Wednesday, June 23, 2010


One of the nice side-effects of Grant exploring Gotham City before it was Gotham City is that he gets to name some things. The Palisades, the hilly region north of Gotham where all the mansions are, where under the Wayne Estate the massive Bat-Cave stretches a vast expanse that opens up in secret coves and places along the coastline and under the hills ... naturally borders on some water. And that water, due east of Gotham's luxurious Palisades, is Bristol Bay. Which we've seen mentioned last issue. A fun aside that I probably mentioned then? Annie, the witch, was from Bristol in England. And so, allegedly, was Blackbeard the pirate, whose ship is the Queen Anne's Revenge.

This time around, like Spock and Bones before him, Batman is going to remember, damn it. Clearly after two issues of amnesia the over-arcing story requires Batman starts assembling these clues.

I wonder if Dan Turpin is pissed that the Batman shot him.

Scene 1
So here is Bruce Wayne, washed ashore and at the mercy of Blackbeard the Pirate, who also has a young man captive, and they watch the Black Pirate's ship, the Black Rose (Really? I mean really? Black Rose?) burn. And ol' Thatch thinks Bruce is the Black Pirate.

The year is 1734. A full 30 years prior to when I expected this issue to take place (Our suspect, the Satanist Thomas Wayne, having been Satanizing around 1760, and vanishing prior to our young Darrius becoming a war hero in 1777).

Morrison wisely doesn't really let us know whether this is actually Vandal Savage or not. Perhaps he just missed that snippet of Wiki fact, or would rather Blackbeard be his own man, or just likes leaving it mysterious.

Bruce remembers Annie giving him Mordecai's clothes - something he DIDN'T remember at the time, on account of love potions and lies.

Yet again, Bruce has been summoned. Anthro tried to summon Metron and got Bruce. Annie tried for "a New God" of some sort and got Bruce. Later we'll learn that Jack Valor prayed for aid from his grandfather, Jon Valor, the first Black Pirate, and got Bruce. Wonder who summoned him to 1860.

"Then says I let him join us on our journey to the Underworld". Those tallying keywords, ding-ding-ding, there's Underworld used once more for the Bat-Cave.

Those expecting young 15 year old Jack Valor here to be Batman's "Robin" of this time period, it's neatly subverted - rather, this is more a classic super-hero team-up. All those times where Superman dressed as Batman so that Bruce Wayne could be seen in the same place - same sort of idea. A bit of super role reversal to throw off the villains.

This issue is HEAVY on the Miagani Tribe, who we finally meet.

Blackbeard comically having the totem skull of the Miagani "smoke his pipe" is reminiscent of Joker hot-boxing Dick Grayson back in the "60's" chapter of Batman # 700. Our young Jack Valor is quite a cool guy, giving us the scoop on the history of the Miagani once more, how ancient they claim to be, and where and why they've hidden.

The Indian traps are ingenious, and very much Indiana Jones in fashion. Jack Valor's friends the Miagani are quite cunning and clever - inspired, no doubt, thousands of years ago by the Man of Bats' utility belt. Were they here, hiding, watching Batman fight the time-squid kraken last issue?

Hanging upside down like bats, matches well the statue of their totem, Man of Bats. So the demonic statue wasn't Barbatos at all! The Breath of the Bat - a great natural defense, and one that Batman probably still uses to this day. The angled stones made to click and spark when they strike are an ingenious defense in the methane tunnel.

Scene 2: Bludhaven
Batman and Robin at ground zero in HAZ-BAT suits. Priceless. Dick found the "relic" last issue - the cloak of Batman from 10,000 years ago, left behind in the cave where Anthro died and then worshiped by the Bat People/Miagani afterward for years. The cloak he wore during Final Crisis, with the needle punctures in the cowl. With no Batman or Superman around, Wonder Woman leads the charge, since she's a natural leader and member of the trinity - and so here she finally turns up to validate her "WW" symbol being one that Bruce used.

Continuity alert: Hal Jordan appears here, but wasn't he with "Superman and the others"? Christ, DC Comics editors ... Christ. At the least they could've used one of the other thousand Green Lanterns. John Stewart would have been the right choice, since he was a big part of Final Crisis. It's kind of easy to see how the error could happen - Paquette may not have known Hal was involved with the Time Masters last issue. Or the description might have just been a quick list of "Who is in Robinson's JLA team" or something. Or maybe just a list of concerned heroes with "Green Lantern" written and not specified which bloody Green Lantern they meant. Everybody ... pretend that's John Stewart.

Nice to see Tim Drake get some respect, Wonder Woman turns the investigation over to him, and here stands our young lad, still fresh off being the Teen Wonder and not even 18 quite yet, standing toe-to-toe with Black Canary, Flash, Congorilla, Guardian, and more.

Morrison finally gives the Tim Drake fans what they want - an explanation for why Tim found Bat-Symbols in caves in Europe - the Siberian land bridge, of course. The Miagani spread the word of their shining gods and Man of Bats. Fuel for the "Batman inspired the legends of the Devil" fire.

Robin mentions something on all of OUR minds as well, since Batman and Robin # 13 was delayed a couple weeks - "Don't we need to get back to the Joker?" Yes, yes we fucking do. Robin also connects the dots with what the Batman Black Knight clone said about being born from a broken jar. He's getting better at this detective stuff, and he and Grayson now have a play-by-play of exactly what happened during Final Crisis. I'm curious as all get where the present cast fit in the timeline, since B&R#12 ended with a cliffhanger, but Morrison rarely worries about that sort of thing. I'm sure we'll see space where this stuff fits, or maybe it even happens "After" Batman Must Die ends and of course before B&R#16.

Scene 3
Shit. My timeline is wrong. Bruce Wayne determines that the year is 1718 (Should've been obvious, the year Blackbeard died, historically - all this thought of him potentially being Vandal Savage has me turned around). So Black Pirate must be writing his journal as an older man in 1734. So the Waynes he meets would be the PARENTS of Thomas Wayne, and the girl that the cultists in Dark Knight, Dark City sacrificed to Barbatos. There's a huge skip between 1718-1734 (this issue) and 1860's next issue where A LOT happens, including our Satanist Thomas Wayne, our Darrius, the Revolution, and more. Hopefully historical records are good enough by 1860 that Bruce can get some fucking information about it, then.

Bruce is shrewd enough to know Jack is the Black Pirate, of course, we all knew, too. It wasn't meant to be much of a surprise.

If Blackbeard isn't Vandal Savage ... he and Vandal took their lessons in controlling bands of brigands and plunderers from the same teacher. Character-wise, they're almost identical.

The Miagani are dangerous as can be. Valor mentions the "curse of the Black Pirate", but it comes down to rumors and misdirection. Still, it does bring to mind Annie's curse last issue, and the nature of curses. Do they work for the Black Pirate? Maybe in self-fulfilling prophecy kind of way. But the Miagani are superstitious and we see that being closer to the earth and more naturalistic, they're right to be so.

Saber fight on a bone bridge. It's like Indiana Jones meets every single Ra's al Ghul adventure. Good stuff. Very pulpy, which is perfect for pirate fare.

Israel Hands, for the record, really was Blackbeard's first mate. He survives after Blackbeard is killed, and basically does the pirate equivalent of a gangster turning "states evidence". Will we hear about it next issue? It's possible, I guess ... not that likely.

Valor really does know about the Miagani. Nothing we don't already know. Last of the once great Miagani tribe. Claim descent from the "First Boy", who we know is Anthro, and whose clan met Batman then founded the Miagani tribe. Bruce is impressed, and he sees the statue - a statue of HIM - and the relic, his cloak from Final Crisis. And they recognize Bruce as their God. That's pretty crazy.

And Bruce gets back his Utility belt after 100 years. Apparently Annie didn't find it useful and she left it there. It's a little old, but still perfectly good - not like the cape and cowl, which has thousands of years of age on it.

So the Orion's Belt reference is not just in reference to Orion, or the painting of Darrius Wayne, but also to his utility belt, which is in fact, a "hunter's belt".

Born Under a Black Sun sounds familiar.

The wealthy brother and sister then ... the Waynes? They seem young ... this could be our Satanist Thomas Wayne after all. With a powdered wig it's very hard to tell, but he certainly resembles a younger Thomas (if he was in his 20's then, he'd only be 50 by the time the events of Dark Knight, Dark City rolled around). And there is the casket.

The mystery of what's in the casket rages. It seems akin to practical magic ... or summoning demons, Goetia style. A list of names. Symbols. Annie's book of magic. The "OTHER" thing that he won't speak, which is our big mystery (Barbatos?).

Keyword checkers - once more, Valor equates "MIDNIGHT" with awful, occult things. MIDNIGHT and UNDERWORLD are Grant's two biggest reuses of words in this run. The bells of All-Over, no doubt, tie to the End of Time and the fact that Batman just left Superman and Green Lantern stranded there.

Scene 4
1860's Gotham ... Wayne Manor is haunted, and these crooks approach it from the Wayne Family Cemetery.

Jonah Hex has laid out a Dead Man's Hand for these boys, same as Joker had laid out for Batman in DC Universe # 0 (R.I.P.). They're trying to hire Hex to take out this new gunslinger (Batman). But who summoned Batman this time?

My guess is Joshua Wayne, who is the brother of Solomon Wayne and as we saw in the paintings, was in the cult parts of the Bat-Cave before he reportedly (by these two thugs) died in the caves. Perhaps Bruce took his place for a while. It's clear Bruce probably meets up with Solomon.

Whoever these guys' "Boss" is will probably be a big cameo. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised to see it be "Boss Falcone", although there's a good chance for laughs we get "Boss Gordon" or "Boss Kyle" or something. I'm not sure if it would be too obvious for the Sheriff of Gotham to be a Gordon - that would be a LOOOONG family history of cops.

And so Batman comes rolling in over the hill. Will he gunfight Jonah Hex? Beats me ... bet five bucks they team up and kick ass next issue, though.

I'm not in the most deductive of modes right now ... can't wait for the other annotations and notes to go up so I can dive headlong into the discussion.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Bruce Wayne flees from bird-winged Egyptian soldiers (A nod to Hawkman, I wonder?) and he’s saying some sort of code. I’ll admit, I had no clue what to make of it. I assumed he was “in the past” with the help of Nichols, whose involvement was forewarned. It makes itself clear quickly. The Joker is having a pop-criminal team-up, like they always used to have back in the Early Silver Age. He’s with all the old favorites – Riddler, Scarecrow, Catwoman, and … the fake Mad Hatter, who gets a free reinvention this issue for modern times!

Holding everyone hostage while Batman goes “back in time” via some weird hypnosis machine that if it wasn’t 60 years old I’d swear Morrison invented himself. To get the combination to the lock on some valuable artifact Catwoman stole (Which seems like it should be familiar … is that the object she stole in her very first appearance? Maybe not … this doesn’t feel “Year Three” … Robin looks about 14 or 15 and Joker is starting to get bored of the pop-crime, so it feels more “Year Six”.)

No doubt each of the criminals has “something on their list” they want Batman to learn. It’s all in good fun, too, for instance, Mad Hatter wants Alexander the Great’s brim size. Dick Grayson, even tied in a chair, is ready for action.

Karnak is a real temple in Thebes. The Crystal Cat is a Dan Deacon song.

Riddler here is enjoying himself with the classic 60’s alliteration and riddling. Let’s face it, he was at his prime in the 60’s … or the “pop-crime period”. His problem now is that he’s a pop-crime heist/thief with no pop-crime scene anymore. He doesn’t kill, and attempts to make him “edgy” and “psycho” fail miserably. Although it’s coming back a bit. Riddler’s going to have to get Ocean’s Eleven or Catch Me If You Can or White Collar on Gotham’s ass.

Joker basically ruins Professor Nichols’ life by using his inventions for wrong-doing. And he acts like our oracle here, since he’s insane and that means he’s got intuition about the future. His grand plan? To send Batman back to Crime Alley and give Bruce one last heart-breaking chance to abort the demons that drove him to be … later on we see Bruce Wayne attempt to abort his inner demons via the Thogal and Ten-Eyed Surgeons. And the demons come back with a damn vengeance. But Joker’s also talking about time travel predestination paradoxes, which Robin, using Grant’s own logic, points out wouldn’t work that way. Change the past … none of us will be here. That being said … later Bruce IS sent back in time, and it doesn’t change the past at all, it had always been destined to happen … so Joker is still acting as a precursor to Darkseid.

Joker’s Jokebook … for an item that later this issue is reputed to have nothing written in it, that’s a lot of text. Laughing Fish scheme obviously comes to play pretty straight. “Jokerworld Death Parks for all the family” seems to bring Killing Joke to mind.

“Give your favorite clown prince some of that old time fear gas, Scarecrow” sounds a lot like Alex from A Clockwork Orange. They move to force Batman to go back to that day … with threat of Dick Grayson having his mouth cut into a permanent grin, but Batman has already freed himself, just like he said he would, from the bindings.

A bit of the Mad Hatter “revamp”. The poser Mad Hatter takes on the personality of whatever hat he’s wearing. In this panel, for instance, a cowboy hat, and he wears two six-shooters. Sufficiently different enough from creepy little Alice in Wonderland pederast Jervis Tetch.

Riddler’s not much of a fighter. Joker, crazy as ever, wants to escape via time travel. To funny places like the Cruficixion (Not the first crucified reference in Morrison’s books), the Children’s Crusade (A Slaughterhouse Five reference, which is charming considering Bruce is now bouncing through time and especially considering this issue) and Vietnam.

O’Hara (Continuity alert! O’Hara was killed in Dark Victory prior to Grayson becoming Robin … but here’s O’Hara and Robin together, and Robin’s clearly been Robin for a couple years now. Who’s right, Morrison or Loeb? Well … hell with it. It could always be that this is Clancy O’Hara Junior, after all … this is comics.)

“The Two-Face/Clayface/No-Face/False Face team!” I’d pay good money to read about that in the next Batman Confidential.

Batman can’t endure another session … but someone can … and Nichols can go … well, always to his Granton basement … but can go any time!

Tony Daniel redesigns the 1960’s TV Batmobile and my god it’s perfect.

Dick Grayson has a good rapport with the boys in blue, asking Officer Bailey (He was in B&R # 1, right?) how his son Max is doing. The kid’s in a wheelchair. Well … later on we meet “Max Roboto” again. Ten-to-one odds on Max Roboto being “Max Bailey”, crippled son of a cop who gets robot parts and turns to crime.

Grayson has been using kali sticks as his primary weapon as Nightwing for years now. The gang is reminiscent of the Mutants from The Dark Knight Returns, just not as … well … “mutated” yet. An early prototype.

Lone-Eye Lincoln. The very same drug dealer that Honor Jackson led Bruce Wayne to when he was drugged up and walking the streets, the guy who told him Honor Jackson had died days before. Apparently he’s moving up in the world, to suit the new Gotham fashion movement for criminals and thugs. Dapper dress, and he’s a pimp now, too!

The stuff the prostitute, S’reena, says about Mister Freeze is priceless.

And here we have our Mad Hatter v.2 update. He just goes by “Hatman” now, and he’s running an underworld auction. Kite-Man’s killer kite collection … Red Hood’s dual red automatics from a few issues ago … and Joker’s Jokebook. All of these have something in common with Joker, in fact. Joker murdered Kite-Man during Infinite Crisis, he’s the reason Red Hood exists. Grayson leaves us hanging until the future with the “reason it’s so legendary, but worry not …”

Back to 666. Damian-Batman beats the hell out of Max Roboto (Now with super subtle backstory) and leaves him for Gotham’s mutant sewer rats to chew on. Once more, Joker haunts the place, in the form of joker toxin acid rain. Back to Granton, before everyone dies at midnight (Hey, death at midnight is totally Joker’s thing!)

Commissioner Barbara Gordon does what she can while Batman works through the sewers. We get another Infinite Crisis references as Damian uses Brother-I to take out some Hugo Strange Monster Serum monsters … and you can bet your ass Damian doesn’t have the same problem using Brother-I that Bruce had, ethically.

He reaches Nichols’ basement in Granton and finds our villain – 2-Face-2, holding a baby that’s been Jokerized. The broad “January” threat was a 2-Face style motif and Damian figured it out.

“The baby has a twin, like two bars on a dollar sign,” says 2-Face-2 … (Take note, detectives! Because when you find out who this baby is, your head will spin!). 2-Face-2 wants Joker’s Jokebook, or the “past and future die tonight!” (Does he mean the past and future Batmen?)

“He’s not a twin!” cries Damian. Fight breaks out. Damian crushes 2-Face-2’s head under Nichols’ time machine. Young Carter Nichols shows up, kills himself (Damian realizes what Dick meant about being so sure it was a suicide) and then Carter Nichols (who hasn’t gone back yet to tip off the cops back in “Yesterday” because he hasn’t done it yet. Nice way of preventing anyone from stopping him.)

And BAM … the shocker … the Jokerized baby is Terry god damn McGinnis.

Cut to Batman Beyond. Terry McGinnis is kicking ass against the Jokerz gang, Joker is there – this is probably during “Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker” which means that’s Tim Drake in some form or another. And old Bruce Wayne (Apparently not dead after all … wait … which possible future is the one that’s going to happen?!) looks on and tells him he’s learning. But is it old Bruce Wayne … he almost looks like he could be “Old Damian Wayne”.

Jump to another possible future. Batman is some kind of grizzled freedom fighter in a dystopian future battling the robot army of tyranny. “The Iron Heel of Fura”. “The Iron Heel” was a Jack London novel, and possibly one of the first dystopian
Future type novels. Fura … no clue. There’s a fluorescent dye that’s got a similar name. Anyway, they’re very Borg-like, and the whole thing is slightly Frank Millerish. Or is it Batman Year 100? I never did read that …

All the way up to Batman 1,000,000 on the planet Pluto. The Batman of that time has to face off against the Anti-Utopian Army’s hate revolution. And go figure, they’re an army of clowns (Possibly worshipping Joker as some sort of historical god figure, since his face appears on a monitor.)

It was a good time travel story with some subtle winks and nods about the broader time travel story going on in the rest of the book right now. What can happen, what can’t, what has, what hasn’t. And a bit of stuff furthering the “Joker phases” Grant has been highlighting.

I need to dive into some other annotations before I can really wrap my head around the greater importance of this issue.