|From Batman #47, "The Origin of the Batman!"|
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Justice League: The Darkseid War – Batman Review and *SPOILERS*
Written By: Peter J. Tomasi
Art By: Fernando Pasarin, Matt Ryan, Gabe Eltaeb, Dave Sharpe
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: October 28, 2015
*Non-Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*
Most of the time, we sit on inferior surfaces: other people’s sofas, cheap office chairs, public benches made from cement and wood. When we find the perfect throne, there’s a tendency to cling to it, to swear allegiance to it with the hearts in our butts. Many aspire to have that “perfect chair,” which, as it turns out, is actually a moderately-priced La-Z-Boy recliner. Batman’s found his perfect chair in Metron’s Mobius Chair, part Motherbox and part Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and with it he is all-knowing and practically all-powerful. So Batman wins, right? Everything is cool now? What could possibly go wrong? Does my excessive use of questions make you want to read more of my review?
So I’m gonna level with you: I have not been reading the Darkseid War in the pages of the current issues of Justice League. I read the first issue, liked it enough, but—and I hate to admit this—I’m a little burnt out on the Fourth World stuff right now. We had Darkseid obliterating Earth-2 for what seemed like a year, then we had the Green Lantern crossovers, plus Brother Eye and parademons all throughout Future’s End…I could use a break. And I figured I could take one, since the Batman and Superman in Justice League didn’t resemble the drastically altered ones inhabiting the pages of the solo and team-up titles. If I may clamber on my soapbox for a moment: it bothers me. I try not to be a slave to continuity, and I could certainly forgive some sliding time, but when the flagship team title can’t or won’t support major and lasting changes happening in the members’ books, then it makes me lose a little faith in the whole enterprise. It’s nothing I haven’t seen before, and I will persevere (send all good wishes and digital flowers to firstname.lastname@example.org), but it definitely makes me feel like I could get this in trade and lose nothing from my weekly comics experience. All that having been said, I did not read the issues of Justice League preceding this tie-in, though I knew what happened from listening to this site’s podcast and general internet chatter.
Luckily, Bat-Family master Peter Tomasi caught me completely up to speed with an opening caption that explains everything very plainly and tells us that Batman is now the god of knowledge. He hovers above Gotham City in his Mobius Chair making all sorts of creepy observations like a nosy elderly neighbor. Spying the Bat Signal, he cruises over on his hoverchair to Commissioner Gordon at the GCPD and gets all pompous weirdo with him, too. So basically, the Mobius Chair makes you an asshole, which does make me curious to know what Metron is like now that he’s been unseated. The way Batman is rendered with the chair is completely awesome, sort of Tron with a weary throne slouch. Indeed, the art is top notch throughout, very clean and precise and easy to read.
Batman goes about fighting crime in Gotham City—the god of knowledge way! First, he teleports a van full of would-be night club robbers to a frozen wasteland in Antarctica. Then, he teleports a guy intending to murder his ex-wife to Themyscira, where he encourages the Amazons to beat him to a pulp. He does leave the initial group with some survival tips and suggests an ice breaking ship is coming by in a few hours, and he says he will return to Themyscira for the wife-killer, but it’s clear this version of Batman is not a “people person.” To this point, Batman has come across very dispassionate, very computer-like in his actions and deductions. But having made Gotham City marginally safer for the evening, Batman decides to turn his attention to more personal matters.
Batman is able to reconstruct an intangible holograph of the entire scene from the night his parents were murdered by Joe Chill in Crime Alley, and he tortures himself with it for a while. Then he decides to visit Joe Chill, who is doing a lifelong bid at Gotham State Penitentiary. Batman cruises in with his chair, making it so he and Joe exist in an invisible bubble within the prison. Then he breaks Joe’s balls for a while, and ultimately reveals that he is Bruce Wayne! Batman threatens to tell the whole prison that Joe Chill created him, which was a nice nod to the famed Batman #47 story The Origin of the Batman! where the scene is similar. This time, however, Batman just returns Joe Chill to his cell and removes all memory of his night with the ghost of Gotham future, which is just as well because it was getting a little awkward there for me.
There is something else to this story I want to address: during their chit-chat, Joe Chill admits that he found a lot of joy in murdering the Waynes, and indeed had killed as many as forty people besides, which is probably why he languished in prison in the first place. Now, in the last thirty or so years, it has been more or less implied that Joe Chill was a stick-up artist who got jumpy, that he was a product of his environment and a symbol of the dangers in Gotham City that lurked in the dark alleys and on the shadowed streets—the very place Batman operates to fight crime. If Joe Chill was not a broke guy, down on his luck, perhaps not creative with his options but nonetheless committing crime for sustenance—if instead Chill was just some gore-happy serial killer, stabbing indiscriminately for his sadomasochistic pleasures…well that sort of changes everything, doesn’t it? It means that Batman’s crusade isn’t really against simple crime but the mental health behind crime, which, considering his rogues’ gallery and the existence of Arkham Asylum, may have really been true all along. Just a thought here.
Batman returns to the Batcave where Alfred is waiting with a sandwich as usual. Of course he tells Bruce that he should rest, and Bruce refuses. Why do they even bother with this conversation anymore? Alfred should just get a t-shirt that reads “EVEN BATS NEED TO SLEEP MASTER BRUCE” and wear it. This time, Batman is bleeding from his ears, eyes and nose, which he says is just because he’s a little allergic to the chair. He’s gonna pop some Zyrtec and get comfier, though, because now he’s going to turn his attentions to…the Joker!
Peter Tomasi is one of the best to have ever written Batman and he does a great job slipping Batman into his new role of being a complete dickhead. The illustrations of this dickheadness, through stranding criminals in remote locales and then his own personal tirade against Joe Chill, were really interesting and showed that ultimate power does ultimately corrupt. Some of Joe Chill’s dialogue was a little forced and there were some half- and three-quarter-turned faces that looked strange, but I thought this was a pretty compelling story and it did make me interested to know what happens in the Darkseid War. Not enough to get the singles, but maybe interested enough to get an internet-discounted hardback collection! And that’s comics in 2015, folks!
Bits and Pieces:
Once again, Peter Tomasi shows that he can write Batman from any angle and do a great job, he really seems to have a connection with the world of Gotham City that few others possess. This is a story about Batman being omniscient and somewhat all-powerful; you don’t need to have been reading Justice League to understand or enjoy it, though a rudimentary understanding of Metron and the Mobius Chair would probably be helpful. There was a game-changing reveal that was probably only game-changing to a select few, but this story is mainly about how the Mobius Chair turns you into a pompous, yammering jerk. They should call it the cocaine chair.