Editor's Note: Dark Knight Dave gives us a bonus review inside this one with not only a review of Superman/Batman #78, but also the recent Brightest Day #15. Enjoy!
Have you ever noticed how often lately that Batman ends up dead in the pages of comic books? It’s an intriguing prospect and one that provides endless opportunities to rewrite the Batman mythos. For one, Batman is seemingly an invincible character. He’s the world’s greatest detective, possesses the sharpest intellect on the planet and is always ten steps ahead of everyone else. So to do the impossible and defeat the undefeatable Batman always sends shockwaves throughout creation.
As many of you know we recently dealt with the death of Batman in the pages of Final Crisis and Batman R.I.P. Now Batman meets the Grim Reaper once again in Superman/Batman #78 written by Joe and Jack Kelly and in Brightest Day #15 by Geoff Johns. In these two issues Batman’s end comes about from the mind of a child and in the next through the stolen dreams of an ally.
In Superman/Batman #78 Batman meets his end rather swiftly and graphically at the hands of an angry Superman. The scene is shown in silhouette to downplay the violence. Let’s just say Batman won’t be using that intellect anytime soon. Of course Superman gets his too at the hands of Batman. One thrust to the heart with a kryptonite spear and he’s toast.
All of this springs from the minds of two young boys as the wrestle with the endless question, “In a fight between Superman and Batman, who would win?” The story continues as the two boys argue over a premise wherein Supes and Bats would have to fight. They finally decide to just to get it on and the battle ensues matching Superman’s sheer strength against the guile of Batman. Batman tactically retreats throwing everything at Superman including the Batplane and a giant Superman robot made by the Toyman. The combatants eventually end up in space where Batman dons a survival suit and activates a device that blots out the sun depriving Superman of his strength. As they both hurtle down through the atmosphere aflame with friction they grapple to the end.
And then? And then the two boys realize neither hero would give up until each one of them was dead. They agree their scenario was “stupid” and it would never happen anyway because “partners always have each other’s back and they’re always gonna be friends.”
In the pages of Brightest Day #15 the demise of Batman plays out in an “Elsewhere” like scenario. In this story the Martian Manhunter is a member of the Green Lantern Corps. Mars is far from the desolate wasteland as we know it. In fact, it is fully populated with Martians who are all gathered together to fete their greatest hero and are joined by all the members of the Justice League. Peace and brotherhood abound and Batman tells the Manhunter some heartfelt word of nobility, integrity and endurance that deeply touches our favorite Martian.
The Manhunter and his family rest easy for the night but is all well? Suddenly, the Manhunter snaps out of his sleep sensing a foul deed. There has been a murder and the first to fall is Batman. The scene of the crime is a grisly one as Batman lies dead in a pool of his own blood. A last message has been scrawled out and the Manhunter tries to divine what it all means.
Upon further examination the Martian realizes that Pearl bullets were used making this crime “personal”. He further concludes that, “If they were able to kill Batman, then the entire JLA is a t risk.”
And so it comes to be. One by one the members of the JLA turn up dead all because their greatest member, Batman, has been eliminated as an obstacle. As in many situations from the “Death of Batman” scenario, Batman is the keystone from which all depend on. If he is doomed we are all doomed.
The narrative continues as the Manhunter revives a kryptonite stricken Superman. All the JLA members are laid out dead. Superman and the Manhunter philosophize on the meaning of life and death and hints are given that all may not real. The Manhunter becomes enraged and strikes at Superman with kryptonite. “Wake up” moans Superman. “What have I done” cries the Manhunter. Is it possible he is the murderer? Suddenly Mars is engulfed in flames, the dying Martians call out, “Wake up, wake up!” The Martian Manhunter realizes he must save himself and confronts his arch nemesis D’Kay restoring his sanity and revealing a still dead Martian landscape.
In the end the death of Batman serves as a cautionary tale in both stories. Even in the mind of children the Caped Crusader’s end would mean a no win situation for all and in the other tale his death is the linchpin for disaster. I’m sure we haven’t seen the last chronicle of the death of Batman. It’s too fertile ground for authors too ignore. But as in all accounts the end of Batman is the end for us all.
Brightest Day #15:
Reviewed by Dark Knight Dave