Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Did I Miss Something?
And so BATMAN R.I.P. draws to a close and, I hope, so does all the hype about it.
With the release of BATMAN #681 last week, Grant Morrison brought his bat-saga to a close to the confusion of many. Batman meets his demise in a typically superhero fashion (very similar to that once faced by Green Arrow and you all know what happened to him after that!) and one that doesn't feel a body. In comic book jargon, "No body, no death." So, like I postulated in my last missive here, we'll see Bruce back in tights sooner or later.
But what seems to be the big bugaboo about this ending is, in fact, it's NON-ending. That is, for issue upon issue the theme of BATMAN R.I.P. has rested on the question of "WHO is the Black Glove?" Just who was this mysterious person who called himself Dr. Hurt and who was not only dedicated to destroyed the Dark Knight but knew all of Batman's secrets? Fans and critics alike played a guessing game running down a list of suspects. Was he Alfred? Tim Drake? The continuity displaced older brother, Thomas Wayne Jr.? Or Bruce's father, Thomas Wayne himself? Or maybe The Devil?
Ya got me!
Because the final issue doesn't give that answer. Dr. Hurt taunts Batman by claiming to be Thomas Wayne who faked his own death so many years ago. Bruce was supposed to die along with his mother in Crime Alley but Joe Chill botched the job. And yet the taunts ring empty and hollow. Some fans cling to that solution and use it to basically decry Morrison for defaming the Batman myth.
In the end, The Devil ends up being the most likely candidate but even this fails to satisfy. Maybe if we hadn't been treated to Marvel's version of the Devil being used so poorly in the vomit-inducing Spider-Man story, "One More Day", it wouldn't be so disappointing.
However, I'm reminded of another DC 'event' that didn't work out as planned and wonder if the same thing has happened here.
Back in 1991, DC's company wide crossover event, ARMAGEDDON 2001, was built around the secret identity of main baddie, Monarch. In this series, a survivor from the future comes back in time to warn Earth that one of its heroes will go insane, kill all the other heroes and take over the planet. Originally, Captain Atom was slated to be the hero who would become Monarch but because the secret was leaked too early, Hawk (of the superhero team Hawk & Dove) was substituted in his place. This was widely regarded as a STUPID idea (on the level of Marvel's "Spider-Clone" series) and many fans felt that DC had not played fair.
I get that feeling here. For some reason, and I have nothing to prove it, I have the impression that Morrison had always MEANT for Dr. Hurt to be Bruce's father and that was the solution he had left all the clues for. After all, Morrison had said in interviews that the identity of Dr. Hurt would be "the most shocking revelation in Batman history in 70 years." But, somewhere along the way, someone stopped and said, "Whoa, no way that's going to happen" and put the kibosh on it.
Not that I disagree. Thomas Wayne being the head of the Black Glove is an awesomely BAD idea. It doesn't add anything to Batman's myth and actually detracts a great deal from it. Thankfully, no future writers will have to spend time fixing that conceptual error.
And I still think Dr. Hurt being The Devil is a boring answer. It's certainly nowhere near "the most shocking revelation".