Batman: The Road to Issue 1000
The road to Issue 1000 has begun for Detective Comics, as the countdown to the penultimate issue by Green Lantern Corps veteran writer Peter Tomasi opens with some startling events in issue #994 and references to Bruce Wayne’s tragic childhood in the most twisted way possible.
The comic opens with a crime scene as investigated by Commissioner Gordon and our beloved Caped Crusader. Crime as we know it, is rampant in Gotham City but the crime in question hits close to home for Bruce. Too close, in fact.
Our leads are at the Gotham City Aquarium where a pair of bodies are afloat in one of the tanks of the aquarium. They are none other than the parents of Bruce themselves! Thomas and Martha Wayne! But of course we know that that is impossible because it is their deaths that made Bruce who he is today. Batman being the detective that he is combs through the site and the bodies and has noted that the killer has gone through great lengths to make the murder of Bruce’s parents as accurate as possible.
From their physical appearance down to ethnicity and bone structure up to the clothes that they wore on the night that they were murdered outside the Monarch theatre, after watching a screening of Zorro. The bullet wounds that Thomas Wayne sustained on his chest and the one that Martha received on her forehead as well as the pearls that Martha wore, are a clear and irrefutable that the killer is someone who knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman!
Further investigation from Bruce tells him that the bodies did not bore any strain of drowning as the whites in their eyes were normal. This meant that the bodies were dumped into the aquarium and that the single pearl lodged deep into the victim’s mouths were administered postmortem. Why go through great lengths for a murder like this? Simple. It was the anniversary of their deaths outside the Monarch theater. Someone was sending our Batman a clear and decisive message.
In another part of Gotham at the Park Row Community Clinic, a social worker named Leslie was about to close shop when she is attacked by a hulking creature that had four arms, possessed brute strength and had her trapped in the buildings rooftop. Lucky for her she had a comm-link that gave her direct access to the Bat whenever she was in peril. And come to her rescue he did, even as the creature hurled her over the side of the building. But not before managing to rescue her and taking the brunt of her fall, only to discover that Leslie has been exposed to a familiar kind of gas, one that the creature sprayed when he hissed at her, one that would quickly force and stretch her mouth into a wide and maniacal smile; one that bore the countenance of The Joker!
This introductory issue is just another example why Batman has held comic book readers enthralled for the past 80 years and counting. While it stands to reason that every different writer will have managed to put a different spin onto Bruce Wayne’s life, it is the enigma of a man driven by rage and sense of justice and one that is able to harness fear into the hearts of criminals throughout the city, that draws the reader each and every time.
Peter Tomasi, a veteran of the Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps comics brings his fast paced storytelling to Gotham and it is a winner. Admittedly I am more of a GL fan at heart, but if Tomasi’s action-movie-pace kind of writing continues on till the 1000th issue, then consider me hooked, line and sinker.
When one mentions Batman, it is his methodical approach that is divorced of any seemingly indicative emotion that most people remember. But I say divorced and not devoid, because the one thing that most people assume could not be farther from the truth. Batman is not without emotion. He is just able to compartmentalize and divorce emotion when his rational faculties are being used and required. This is so clear when he goes through this murder that opened the story. Any normal person who did not go through the same kind of trauma that Bruce did may just as easily have freaked out and gone all ballistic. But because Bruce has learned to condition himself in this manner, he knows which switches to turn on and off at every given moment and wear the hat that befits the occasion.
Indeed it is a skill, useful at that and one that has helped him a lot of times and over different instances when he is being put to the test. And that’s why it hits the reader to the core, when we see Bruce/Batman buckle under pressure and give in to hopelessness and despair. It is a clear indication that he is just man, trying to rise above his circumstances, in order to keep his head above water. And for us normal folk, that is enough to draw inspiration from and brand him a hero.
Next issue please…