that he took from from Legends of The Dark Knight. He may have had in mind the two Native American tribes who have bat legends who are mentioned in "Shaman", LOTDK #1-5. Those two tribes are actually quite different from one another, and neither is located anywhere near Gotham. It feels like Morrison took the "bat" legends from those and mixed them with the Miagani name.

  36. Rikdad, that's kind of what I'd guessed. Morrison has borrowed lots of ideas and themes from all over the place, but very little has had a lot of specific plot relevance moving forward.

    It's almost like he's doing free-association with Batman history.

  37. thanks rikdad, i think that pretty much does the trick.

  38. Great comments as usual, Rikdad. Much appreciated.

    One thing on the Adapter's stop-off in the Secret Batcave on its way back through time: a broken version of the Miagani whistle-key to the Casket plays there, coming from an unidentified source. I'm assuming that's how Dick was able to find the casket when Hurt couldn't: the whistle unlocked whatever was hiding the box. But does anybody have any theories on what was making the sound?

    Here's mine: it was the adapter itself, making some kind of bat-noise that the Miagani copied. Which makes its entire existence even more pathetic than it already is: the key to unlocking everything that Hurt thought he wanted originated with the thing that empowered him to begin with.

    I also like the dark side of The First Truth of Batman: he's never been alone, not just because he had Alfred and all the various helpers and friends he's made since, but because he also had the Adapter with him from the moment he decided to "become a bat." Darkseid, the Adapter, the Devil, Hurt: they all represent the darkness inside Bruce Wayne, the classical evil that he turns toward the good as Batman. It's what the Ten-Eyed Brotherhood cut out of him, and now he's embraced it all over again. But the Thogal's made him stronger, and this time he swallows it whole.

  39. In the scene where Bruce gets his memory back and sees all the little pictures, there is also a tiny panel where they show the three stars in Orion's belt. That definitely ties the whole Orion incarnation subplot in for me as well, maybe Orion was fighting Darkseid for Bruce's soul the whole time...

  40. Bruce beating Darkseid is easily as much of a possible "Orion's Revenge" scenario as the Clone Decoy/Hyper-Adapter/Hurt/Reincarnation "Darkseid's Revenge" plot is for Darkseid.

    After all ... Bruce knew Orion in life ... was an ally. And Bruce was the last person with Orion's body as he sublimated back to The Source. While not as much literal tampering probably happened, Orion's "blessings" could certainly be a peripheral factor in Bruce's ascension.

  41. Lastly ... it's certainly not coincidence that Bruce comes full circle, and the two people with him for both Thogal (Death Rehearsal) and First Truth (Clinical Death) experiences are Tim Drake and Wonder Woman.

  42. Rikdad -- when Bruce rings the bell that last time and the immediate next panel shows vibrations rippling across all of Earth with splashes of Kirby Dots around the planet, do you see that as, much like Superman killing off the final vestiges of Darkseid's corporeal form in FC, Batman fully and completely ending any semblance of Darkseid in the DC Universe (for now) and the final and total end of the Fourth World? Almost a bookend to FC. That's how I saw it at least. It's friggin tough to get rid of Darkseid for good!

  43. Big week this week for Batman (wow, three morrison issues in a row! 4 if you count The Return).
    I am looking forward to wednesday, i imagine i should read The Return and then Inc right?

  44. These notes are phenomenally good. I think I need to devote a whole weekend to puzzling everything out with their help!

  45. Not long after rereading the RoBW and these annotations I watched the DKR animated movie. That monstrous bat took on a whole new meaning.