Sunday, November 14, 2010


Pg. 1:

“Warning: This station is no longer safe.”

“As they reach the EVENT HORIZON they will appear to become frozen in time forever.” – the Archivists have already noted that all the data of Timeline Universe-Zero is being packed into a black hole for safe-keeping while they reboot the Universe by threading the end through the beginning like an Ouroboros.

The thing is, this is another “hole”. Black holes have been mentioned in this run before, having been related to Darkseid. Every “Hole in Things” has been in the image of Darkseid. A bullet hole … a plot hole … a hole in memory … all of these things are the influence of Darkseid from beyond the grave.

What if it got more literal? What if the very same Black Hole that the Archivists are using as an External Hard Drive for the Universe’s data is the Black Hole of Darkseid’s death? Wouldn’t it be ironic – and VERY Batman – if the Archivists use Darkseid’s own methods as a way to save the universe over and over again?

Pg. 2:

Bruce’s face is beet-red, because he is still poisoned, not to mention on fire, for those who were confused.

Pg. 3:

“Assume cardinal configuration.” – You’ll remember that the Lazarus Pit that Grayson found in England had four exits – one for each cardinal point of the compass. North, East, South, West. You see this sort of thing in Egyptian funerary architecture as well – the Pyramids are all aligned N,E,S,W to form a cross-compass, and to represent the N/S path of the Nile, and the E/W path of the sun. East of the Nile is sunrise, rebirth. West is sunset, death. After that, just about everyone everywhere was using the compass in their resurrection rituals as well.

Pg. 4:

“An infestation of hyperfauna has been detected.” – The important thing to note here is that it’s not attacking from OUTSIDE of Vanishing Point. Duly note that they only detect the thing once they start healing Bruce Wayne with Ultimate Lazarus Power. It was already infecting him (Like we saw when he activated Nichols’ time box and we saw both Bruce and the Hyper-Adapter).

So, like a Star Trek transporter “foreign object scan” or something, they separate the entity from Bruce. However, they immediately bring to attention that they don’t have the means to contain it until All-Over. So Bruce immediately begins formulating a plan.

Pg. 5:

“I need a disguise. And once you hear what I have to say, you’ll know why I need you to take away my memory again.” – All part of the plan. We learn the reasons for this later, but here’s the really important part:

“I accept my sacrifice.” – This Archivist is a one-eyed (acolyte of Metron) all-knowing database. It’s essentially the Mandelbrot Barbelith discussed way, way, way back. It is sacrificing itself – letting itself become possessed by the Hyper-Adapter, at which point the fusion of Hyper-Adapter and Archivist become BARBATOS. (Biorganic Archival Robot BATman Operating System or some ridiculous acronym, if you like!)

It is essentially providing something for the Hyper-Adapter to possess to try to attack Bruce, sacrificing itself as the BAIT (Of which Bruce is taking a very big gamble about his own mind.)

“The sound of ancient, rusty locks unlatching.” – We already know this to be Bruce’s relativistic interpretation of extra-dimensional gateways – time travel portals. Boom Tubes, Time Spheres … either way, it sounds like that to him. “Bells and thunder” – PING PING PING.

Pg. 8:

Tim Drake finally gets his moment, in a total “shoe on the other foot” scenario. During Final Crisis it was Bruce standing alone, powerless against Darkseid-Dan Turpin. Here it’s Tim standing alone, powerless against Hyper-Adapter-Bruce Wayne. Tim has had to go through his own mini identity crisis to keep up with Bruce. The two of them are growing eerily similar. Expect Tim Drake to remain Bruce Wayne’s partner in his global operations.

Make certain to evaluate the difference between the voice of BARBATOS and the voice of Bruce Wayne. BARBATOS now speaks with the Archivist’s non-capitalized dialogue.

“Alone in the dark with the bats.” – Who is saying this? It’s Bruce, however it’s delusional. Bruce has spent his “darker days” in recent years thinking just that about himself, but we know that prior to the Ten-Eyed Men exorcising the Hyper-Adapter from him, and Thogal where he confronted ultimate evil and stopped it for a moment, he was being influenced. (I guess Bruce can’t ever give Hal Jordan any shit about Parallax ever again …)

“Alone in the dark with the bats,” is actually exactly where Bruce left the Hyper-Adapter in 1640. Sort of reminds me of his line about "Looking the devil in the eyes and seeing fear".

Pg. 9:

Cyborg gets a surprising bit of coolness from Grant. It’s appropriate, since Bruce is stuck in Kirby cyborg-mode at the moment, bonded with the possessed Archivist. And so begins the ultimate play on “Bat-God”, the ultimate Tower of Babel moment. The ULTIMATE BAT-DICK. It’s a joke, if you couldn’t tell. One last laugh at the concept of Batman taking down the entire Justice League. And as we’ll learn very soon – even Bruce doesn’t take that concept seriously. It’s all part of the plan, and like it or not, he knows that when the Big Guns arrive, he isn’t taking them down easily.

Pg. 10:

The end of time looping in on the beginning of time … I half-expect to see Phantom Stranger walk nonchalantly by …

Pg. 11:

Interesting note of comparison between the Time Sphere and how it all turns white and Superman reaches out and touches “Pure Thought” in much the same way Bruce does in his “duel” with Darkseid later. And as he does, Superman says “I KNOW I CAN DO THIS”. Superman has touched pure thought and “our dimension” (Cube Time) before, and presumably in an ultimate moment like that he is the being capable of breaking from his storybook confines. But there’s no need – Batman’s got them covered.

No need to burst the thought bubble.

Pg. 12:

Futurama just did this! On his way back through, will Rip Hunter shoot Hitler with a laser?

Pg. 13:

Again, note difference between Barbatos talking and Bruce talking. Barbatos simply initiates attacks against the JLA. Bruce apologizes to Congorilla for what he’s about to do. Time to dive back into the Morrison run and figure out when Hurt is talking and when it’s Barbatos …

Pg. 14:

“Knight’s move executed.” – More chess. “I prayed every night you’d come back to us.” – More prayer-as-summons. Tim has keen intuition – he immediately “feels” the difference between basic technology, and the fact that this Archivist is possessed by Apokoliptian curse-demons.

The nosebleed is as good an indicator as any that this thing is trying to bore a hole in Bruce’s mind – to hollow out a hole where it can move in, or, since Bruce is one of those noble spirits that Darkseid requires … for Darkseid to live in. (Remember Superman asked “Why Turpin? Why not Batman?” and Darkseid responded that it would take TOO LONG to break down Batman. But with the Ancestor-Box, he already had a plan to attempt just that – from the past – and obviously the Clone Batman Body was the decoy to keep Superman off his back. And remember that Hurt’s entire goal has been the same thing – to break or corrupt Batman’s soul/spirit – presumably to create a new body for his master, Darkseid, whether he realized that’s what he was doing or not.)

Pg. 15:

“This equipment is overloading my nervous system.” – One wonders if Darkseid used Hyper-Adapters to bore out holes in the minds of Kraken, Turpin, Mary Marvel, and the rest of those possessed by the Evil Gods during Final Crisis.

“You’re Bruce Wayne.” “Not yet.” – Bruce wasn’t planning on getting his memory back so soon, apparently. He probably didn’t plan on it happening until after Superman and Green Lantern got back. Either way, Tim’s helping, by representing the most literal, recent impact of the First Truth of Batman – it’s his current partner.

Wonder Woman:

It’s at this point NO COINCIDENCE that the same two people are with Bruce for an exorcism. Tim Drake and Diana Prince. They were both there in Nanda Parbat, and they’re both here now. Fairly appropriate, since Wonder Woman herself has trained (in the 70’s) in some advanced martial arts and meditation techniques … has experience with Gods … has herself been royally fucked over by Darkseid’s machinations … and was the GODDESS OF TRUTH (And the weapon Bruce needs against Darkseid is indeed a TRUTH). I’m keen to see Grant write some Wonder Woman soon.

“Did the Fury that hounds you take its scent from this cape and cowl? I wonder …” – Apart from gleeful delight at seeing Wonder Woman say “I wonder …”, it’s important to remember that she may have recently experienced something similar to the Hyper-Adapter. She was “INFECTED” by a thought-weapon herself (God-Bacteria) and possessed, probably by Artemiz (One of Darkseid’s FEMALE FURIES, wink-wink, nudge nudge).

You’ll remember that Doctor Hurt “CURSED” the cape and cowl at the end of R.I.P., whereas Annie “CURSED” the descendents of Nathaniel Wayne. So Annie’s CURSE provides the means for Tom Wayne to become possessed … then Tom Wayne’s CURSE provides the means for Bruce to become possessed. “The next time you wear it will be your last”, said Hurt. And sure enough … the next cape is bombarded with Omega Radiation, and the cape & cowl he dons in the Caveman days is actually a demonic hyper-entity, that keeps coming back as a curse (A literal cursed cape and cowl) until the ultimate Kirby-form.

This is why Annie’s Lovecraftian magick words are repeated right here, when Diana asks Bruce if Darkseid opened any kind of Pandora’s Box type device. Bruce remembers Annie, remembers that she cursed the Waynes “Until the end of time”. But possibly realizes that the “S” and “WW” logos that she had as a charm were even older than the Dark Myth that he’s currently bound in, and brighter.

“Use your lasso.” – Good thing Bruce has a friend who is essentially a Truth Goddess. Comes in really handy for exorcisms. (Side note: Since she’s often perceived as a lesser, or middle child Wonder Woman, I’ve been championing Donna Troy to become DC’s resident monster-killer and exorcist for a while now …) But importantly, it’s cool to see that Wonder Woman’s tremendous empathy, compassion and ability to see things for what they really are REALLY shows how major a part of the JLA, DCU, and classic line-up Grant thinks of her as. She’s the “TRUTH” part of the threefold “TRUTH”, “JUSTICE”, and “THE AMERICAN WAY”. (For the record, Batman is Justice, and Superman is … well, Eternal Optimism, which is what the American Way is supposed to represent.)

Pg. 18:

The fractal, mythic bats certainly explain why every time Bruce has an isolation experience, or a near death experience, or a bad trip, we see flashing repeats of big red-eyed bats smashing through glass.

And here’s the hole in time. I guess it’s up to Bruce to patch it. And Grant lays out pretty much every symbol for us, so we can go back and look for them, individually, if we haven’t already spotted them.

Hanged Man. Double Double-U’s (WW). “S” Shield. Pearls. Orion’s Belt. Eclipse. Bullet. Red & Black Roses. Joker’s laughter. Spades (Like the Gravedigger). Black gloves/hands. Black Knights (Knights in general). The bat-symbol. Hanged bats.

Pg. 19:

Naturally, it’s Barbatos taunting Wonder Woman, until Bruce says “MEMORIES” and attempts to use the same mind-attack he used on his clones on the demon possessing him. Side note … when can we have more of THIS Wonder Woman? (Hell … THIS JLA? This is like the ultimate JLA moment for Grant … and it’s not even in his JLA run! Batman’s faith in his colleagues!)

Pg. 20:

Superman’s optimism and Hal’s will-power are strong as hell … but it’s clear at this point what “THE DARK KNIGHT MUST DIE” and “BATMAN AND ROBIN MUST DIE” and “BATMAN MUST DIE” means. Holy crap … Bruce Wayne has to die again! Clinically. Longer than before. No more dress rehearsals like Thogal. No more close calls like the Third Man.

It’s cool that Batman doesn’t see himself as “The Big Three” – as Superman, Wonder Woman and a recently elevated Green Lantern kick Barbatos’ ass into the Time Sphere and Skeets sends it packing to its demise, bonded incorrectly to the Archivist (Which may or may not be KEEPING the Hyper-Adapter bonded as part of its sacrifice), trapped in the Archivist (Who also may be responsible for visiting Dick Grayson in the Bat-Cave, if it has some control over its backwards trip through time) and ultimately achieving that sacrifice by having Vandal Savage slaughter it, then ironically spawning its own new legend of humiliating defeat (Which ultimately happens to Hurt as well.)

While I’ve yet to totally grasp (few of us do) exactly how complex or simple Barbatos’ actual storyline through time is, all that really matters is not HOW it gets from one era to another, but which eras it does exist in, how powerful it gets based on who knows of it, who feeds it and who worships it IN those eras, and how the end up feeding the legend of its own death.

Pg. 25:

I want a Superman & Rip Hunter “Superman Beyond II” any time now … maybe they’ll guest star in Multiversity. Either way Multiversity is where to go for more about what paper-book timelines look like to us Cube Time Higher-Plane dwellers.

“Such hubris on the part of mortals has always had a price.” – Leave it to Wonder Woman to literally quote the punchline of EVERY GREEK TRAGEDY OR COMEDY EVER. You see … when mortals come anywhere near close to “Godliness”, the fates strike them down. Batman has to die. If Batman becomes too much of a Bat-God, he has to die. It’s ironic that Grant, who pioneered the JLA Bat-God, is the one telling us all that if Batman continues in that direction, he can’t last.

Pg. 26 & 27:

Duel with Darkseid. Dead Darkseid. Ruins of Apokolips. Batman needs an exorcism again, but this time he has to do it himself. “The Truth Shall Set You Free” and all that. This is why it required the Ten-Eyed Men to perform the exorcism – with their “extra vision” they can see things that exist in spaces and places that can’t be perceived with only two light-based optical eyes. They can theoretically see the hole in things, and reach down inside and grab the possessing entity and rip it out of you. We don’t just see Bruce’s visit with them from FIFTY-TWO here … we ALSO see his very first visit with them – 15 years ago in his first travels.

Metron is indeed the wheelchair bound one-eyed veteran who warned Bruce prior to his Nichols time box jump. I don’t know if Metron is behind other one-eyed characters (Archivists? Lone-Eye Lincoln? Honor Jackson? Etc …) but it’s fair to say that he has played some part.

Here in this hole where all time is now in a sink, and Batman has access to all the facts and all the memories, and can fathom Darkseid’s grand designs, he gets to flip it back on Darkseid.

Pg. 28:

You’ll notice that the singularity at the center that still lingers on Earth is in GOTHAM CITY. The “Black Heart of Gotham” is possibly the haunting force of Darkseid’s designs. Perhaps Gotham is free to be a bit brighter and lighter now. Never completely free of the darkness, certainly. But less of a hovering doom and gloom. Especially with Grayson as Batman.

Pg. 29:

Certainly looks like one of the Van Derms removes the Batarang from the Utility Belt and places it in the casket. What’s interesting is their constant state of maintaining the symbols. It’s presumably Martin (Remember that Annie said the Miagani were in hiding during ROBW#2, but she knew them, and some few rare people were friendly with them. Of course she knew them – that’s where she got those symbols of “S” for Superman and “WW” for Wonder Woman.)

It’s hard to say though, which Van Derm it is. Content yourselves to know that Martin passed down his knowledge and the book, and 100 years later it had become a legend of local treasure that Tom Wayne the Satanist wanted badly enough to get himself Adapted. I mean, it’s a legend involving witches, dragons, Blackbeard the pirate … bat-people … Vandal Savage the Immortal. One can see how the aspects combine to create something enticing.

Anyway, in keeping with that spirit … the Van Derms consistently pass down symbols in their commissioned art for the Waynes. The Manor itself … commissioned for Darius Wayne by Nathan Van Derm. The Darius portraits. But when the Waynes lost control of the mansion until the mid-1800s when Alan finished it for Solomon and Joshua and Jerome Van Derm, the lines combined anyway.

Final Pages …

It’s nice to flash to exactly where Doctor Hurt is as Bruce talks about how the Hyper-Adapter is still technically out there. On the helicopter, landing at Wayne Manor, where he’ll stride in and shoot Grayson in the head. The crypt is open, indicating how he’ll get through the Hidden Room.

“The bells are still ringing.” – That’s as much acknowledgment as you need that the Ancestor-Box is still affecting things. Bruce’s later confirmation that although Joker has “dealt with Hurt”, they’ll still KEEP LOOKING is further evidence that there is more to hear from this threat. That being said … its infernal attack on Batman’s body, mind and soul, have failed, and he’s prepared for anything now. Darkseid’s revenge has failed.

We’re getting there as far as understanding this isolation experiment, this six-sided box that is The Return of Bruce Wayne. Why did he appear during eclipses? Because an eclipse is a black hole with a halo of light around it, much like an actual Black Hole singularity, like the one that resides in Gotham City in the wake of Darkseid's death. (Remember that Darkseid literally "died" and formed the hole in Bludhaven, just a hop-skip away from Gotham on a miles/kilometers map level of thinking as well.)

Because an eclipse casts a black shadow like a hole over that singularity.

Darkseid let all the demons out of the box … and Joker put them all back in.


  1. And of course, like Superman Beyond it all ends with a grave. And what were those magic words Superman used to assure that the Universe and heroes would live on?

    "To be continued ..."

    See you Wednesday.

  2. *Great post! I hope you continue blogging through Batman Inc...

    Anyway, there's a 90's Wonder Woman arc that involved Darkseid capturing Diana and trying to take over Themyscira. [- I think it was a throwback to Darkseid's Wonder Woman obsession in the old Superfriends cartoon?]

    In just a few pages, Diana manages to outwit Desaad, find Metron and secure a Boom Tube back to Themyscira.

    Afterward, Diana says something like “I've dealt with Gods before, they're all the same...”

    I remember liking how the arc compared the New God deities to the traditional Greek deities. It's nice to see Grant Morrison revisit said comparison.

  3. Absolutely great post, Retro! Very insightful and comprehensive. Made me realize a couple of details i missed.Please keep posting through Batman Inc,

  4. Return and Inc: Japan have been fairly straightforward, so I'm waiting for a few more issues and am going to do them in a big batch.

    Probably after Incorporated # 3 there'll be a post covering Return, Japan 1, Japan 2, Lord Death Man's totally Leviathan-given upgrades, and Batman versus the international equivalents of Joker.