Friday, March 11, 2011


Black is death in the DC Universe. And lately, there's a lot of it. Not so much in "character deaths", but weighing on the souls of DC's biggest characters. In Hindu mythology, another name for Kali is "The Black One". More later.

Batman faces the black on a daily basis, and in Granty's run, he talks about it all the time. "My soul feels black." "Black Mass." On and on it goes.

Darkseid is dead. Demons were exposed as tangible imaginary curses - which are a genuine threat in a universe made of literary paper and text. (Weird that 2D characters are more capable of processing the 5D than we are ... but we 3D folks at least can see 4D in real-time.)

So if Darkseid's dead ... why's the Crime Bible still kicking? Who becomes their next Dark God? Nekron maybe? The Crime Bible of Darkseid worshiped the Evil God and pretty much any analogue you could think of. The Christian Devil, Satan (Not Lucifer, mind you.) Archaic demons. Evil for evil's sake. Think of every damn theory about Dr. Hurt's identity and it's all a tool for Darkseid.

So change gears. Final Crisis is averted. Darkseid is dead and gone. The BLACK RACER came and got him, and every Crime Bible thumping cultist knows that the only thing more powerful than Darkseid's evil ... is Death. For one Gothamite, this isn't news. Our old pal, John "Jack" Joseph Kerr, Napier ... whatever ... has been spreading the s/laughter far and wide for years. To paraphrase a Roy Brizby line ... "Years before the big trivia craze, but Joker always was a trend-setter."

Our old pal, J. Kerr, incorrectly described as an anarchic "force of nature", who listens in on private conversations between big-wigs like L. Luthor and Neil Gaiman's true-Death, is way ahead of the game. But how does a murderous clown "stay original" when suddenly EVERYBODY is stealing his routine?

Joker is the Black in Batman's world. We'll ignore the psychological traits for now, because these aren't psychological Batman times - that torch was passed to Dick Grayson. This is the Joker as Death, playing chess against the Knight, with the Black Plague hanging in the balance. If a major Batman character was killed, odds are Joker did it. His earliest appearances described him as a ghoul with a corpse-like face. His secret hideout was under a graveyard. He cheated Death on a constant basis. He had no remorse, and often had no motivation for killing.

So now, here's Kultek. Or Leviathan, or whatever Dr. Dedalus is calling himself. Granty didn't spell it "Daedelus", you'll note (But expect labyrinth references anyway). The James Joyce reference couldn't have been lost on him, but I'll warrant the emphasis on the first sound in the surname is far more important. DED. Dr. Dead. Can't be that obvious, though. We've already got a pretty cool "Dr. Death" running around.

With a big Kali symbol for a logo, "Cult" and "Tech" right in the fucking name, why call yourself Leviathan?

At first glance, the obvious route is to go back to Batman and Robin for help. Leviathan in Christian dogma is one of the Seven Crown Princes of HELL. Is the vicious cycle not over for Batman? Let's look back a little further and get out of this Christian stuff (Although don't rule out the whole "sea monster" angle - there's fine odds we'll see the Club of Villains "Kraken" before this is over). Because we need to be looking at the Book of Job.

Remember that talk back in BLACKest Knight, where the BLACK dying Batman clone said "SACRIFICE OF THE SON" or "SUN"? Sacrifice of the son. Book of Job. (Duly note that God rapidly sent an angel to prevent the sacrifice once he was sure Job was willing to do it on faith.)

In the Book of Job, God lectures Job about Leviathan and Behemoth:

Job 40:15-24 describes Behemoth, and then the sea-monster Leviathan, to demonstrate to Job the futility of questioning God, who alone has created these beings and who alone can capture them.[2] Many scholars have understood both beasts as chaos monsters destroyed by the deity at the time of creation.

Highlight "Chaos monsters", and interpret "God created 'em, only God can destroy 'em" as them being part of the divine plan. Jewish texts speak of Leviathan living in the Abyss. Abyss typically either describes the depths of the oceans ... or the proverbial "Abyss" we're always looking into. Take Leviathan out of the Blue and into the Black. It was there at creation, and it comes back into play during destruction. In that way, Leviathan is analogous to Kali.

"Hence, Kali is considered the goddess of time and change. Although sometimes presented as dark and violent, her earliest incarnation as a figure of annihilation still has some influence."

She's a very Graham Greene's "The Destructors" kinda gal. I'll ignore the prominence of black and red in her imagery.

Joker established the "Death" motif. A LONG time ago, although Bruce's supposed death seemed to make him embrace it much more ironically and put all his theatrical, stage and drama club skills into it, distilling it into a fusion of playing card, Hamlet and Voodoo references. But really, all those things have street life and poison in common anyway. But keenly note that he's been wearing a top-hat and traveling the world. Signs point to Joker's possible ties to the Pearly Court of London, and they're in-the-know regarding some serious Old World secrets.

Dr. Dedalus seems much like DC's "The Shade", in that he's surrounded by shadowy BLACK shadow-tendrils. Like if Moriarty had a nightshade superpower. He wears a top-hat, immediately calling to mind The Shade ... Jack the Ripper ... Dr. Hurt on the boat to England ... Moriarty ... and probably something from some Alan Moore story somewhere. The type of guy who'd hire a "Springheeled Jack" to kill Percival Sheldrake, the only survivor in a failed attempt to "super-hero" him. This is a guy who summoned a Metalek Xenoformer to Earth from Galaxy X. Those things can't have good intentions ... leveling the planet is a likely scenario.

Lord Death Man fits the mold, too. Chaos and destruction. Given new powers and a new lease on life, very likely by "Leviathan". Given the power to be a real-life video-game massacre machine, the respawn powers, and set loose on the video-game capital of the world. He's a poor man's Joker, but he's different enough to warrant interest, because he's so over-the-top he could only be funny in a post-Grand Theft Auto world.

El Sombrero continues the trend. Sombrero is back. ALIVE. Cheating death is a Joker standby, and so the Club of Villains who idolize Joker get some credibility by cheating death themselves ... but cheating death at the hands of the Joker? Who is this guy, Jason Todd? Sombrero lives to torment Gaucho and Batman another day, although life isn't great. But a mysterious "patron" (read between the fairly wide lines: Leviathan) has given him the means to throw together some more mish-mash of death-dealing, and we're learning that he's basically the avant-garde artist of death-traps. He's thematically linked to the Day of the Dead. He's an intellectual, using clues that are highly obscure references to his avant-garde literary predecessors, and sending Scorpiana to poison Bruce Wayne with a clue to his patron himself - a well-thought Oroboros ring (Oroboros, serpent, Leviathan) that also symbolizes his paralysis at the hands of a broken neck, Joker style.

And the earliest known use of the Oroboros? The Egyptian Book of the Dead. And let's bring right to the forefront the Oroboros' position on the belt of a Magician in a Tarot deck. Because we've already had the Tarot lend us clues toward Death and The Devil.

Scorpiana represents as well. Any of the Joker-idolizing Club of Villains can fit quite well, really, but her Tango of Death and her commitment to poison really help up the comparisons.

The trend of the "Leviathan" or "Kultek" or Dr. Dedalus organization enabling chaos-makers and massacre-artists will continue, but it's anyone's guess who turns up for future installments. Well, except we already know Grant's got Dai Laffyn down the pipeline for Knight & Squire. But expect chaos-lords and death/trickster gods to dominate the thematic imagery. Will a Manitou, or Whiskey Jack, face down Chief Man-of-Bats (Frankly, there's no need, since his damned mortal enemy is already named "BLACK Elk"? Will a Horned God try a Samhein sacrifice on The Hood or Jack O'Lantern?

I'm mostly curious about how Joker will take it when his gimmick becomes mainstream.