Biff Bam Metaphysics
If we wanted Batman to save us all, we were doomed. Look at the world while wearing your metafiction suits and there is still no way he can reach every person calling out for help. The world is too big, too daunting. It is filled with things we have to call dreams because we fear what they say about us if we are the truth.
But for others they reject Batman. They claim it isn’t Batman. They look at the Dark Knight and don’t recognize him. Where is that old Whiff Bam Pow? Where is the grim dark ultra justice? Why is he wasting time in space when Gotham needs help? Where did the Bat-nipples go.
Morrison’s Batman run is Batman et all. It is grime meets sci-fi meets pop art meets madness meets camp meets ultra justice. He did it in one night. He did it thirty-five minutes ago. He did it while the world collapsed. He did it collapsing the world into a singularity. He did it while focusing the world around a single city. And he did it while distracting us. The Magic Batman trick.
It started with a cave and it ended with a cave and all the while Batman went into caves, he built new Batcaves (complete with giant coins and costume displays). He had mysteries for the mystery fans, monsters for the monster fans, sci fi for those fans. He even played songs for the obscure indie Batman fans with their Batmanga hardcovers. And all the while he played this tune with different instruments and composers, some who faltered(1) we got an amazing symphony with bits that everyone could enjoy.
But like most classical music, it is easy to get lost. There were issues where everything faded together and I felt I was missing things. Some jokey reference. Some obscure reference. Something vitally important to the universe. Things became rougher during the intermission when these jokes became more obscure and originally I’d stopped reading there.
My original reading of Morrison’s Batsaga began with with RIP. It made no sense. Batman didn’t die. Who are all these foreign people in costumes? Why did Joker get shot in the head. And then the end – why is there stuff with Darkseid? Why aren’t things wrapped up. I put the book away in disgust. I wanted Batman’s funeral by Neil Gaiman, not THIS.
My second reading began with INC and notes. Annotations, a fresh start and the bounty of comic internet journalism made me love the series, the artists, the camp sci fi action. Hello Lord Death Man. And then comics died down for my – the universe I knew ended, the series went on hiatus and I took a comic sabbatical.
But finally I went back to the beginning for my third reading. I opened the Black Casebook stories and the heritage of Batman. I followed up with reading from the beginning of Morrison’s brief Bat-stuff in 52. Those moments where he was in Nanda Parbat. The exercising of his demons – the first villains he more or less fights in the Ghost Batman – the Ghosts of his Past, Present and Future. Maybe the gun, his failure and his ruined legacy. There I found the Morrison Batman magic with everything.
And the idea of the future was recurring. The Batman 666 future – Gotham in flames, the world insane and everything collapsing. Over and over, the Batman who made the deal with the devil. The great to the x-th grandson of the man who made a deal with a devil. “Yes father I will become the Bat”. Even the son without the father born in the belly of leviathan leading to the apocalypse. The intermingling of the Bible and myths from the world into some super religion – a collapse of all faiths into one. Leviathan. It became hypnotic and confusing and tricky and it ate itself and became a bundle of snakes.
And Batman does the same, his family grows, it lives when he doesn’t. When he is dead he expands the legacy of his family. He cleanses his line. And when he returns it grows again. And then it collapses. The army he made shrinks against a larger one. He loses. He suffers loss. And he continues. Batman lives in the strangest world where everything comes together for one reason, to one point.
The biggest misconception of Batman is that he does his work for revenge. It is not revenge because Joe Chill has vanished and the drive for good has not. Batman is not there for any one person. Batman is out there for every scared child to comfort them. He teaches them, inspires them and like any parent he hopes he works out for the best.
In the end building a family, hoping the future will be better than the one before are all you can do. Batman didn’t end here. Other Batman stories will never touch the changes. The stories that can before can never affect this one and so we are locked with something completed. A complete Batman directed by many men into a single song, played many ways and it ended as it began in a cave, with a friend, with a world that still needs saving.
Batman by Grant Morrison took many names. It took us to many places. And in the end, it took us back to the beginning of the track with memories and ideas. With hope and inspiration. And even if he didn’t save all of us because of preconceptions or who Batman is, he did what he could.
1. Looking at you guy on Return of Bruce Wayne 4 who filled in for Cameron Stewart. Less issues with the computer guy for the Internet 3.0 issue.