Thursday, December 4, 2008

Batman #682

[ETA: comments now enabled! Don't know what was going wrong there.]

It's been a while, and the schedule keeps on slipping slipping slipping--check out the schedule post for details. Fortunately, there's a tremendous issue today...

Pg. 1:

The "that's it" is a quote from Batman's origin as first seen in DETECTIVE COMICS #33 (you can see the image here): the bat flies in the "open window," and Bruce exclaims "A bat! That's it! It's an omen. I shall become a bat!" (He's even wearing a green jacket.)

In this version, taking after Frank Miller's depiction of that event, the bat actually smashes the window; Bruce has been cut by flying glass, I initially thought, but then saw David Uzumeri pointing out that it's after the undisguised Bruce has been beaten up in BATMAN #404. (Which is why it always pays to look at Funnybook Babylon before hitting "post.") I don't know what that thing on Bruce's arm is, though.

Pp. 2-3:

Bruce Wayne, sybaritic playboy, ringing a little bell to summon the butler. I love it. "The Butler Did It" is a cliché of crime fiction that seems to have started circulating in the late '20s. It also has to be a reference to the widely circulated theory that Alfred, one way or another, is the force behind everything that's been going awry in Batman's life in the Morrison run. (White gloves, Black Glove...)

Worth mentioning, too, that Alfred was created by Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson and first appeared in BATMAN #16 in 1943; it was established in BATMAN #131 that he likes to write stories about what might happen to Batman and his associates in the future. Like, say... Bruce giving up being Batman and Dick taking over.

Pg. 4:

Yeah, nobody ever thinks about what happened to the poor bat.

Julie Madison, created by Gardner Fox, Bill Finger and Bob Kane, was introduced in DETECTIVE COMICS #31 as Bruce Wayne's fiancée. She went into film acting (hence her departure for Hollywood later this issue), and called off the engagement in DETECTIVE COMICS #49, since Bruce was evidently never going to make anything of himself.

"I need a disguise": this is the moment before the bat shows up, rendered in DETECTIVE #33 as "I am ready... but first I must have a disguise."

Pg. 5:

Panel 3 imagines if Bruce had chosen a much stupider Bat-outfit (whose goggles recall the Third Batman from the earlier parts of Morrison's run); panel 4... Snakeman? ETA: Commenters point out that this is a variation on a bit from BATMAN #256, which RAB has kindly reproduced here.

Pg. 6:

This is Doctor Death, as seen in DETECTIVE COMICS #29 (and #30 and then not again until 1982, although he did turn up on Oolong Island in 52); this panel is a variation on the first panel of the Batman story in #29.

Owlman is the evil Batman analogue of Earth-3/the antimatter Earth, although it's worth mentioning that Robin became an Owlman when he grew to adulthood in BATMAN #107. I can't imagine why Morrison keeps alluding to all these stories about Robin growing up and taking over a Batman-like role...

I don't know of a Skeleton/Phantom Skeleton in any Batman stories.

Pg. 7:

Commissioner Gordon, created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, first appeared in DETECTIVE COMICS #27; the panel with him is in fact a slight paraphrase of a panel from that story. (In the original, Bruce is smoking a pipe and is wearing a really horrible plaid jacket.)

Panel 3 is Generic Death-Trap #84, I think. Is there a better reference?

Pg. 8:

I know I recognize that top image from somewhere; anybody?

Anybody know when it was established that Alfred had been the Waynes' butler when Bruce was a kid? Is that a post-Crisis thing exclusively?

Pg. 9:

Apex Chemical was the chemical corporation from DETECTIVE COMICS #27.

Pg. 10:

This is the Bat-Gyro, which predated the Batplane, first appearing in DETECTIVE COMICS #31. It's actually a sequence from DETECTIVE COMICS #33, "The Batman Wars Against the Dirigible of Doom."

Oh, Bruce, you heartbreaker. ("I'll just put this with the notes from all the other jilted socialites, shall I?")

Pg. 11:

The fight with two big dudes is a scene from BATMAN #1. Bruce's trip to the circus is Robin's origin, from DETECTIVE COMICS #38.

Pg. 12:

"My parents were killed by a criminal, too": slightly altered from DETECTIVE #38.

Pg. 13:

"Blitz of a boy": a quote from Charles Causley's poem "Timothy Winters." Not previously applied to Robin, as far as I know.

Pg. 14:

I don't know of a vintage Batman story involving quotes from Hamlet (the Joker is quoting Laertes; Robin's not quoting an actual line)--this is Alfred's memories (of being a failed Shakespearean actor) bleeding into the story. And if anybody knows where the Joker-Copter appeared in this form before, please tell me. (I also don't know of a "laughing contest" story, but I wouldn't be surprised.) The thing Batman's holding in panel 4 is the Bat-Radia as it originally appeared in BATMAN #113.

Arkham Asylum seems like it's always been part of the Batman story, but in fact it first appeared in BATMAN #258 in 1974.

Note that we can't see Batman's chest insignia through most of this sequence--it's unclear here when it went yellow and when it changed back, exactly.

Pg. 15:

Ace the Bat-Hound finally makes an appearance! This is where we've veered off of continuity a bit; this isn't quite like how Batwoman's career went in her original '50s-'60s appearances.

The giant typewriter Robin's perched on, a.k.a. the archetypal Bill Finger prop, is from BATMAN #115.

And the other Ace, the chemical company, is the one where the Red Hood fell into the vat of chemicals and became the Joker, per DETECTIVE COMICS #168.

Pg. 16:

The Batgirl he's referring to isn't the Barbara Gordon one, but the earlier Bat-Girl who was Batwoman's niece, Betty Kane. The extraplanetary adventure with Batwoman really did happen, in BATMAN #153.

Pg. 17:

Ace in the background again. "I was a circus kid. I knew about Katy Kane": Kathy-with-an-H Kane was a "circus daredevil performer." A very, very rich circus daredevil performer.

"Hugo Strange"/"Monster Men": another reference to BATMAN #1. The isolation experiment was in BATMAN #156, "Robin Dies at Dawn," another story that's been pretty significantly echoed in the Morrison run--yes, two extraplanetary adventures in three issues. Those were different times.

Pg. 18:

Ah, the Lump--another Jack Kirby creation, first seen in MISTER MIRACLE #8, which is discussed at length here.

Alfred apparently died in DETECTIVE COMICS #328 (which inspired Bruce to start the "Alfred Foundation" in his memory), then became the Outsider and bedeviled Batman for a while starting in DETECTIVE COMICS #334, then came back to life in the rather Batman R.I.P.-themed DETECTIVE COMICS #356 (at which point the foundation became the Wayne Foundation we know and love).

"Pop Criminals": love it.

Pg. 19:

Dick became Nightwing in TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS #44 in 1984, which means we've just skipped over about 20 years' worth of stories.

One of these things is not like the others. That would be the Eraser, from BATMAN #188. It's almost as if Bruce's subconscious is trying to tell him something, you think?

Pg. 21:

I'm guessing what Bruce is looking at in the top panel is Jason Todd's costume, after Jason's death. "Say goodbye to the Batcave" recalls the cover of BATMAN #217.

What gave Alfred away, I suspect, was that in DETECTIVE #356 Bruce tried to make sure he'd never learn about his time as the Outsider.

Pg. 22:

...And the Waynes never got killed, so Bruce never did anything much with his life. Note that the beginning of this scenario is pretty much identical to his Black Mercy fantasy in the imperishable SUPERMAN ANNUAL #11.

The Joker threatened to poison the reservoir in BATMAN #407--that was the final scene of "Year One."

Pg. 23:

Thus, we loop back around to where Batman was in FC #2. And we'll pick up the threads again next week, although I should note that the phrase "Grant Morrison's recent run on Batman" from the next-issue box is oddly inconclusive.


Scopi said...

So... Is this taking place after Batman's "death" in #681? I suspect all will be clear next issue.

I loved the issue, though I wished the art were better. Too bad Kubert isn't still on the book.

David Uzumeri said...

Lee Garbett is so weird. When I see his cover work that's more detailed he kind of reminds me of Quitely in a way, but his inked interiors always remind me of Giuseppe Camuncoli for some reason.

Keith said...

Great analysis! The issue make so much more sense now =). One note: I think the first alterna-costume is actually a riff on Killer Moth, or at least is moth-based instead of bat.

wiseass2147 said...

The "Alfred was there since Bruce's childhood" thing was put in by Miller in year one. Acording to "Comic book urban ledgends" this only happened because Miller wasn't familiar with the continuity. I wouldn't take that as 100% definitive, but the retcon was introduced in 404. Also, i think i read somewhere that Kane was considering making him "Owlman" or some other bird, until Finger suggested using a bat motif.

RAB said...

Re pages 5 and 6: There was a filler item in an issue of Batman or Detective from the mid-Seventies depicting alternate identities Bruce Wayne might have assumed had circumstances been different. For instance, instead of sitting in Wayne Manor, we see Bruce sitting in front of a campfire in the desert when a scorpion crawls into view, inspiring him to became...the Scorpion! In another vignette, he's gazing into the night sky and sees a shooting star, so he dons a luminous costume as...the Shooting Star! Then he's mulling over what identity to take when a suit of armor in his study crashes to the floor, and he becomes...the Iron Knight! You get the idea.

I'm certain GM remembers this mini-featurette, silly as it was, and alludes to it here. Had a moth flown in through the window instead of a bat, we might have a Mothman instead of Batman. Or perhaps Bruce might have mused "My actions must be swift and decisive, my approach silent...' and then his eye is caught by the stuffed and mounted snake on his bookcase, leading him to say "That's it! I shall become a serpent!"

I still need to find the issue number for that filler.

Roberto said...

What makes me uneasy is when Bruce look at the reader (just like Animal Man on the Morrison run) and says: "I'm coming to get you".

Is Bruce breaking the fourth wall or become aware of the presence of the Lump?

Frank said...

RAB: That's exactly what I thought when I saw that page with Mothman and Snakeman. The story you're referring to is "If Bruce Wayne Had Not Become the Batman" from Batman #256. Here's some Korean scanlations of that story.

RAB said...

Yep, that's the one! Many thanks, Frank!

Garrie Burr said...

Isn't that early Pat Broderick art on the "If Bruce Wayne..." filler?

Will never forget the sight of the Dark Armored Knight standing on the edge of the roof looking like a stiff breeze would knock him down. It was pretty funny even then...though I'll admit I also thought the Scorpion outfit was pretty cool.

My question: Let's say there were loyal Batman R.I.P. readers who did not read Newsarama, who were not aware Morrison said that this storyline took place before Final Crisis #2 -- would not this book then read like the whole R.I.P. storyline was a result of Batman's infiltration by the Lump? That this latest issue tells us the whole R.I.P. thing was basically nothing but a dream? What a RIP...!

Cahse Garland said...

The Red Roadster was the first bat-mobile:

The Giants Batman fights are the Monster Men, although I'm sure you already knew that one.

The scene with Batman and Batwoman is a play on Batman 144. To quote a CBR poster,

The criminal tied up to the Scales of Justice is the head of the Cobra gang who debuted with the Betty Kane Batgirl in Batman 139. The Scale of Justice as well was at least one as a plot device in - I think - Batman 144 in which Robin explains to Batgirl that "this is the only woman for me".

Alfred was established to like writing Imaginary Stories in Batman 131.

The Card=Sea scene is a take off on something from the Adam West movie. "The crime happened at sea" "Sea? 'C' for Catwoman!"

Fake Pat said...

I may be wrong, but I think there is a Phantom Skeleton (or something along those lines) in one of the stories in the Bat-Manga collection.

I hope someone can back me up here, as I love the thought of Morrison taking the "everything counts" concept that far.

RAB said...

Fake Pat, you're thinking of Lord Death Man. There's a little something something about his origins over at my blog. I've also posted the Pasko/Broderick story there in its entirety, for the benefit of non-Korean readers!

Captain JLS said...

I only flipped through this issue at the store, but the scene where the Joker is quoting from Hamlet could be a reference to "The Joker's Crime Costumes" (Batman #63, reprinted in the original 1988 "The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told"). Bruce & Dick go to a Danish castle rebuilt in the U.S. where the owner is having a performance of Hamlet put on. The Joker shows up disguised as Falstaff, ruins the play and nicks a woman's pearl necklace; Batman and Robin then leap into action and fight him along the castle wall.

Anyway, that's the first story I thought of when I saw that panel. Betcha that's what Morrison's referring to.

Jeff O'Boyle said...

> Anybody know when it was
> established that Alfred had
> been the Waynes' butler when
> Bruce was a kid? Is that a
> post-Crisis thing exclusively?

>> The "Alfred was there since
>> Bruce's childhood" thing was
>> put in by Miller in year one.

Before the BATMAN: YEAR ONE story was first published, Alfred had been shown to be present in Bruce's childhood in "The Fear" -- an [amazing] episode of Hanna-Barbera's SUPER POWERS TEAM: GALACTIC GUARDIANS that animated Batman's origin (as a flashback in-between a modern-day encounter with the Scarecrow). I don't have the episode nearby, but there is one scene where Alfred reflects with young Bruce. Alfred is also shown in the modern day (still looking after the adult Bruce, of course).

Bruce/Batman is nicely voiced by Adam West here in one of West's most serious performances as the Caped Crusader.

Written by Alan Burnett years before he worked on BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, "The Fear" also shows the movie the Waynes went to on that fateful night to be ROBIN HOOD. (Perhaps a nod to The Boy Wonder long admiring Robin Hood.)

Certainly, SUPER FRIENDS (and SUPER POWERS) took many elements from pre-Crisis lore and adapted them to the show's own needs. For example, "The Fear" still has Dick Grayson as Robin in 1985 and not Nightwing.

The IMDb says "The Fear" first aired on October 2, 1985. BATMAN # 404 was cover-dated Feb. 1987. Even adjusting for a cover being dated a few months later than its actual debut, "The Fear" came out over a year before YEAR ONE started. Given that "The Fear" had Alfred knowing a young Bruce and also young Bruce seeing a HEROIC movie just before his parents were killed (Burnett's ROBIN HOOD to Miller's MARK OF ZORRO), I have wondered if Miller saw "The Fear" before writing YEAR ONE.

I realize THE MARK OF ZORRO is a nod to Bob Kane watching Douglas Fairbanks in action, and it's my favorite thing that Miller added to the Batman mythos. Let's see, the Batman origin that came out between "The Fear" and YEAR ONE was the origin of the Golden-Age Batman in SECRET ORIGINS (1986 series) # 6. There, Roy Thomas had the movie that fateful night be a Rudolph Valentino picture.

Jeff O'Boyle said...

> Pg. 8:

> I know I recognize that top
> image from somewhere; anybody?

That pose, with the circle of light against the wall and all, made me think of Batman's pose on the cover of BATMAN # 9.

A mirror image of sorts of the original pose appeared not too many issues later on the cover of BATMAN # 16.

Since Batman's mouth isn't covered by the cape on those Golden-Age covers, perhaps Lee Garbett wanted to make Bats look more like Dracula in the new version. Or else Bruce just didn't want the gunmen to get any look at his face.

In the seventies, there was an ad or two in DC Comics for a Batman sticker or two where Bats shielded his body (and possibly his mouth) with his cape.

This sticker shows Batman with Robin in front of a yellow circle.

Before BATMAN # 9, Batman was shown holding his cape in front of his chest in a somewhat "side pose" on the cover of DETECTIVE COMICS # 44.


Snapper Carr said...

I don't have "False Faces" in front of me but Brian Vaughan wrote a short story that introduced a Skeleton character who was going to destroy Bruce Wayne. If GM is using "everything," it's cool to use a set-up that the original author never even followed through on.

Paul said...

I'm not sure I understand why the Eraser is different from the other villains. A little help?


I think the 'I'm coming to get you' means Bruce has realized he's in a dream/nightmare thing.

I think the micro-naps and ace chemical thing is the launch for GM's next Batman deconstruction.

Brad B said...

I don't think anyone else mentioned this, but the "thing" on Bruce's arm pages 1 and 3 are the military bars that are part of his old war vet look. Goes along with FB's theory that he's just back from #404.

Anonymous said...

So after reading this issue I get the impression that the events of R.I.P. are all in his head due to the torture from the "lump". Is there any truth to this? help me out.

Anonymous said...

Got a question: that Batman and Batwoman facing some otherworldly creature... Is that something from Crisis on Infinite Earths when that Batwoman was erased from continuity? Is she referring to her own erasure?

The creature looks kinda familiar and I can't place it....