May 12, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 443: Batman #665, June 2007

http://www.comics.org/issue/336854/

I have to say, my favourite thing about this issue is Bruce's reaction when he's safe and sound in his very large bed at home - he freaks out. Having just been pummeled by someone who closely resembles Bane, having just had his back stomped by said individual, Bruce relives the breaking of his back that was the denouement of the "Knightfall" saga, that bit of 90s Batman that introduced us to the character of Azrael. It's fitting that Bruce should have such reactions, not only in demonstrating the humanity that is so intrinsic to Batman's character, but also to acknowledge even more of the Bat-history that Morrison is playing with. Bear in mind, yesterday's issue was entitled "The Three Ghosts of the Batman," and it's not just the narratological ghosts, but the textual ones, that we're interested in here.

It's nice to see Tim Drake in action in this issue. He's been conspicuously absent from the title, which sets me wondering if Morrison intentionally did this, focussing on the eponymous hero in this series since the rest of the Bat-cast gets fair representation in the rest of the Bat-titles. I suppose the corollary question is how often does Batman show up in Robin's solo title? My feeling is not very often.

Action sequences aside, we get a brief step back to the end of the previous story arc, and see what happened to Talia and Damian after their submarine exploded. It's a delicate balance in serialized story-telling between providing satisfying, stand alone tales that can be enjoyed individually, and creating an immersive universe, where there are always events going on behind the ones that take up the foreground of the narrative. Morrison's very good at this, offering such snippets, though those who dislike his style of story-telling often complain that he doesn't fill in enough of the behind the scenes blanks. It's a tough call. How do you focalize your reader? In the case of these Batman stories, my sense is that we're meant to be following along as Batman solves the case, but not necessarily from right within his head. He's putting things together while we're watching it happen from the outside. We're neither focalized through the main character, nor are we given the omniscient perspective (well, perhaps occasionally we slip into that). More often than not, I think we're placed in the "Watson" role to Batman's "Sherlock," and that's yet another ghost who haunts the Dark Knight Detective.

We'll proceed to Hell tomorrow. No kidding. Onward.

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