Friday, November 30, 2012

SIX (1) SIX (2) SIX (3)

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? FURTHER ANALYSIS: 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.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Art Across Time and the Batman (A Beginning)

In what's sort of the first stage of analysis of how Grant Morrison's Batman run holds incredible value if you've got a background in Art History, I've compiled a quick list from memory of references within MORRISON BATMAN OMNIBUS to try to validate my theory. There's certainly enough listed to further the thought in some kind of essay (once I've done some major re-reading and note taking), and I even think it's enough to say that it can't be coincidental (for instance, it can't just be the happenstance that in soon-to-be 75 issues a writer who is interested in art & culture just happened to inject a major reference to almost every major historical art movement into relevant Batman history.)

There's reference to Morrison's having wanted to go to Art School but being unable to afford it in the various Grant Morrison: Talking to Gods documentaries floating around out there as well, to cement the point.

Western Art History
Prehistoric Art
Final Crisis 1 – D.O.A.: The God of War!
Cave drawings. Anthro.
Final Crisis 7 – New Heaven, New Earth
Cave drawings. Anthro.
Batman 702 – Batman’s Last Case
Cave drawings. Anthro.
Batman: TROBW 1 – Shadow on Stone
Cave drawings. Anthro.

Mesopotamian Art
52 – Dark Knight Down
99 Fiends (Demonology) names come from here.
Biblical Demons.

Egyptian Art
Batman 700 – Time and the Batman
Crystal Cat of Karnak.
City of Karnak (Khufu, prior life of Hawkman)

Far Eastern Art
52 – Revelations
Lost City of Nanda Parbat.
Batman 670-671 – The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul
Tibetan Monastic Caverns.
Lost City of Nanda Parbat.
Batman 681 – Hearts in Darkness
Chinese Temple.

Roman Art
Batman 667-669 – The Club of Heroes
The Legionary & Charlie Caligula, in their way. Also the suit of Legionary Armor
in the Bat-Cave, which is probably from Bruce’s first time travel expedition with
Professor Carter Nichols.

Byzantine Art
Examples of Demonology, possibly.

Celtic Art
Batman, Inc. 5 – Masterspy
Oroboro antechamber, Celtic knotwork.
See also; Seven Soldiers: Shining Knight.

Romanesque Art
Batman and Robin 7 – Pearly and the Pit
The Tower of London.

Gothic Art
Batman and Robin 7 – Pearly and the Pit
London Architecture.
See also: Batman: Gothic: A Romance.

Northern Renaissance Art
Batman 667-669 – The Club of Heroes
The Triumph of Death by Bruegel the Elder
Batman: TROBW 2 – Until the End of Time
Martin Van Derm, Flemish Painter
Rembrandt van Rijn
“Malleus” as in Malleus Maleficarum.
Batman and Robin 13-16 – Batman and Robin Must Die!
The Triumph of Death by Bruegel the Elder
Knight, Death and the Devil by Albrecht Durer

Native American Art
Batman: TROBW – The Return of Bruce Wayne
Barbatos Statue.
Miagani Tribal bone sculptures.
Batman, Inc. 7
Chief Man-of-Bats and Raven Red, local historians.

Batman: TROBW 3 – The Bones of Bristol Bay
Golden Age of Piracy, ship construction.
Blackbeard’s fashion. Probably the Musketeer’s as well.
Black Pirate’s dramatic opera style cape.
Jerome K. Van Derm.
Shakespeare. This one doesn’t need much help. Hamlet references abound – Batman
vs. Joker as Hamlet with Dick Grayson watching in flashback. Joker bringing back
Hamlet references in his guise as “Gravedigger”. Doctor Hurt, as “uncle”, whether
or not he may have murdered Bruce’s father driving Bruce insane.

Batman and Robin 10 – The Haunting of Wayne Manor
Portraits of Darius Wayne.
Anything to do with “Mad” Anthony Wayne.
Technically, Doctor Hurt is from this era.
Gothic Revival
Batman and Robin 10 – The Haunting of Wayne Manor
Wayne Manor.
Gotham City as constructed by Cyrus Pinkney.
Portraits of Solomon & Joshua Wayne.
Batman: TROBW 4 – Dark Night, Dark Rider
Alan Wayne, Portrait, Memoirs and Man.
Catherine Van Derm.
Genre – Gothic Horror
Entire run ...
Damian is something of a patchwork boy, like Mary Shelly's Frankenstein.
See also: Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein.
Batman: TROBW 2 – Until the End of Time
Puritan Intrigue.
Batman: TROBW 4 – Dark Night, Dark Rider
Savage, Hurt & Midnight Horse.
Edgar Allan Poe references.
Genre – Dime Novel
Batman: TROBW 4 – Dark Night, Dark Rider
Jonah Hex.
The fact that it’s a comic book.
Batman and Robin 13 – The Garden of Death
The Garden of Death by Hugo Simberg. Symbolism.

20th Century Art
Avant-Garde, Art Nouveau & Art Deco
Traditionally Gotham architecture incorporates all of these.

Genre – High Fantasy
Batman – (Wonder Woman represents this.)

Batman 700 – Time and the Batman
Batman One Million, but all of the “time travel” locations.

THE JOKER, in practically every incarnation.
Batman 663 – The Clown at Midnight
Batman 679 – Miracle on Crime Alley
Batman of Zur En Arrh
“Slow Vision” (Joker Vision)
Club of Villains
Batman 680 – The Thin White Duke of Death
Batman of Zur En Arrh
Joker’s rants, routine
Batman and Robin 1 – Domino Effect
The Domino Killer
The Circus of Strange
Professor Pyg
Even the nature of Dick as Batman and Damian as Robin, as the entire B&R run is
meant to be “haunted” by shades of Joker, whether it be Dick’s new enemies, the
color schemes, locations (Killing Joke circus) … everything therefore reflects
Joker’s DaDaist mantra. There’s also a bit of VAUDEVILLE.
Batman and Robin 2 – The Circus of Strange
Batman and Robin 3 – Mommy Made of Nails

Batman 673 – Joe Chill in Hell
Psychedelic mental trip during heart attack.
Batman 682 – The Butler Did It
Psychedelic mental trip during Evil Factory.
Batman 683 – What the Butler Saw
Psychedelic mental trip during Evil Factory.
Batman 701 – The Hole In Things
Psychedelic mental trip post Zur En Arrh.
Batman 702 – Batman’s Last Case
Psychedelic mental trip during Evil Factory.
Batman: TROBW 6 – The All-Over
Psychedelic mental confrontation in Darkseid’s hole in things.
Batman, Inc. 5 – The Kane Affair
Psychedelic flashbacks to Kathy Kane hallucinogen-fueled heartbreak.
Batman, Inc. 10 – Leviathan Strikes!
Psychedelic mental trip during Doctor Dedalus attack.

Abstract Expressionism
Batman: TROBW 6 – The All-Over
Much of Lee Garbett’s page & panel designs. The symbolism of the pearls, the gun.

Genre – Pulp Fiction & Noir
Every Batman Comic In History.
Batman 663 – The Clown at Midnight
Prose format, gritty hard-boiled detective drama.
Batman: TROBW 1 – Shadow on Stone
Robert E. Howard barbarian homage.
Batman: TROBW 2 – Until the End of Time
Robert E. Howard witch hunter homage with Lovecraft references.
Batman: TROBW 3 – The Bones of Bristol Bay
Robert Louis Stevenson homage.
Batman: TROBW 4 – Dark Night, Dark Rider
Dime-novel/Western homage.
Batman: TROBW 5 – Masquerade
James Ellroy/Raymond Chandler with a lot of pre-Batman Detective Comics.
Batman: TROBW 6 – The All-Over
Jack Kirby, Morrison’s JLA run and Heinland/Asimov/Vonnegut/Bradbury concepts.

Pop Art
Batman 655 – Building a Better Batmobile
Art for Africa (Jezebel), Hirst and Lichtenstein homages, Warhol.
Batman 656 – Man-Bats of London
Art for Africa (Jezebel), Hirst and Lichtenstein homages.

Genre – Japanese Manga
Batman, Inc. 1-2 Batman Japan
Making Bat-Manga canon.
Mister Unknown’s comic shop fa├žade.
Revamp of Lord Death Man into video-game based villain.

Genre – Secret Agent
Batman, Inc.
Spyral, T.H.E.Y., Leviathan, Doctor Dedalus (Post-Nazi), Kathy Kane, Gaucho,
Scorpiana, The Hood, School of Night

Comic Books as the ultimate Postmodernist Vessel.

Genre – Spaghetti Western
Batman: TROBW 4 – Dark Night, Dark Rider
Based somewhat on “High Plains Drifter”

Genre – Hammer Horror/Cluedo/Vincent Price/Scooby-Doo. (British involvement)
Batman 667–669 – The Club of Heroes
Murder mansion mystery, one of you is the culprit!
Batman 676-681 – Batman, R.I.P.
Parlor masquerade with nefarious rich & powerful figures watching you die!
Batman and Robin 7-9 – Blackest Knight
Trapped in a mine with Crime Cultists. Slightly Scooby-Doo.
Batman and Robin 13-16 – Batman and Robin Must Die!
Occult ritual, devil summoning, drugs and pagans.
Batman: TRBOW 5 – Masquerade
Occult ritual, more 70s style. Devil summoning.
Batman, Inc. 9 – The School of Night
Secret cult of killers in a girl’s school.

Genre – Kung-Fu
52 – Revelations
Nanda Parbat monks.
Batman 670-671 – The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul
League of Assassins. Tibet.
Sensei and his Men of Death.
I-Ching. Psychic possession.
Nanda Parbat. Fountain of Life.
Batman # 671 – Hearts in Darkness
Chinese assassin flashback.

Entire Morrison Run recombines & fuses things. Break down Batman into parts,
glorify those parts.
Batman, Inc. 3-5
The Victory Vs
The entire concept of a kind of flawed super-team, these guys are a perfect
encapsulation of what Alan Moore and other writers were doing in the 1980s,
taking the gilded ideal of super-heroes and turning them into far-too-human
messes of people (albeit cleverly based on various British sci-fi figures).
Doctor Dedalus murdering them all is equivalent to the character assassinations
frequently employed in the 1980s. And what a shock, even “in story” this
massacre took place in the 80s.

Outsider Art
Batman 656 – Man-Bats of London
Each weapon, memento, keepsake crafted by a villain who is basically an
antisocial artist lashing out at society. Bruce would argue that the Bat-Cave is
an Outside Art Gallery. The Bat-Cave itself is depicted as this splendid showcase
of Bruce’s adventures through art history.

Genre - Digital Art
Batman, Inc 8 - Nightmares in Numberland

Genre – Future (Neo-Noir)
Batman 666 – Batman in Bethlehem
The 666 future, as well as the Batman Beyond future.
Batman 700 – Time and the Batman

Genre – Future (Dystopian)
Batman 700 – Time and the Batman
Batman 3050, Brane Taylor and Ricky fighting the Iron Heel of Fura – basically
this is the future where machines rise up against man, like Terminator or Matrix.
It’s 50 years after the Legion as well.

Genre – Future (Utopian)
Batman 700 – Time and the Batman
Batman One Million, a future that is a perfect harmony of nature and technology.

Genre – Sci-Fi
Batman – (Superman represents all forms of hard sci-fi.)
Whenever Superman enters Batman’s world it’s the sci-fi of the DCU stabbing into
the semi-realism (neo-noir) of Batman’s world. If that’s not enough, factor in
guys like Rip Hunter (Pulp Time Travel), Booster Gold, or Green Lantern (Space
Opera). Superman is the vanguard for Batman getting into INSANE adventures.

Ultra-Modern Art
Batman 655-Onward – The stimulus cocktail that made Joker into Joker.
Contemporary Flaneur
Street Games, Con-Artistry
Neon Billboards
Chemical Spill Rainbows
Glo-Fi Smog Skies

More on this later.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why did Batman steal Sivana's photonic crystal?

How is Tim Drake Batman's greatest student, but has the smallest role?

What is Lazlo Valentin's relationship to Kathy Kane, Spyral, the circus, and Hurt?

Who is David Zavimbe? Who are his Super Fly Crew?

What is The Hood's relationship to Kathy Kane? (Is he Netz's "second best" mention?)

Who was the second double-agent? Matron? Why did his speech bubbles look like Lord Death Man's?

Does Lord Death Man run on Lazarus?




Monday, December 19, 2011


It comes Wednesday. In honor of that, I'm doing a re-read and taking notes on everything Incorporated has given us so far and trying to piece a few things together, so starting from the beginning, here are some new observations:

- Bruce says "That's it!" (I shall become a Bat) when the bat flies into his window. Later when Kathy Kane realizes how to infiltrate Batman by becoming Batwoman, she too says "That's it!"
- Bruce tells Oracle she'll be able to "customize her avatar", and sure enough, Scott Clark's digital version of Batgirl-Oracle is nothing like David Finch's.
- Bruce mentions Internet 3.0, Batgirl going to England, and wanting 1000 G.I. Robot Bat-Knights by Spring. We've just had "Nightmares in Numberland, and are now going to School of Night, then Leviathan Strikes, where the robot army will come into play.
- The Heretic is possibly a "traitor" former member of the Super-Kollektiv.

- Sivana's lab is not necessarily in Tokyo. I just assumed it was because the rest of the issue is, and it features robots.
- Project X, still no idea what it's for, although if Oroboro is laser-based, I can see a use for a diamond-like prism.
- Batman is CONSISTENTLY not the first person to discover anything. Super-Kollektiv raids Farouk's gene-splice facility first. U.S. agents raid Sivana's lab. Death Man finds Mister Unknown first. The list goes on.
- Three John Does, Three Unknowns, Three Blind Assassins/Mice (Dr. No!), Three Orphans, Three Letters, Three Dead Snipers, Three sections of that one motif. Three Batmen. Three Kanes.
- Batman uses several gadgets and got out of several jams COMPLETELY UNEXPLAINED that seemed new to me as a comics reader. Once I played through and beat the Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City games I no longer was confused that Batman had sonic batarangs capable of shattering glass windows (or explosive gel), or that he had a "device that could hack local security systems with less tech than a cell phone". I've used all those gadgets before. I know Batman has them.

- Dedalus's cloak, as we've learned from the Leviathan Strikes preview, is a memory-leech, and gives those exposed to it the symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease. Holes in the memory. Time disorientation. This now explains KNIGHT's dizzying predicament in the Victory Vs flashback, as well as how he turned the "decoy Dedalus" into an amnesiac.
- The Hood refers to his boss, "Matron", as having one beady eye. Could it be Captain Carnation, survived?
- Scorpiana's blue scorpions actually kill ALL of El Papagayo's henchmen that Batman and Gaucho knocked out non-lethally. Oops!
- Oro is gold, yellow.
- Morrison cuts from "That's it!" to "I shall become a ..." except it's Sombrero, and instead of "Bat" he says "Monster of Villainy".
- It stands to reason that The Hood's spy organization, "T.H.E.Y.", led by "Matron", is the REPLACEMENT spy agency for Spyral, since Spyral turned out to be a problem.
- Hood really does stick to the "Robin Hood" namesake, giving all his earnings to the underprivileged. Spy for the rich, give to the poor? His mission is almost identical to the mission Dedalus sent Kathy Kane on - infiltrate Batman's operation.
- Batwoman vs. Scorpiana is still the best fight scene I've ever seen.
- NATO Marines were PSY-OPS, psychological warfare, which makes sense if the enemy they're dealing with has an "ULTIMATE WEAPON" that is actually rooted in "PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE", which is ultra-appropriate for Batman to deal with.

Jake Kane, and the Argentines, imply that "Oroboro" is WITH (or within) Doctor Dedalus.

If Doctor Dedalus' cloak of smoke has the power to exert Alzheimer's-like dementia on people on a huge scale ... that could easily be the ULTIMATE WEAPON. "Oroboro" has already been related, the snake eating its own tail, to Alzheimers and memory loss and the mind going in circles. Therefore, "Oroboro" could easily be the codeword for a weapon that erases the minds of billions of people. And "mind-erasing drugs" are already an epidemic in Morrison's Batman comics, whether it be the flashbacks to the 50's era mind-bending drugs and references to Hugo Strange, Scarecrow, Mad Hatter and Achilles Milo, Doctor Hurt's expertise in psychology, Professor Pyg's mind-altering drugs which we now learn are connected to Dedalus' Alzheimer's effects, and the brain-washing drugs Leviathan is using to create zombified terrorist soldiers out of children.

- "Leviathan" refers to Otto Netz as "HERR DOCTOR". The ONLY other person who called him that is ADOLF HITLER HIMSELF. Food for thought, Leviathan COULD be Hitler.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The School of Night

I haven't much to say yet.

The one ray of light following the end of Bryan Q. Miller's Stephanie Brown driven Batgirl book is that the follow-up writer for Stephanie is Grant Morrison. So she's going back to being Spoiler ... this is fine. Her Batgirl costume, though it grew on us, was pretty garish. So was her Spoiler costume.

The ideal thought here ... the take home for today ... is my curiosity on whether it's Cam Stewart or Chris Burnham, or Grant hisself gets to redesign Spoiler, and I'll take one of those boys super-hero style sensibilities any day.

(I'd make it easy on 'em ... something of the same costume she's been wearing ... ditch the bat-symbol off the chest in favor of a small "Inc." badge on the clasp of the cape. Bring back the hooded look, but not the full-face mask look. Leave that platinum blond look exposed. Shore up the silly belt and thigh pouch. Keep homaging the 60's Batgirl TV costume's levels of purple. Voila.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Batman, Incorporated is getting all kinds of sporadic here, but there's really a lot more meat in this particular issue's script than the kind of CGI static, slightly dated looking, I'd rather have had less of a throwback in art and something more substantial, classic and dynamic than this artwork would lead you to believe.

The Batman & Oracle team-up is good. They're both entirely competent, Bruce figuring out how to battle crime in cyberspace and maintain order in a highly action-packed board meeting while Oracle just runs around like she owns the place. But I feel like the disconnect in the artwork (Not to mention the fact that Barbara's avatar looks nothing like the sleek design David Finch speculated back in Batman: The Return. I rather wish Finch, or someone better still (Burnham!) had drawn this chapter. Some "computer world effects" could have been added later and with more discretion.) anyway, disconnect in the artwork all but kills any cool emotional beats from the characters ... the "locked room mystery"/"corporate board meeting" elements of the guest characters, and the classical beats we usually get from Bruce and Barbara - Batman's grim expressions in his eyes, his knowing glares, furrowed brows, a smirk here, a stern face there. And Barbara's quirks as well - grins when she kicks ass, particularly since she gets to simulate riding and running and being out of the chair in this environment. In fact, as such a staple of Barbara Gordon iconography, I almost wish this issue had been drawn by Marcos Martin of Batgirl: Year One fame.

Despite that, though ... on to the meat. For starters, there's our cast of "suspects" in this almost parlour game scenario ... this almost R.I.P. fashioned "murder mystery" without a murder. Some twisted "Game of Clue" as Grayson referred to Joker's antics. And here we have the usual suspects, although in place of Miss Scarlet, Col. Mustard, Mrs. White, Mr. Green, Mrs. Peacock and Prof. Plum we have Mz. Bourgeois, Mr. Zamaroff, Mr. Tanaka, Mr. Chun Wei, Mr. Velocet, and Dr. Solomon.

Nothing particularly noteworthy about their names - Morrison chose names that suited rich capitalists. "Bourgeois" being an old French land-owning name (Possibly influenced by its common etymology with "Burgess", as in "Burgess Meredith".). Solomon a traditional Biblical name fit for a doctor. Chun Wei rooted in some very, very old Chinese nomadic tribes. And so forth. One may link Mr. Ari Zamaroff's mention of the Russian neighborhood he grew up in (which was apparently a war zone) with the hellish places Leviathan is breeding in.

Nothing particularly surprising about a Japanese electronics guy being the one responsible for the evil video-game inspired assault either, although we'll get to more about Mr. Tanaka later, right from the get-go one sees he's a bit of a pastiche of a lot of Morrison's Japanese interests - name probably taken from Tiger Tanaka of James Bond fame, useful as it's common as Smith or Johnson is here. Video-game expert. Electronics mogul. That sort of thing. He'd have been an ideal Black Glove member, but again, more on that later. Suffice it to say Leviathan is certainly sharing certain themes with S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Tanaka ends up being something of a cliche, but he's a well-rounded cliche at least.

The Worm Captain is another story. The tech-savvy will clarify that a Worm
in computer parlance is a self-propagating (breeding) piece of malicious software (malware). So the Worm Captain operates just like Leviathan. It's almost assured that it's something they released. The symbolism works beautifully, as "worm" equates to "Leviathan", "Serpent", "Oroboros", "Dragon", "Snake". A new kind of Devil. As for "Captain", it indicates that this is the leader, or best (worst) Worm. The word Captain also stems from Latinate "Caput", which means "Head", which ties nicely to the hydra-like idea of cutting off a worm's head, only for it to grow back, or grow back twice, or cutting the head off a snake. Anyway, the Worm Captain operates in digital space almost exactly how Leviathan is operating in the real world. The methods are the same as those mentioned by Doctor Dedalus. Infiltrate. The Worm. Is everywhere. The Worm. Owns everyone. The Worm. Is everything.

A zombie virus label indicates that the Worm Captain doesn't just self-propagate, it creates zombies (it gets into other computers, and then uses them like carriers (called "Zombies" by tecnos) to spread itself further). This would be how Tanaka has accessed/hijacked the computer systems of all the people in that virtual board meeting, and can access and fuck around with their financial data/fortunes. If their avatars get killed, their computer operating systems become zombies, and basically Tanaka is the necromancer. Interestingly, this ties quite nicely to Morrison's common voodoo theme as utilized by The Joker in his Gravedigger guise, where Shakespeare meets Baron Samedi. (See also: Inc. # 6 where Tim faces off with his grudge-foe, the voodoo shaman Obeah Man.)

The mutation engine is more commonly known as a polymorphic engine. "Mutation engine" certainly sounds cooler in a comic book, and not that many people know what polymorphic means, so it makes sense to have Oracle describe it as polymorphic, then use "mutation", since we all understand that word.

A mutation engine is most commonly used in a virus. It transforms a program, typically a benign program - anything in Internet 3.0 ... the blimp for instance - into basically a copy of itself with the same function, only completely rewritten so that the malware virus has a built-in hiding spot inside preexisting programs. Tanaka must thereby log on, carrying the Worm Captain malware with himself as the Trojan Horse, whereupon it mutates something else in Internet 3.0 to conceal itself within and can be used for whatever he wants to use it for (for instance turning himself into a boss battle.) Barbara must be using one hell of a Search & Destroy program.

Tanaka eventually basically repeats the same words of Leviathan, and particularly Sam Black Elk the Red Rippa last issue when he claims "Wherever the standard of the Bat rises! It will be torn down!"

Judgment in Hell City 666.
Not-so-subtle reference to Batman # 666 and Batman # 700, the dystopian future Hell occupied by Batman (Damian Wayne) and sure as shit ... Barbara Gordon is in charge there too, as Commissioner of the GCPD.

Note that in Batman # 666 Damian actually has to deal with "Judgment in Hell City 666", and in Batman # 700 Damian has to deal with a mutating digital Joker virus (in addition to a real one - Jokerized Monster Men) that got into Gotham's computerized weather control grid. Then, One Million issues in the future, Batman One Million and Robin the Toy Wonder have to face off against an evolution of the same digital Joker virus. Real life and digital life become more and more interrelated in each progressive future. In fact, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker also features Joker taking control of Tim Drake's body via a digital device - the same digital Joker virus, mutated to actually affect "human operating systems"?

Ghost in the Box. This is a fun one, as it's literally Morrison combining the phrase Ghost in the Machine with Jack-in-the-Box. And it's a pretty sensible way to describe Tanaka's malware program. Fun story about Jack-in-the-Boxes - they have clowns or jesters inside, drawing an immediate connection to the digital Joker virus. But "Jack", besides being analogous to the Joker we know, and his further analogues, was also a fill-in for "Devil" (In France, it's called a "Boxed Devil" based on an old wive's tale. And hey ... didn't Bruce Wayne trap the Devil (Darkseid) in his own ancestor box? And didn't The Joker trap the OTHER Devil (Doctor Hurt) in a pine box?)

(Additionally, I'm quite reminded of Futurama, where Bender the Robot dreams of ones and zeroes ... and has superstitious nightmares where he "thought he saw a two". Devil is double is deuce, after all.)

Or maybe Damian's 666 future is just him playing as an avatar in some freaky simulation. Barbara mentions "seven years ago" and one half expects that time-period to have some importance. It could (and I'll do the math later) wind up being around the same time Doctor Dedalus is imprisoned during the DCU Falklands War, very early in Batman's career, or while Kathy Kane is operating as Batwoman. In fact, the way Zamaroff mentions that the entire evil simulation reminds him of some Eighties cheap game almost guarantees that it happened during the Dedalus Mission by Percival Sheldrake and the Victory Vs.

Grinder of Souls (IE: Soul Grinder) and Angel are two extremely powerful units in your various RPGs and MMORPGs, Soul Grinder in particular being relatable to WarHammer 40,000. Apparently Judgment in Hell City 666 creature Tanaka used some of the classic staples.

"Ultimate price" proves to be quite literal, as Tanaka literally intends to steal all of their billions and finance terrorism with it. Slight Casino Royale vibe there (high stakes game, terrorists get the money, Tanaka is a bit Le Chifre.)

Digital Justice is in blatant reference to the previous CGI graphics 1990 Batman: Digital Justice mini-series that this entire issue homages. And unsurprisingly at this point, that also featured a sentient Joker virus. Barbara's ex-librarian comment references her history as a character, but especially memorable because of its use in Batman '66, where Babs the Librarian was made common knowledge.

"Mazes. Webs. Nets," is an easy transition to Kathy Webb and Otto Netz.

And of course, the biggest, most obvious revelation is that the nation of Mtamba, where Jezebel Jet hails from, is the birthplace of Leviathan, instantly connecting Leviathan to Jet, who was a member of the Black Glove. Rest assured Batwing will be on the front lines of any operations there, thus connecting him into the whole Jezebel Jet storyline. One wonders if the Ten-Eyed Men of the Ghost Quarter might factor in as well.

But the key thing to take note of I believe, is the over-arcing similarity between how Tanaka attempts to "judge" all the investors in this digital board meeting parlour game, in much the same way the Black Glove operated. Hell/Satan/Devil imagery. "Your sins have found you out" dialogue. His talk about being a "billionaire" and taking real risks. He sounds just like John Mayhew (Gaucho mentioned Mayhew again as well, comparing Wayne to him, but here we see Wayne once more stacked against a guy like Mayhew, a bad billionaire, and Bruce succeeds and the other investors are bettered by his leadership, instead of corrupted.) or other former Black Glove members. Like some weird Black Glove Parody in cyber-space. Anyway, here we have another "Black Glove" connection to Leviathan, perhaps the strongest yet since Club of Villains members Scorpiana and Sombrero fall more into the hired gun category.

With Doctor Hurt gone, these agents are moving on to the next Devil in line. Tanaka's ties to Jet, and Jet's ties to Leviathan aren't exactly concrete. We're not sure exactly what capacity, but we're sure there is a connection. Well ... unless Talia al Ghul has seized Jet's assets and joined Leviathan just to fuck with Bruce.

Anyway, see you next time for Leviathan Strikes, where Stephanie Brown infiltrates the School of Night, Finishing School for EVIL.

And if anyone can translate the funky numeric speak that Belle Bourgeois says when she's transformed into a dog, I'd love to know what it means (if anything).

Monday, June 27, 2011

"Then somehow Kathy's the reason we're all here?" - El Gaucho, Batman Incorporated # 5.

Doctor Dedalus. Batman. Batwoman. Gaucho. She's definitely the reason they're all there. Father, lover, lover, successor.

But what about The Hood? Why is The Hood there? I think it's possible to take Gaucho's words literally here, even though he's naive to The Hood's real motives. A super-spy. Working for T.H.E.Y., who we still know next to nothing about but who one imagines are a bit of every great pop culture British spy organization, in a world of super-heroes, probably founded by Sherlock Holmes at one point.

He works for a guy called Matron. What I'd never bothered to look up before is that the British Armed Forces never abandoned the term "Matron" and it's been used for male as well as female officers. (Also, of course, as I think has been mentioned elsewhere, Matrons are commonly associated with boarding houses. See: Batgirl's mission in Batman Incorporated # 9.) We can surely bet that Batgirl's mission to England will continue with the Brit angle Grant has been stringing along throughout his run, and it's likely enough beats from Knight, Squire, and highly likely The Hood will pick up there. I recall Paul Cornell wasn't permitted to use Dai Laffyn in his mini-series either ... so I wonder what the odds Dai turns up in the ninth issue will be.

But if Gaucho's remark is semi-literal, or meta-literal ... The Hood too is there because of Kathy Kane. Who we know from The Kane Affair was involved in all manner of espionage in her life, between flings, artistic endeavors and her marriage to Nathan and subsequent widowing and drafting by Spyral. I had to wonder if The Hood knew Kathy Kane personally as well. (Of course, if Kathy = Leviathan, that would explain the meta-literalness of the phrase as well.)


Lastly. Three PSY-OPS agents. What Batman does IS PSY-OPS. Using propaganda in warfare. Using bats, urban legends, rumor, darkness and fear to weaken his enemies. Colonel Kane called them "deep black", and black in US PSYWAR is used to designate the branch that is specifically used to deceive an enemy. Obviously deception is nothing new to Batman, Batman's enemies, Morrison, Morrison's run on Batman, yadda.

The question is, why would deceivers be the ones used to effectively be put on guard duty for Otto Netz? Highly trained guards can be found elsewhere. Do they need to be trained to recognize and look for deceptions? Possibly. Are they learning from their prisoner? Possibly. Or is there something more there?

Otto's conversation with Kathy seemed damn near a psychic chat in the middle of that acid trip freakout in the 60's. I don't believe he's psychic, but rather that Oroboro might give the psychic tools to somebody. OTTO is a palindrome as well. The old man - the fake Netz - spoke with his own voice, and only toward the end did we "learn" that it was a tape recorder.

I'd posit (today, anyway) that Netz was using his shadowy ability to speak through or control the fake Netz and then the tape recorder was more than just a little bit of duplicity to throw them off his trail having escaped.

We'll find out more soon. Like how Netz, Hood, Kathy and the super-spy angle ties with Leviathan and the continuing themes of "Super Drugs" and slavery we've been seeing.