The first month of DC Comics: The New 52 has come to a close and brought us a variety of Batman adventures that have mostly confirmed what we might have already guessed about the Batman's life and history. There have been a few surprises, though, and it's now time to see what the final run of comics had in store fore the Caped Crusader. This week saw Batman featured in Batman: The Dark Knight #1 and then make a guest appearance in Justice League Dark #1.
SPOILER WARNING: This column assumes full knowledge of all mainstream superhero books published by DC Comics since The New 52 started.
Batman: The Dark Knight #1 sees Bruce make a philanthropic speech before going to take care of a mass breakout at Arkham Asylum. This is one week after Batman #1 had Batman take care of a mass breakout at Arkham Asylum before making a philanthropic speech as Bruce Wayne. And the text of each speech was used as the opening narration text of its respective book. Despite this book's extreme similarity to last week's in plot, however, we do get new information about Batman's status quo here.
Last week, I said that Bruce's reputation for having a friendship with Batman was a reference to Batman Incorporated. This involved some inference on my part because a friendship doesn't have to necessarily imply that Bruce is funding Batman's efforts. However, now we see the connection made more explicit as an Internal Affairs officer from GCPD confronts Bruce Wayne about his funding of Batman in this issue. The officer is one Lieutenant J. Forbes, who had been seen in this title pre-Flashpoint, but this is Bruce Wayne's first time to meet him. Somehow, Forbes has concluded that the logistics of funding "Batman and his cronies" would require help from within the police department, and Forbes is investigating which officer(s) might be assisting in the illicit assistance of a vigilante. They still fail to mention the exact organization, though, and I'm very curious to know if the absence of the actual phrase "Batman Incorporated" in all these books is intentional on the part of the writers and editors. I'd guess it is, but to what purpose?
We also meet a new love interest for Bruce in this issue in the mini dress-wearing Jaina Hudson, daughter of Mumbai diplomat Tom Hudson. What will poor Charlotte Rivers think? Or did Bruce ever call her back? Such sordid details of which boudoir Bruce will be visiting (other than Catwoman's, of course) remain to be seen.
In another round of "Name That Villain", the crows of super baddies busting out of Arkham again includes Clayface and Mr. Freeze, and a man in a white mask that we saw in Batman #1. We also have Great White, the Mortician, Ragdoll and Zebra Man.
A new villain introduced in this issue is the White Rabbit, presumably not Lorina Dodson from the marvel Universe, created by J.M. DeMatteis. I'm sure we'll learn more about her as this story progresses, but so far all we know is that she is NOT supposed to be in Arkham maximum security. Also, Two-Face has done something to himself that has beefed him up significantly and, though his face still seems to be divided, he is now calling himself One-Face.
This book would seem to take place some time after Batman #1 for a few reasons. First, at the dinner, reference is made to Bruce's Gotham City Revitalization Project, which Bruce unveiled in the previous issue. Second, Two-Face appeared in Batman 1 as his normal self, so unless this arc ends with One-Face reverting to his former self, the events of TDK would have to follow last week's issue of Batman. And with Suicide Squad referencing the events of Detective Comics 1 as being several weeks ago, we have a good sequence for three of the four arcs being told right now in the Batman books. Detective Comics #1 -> Batman #1 -> Batman: The Dark Knight #1; with the placement of Batman and Robin #1 still being unknown. The only thing that's odd about this is that when Maximum Security is broken in Arkham Asylum, Bruce is not most worried about the Joker, but rather about Two-Face. If the Joker is still a prisoner at this point, Batman would seem to have his priorities mixed up. Perhaps we can assume, then, that whatever happens to the Joker in Daniel's Detective Comics run leaves him in some place OTHER than Arkham maximum security at the end.
The Flashpoint woman is seen just inside the gate at Arkham, moments before Batman appears on the scene.
Justice League Dark #1 portrays several different magical events that all stem from a magical maelstrom cooked up by the Enchantress, who Batman believes has gone insane. At an isolated cabin, the Justice League (i.e., Superman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg) move in to stop her. Batman goes to Zatanna to get her advice, and Zatanna decides that she is the one to stop the Enchantress. Batman moves to stop her, but Zatanna magically binds him before walking out. We really don't learn much about Batman here, except that we continue to get a feel for his tone in working with a team. Batman carries a bit of a authority with other heroes, but it's far from absolute allegiance. He doesn't know that Zatanna is "stable" enough (emotional? magically? physically? psychically?) to confront the Enchantress alone, so he offers to take her with him, but she doesn't think his life can be risked in the situation, indicating a rather hefty respect on her part for him and his place in the superhero community. This scene is also notable for being the first portrayal of the modern Justice League.
As with Nightwing last week, Tim Drake's history can shed a little light on Batman's own, so I may be bringing up Teen Titans as it pertains to Batman. And we do get a few tidbits from Teen Titans #1. Tim seems to blame Batman for the current problems with teen would-be heroes. The implication seems to be that if Batman had never started having Robins, the current situation wouldn't exist. Tim has left Batman's side as the well-known Robin, The Boy Wonder, in order to work more from the shadows as Red Robin. It's interesting that, at Tim's time, working with Batman wasn't shadowy enough. Tim's current mission is to work against Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E., who has been tracking down and abducting young metahumans. A casual reading would seem to imply that pursuing this was why he left being Robin, but that's certainly not stated outright.
As for the rest of The New DCU, Jonah Hex has come to 19th century Gotham City in All-Star Western #1, where ancestors of favorite characters can be seen with names like Arkham and Cobblepot.
Next week: Month 2 starts with Detective Comics #2: Enter the Dollmaker!
Next month: Batman: The Dark Knight #2: Anarchy at Arkham Asylum
Posted by Jon Wilson