Thursday, August 14, 2008

"Batman R.I.P." Part IV: Batman #679 Annotations

I've been annotating "Batman R.I.P." and discussing Morrison's Batman run nearly issue-by-issue since his "Clown at Midnight" story. Click HERE for all my relevant Morrison Batman posts, and comment below to tell me everything I missed.

Batman #679: The Annotations

Cover: This cover has absolutely no bearing on the story inside. It's not even the same costume. I'd like to see Alex Ross's version of the "Tlano Batman" with the red, yellow, and purple. But instead we get a nice but generic Bat-pose.

Page 1:
No more foreshadowing or fancy ideas here. Just Batman smashing his way through a door. He is wearing the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh costume he had sewn in the previous issue. It's a reference to Batman #113, of course, as I detailed in previous posts and annotations.

Pages 2-3: Batman has apparently (off-panel, as has been typical of Morrison lately, now that ellipsis is his technique of choice here and in Final Crisis) tracked down the tailor who has been costuming the demon mask guys he's been punching in previous issues. Bat-Mite, who first appeared in Detective Comics #267, popped up in the final panel of the last issue (and earlier in Morrison's run -- issue #672 -- when Batman seemed to have a heart-attack). Bat-Mite hasn't been in continuity since Crisis on Infinite Earths -- at least practically speaking (but he has popped up in some Elseworlds things and as some kind of Mxyzptlk incarnation) -- and although Morrison has been completely unafraid of using the supernatural and multi-dimensional in other comics (he's embraced such things), I still maintain that Bat-Mite is a hallucination here. I think Morrison's way of explaining every Batman story -- all of which "actually happened," according to Morrison -- is to give some sort of scientific/mind alteration explanation for the weird and wacky occurrences of the Silver Age. Those adventures still happened -- but only inside Batman's mind (or they were distorted versions of what really happened, because of imposed delusions).

Le Bossu first appeared in the initial installment of "Batman R.I.P.," Batman #676. He seems to be the gopher for the Club of Villains. He's always running around taking care of things for the club. Apparently, he's also the costume liaison.

Page 4: I think this page supports my contention that Batman is hallucinating Bat-Mite, since not only does the imp speak to him, but the stone gargoyles do as well. Since we are to assume that Batman is imagining the gargoyles dialogue -- and Batman even says, "Am I nuts or did these things just talk?" to which Bat-Mite responds, "You? Oh, you're totally sane!" -- isn't it safe to assume that he's imagining Bat-Mite as well? Or Morrison could be throwing us off with that kind of misdirection and I could be totally wrong.

By the way, this page is also an allusion to the Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, with it's hunchback mention and the talking gargoyles who comment on the action. Scoff at Morrison at will.

Page 5: The notion of the "grids" and the city talking to Batman shows his relationship with Gotham, but it also ties in with the supernatural force of Gotham city itself, as established way back in Morrison's "Batman: Gothic" storyline.

Checkerboards are also a motif in Morrison's Batman run -- appearing prominently in the prose story of Batman #663, and reappearing in the Joker scene in DC Universe #0. A checkerboard -- in addition to the notion that it's a kind of blueprint for a "machine designed to make Batman" -- would seem to symbolize duality (black and white, or red and black) and gamesmanship. Both of those ideas fit Morrison's Batman run.

Pages 6-7: The tracking device could have been implanted on Batman at several points in Morrison's run, but it was probably implanted by Dr. Hurt between issues #677 and #678. How Batman (or Bat-Mite) knows that it's in his tooth is unclear, although Batman does have an almost magical awareness of his own body, and Bat-Mite is either a projection of his fractured mind or a superdimensional imp, and either way might have insight that a normal being would not.

There's something disconcerting about seeing Batman in the Zur-En-Arrh costume, isn't there? Tony Daniel's panel of Batman leaping into action would be pretty generic if he had his normal grey and black costume on, wouldn't it? But the purple, red, and yellow adds a deranged beauty to the scene.

Page 8: Ellipsis! This is the type of thing that readers have been complaining about with Morrison lately. All of a sudden, the fight's over, Bruce Wayne's out of costume and somewhere on the internet, someone is asking, "who's that on Page 8? Dick Grayson?"

Anyway, it's clearly Bruce Wayne, and you can see his Honor-Jackson-given (or inherited) shopping cart with the Zur-En-Arrh costume in panel one. Panel two has the "old chum" line -- an allusion to the Adam West incarnation of Batman, although "old chum" in those days was Robin, not Bat-Mite.

Bat-Mite identifies the whole Zur-En-Arrh episode from Batman #113 as a hallucination caused by "professor milo's Gas weapon." Professor Achilles Milo -- he of the Moe Howard haircut -- first appeared in Detective Comics #247.

The final panel on the page is a flashback to young Bruce Wayne, enraged over the death of his parents. Note the red coloring though, which will contrast with the black background in the flashback on the next page.

Page 9: This is one of those times when Morrison uses a character to explain everything to the reader. Here, it's Bat-Mite, who tells us (and Bruce Wayne) how all of the recent craziness fits together. Of course, if Bat-Mite's your source, how reliable can it be? But Morrison used the Mad Hatter as his mouthpiece in Arkham Asylum, so Bat-Mite is probably just laying expository pipe here.

The "isolation experiment" refers to Batman #156, "Robin Dies at Dawn," which is the issue Dr. Hurt comes from, and it's the issue Morrison has referenced directly a number of times in recent issues.

The first flashback here -- panel two shows the eyes, hand, and gun of Joe Chill as he kills Thomas and Martha Wayne. The pearls have been a symbol of Martha Wayne's death since Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns. The second flashback shows the Wayne family just prior to their death, watching "The Mark of Zorro" starring Tyrone Power (the movie the family watched before taking a shortcut through Crime Alley has changed throughout the years depending on who's telling the story, but "The Mark of Zorro" -- was that another Miller addition to the mythos? -- is a common choice).

The final panel clearly establishes that the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh is a defense mechanism Batman created to save himself in the event of a psychological attack. Hence, he's not necessarily going crazy and the hallucinations of Bat-Mite may be something he has programmed into his own brain to get him out of trouble. Bat-Mite is like the the spinning wheel of the computer screen as his psyche reboots.

Pages 10-11: Robin voicemails the Club of Heroes (last seen in Batman #669) and faces off with Swagman (that's apparently his name, although solicits for his first appearance identified him as Spring-heeled Jack) who has a Ned Kelly gang helmet and sings "Waltzin' Matilda, which marks him as Australian and is yet another piece of evidence that he's not the British bomber I originally made him out to be. I assume Swagman is supposed to be an antagonist of the Ranger. (I really thought he was Spring-heeled Jack, though.)

That's Knight and Squire at the end of page 11, the only Club of Heroes members Morrison has used other than in issues #667-669 (they appeared in Morrison's JLA: Classified #1-3). "The lads," of course, would be the other Club of Heroes members.

Page 12: This is Charlie Caligula (nemesis of the Legionary) and King Kraken (nemesis of the Wingman) beating up on a minion of Le Bossu. Infighting amongst the Club of Villains. Perhaps Le Bossu is over-reaching. Charlie Caligula refers to himself as the "God-Emperor of Crime" -- like the historical Caligula (a.k.a. Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus) this guy thinks he's a god, apparently.

Page 13:
If Charlie Caligula, and presumably other Club of Villain members, thought Batman was dead, then Dr. Hurt must have hidden his true plans from the others. Why did he leave Batman alive, shoot him up with heroin, and leave him on the streets between issues #677 and 678? We'll have to wait and see.

Pages 14-15: I assume Jim Gordon hears Dr. Hurt pretending to be Alfred over the intercom, but I suppose it could be Alfred under duress. Either way, it's a trap, and the bit at the end of page 14 probably shows that Gordon is willing to make small talk because he has no idea that anything's wrong at the mansion.

El Sombrero, master of booby-traps, is the nemesis of the Gaucho, and yet another member of the Club of Villains.

Pages 16-17: Dr. Hurt wears the Thomas Wayne proto-Batman Halloween costume from Detective Comics #235, "The First Batman." He's apparently not just adopting Thomas Wayne's costume--he's claiming to be the actual Thomas Wayne here, accusing Alfred of having an affair with Martha and being the real father of Bruce.

(That's El Sombrero and Scorpiana with Dr. Hurt here, by the way).

Dr. Hurt says, "I'm Dr. Hurt now" in response to Alfred saying he's no Thomas Wayne. But that doesn't dismiss the idea that Alfred is really Batman's father, nor does it dismiss the idea that Dr. Hurt is Thomas Wayne somehow reborn. I don't know what to make of this information, but I'm sure there's far more to the story.

Dr. Hurt also mentions "breaking the Batman" which provides an explanation about why he might not have killed Batman when he had the chance in previous issues. He wants to break him, destroy him, not just kill him. Why? We don't know, but I'll speculate at the end of this post.

(And that's Pierrot Lunaire, the evil mime, with the Swagman [I'm still not positive that the Ned Kelly helmet guy is the Swagman, but I'll go with it now.])

Pages 18-19: This is one of those great scenes where Morrison fills the page with texture, like the details about Charlie Caligula's criminal empire. "Chicken centurions...beaks hemlock," indeed! The Bat-Radia I discussed at length in previous annotations. Short version: it's from Zur-En-Arrh, Batman #113 (by way of Honor Jackson, last issue -- if Bat-Mite is the spinning wheel on Batman's mental reboot screen, what was Honor Jackson? This metaphor is strained, my friends. But I think that character was part of the defense mechanism Batman set up for his mind.)

"Bat"-man gag. Morrison used it in "Batman: Gothic" more explicitly.

Jezebel Jet, Bruce Wayne's current love, has been abducted by the Black Glove. We don't know if she's somehow involved in the organization or not.

Pages 20-21: Doctor Dax is Le Bossu in disguise. The "newcomer" referred to is probably Dick Grayson, who ended up imprisoned in Arkham under false pretenses last issue.

Jeremiah Arkham, who first appeared in Shadow of the Bat #1, is the nephew of Amadeus Arkham and current head of the asylum. Well, he was. Until these pages.

The red and black motif continues here, with the flowers, and we see Jezebel Jet getting dragged around as minions with black and red paint walk towards her.

Le Bossu stands on the checkerboard, calling Joker "master" in French and speaking of the "Dance of Death." But is it a Danse Macabre designed to teach Batman a lesson? Or is it just a fancy way of saying that people will die? I'd guess the former. I think the Black Glove has something didactic in mind for Bruce Wayne, and that's why he's kept him alive.

Page 22: The Clown at Midnight version of the Joker is finally ready to re-engage with Batman for the first time since issue #663 (except the brief scene in DC Universe #0). The red and black fingernails continue that motif, and Batman's coming, Zur-En-Arrh style (with his "bat," of course). The Joker is not the Black Glove. The Black Glove will be revealed after Batman's confrontation with the Joker, I suspect.

A Few Thoughts on Dr. Hurt and the Black Glove: I don't remember who commented on this here, or who e-mailed me about it, but someone proposed the theory that the Black Glove was the Devil. I think that may very well be true. It would fit into Morrison's earlier "Gothic" story, and it would explain why Dr. Hurt (an agent of Satan or an embodiment of the entity) wants to break Batman instead of killing him. That's how the Devil operates.

Morrison did say that the Black Glove is somebody "everyone in the world knows," which REALLY narrows it down. It's not the Joker (who, arguably, isn't know around the entire world anyway). That pretty much leaves Batman -- everyone knows Batman, right? -- and although at first I thought Morrison was implying that Batman himself, or a fragment of his psyche, was the Black Glove, now I'm not so sure. Satan makes sense, and the red and the black would fit his fashion sense, certainly. I don't know that I want it to have such a religious/supernatural explanation, but there you go.


Chad Nevett said...

Hmm... never considered Satan, but that would make issue 666 fit into the overall story better. I'm not sure what motivation Satan would have for all of this, though. I know, I know, the guy likes to mess with people, but this seems a bit much. Of course, Satan could easily be Neron or some other DCU version of the devil. Still, motivation?

Anonymous said...

Check out how Bruce describes his thoughts when the mask is off... like a "streamlined engine, a silver bullet". Do we know of anyone commonly compared to a train and a bullet? That's the Superman tagline. This is telling us that his mind is Batman's superpower.

The house where Hurt and the COV met in #676 resembles the art in Batman #62 showing the Knight and Squire's abode. We're told in the Mayhew storyline that the Knight's father was murdered, and he subsequently lost his fortune and ended up on drugs and homeless. This is exactly what Hurt intended for Bruce. Chances are, the Knight was "practice" for all of this.

pibegardel said...

When Batman is beating Charlie Caligula up Charlie screams "What's that thing behind you!" Is he talking about Bat-Mite?

Someone said...

When Caligula refers to "that thing behind Batman," I'm 80% sure he means Bat-Mite...

See, look on page 18, panel four. Who's that up in the top left corner, behind Batman? Yes, Bat-Mite!

Also, there's clearly nothing behind Batman in the panel where he's asked "what's behind him..." But there IS something behind Bat-Mite... and has been for some time now. Wonder what that's all about? Metaphors, perhaps? I hope not.

I'm a bit of a Bat-Mite fan, so I'm happy to see him reappearing in comics. I would love it if he were "real" in these stories, but Morrison is going to have a lot of 'splaining to do if "Might" is real.

There's another thing... Batman "misspelled" Mite when asking if he was crazy on page 4...

Timothy Callahan said...

Yeah--I wonder what the "Might!" bit is about too, although it "might" relate to the fragment of Batman's psyche the Mite represents.

What's behind Batman? Good question? If it is Bat-Mite then that blows my hallucination theory.

What's that green clingy thing on Bat-Mite? Anyone have a guess? Is Bat-Mite a puppet of some other force that looks like Gollum with spider arms? What's that about?

If I didn't distrust Tony Daniel's art so much, I might have more theories about what it all means. maybe Bat-Mite is supposed to be in the panel where Caligula asks what's behind Batman.

Anonymous said...

Damn it, I think you're right about it being Satan, Morrison recently said in an interview that the main villain of the series was very obvious, and all the clues spelled it out plainly every issue (the red and black is so obvious now, as i was just seeing it as a life and death, power and the absence of motif)
)...I hope you're wrong, I kinda wanted to be surprised by the big reveal, lol.

Chad Nevett said...

Since I don't trust Daniel's art, I figured Caligula was referring to the bat.

Anonymous said...

If Bat-Mite is a hallucination, a simple preset program running on auto while Batman's mind reboots...could that "green thing" on Bat-mite's back be just a representation of the tampering that's been done to Bruce's mind by Hurt...that despite all Batman's mental preparations, Hurt's influence is still strong in Batman's mind, and is what is actually leading him from point a to b (more than his own will). I really think that's all that it feels like not much has happened yet, that Hurt himself hasn't completely expected (but I've only read the issue once myself).

Though who knows what Charlie was seeing behind Bruce's shoulder (perhaps he was his own "green" manifestation in his own mind via whatever tampering Hurt may have done to Charlie's mind in order to get him to spill just the right amount of information to Batman).

God the last 4 issues have been amazing, completely unique, creepy but still fun...I definitely dig this invention of Batman story more then the Dark Knight.

Sorry for the rant, its almost 2, but I just finished the issue before posting and am wired.

Anonymous said...

*I meant Caligula was seeing his own manifestation and was freaking*

Anonymous said...

Gordon is wearing black gloves. Any significance?

Timothy Callahan said...

It's chilly in Gotham?

I don't think Gordon has any connection to the Black Glove, no.

Kris Krause said...

The idea that the Black Glove is Satan has been around internet message board probably since part 1 of RIP. And I've been hoping this whole time that it's wrong.

It fits better than anything else, with the color theme, issue #666, and especially Morrison's comment that everyone in the world knew who the villain is.

Or does it fit? I don't think so for reasons that converge with why I don't hope so. Satan is a specific representation of evil related to Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions. Satan isn't a part of the Buddhist religion, and Buddhism has been mentioned several times in relation to Batman's cave experience. Point being, not everyone knows who Satan is. Many, many people do because of their religion, plus all the of people who know Satan but don't follow a religion he's used in, but not all people are familiar with the Judeo-Christian-Islamic mythology. To say so would be rather ethnocentric, and for someone who's displayed such interest in Eastern religions, I'd say that comment would be below Morrison. I originally took the comment to be an exaggeration, so here's hoping I was right.

But if I wasn't right, and Morrison is using a supernatural villain for the Black Glove, why has he gone through such painstaking attempts to rewrite all of the silver age wackiness with a grounded explanation that they were part of a mind experiment? If you're going to make Satan the big baddie of your story, why not go all out with supernatural weirdness the whole time? Why ground everything in reality very cleverly, only to throw any semblance of reality out the window in the final issue? As much as Satan seems to fit the clues, he doesn't fit the logic behind the story. The only explanation is that Morrison used the realism to hook readers into the story so he could throw a giant supernatural curveball at the end, and that too is a ploy I think would be below Morrison.

Anonymous said...

Although I'm not crazy about the "Satan" idea, I just realized...


I mean, it really is starting to become a bit obvious...

Anonymous said...

Did Morrison said when the "Batman R.I.P." arc takes place?

I mean,as both books are written by the same author, How does this storyline ties with Final Crisis?

When last saw Bats in Final Crisis #2 he was trapped in that machine, so seeing how self contained Morrison´s run in "Batman" is, could he´d been under the Omega Sanction all this time like Siloh Norman was in "Seven Soldiers"?

By the way, the green thing in Bat-mite´s back reminds me of the Sheeda spine riders.

Ryan said...

He's definitely Swagman- the latest Robin tie-in issue, loose tie-in though it may be, identifies him by name, presumably working off of Morrison's notes/scripts/pitch.

Ryan said...

I mean,as both books are written by the same author, How does this storyline ties with Final Crisis?

I don't have the figures close at hand, but I believe this is supposed to take place a few weeks/months before Final Crisis. Was it last issue or the issue before that had the flash-forward "X months from now" to (a) Batman and Robin against a red sky, the Batman shouting "Batman and Robin will never die" or something along those lines?

As for the "silver bullet" line, like I mentioned on Funnybook Babylon's comments, I think this is Morrison's nod to Silver Age storytelling as personified by Bat-Mite and the Zur-En-Arrh stuff. "So much faster now...clearer, simpler?"

Anonymous said...

1) Clayface as Thomas Wayne? Or too much like Hush?

2) Satan means tempter, which would tie in with Jezebel, also temptress, no?

Good post. I took "what's behind you?" to be a desperate plea for a chance to escape.

Timothy Callahan said...

Don't even bother trying to tie this in to Final Crisis, I say. Let them stand apart for now, and if they fit together eventually, then that's all well and good, but it doesn't really matter.

I know he appeared as Swagman in Robin, but since he has that line about "The Swagman" in the Watlzin' Matilda line this issue, I think it's possible that Chuck Dixon just took that to be his name, based off the script for this issue. His name probably is Swagman, but I'm just not totally convinced because nobody in Morrison's run has verified it yet.

Henshaw Hasselpuffs said...

Regarding Bat-Mite and Charlie Caligula, I asked Tony Daniels about it on his blog and he said the script was written to be uncertain about what it is exactly Charlie sees and he drew it as such.

I think the art has been pretty great so far. My one complain would be that in the first action panel where we see buckshot flying through Batman's cape it looks a bit like it's hitting him in the chest and even then that seems like a hard angle to have to draw. But other then that I haven't even been confused by the art and I'm really loving it, more then I have on Batman in a long while.

Anonymous said...

The Devil idea goes back before part one of RIP:

Did everyone notice that the marquis on the theatre where Batman's been operating reads "The Mask of Zorro" (with missing letters)? This is the same theatre he went to that fateful night.

Other big reveal that's been slipping out: Hurt is not the leader of the villains. Most likely, Le Bossu is. The first page of RIP (after the six months later page) shows Le Bossu driving in a coach; he killed his driver and took over the coach. That's a metaphor for his role in the whole thing. Moreover, there's a good chance that the surprising return of a character in the solicit was to be to show that Le Bossu is actually Hugo Strange.

Yet another: Go back to #667. The Musketeer gives a long, extraneous speech about accidentally killing his enemy and ending up in an asylum facing not one but two of his deadliest enemies. That was a foreshadowing of this WHOLE thing, the same way that the first page of DKR foreshadows that whole story.

Arturo Ulises said...

I'd love it if the Black Glove was Darkside, as improbable as that is.

Anonymous said...

Just found this blog, thanks for the great review, I read the comic myself but you pointed out some stuff I missed.

BTW; I think the Mite told Batman to look for a recent scar on his body to find the tracking device, I assume that there was a scar on Batman's gum or a recent filling in his tooth.

Anonymous said...

"2) Satan means tempter, which would tie in with Jezebel, also temptress, no?"

And also tie in with Batman: Gothic in a way?

Anonymous said...

Note that Morrison gave names in #663 to the two diminutive henchmen from "The Killing Joke": Solomon and Sheba. There is a very strong biblical parallel between that couple, on the one hand, and Ahab and Jezebel on the other. Jezebel turned Ahab from Yahweh to her religion. Solomon turned Sheba from her religion to Yahweh. Another Ahab is also referenced in #676 with the "Call me Ishmael" line. The Moby Dick Ahab is obsessed with an enemy who happens to have white skin. Sound like anyone we know -- white-skinned enemy and a girl named Jezebel?

Joker kills Solomon with his red/black flowers. Batman saves Sheba from Harley. Somehow foreshadowing what's coming?

Anonymous said...

I think it's death. Or Death. Don't know if or how, in the end, GM will personify Death, but he has said that all along it's been right in front of us and is a villain everyone knows. "Batman and Robin will never die," what does this mean? Bruce Wayne and Batman are the same person but one day, Bruce Wayne will die, for real. It's just that people dying and talking about it and getting killed and coming back happens so much in comics world that hardly anyone is treating it in a serious way any more. Notice Jezebel Jet (what a name.. unfortunate) saying "Bruce, what if it's you?" I don't think he has come to terms with death or accepted it and lived accordingly, maybe this is what Morrison is on about. And with that, what drives him as a response to the deaths of his parents (guilt? why? he is not responsible) and fears of causing the deaths of others (Robin included). I expect the things I Ching says to Robin and Nightwing in the R'as Al Ghul story are very important in this regard.

Some wild guesses and speculation: the scene the Joker imagines of Nightwing/Robin/Gordon dead, that will -appear- to come to pass in this "Danse Macabre" gathering, at least to see what it does to Batman (killing his family all over again). Will he blame himself for others' deaths and quit being Batman, either by giving it up, or by breaking his code and taking revenge by killing? Another: in parallel to those three evil Batmen, that Batman has three sons in a way, Nightwing, Robin, and Damien, and they are all worthy to be super heroes, though there will never be another Batman, but that is all right. Another: GM will try to force Bruce to fundamentally change (balance?) his connection to the deaths of his parents, because being driven by guilt and revenge is no life at all. And I suppose due to all that has happened in the past few years it may seem to Bruce that his death may be coming very soon, and he's afraid of it and obsessed with it because he isn't ready (this is what he says when the "Black Glove" appears at the end of #677). After all he can take every precautionary measure and solve every puzzle but he is not immortal. On a sidenote it seems GM is giving a lot of nods to the value of writing and imagination (it is "unforeseen" and strange for a young boy to invent Batman) and of keeping a record of things that may never happen again. IMHO Bruce should really own the Batman as something great that he has created, instead of treating Batman as the result of psychological trauma that always threatens to become out and out madness.

Scott Hamilton said...

Is it just me, or is it supposed to look like the bat on the final page is transparent/illusory?

Anonymous said...

Posting this here as well as 678's comments so there's a better chance you can see it:
One thing you overlooked is that Honor looks like Baron Samedi from Voodoo mythology. The Baron is often portrayed wearing glasses with one lens blacked out- just as Honor has. Further, he is the guardian of the cross roads of death, and Honor rescues Bruce from death by OD in this issue. Add in his comments about salvation, and I think you have a good case for Honor being a ghost of some sort.

Anonymous said...

Why is everyone so certian there really was a tracking device in Bruces tooth? I kind of took it as he is so raving mad and pariniod that he is mutalating himself while dancing about in his rainbow suit beating people with lead pipes.

Henshaw Hasselpuffs said...

The gargoyles were holding a tracking device. It showed whatever they were tracking to be on top of them just as a bird flew overhead. A bird with Batman's tooth tied to it.

Unknown said...

"What's that green clingy thing on Bat-Mite? Anyone have a guess? Is Bat-Mite a puppet of some other force that looks like Gollum with spider arms? What's that about?"

A few weeks ago, I posted my theories about what that was here on your forum, but I guess I posted far too late for you to notice.

It's at the bottom of this page:

Now, I'll be the first to admit that my theory's really out there, but until this last issue it all seemed to fit. So here's the text of that post, so none of y'alls have to go searching...

"One thing I've noticed is that NO ONE is commenting or speculating on the Thing on Batmite's Back. Therefore, here's my theory -

It's the Outsider. Look closely at the way the lumps are drawn, and the eerie eyes, and the shape of the smile. This is Alfred's evil, insanely powerful alter-ego from the 60's, which has (mostly) been in remission since that time. He doesn't know that this thing has been inside him, and that his friends and confidants have been hiding the truth from him. Not until he starts typing up the Black Casebook, at least.

The Outsider has been brought out of remission twice, each time due to Alfred recieving a sudden shock. Discovering that the man you've been taking care of for his entire life has been lying to you for the past twelve years about something lurking at the core of your being would certainly qualify as a shock. And as something that Batman "deserves" punishment for.

The Outsider personality has been physically separated from Alfred on at least one occasion (in Batman Family #13). It may not actually be inside him at the moment, or it could have tweaked his personality enough to have him orchestrate matters from behind the scenes.

Now here's where my theory gets really weird:
Alfred is not only the Outsider.
Alfred is Batmite.

Alfred's subconscious mind has access to incredible power (the Outsider once turned New York City into candles!)
His subconscious mind knows that it has deeply hurt his good friend Batman, and would probably be remorseful.
Therefore, it's likely to create another personality to deal with this, one that would be 'helpful' to Batman and would have access to all of the Outsider's considerable powers.

We saw a similar situation near the end of Batman: The Animated Series when Harvey Dent's subconscious mind, reeling at how many horrible things he had done as Two-Face, created the second personality of the Judge, which then went out and violently fought crime.

Whether Bat-Mite is Alfred or not, we do see the Outsider clinging to him in a seemingly symbiotic manner. I postulate that part of the reason we haven't seen either of them in so long is that they've been keeping each other in check, holding their own secret war for the last several years of Batman's life."

By the by, I love the theory about Le Bossu as Professor Milo... thumbs up!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else find it odd that of all the things Batman has forgotten, he remembers Jezebel Jet? Or has he somehow recovered his memory by this issue? (He seems to remember all about the Club of Villains.)

Also: Why paging Dr. Freud? Is it just the obvious psychiatrist of dreams part of it, or is there a suggestion of something oedipal going on?

And Le Bossu--perhaps idiomatically, the Boss--looks more like Hugo Strange in this issue.

Keith said...

Satan?! /churchladyvoice

Anonymous said...

All I can say is this: I vote for Alfred to be Bruce's father and for Thomas Wayne to have been a jerk. I don't want him back alive (though I'd prefer him to Jason Todd), but I love the undermining of the whole Batman origin and hope it'll stick.

It almost certainly won't, though, and I don't think Morrison's as into that kind of dark revisionism anymore -- more likely, he's parodying it. But, man, I like me some sick and corrupt Thomas and Martha Wayne.

When I was in college, about 20, I wrote a story about a Batman-type who found out that Alfred was behind it all... it made a lot more sense than the "faithful butler" business.

speedreeder said...

Hi I'm new to this blog, and new to posting, but I just wanted to mention something that caught my eye. On page five you mentioned the checkerboards, I think this might also be an allusion to the silver age, and the DC checkers lining the edges of DC comics.
Just an idea, but it seems like something Morrison would do!

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's Robin (Jason Todd)?

Or Batman, hm ...

Jeez, I have no idea, actually. I'm tired and need sleep, ha! I don't think it's the Joker, though, either.

@ dan yeager: I dunno about Satan (what?), but Damian ... that's a GOOD point.

And I thought it was the Swagman because of that song he was singing, but I looked Springheeled Jack up and he looks exactly like the guy in the comic---NOT Swagman! I'm confused ... I can't freaking find a pic of Swagman, but I know he and Springheeled Jack are two diff. people. Ack!

Frankly, I'm hoping the whole "Alfred is Bruce's father" thing is just trash. That's dumb. Maybe Hurt planted the "evidence" to destroy Batman---after all, he knows Bruce Wayne is Batman. ;;shrug;;

Henshaw Hasselpuffs said...

I wonder if the story in Untold Tales of the Batman will play into this. It is, to my knowledge, the last appearance of the First Bat-Man costume and it featured a delusional Batman striking out against himself and ended with Robin using the First Bat-Man costume to shake the shock from Bruce.

Anonymous said...

I've also noticed that, in your Batman 673 notes, you say you don't know if Vane is an older character.
He is:
Batman 121, in Batman Chronicles 6. He's from the story "Commisioner Gordon Walks A Beat", when Gordon was demoted for a bit.

Anonymous said...

Untold Legend of the Batman (referenced above) is also by Len Wein; so big an influence on Morrison's JLA.
Batman 121 is (I think) in the Batman in the 50's trade that reprints LOTS of the background to Morrison's run (Zen Er Arrh, Robin Dies At Dawn and the 1st Batmit story). DC send him a comp copy that inspired him you think?

Anonymous said...

You realize all of our theories will be wrong in the end. Here's another odd thing I noticed. The fake Batmen that have appeared in this storyline had names that rhymed with "Wayne". We had "Vane", "Lane", and the third one I don't remember. Of course, we should just sit back and enjoy the ride. I just wish DC wouldn't drag it out so long!

Anonymous said...

the other thing to remember about the scene in the movie theater where "Zorro" is playing, is that one of the two major influences/inspirtions Bob Kane drew on for Batman was Zorro the Fox. Zorro was officially added to the Batman mythos in the 90s as the movie the Wayne family went to see on that fatefull night.
The other influence Bob Kane used was The Shadow. This was incorperated into Batman on 3 occasions in the 70's when DC owned the right to the Shadow.
In Batman 673 Morrison pay tribute to the Shadow by having the Batman give forth a horrible and chilling laugh that terrifies Joe Chill and his thugs.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

You realize all of our theories will be wrong in the end. Here's another odd thing I noticed. The fake Batmen that have appeared in this storyline had names that rhymed with "Wayne". We had "Vane", "Lane", and the third one I don't remember. Of course, we should just sit back and enjoy the ride. I just wish DC wouldn't drag it out so long!

10:14 AM

Muller (Mueller) was the third man.

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