Jul 5, 2016
The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 497: Batman and Robin #13, August 2010
I read things out of order. Thank goodness this is a time travel story. But it's interesting, isn't it? Ostensibly, I should be able to read things completely out of order, as stories are simultaneously happening in the past, present, and future, but because of the way in which the over-arching narrative is composed, there is an actual reading order - time, fictional time and probably real time too, function holistically, rather than through a cause and effect standing. Maybe a rhizomatic reading of fictional time in the DCU?
We're offered a fascinating, if unlikely, look at the Joker in this issue. The argument has often been made that Batman creates his own villains, that by cranking up the dial on heroics, the inverse happens with villainy. So what happens to Batman's nemesis when Batman dies? And, somehow, the Joker knows that his Batman is dead. I suppose he's known Dick Grayson a long time, and can recognize the difference. The Joker's claim of wanting to help, of some sanity returning to him, of feeling bad for the things he's done are dubious at best, but with a character like the Joker, and with a writer like Morrison, you have to acknowledge at least the outside possibility that it's the truth. This is what happens when a mythic figure is removed from the continuum of its existence - things start to fall apart. With the return of Dr. Hurt, masquerading as Thomas Wayne, this entire portion of the shared DCU seems to be falling apart, or shifting into something unhinged, while the one, true Batman struggles back across time, sowing the seeds of his own mythology. In this, we come to realize myth as a stabilizing force in fictional continuums, and in our own, too, I suppose.
Tomorrow we'll pop back into the Batman title for the second part of "R.I.P. - The Missing Chapter," which I actually read while going through Final Crisis, but it definitely belongs here instead. Onward.