May 19, 2016
The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 450: Batman #672, February 2008
Ahhh...now I remember.
What's really cool about this run on Batman, and DC's subsequent publishing of The Black Casebook, is that, when confronted with the mystery that is unfolding in these pages, I am sent scurrying to my bookshelf to pull the Casebook down, much as Batman must have when he, in narrative, realized that there was important information contained in that collection of strange adventures. I talked a bit the other day about what makes a good mystery story, and one of the factors I particularly enjoy is the ability on the part of the reader to participate in solving the case alongside the focal character.
However, when I did that, the story I was looking for (apparently titled "The Secret Star," published in 1953) was not in the collection. But Morrison's introduction has this to say: "...I decided to treat the entire publishing history of Batman as the evens in one man's extraordinarily vivid life." It's such a wonderful way of thinking through a superheroic career, and in some ways answers a question I've been pondering as I make my way through Mark Waid's Flash (which, yes, I am still doing. Be patient) - namely, how do we talk critically about infinitely-extending fictions? Morrison's answer? Use everything.
I know I've said it before during the last couple of weeks, but this is where things start to get weird. The whole "Batman R.I.P." storyline, for which the next few issues are a prelude, explores the ramifications of Morrison's treatment of this publishing history. What happens when everything starts to catch up to Bruce Wayne? The R.I.P. doesn't just refer to physical death, but the death of personality. Much has always been made of Batman's place in the superheroic pantheon of the DCU, given that, technically, he's not a superhero. He's a man at the height of just about every facet of human endeavour, but he's not super powered. Morrison questions this, at length. One of the most common quips his colleagues will make about Batman is that he always has a plan. Is it possible to have planned for the complete erasure, through the stress of a life lived, of an entire person and personality? Well, we'll keep reading and find out. I'm sure the answer will be far more complex than a simple yes/no binary.
One last thing: Bat-Mite. That is all.