Jul 6, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 498: Batman #702, October 2010


This is the comic I read a few days ago, and then realized that it should be read later on in my Bat-endeavour. Though, even now, having finished it, I see that the last page says it concludes in The Return of Bruce Wayne #6, so it could have been left for later. What we have here is a retelling of Bruce's last days, recorded and left for hundreds of thousands of years as a message for Superman. There's a couple of interesting things going on here, not least of which is the durability of Bat-tech!

The opening of the recording says "You can hear glaciers melting in the Arctic Circle." The message is sent, explicitly, to Superman, the one person Bruce trusts to never give up. It might be a bit of a blow to the various Robins, or Alfred, that he wouldn't send the message to them, but, as he states later in the comic, it is a bigger, simpler world that he's moving through now, and Superman is the best person to navigate such a realm. Though, given the events of the last few issues of Batman and Robin, maybe Bruce should have had a bit more faith in his old chum.

There's an excellent section of the recording that I'm going to reproduce here. Once again, Morrison is giving us some critical commentary in our superheroics. Batman tells us his version of the final confrontation with Darkseid:

"So I stepped through that door into a bigger, simpler world. A world where the stakes were ultimate stakes, where each moment was heavy with the massive weight of an unfolding myth...and everything had a thousand extra layers of meaning. Like Darkseid. He might have been a wolf once, a dragon or a tyrant. How many times in human history had this moment played out? The monster...and the man standing in his way?"

Surely, when we open a comic, when we embrace the superhero, heck, when we walk into a convention hall in a Superman or Batman or Wonder Woman t-shirt, we're stepping through that same kind of door that Bruce describes. This part of his tale is a metaphor, one of the "thousand extra layers," for the experience of, and more importantly the faith in, superheroes. Further, when Bruce asks how many times this moment has played out, we could interpret this as how many times has the story played out in human history. As he notes, it is a timeless, eternal tale, so the placement of the superheroic version into that lineage allows these tales to call upon, and insert themselves into, a vast history of story.

Later in the issue, near the end of the recording, he says "Whatever they touch turns to Myth. Understand that much." This could be Morrison talking to us. It's certainly me talking to you.


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