“Batman and Son”, Chapter 7: Bethlehem (Batman #666)

You know how some people can’t really think of anything that sums up how they felt about something they read, watched or played, and simply say something like “it’s just awesome”? Well, this final chapter of Batman and Son is, um, just that, though I can actually explain what makes it special. Before I get into that, however, I should probably clarify one thing. At the end of my last review I said that Bethlehem (Batman #666) is set in the future with Damian as Batman. That’s true, but I should perhaps have been more specific about the future part. You see, although it could be the far future, set beyond when Morrison’s run finishes, it seems highly unlikely that it’s a story that exists at all. Indeed, I believe that it’s a story not actually part of Morrison’s continuity – a “What if…?” story that will never happen. But that’s fine because it’s actually pretty amazing and, on the contrary of what I said in my review of The Clown at Midnight, probably my favourite of the book. Of course, you might ask what the point of the story is if it’s not something that actually happens. Well, I’d look at as a supplement to Morrison’s run, an addition that answers some questions in an unusual manner but also presents another perspective on some things.

As far as the latter goes, Damian is the highlight, of course. The idea of the story is that Bruce has died some time prior to it and an adult Damian has taken over his role. There’s Barbara Gordon as well, now Commissioner after her father’s died as well, but Damian’s the real highlight because his approach to being the Dark Knight is…aggressive, shall we say. We’ll get to that in a minute though. The other “character” that’s changed is the city itself, presented on the cover of this issue as one in the middle of an apocalyptic-like hell of chaos with its very own Satan in the form of the third ghost of Batman. Yep, although this story doesn’t really exist, that guy’s here and what’s interesting is that we, as I said, get some answers or hints to possible ones. Sure, I can’t really be certain that the big hint is really true, but I’m presuming that it’s Morrison’s weird approach to killing two birds with one stone. If he weren’t trying to drop hints, I’m sure he would have replaced this Satan-Batman with some other villain instead. Anyway, the big hint is a suggestion I made in my last post: that Bruce’s DNA was used to create these three “ghosts”. This is made apparent as Damian and this guy fight, when the latter says that they’re both “sons of the same father”. Of course, this could also be a reference to Son of the Demon, a story I reviewed a while ago, since Devil-Batman goes on shout about his other father, Satan, but I kind of doubt it. But you don’t really muster much else of what could happen during Bruce’s story when this guy appears, except that he could well cause absolute mayhem, so I’ll quickly wrap up some other thoughts.

First of all, the story begins with a double page spread of “The Legend of Batman: Who he is and how he came to be”, which I last saw in Jeph Loeb’s Hush. Having doubted that this was what Morrison was paying homage to, I did a search online and found that the line was first used in a title of the first name in the very first issue of Batman after he got his own comic, separate from Detective Comics. That’s pretty awesome. But it’s done quite funnily here. There’s six panels that explain how this Damian has come to be Batman but they’re written in a way reminiscent of those “golden voice” trailers you see for films all the time – in other words, it’s purposefully dramatic – overly so, in fact – but in the context of what’s to come, fucking amazing.

You see, Damian is a badass. Although he reminded me a great deal of Frank Miller’s Batman in The Dark Knight Returns, even down to the art (page 193 has a shot of this Batman breaking face, but in a style that’s surely drawn like Miller’s) because he’s even more violent than that guy, he really is his own entity and just a complete badass. Even his costume, that loses the cape for a trenchcoat look, just enhances how much this Batman’s like something out of some over-the-top action film where the good guy can never be defeated and makes witty lines whenever he’s being awesome. Perhaps as proof of that, Damian takes a bunch of bullets courtesy of Barbra at the end, but once back on his feet says this to end the issue: “The apocalypse is cancelled. Until I say so.” What’s not to love about this guy?! Did I mention he has a cat named Alfred?!? He’s just a badass!

Okay, okay, I’ll get serious again. Kind of like The Dark Knight Returns‘ constant allusions to the news media, we get a little of that here with a glimpse at this world in utter chaos. It certainly feels like Morrison’s trying to be realistic about it too, with small mentions of anti-Islamic terrorists, some kind of epidemic in China, flights being grounded here in Britain, etc. – things that instantly sound familiar. The final note I’ll make is that there’s some kind of weird villain here in the shape of a doll-like girl who attacks Damian at the beginning of the story, apparently a normal human changed by one Professor Pyg. And if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, then you want some more of these kind of non-canon stories just to see the likes of Professor Pyg. But, better yet would be these kind of enemies actually appearing during Bruce’s “real” story arc. They seem wacky enough to fit in to this already surreal series, that’s for sure.

But this is just the icing on the cake of the run so far. In hindsight, reading over what I’ve written to get to this point, I don’t think I have explained myself very well at all, funnily enough. What can I say? This issue got me all excited because, well, it’s just fucking awesome, okay?

 

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