In 2006, on a hot summer day as the clock ticked off 4:00 PM I was I was rolling pizza dough and cooking sausage, and watching as the peak hour pub business began to pull onto the steaming asphalt of the parking lot, when my wingman (quite literally, the man operating the locker-room and hell fantasy that was the fry-room), a bedraggled 50 something conspiracy theorist, burnt out on too much sun, too many hours in blazing kitchens, and far and away too much Acid turned (he'd been folding pizza boxes for me) and said unto me:
"666 man ... you know it?"
"Yeah," I replied. "I know it."
"You know it (pause, eyerolle), but do you KNOW it, man? The significance of it?"
I parsed it for a second. Words from Shaun Toomath are strafing runs from a Vietnam-era helicopter brains. He comes in guns blazing, lays some high-color truth on you, expects you to think he's insane and then grabs a case of beer from the Pub cooler and jets for the night to go back to piece-meal mainframes and UFO searches. I didn't want to wait too long for my reply, so I free-associated and had my answer in about three seconds.
"It's pretty clearly a computer password."
"Now you're talkin', now you're talkin'. But what computers? The banks, man. The banks." and on he rambled, having taken barely the extra moment to acknowledge that maybe our personal wavelengths sync up at least once a day before making off with twelve bottles of honey brown ale.
Six years later I froze as I chanced upon this memory and realized I could apply Futurist tenets to it thanks to my grand art school education.
The Brunnian Ring is 666. Oroboros is 666. The trefoil, the Celtic knotwork, the circle around the world, the snake eating its own tail is the mark of the beast. The Pentagram can be a Brunnian Ring.
The Beast of Revelation, the first beast, the beast from the sea, could be Leviathan. Ultimately like with every 2000+ interpretation, to try to analyze its symbolism in this story further is to invite inconsistency. In any case, most modern cult-conspiracy theorists would equate the Number of the Beast with microchips, computers, the economy and the implementation of some kind of NEW WORLD ORDER. And that much holds true, as does the Hellish implementation seen in Damian's 666 future Gotham.
This extends everywhere, all the way to the end of time, but no place as obviously as Batman Incorporated (Vol.1) # 8. "Seven years ago, a young genius launched Hypergames with "JUDGMENT IN HELL CITY 666". Mr. Tanaka."
In that story we have a virus creating chaotic zombies, wreaking havoc on a system ... a Daemon possessing an avatar and running the show. It's Barbatos in miniature; the mutation engine is a virtual-hyper adapter demon-curse, Tanaka is a mock-Thomas Wayne, the Worm Captain is a digital Jokerzombie virus, and exactly like the flashforwards to the 666 future, it's up to Batman and Barbara Gordon to deal with it. (So it's telling that it's Barbara's computer skills that save Batman from 666 Oroboros Revelation in the Leviathan Strikes! issue.) For somebody who doesn't factor that heavily in Morrison's Batman run, Barbara Gordon is there for the crucial moment with world-ending stakes, every time.
Where does this lead?
666 is a branding, Gotham has been marked since the beginning - branded. Not by the Demon Star, which is merely the sigil of Baphomet, used by al Ghuls and Satanic Batmen, but by a beast in the form of a man who equals six-six-six. The very issue number. We call him Batman 666 because he debuted in Batman Issue # six-hundred sixty-six in a Hellish world.
But he's Batman 666 because he is the man with the mark of the Beast. The demon-boy child. Damian is the Anti-Christ that all those other demons claimed to be. It said it all in the very beginning:
"Damian was engineered to kill and replace his famous father."
But the future has changed already (and not just from Flashpoint, although that is gleefully incorporated just fine in the preexisting patchwork of Bruce versus Time: Victory through preparation, legacy, having kids and accepting rather than seeking unnatural immortality).
it's no surprise to see Morrison slap-dash insert a character called "Sphynx" into the 666 narrative. The Egyptian Sphinx, the Riddler of Old, is referred to directly in Keats' poem "The Second Coming", quoted in Batman In Bethlehem. In Keats' poem, the Sphinx is the Beast of Revelation, the riddle of time (must like the Hyper-Sphinx of Superman). What can we beat, but never defeat?
Batman # 666:
"We found Candyman ... and your other victims ... I knew you'd finally snap. And I made a vow on my father's grave ..."
Future Barbara Gordon indicates three things; one, Damian is involved, not directly, in Jim Gordon's death. Two, we met Pyg, we met Phosphorus Rex. Will we ever meet Loveless and Candyman? (Or Dai Laffyn, for that matter?)
"Remember when the law meant something? ... Before the whole world got sick."QUARANTINE RESTRICTIONS REMAIN, BUT BRITISH AIR AUTHORITIES BELIEVE FLIGHTS TO AND FROM HEATHROW WILL RESUME WITHIN THE NEXT MONTH …EPIDEMIC WHICH CLAIMED MORE THAN EIGHTEEN MILLION LIVES WILL SOON BE UNDER CONTROL, SAY CHINESE HEALTH AUTHORITIES …
Sick. Doctor Hurt uses biological warfare. First Joker neurotoxin. Second Pyg viral addiction. Third, seemingly the off-hand Joker Parvovirus dreamed up in Joker's wildest imagination back in Batman, R.I.P. Leviathan also uses a variation of the Pyg formula for mind-control. Now we know Doctor Hurt in the 666 future made his way all the way to the White House, it stands that he is responsible for unleashing the plagues all over the world.
TEMPERATURES ROSE TO A RECORD-BREAKING 123* FOR THE EIGHTH DAY …HOTTER THAN HELL IN MIDTOWN GOTHAM AS DIPLOMATS GATHER FOR TONIGHT'S CLIMATE CHANGE SUMMIT RECEPTION …
Climate change. In addition to Ra's al Ghul's stark feelings about it, one might figure that Talia, should she be a power or demon of the 666 future, would've done something about it. "Eye of the Gorgon" opens with Ra's al Ghul wooing Melisande over the subject of hippie activism like Global Warming.
GO AND MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE OR I'LL HUNT YOU DOWN ONE BY ONE.
And of course, they do. To combat the Global Warming they build the Climate Control Satellites. And sure enough ... "YOU REPROGRAMMED CLIMATE CONTROL TO MAKE JOKERZOMBIES, BUT YOU PAID FOR IMMUNIZATION WITH YOUR EYE, RIGHT? JANUARY, MAX."
The solution to one of the problems in 666 is corrupted in 700, and leads to the continuous Jokerzombie outbreak seen in Asylum. There's your 666-continuity thread. But as usual, just like with EVERY system we see ... the Joker, who is chaos and wildness and ever-changing, fickle and adaptable ... can infiltrate and break down any organized system (computer, society, psychological). But The Devil, and forces of evil and wickedness, can only steal Joker's techniques and ride his purple coattails. The color purple is seen on those in love, or meant to appear in love, with Batman in these stories - Joker, Jezebel, and Talia wore it. There's good reason to think of Talia again more like Joker; truly loves (and hates) Batman. And far more successful than pure evil.
"The Demon Star at Zenith."
Damian refers to this as "signing his autograph", and frankly, Talia later refers to her Leviathan alias as "give or take a few letters, my autograph". Not expecting any great links between Talia's Leviathan and Michael Lane? Think again; "Grayson-era Batman readers" know that Michael Lane resurfaced during the Batman and Robin days, not exactly in the thrall of Talia, but she was running the show. The very same Suit of Sorrows chain-mail relic she lent to Bruce for Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul became the hallmark along with a pair of swords for the new Azrael, Michael Lane's role after having been abandoned by Dr. Hurt (at least until 666 happens). He's passed from one Demon to another, and is last seen attempting to pass Biblical "Judgment on Gotham". Just because it's not Morrison's doesn't mean it's not relevant.
Getting back to the point; THE DRAGON, that particular serpentine form of Satan the Enemy, the reptilian, slinky snake form, in Revelations is also referred to as the demon Tannin, and Tannin is synonymous (again, without going further) with Leviathan (also Tiamat, but we know already Talia is embracing all these dark mother demons, as well as Mormo and Medusa the Gorgon, and christ, to complete the trifecta, Morrison assigns her Lilith and Kali, and outright names Jezebel "Jezebel" and even Lumina Lux is named after Lucifer.). They're also synonymous with Egypt, the very place where Talia attended college and where Ra's al Ghul had at least one major stronghold. (Hebrew legends naturally weren't particularly fond of Egypt.)
"THE DRAGON OF REVELATIONS SHOWS HIS STUPID FACE AFTER ALL THESE YEARS. RIGHT HERE. EXACTLY WHERE I WANT HIM."
Right in the Kill Box. Damian's attempt to "Box" Dr. Hurt's Devil echoes the way Joker did it, the way Batman built boxes around holes.
I KNEW I'D NEVER BE AS GOOD AS MY DAD OR DICK GRAYSON.
Dick's tenure as Batman spelled out right in the beginning, plain as day.