Wednesday April 22, 2009 6:14 pm
DC Comics Review: Detective Comics #853
Part two of “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader” is finally here. After a long delay, we see the conclusion of the so-called last Batman story. Is it really the last story? Of course not. The story of Batman does not end here. It is simply a new beginning. A new beginning for Bruce and a new beginning for the world of Batman.
In the coming weeks, we will see a new man take over the role of Batman with the end of “Battle for the Cowl”. Then we will see this new Batman, along with a new Robin, fight crime as the new dynamic duo. But before all of this happens, we have the conclusion to this story. I enjoyed the first chapter of this story. It continued the surreal type of storytelling that we saw Grant Morrison present with his RIP storyline. I think the difference in this tale and that one is that although it was surreal, I still understood what was going on in “Whatever Happened” and I enjoyed the overall story. I didn’t have to reread it the way I did with RIP.
In “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader” Batman is dead - or at least he appears to be. A funeral is being held in Crime Alley with all of his friends and enemies coming to pay their respects. Batman is viewing all of this with a mysterious stranger. Part one ended with Batman trying to figure out what’s going on. So what is going on here? Lets see…......
Well we know that Batman “died” in “Final Crisis” and supposedly according to Wikipedia , his consciousness is travelling through parallel worlds. So that’s kind of what’s going on here. Bruce is not dead and in this storyline he is having a near death experience - his life is flashing before his eyes. Since Batman has been around for 70 years, we’ve seen various incarnations of the character. So instead of one life flashing before his eyes, writer Neil Gaiman is showing all of his “lives” through out the years through various characters including the original Batgirl Betty Kane and a Dick Grayson’s Robin who is drawn similar in fashion to the way Carmine Infantino drew the character in the 1960s.
The ongoing theme that all of these characters present in their stories about Batman and the various ways he died, is how he never quits. No matter what, he will not end his life retired growing old with a home attendant take caring of him. Batman - Bruce Wayne - will die fighting crime to the death. That’s the way it will be and that’s the way it will always be in any lifetime and in any story of the Batman. As Batman listens to all of these stories, he notices a door. He enters the door and meets up with the person he’s been conversing with all this time…his mother Martha Wayne.
I’m glad Gaiman chose Martha Wayne to be the person Bruce speaks to with his near death experience. Too many times I believe when ever Batman writers write a story focusing on Bruce’s parents, they gravitate to his father Thomas. We see that tremendously in the movie “Batman Begins”. I’m not sure if Martha even has a line in the film. In this story, Martha asks Bruce what he has learned from watching his own funeral and he repeats what the other characters were saying about him. He will never give up or give in. He will always be there to protect Gotham. Even if only one person is saved, it’s worth it.
Although Bruce is and always will be Batman, it seems in this issue he must say goodbye from that at least for a little while. Gaiman incorporates a children’s book into Bruce’s goodbye to Batman. The book is called the “Goodnight Book” and Gaiman bases it on the famous children’s book “Goodnight, Moon.”
In “Goodnight moon,” a bunny says goodnight to everything in his room: “Goodnight room; Goodnight chairs; Goodnight clocks, etc.” So Martha tells Bruce to say goodbye to this life: “Goodnight Batcave; Goodnight Alfred; Goodnight Batsignal”. As Bruce says goodbye to the Batsignal in the sky, the bat changes into a pair of hands grasping for a new born child. We then see the child wrapped in a cloth and it’s presented to its mother. The mother is Martha Wayne; the boy is of course, Bruce Wayne. We end there.
As I mentioned in my review of part one, this story was inspired by the classic Superman story, “Whatever Happened to Man of Tomorrow”. Although I like the Superman story better, this is still very good. I’m a fairly new father (I have a four year old son and a new born son.), so I’m very familiar with “Goodnight moon” as I’ve read it to my four year old many times. So I was very happy to see it used here.
So where does this all leave Bruce Wayne? Is his consciousness reliving his life reliving his life as a boy? A gift until he must return to being Batman? That’s what I’m getting out of it. I think that’s a really cool idea and lets face it if there is anyone who could use a vacation its Bruce Wayne.
How will Bruce Wayne return? Well in the July Solicitations for DC Comics, the cover for “Green Lantern” #43 shows the Green Lantern villain Black Hand as a Black Lantern hugging the grave of Bruce Wayne. Will Bruce Wayne become a Black Lantern during the “Blackest Night” storyline this Summer? The same solicitations show in “Green Lantern” #44 the Martian Manhunter will be resurrected as a Black Lantern so maybe that will be the fate of Bruce as well.
Whatever the case, this was a very good issue and I enjoyed it a lot. Great artwork by Andy Kubert with a nice homage cover to “Detective Comics” #27. Next up, “Battle for the Cowl” #3. Who will be the new Batman?! See you soon.
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