May 22, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 453: Batman #675, May 2008

"Things fall apart, the center cannot hold."

Factoring in the short break between issues 658 and 663, the Morrison Batman has been around for almost 2 years at this point. We began the story with Alfred telling Bruce needed to be more Bruce, and Bruce, for once, agreeing. And, it has to be acknowledged, he gave it a shot. But as the creaking leather fingers of the Black Glove tighten and tighten, Bruce is squeezed out until only Batman remains. Bruce loses himself in this issue, loses the one thing (his relationship with Jezebel Jet) that seemed to be, for multi-billionaires at least, normal. He himself realizes this, realizes that the choice he made all those years ago in many ways pushed him out of any kind of reality where a normal relationship could happen. Again, I'm reminded (as I always am) of Frye's differing kinds of heroes. In some ways, Batman/Bruce Wayne himself wants to be the hero of the chivalric romance (the Dark Knight), superior in kind to his fellows, but not his environment, and still capable, though problematically, of some kind of relationship. But his narrative always pushes him away from this. The cliche is that Batman always has a plan, and this makes him superior not only to the people in his life, but to the environment within which he exists. While he may not want it, his narrative forces him into the realm of myth. And, if Classical myth has taught us anything, it's that relationships between gods and mortals never ends well, for either party.

"Batman R.I.P." starts next issue, the lead up to Final Crisis, and to one of my favourite eras of Batman ever - the Dick Grayson years. Replacing superheroes with their proteges or new versions is always a dodgy prospect, but when Dick takes over as Batman, it seems absolutely right somehow. I wish he'd been given the opportunity to really make the role his own before....well. That would be telling. Join me, won't you.

See you tomorrow.

(The quote at the top is from Yeat's "The Second Coming." You should go read it. It's a great poem.)

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