Hello there Bat fanatics. In our third round of Batman vs. Lex, we will be examining “Batman: Rules of Engagement.” An exceptional story, and one of the few graphic novels in the Batman chronology that lays out one of Lex and Bruce’s encounters during the Dark Knight's very early years. As ever, there are massive plot points being revealed, so: SPOILER ALERT! Read on if you are prepared. Here we go.
Batman: To stop Lex from further ruining the lives of innocent people (see the story itself for more details), and preventing further loss of innocent and all lives from the collateral damage of Luthor’s plans. And, you know, stopping a criminal mastermind from taking over the free world. All in a day’s work. Point.
Lex Luthor: Dominance over the United States military, in order to supplant the current government and place himself in charge. No pressure. Point.
Batman: Already on the trail, without realizing it necessarily at first for that matter. He hears a scream in Gotham and is merely reacting to a break-in and murder of a young mother. Her death sets him on Luthor’s trail and allows him to start preparing for their eventual, head-on collision. Point.
Lex Luthor: Luthor has spent years devising this plan. He isn’t even actually present, physically, for any of it as it unfolds. He’s safely hidden away, remotely controlling an advanced, lifelike, Lex Luthor double robot. And he gets into zero actual trouble for any and all of his alleged actions. Point.
Batman: Careful from the start. Once he realizes Lex is somehow involved, he takes greater care than usual. Though, he at one point does underestimate Lex greatly. Lex sends a robotic bat into Bruce’s giant swarm of bats he uses to confuse radar while flying the Batwing. It follows the bats to the Batcave and actually hacks the Batwing computer and nearly destroys the Batcave as well as Bruce and Alfred. Thanks to Alfred, and Bruce regaining control of the Batwing, the robotic bat is destroyed. This underestimation of Lex, however, proves to be what helps Bruce gain the further resolve to end the conflict permanently. Point.
Lex Luthor: Yes and no. Due to his insurance plan of removing the head of the Senate subcommittee, he clones the Senator’s genetic material from a discarded strand of hair and with a young prostitute as the mother (the woman Bruce finds dead at the beginning) creates a child that Lex can link to the Senator and discredit him for having an affair outside of marriage, Lex is clearly wary. His plan involves him getting the government contract to create a robotic army of soldiers for the U.S. military to prevent greater and further casualties of American soldiers overseas. With this plan, Lex does gain the contract. However, he heavily underestimates the resolve and tenacity of Batman. He gets the point, regardless.
4) Gadgets/Abilities Used
Batman: The new supersonic fighter jet, whose contract gets scrapped, and subsequently becomes the Batwing; Bruce’s mind (his greatest tool in this story); his giant swarm of bats from the Batcave which confuse Luthor’s radar. Point.
Lex Luthor: A robotic bat that joins Bruce’s bat swarm; a cyborg duplicate of Lex that he uses to gain plausible deniability for all of his actions; his entire army of G.I. robots; genetic manipulation to discredit the Senator. Point.
In this particular instance, both adversaries at some point do damage or infiltrates their respective foe’s home base and/or headquarters. Point is awarded for success in perpetrating such actions.
Batman: Hacks the LexCorp security system in the main offices and in several secure areas, and does it with minimal resistance. The information he steals leads him to also succeed in hacking the G.I. robots at the end of the story. He says one command and they all self-terminate themselves at once. Point.
Lex Luthor: Infiltrates a robot bat into the Batcave and actually wreaks havoc by remotely taking control of the Batwing. Hacks WayneTech’s OGRE system. Point.
6) Allies/Rogues Involved
Batman: Lucius Fox, chief engineer at WayneTech, who finalizes the prototype jet (Batwing); Alfred, who finally puts down the robot bat who breaks into the Batcave. Point.
Lex Luthor: His head of security (who proves no match against the Bat); Dr. Eugene Underhay, test pilot for the OGRE system at WayneTech, who shares the WayneTech project information with Luthor which allows him to not only hack the OGRE system but duplicate the technology allowing him to build the Luthor clone robot which he pilots as far away as Switzerland. Point.
7) Memorable in this story?
I have nothing to say on Bruce’s behalf in this category, this round. Lex, in my opinion, is the clear victor. Due to the single fact that Lex is not even actually present for any of the plot, but is instead remotely controlling his robot duplicate, and gets away with serious acts of treason, Lex is the clear victor. Batman, though successful in stopping his plan from coming to full fruition, does not truly defeat Lex. He merely strikes one blow in a much larger fight. Point to Lex. No point to Bruce.
The final count:
|Is the story memorable?|
|Overall Round Winner|
Well if you are keeping track, Batman has six points and Lex has seven. Lex Luthor wins this round, Bat-fans. That’s right, Baldy beats the Bat. Now that was a heck of a round and a great book to pick up. Seriously, get this book in your hands somehow. It’s such a great read and the art is worth taking a look at. Stay tuned for our next round which has us examining Grant Morrison’s “JLA: Rock of Ages.”
Posted by Chris Gering