Saturday, December 06, 2008
The moth, the snake, and the stingray
Batman #682 by Grant Morrison and Lee Garbett includes in passing an understated sequence in which Alfred speculates on other guises Bruce Wayne might have taken had something other than a bat come through his window that fateful night long ago. Had a moth flown in, we might have a Mothman instead of a Batman. Or Bruce might have mused "My actions must be swift and decisive, my approach silent and undetected...' just before his eye was caught by the stuffed and mounted snake on his bookcase. "That's it! I shall become...a serpent!"
This plays on an idea Morrison has toyed with during his run on the series: the idea of Alfred as a Batman fan, someone who delights in the character to the extent of writing his own Batman fan fiction and imaginary stories...and who might even be vicariously living out his own desire for two-fisted action through the travails of his employer. That idea certainly didn't originate with Morrison, but he's used it to good effect.
Another thing Morrison has done is to incorporate bits and pieces from every era of Batman, taking the position that no story is so ridiculous or inappropriate it needs to be written off completely; that with some judicious reinterpretation, the entire 68 year history of the character can be read as the internally consistent life experiences of one individual. Use every part of the animal: Bat-Mite, Kathy Kane, Man-Bat, Ras al Ghul, it all goes into the mix. And the above sequence reminded me of the following item from Batman #256 (May-June 1974), written by Martin Pasko (with considerable snark, one feels) and drawn by Pat Broderick.
One can only ponder the crime-fighting effectiveness of the Iron Knight. (Full marks for intimidation value, but how many getaways would have been aided by the armored hero clomping towards them very...very...slowly?) And Aquaman would probably have been pissed off at the Stingray horning in on his turf. Anyway, I'm sure GM remembered this mini-featurette and I suspect he knowingly alluded to it with the above scene.
Thanks to commenter Frank at Final Crisis Annotations for providing the issue number, enabling me to track down the issue and present these scans here. I thought non-Korean readers might want to enjoy it for themselves. (Props also to Jidol for making it available to Korean readers...)
at 2:12 AM