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Bruce Wayne: DOA?

The DOA in this case stands for dead or alive?

Spoilers ahead. The last panel of the penultimate issue of Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis strongly suggests that the original Batman is dead. The tip off is the image of Superman holding his dead body after attempting to kill (but most likely only wounding) the great and powerful Darkseid.

The image itself is of course an homage to the original Crisis (on Infinite Earths) in which Superman held the dead body of his cousin (which is itself an homage to dozens of other comics before it). If its true, this seems to be a jab at Marvel which pulled a similar stunt, suggesting in hints that Captain America would die in its Civil War event, only to kill him with no announcement in issue 25 of his regular series. This time around, DC spent months building up Batman RIP (also penned by Grant Morrison) which was expected be many to either kill off or replace Batman. Despite an amazing start, that event failed on many levels with a disappointing last issue. Instead, Batman died rather abruptly in one of the last scenes of FC #6.

A lot of fans, including myself, were rather disappointed with Morrison’s handling of longstanding Justice League member J’onn J’onzz in Final Crisis #1, in which he was killed off panel. So was Batman’s death handled as well as Captain America’s or as badly as the Martian Manhunter’s?

The answer is neither and both. Morrison didn’t crap all over the memory of Bruce Wayne like he did with J’onn, though I will say it seems like a cheap stunt death to add weight to the very disappointing event that is Final Crisis. I mean, sure, the Earth is being destroyed, but really, how long will any of this stuff stick?

I don’t think he handled Bruce’s death as well as Cap’s either. In fact, the Batman’s death is lacking when you compare it to the FIRST TIME Morrison penned it. In the Rock of Ages storyline, Bruce Wayne is killed helping to take down Darkseid (sound familiar?). The difference between the two scenes is that in Rock of Ages, Batman’s last moments are truly bad-ass, and fully worthy of the last moments of the Dark Knight. In Final Crisis, the death scene is admittedly kind of cool, but rings a little false. For one thing, he uses a gun, which is a Bat-no-no. For another, the dialogue comes off like a cheesy Die Hard rip off. Batman’s final words “DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR????????” To which the answer would be, “no Bruce. Because you didn’t say anything before that statement. Unless your point is that you have a gun. But as you can see, I’m not blind, so I know you have a gun. Therefore, you kind of sounded like a tool just then.”

It’s a little wordy, sure, but I think it comes off better than Darkseid’s actual response.

Of course the big thing is— Batman may not actually be dead after all. Darkseid’s murder weapon of choice is called the Omega Beam. It’s like a living laser that he shoots from his eyes which disintegrates it’s target. Yes, I really just typed those words. But the beams that Darkseid uses this time is called the Omega Sanction, which he refers to as the “death that is life!” Also, Batman’s body is left intact… if somewhat crispy. My guess is he’s in a… and I can’t believe I’m typing this… super-coma.

Yes, a super-coma. (fuck me, I am done as a writer.)

Death is rarely permanent in the make believe world of comics. Hell, Batman’s protege Jason Todd was just brought back to life after Superboy Prime punched the Universe. (soooooo done as a writer after this) Surely Bruce can take a super viagra and some espresso (super espresso?) and wake up from this!

And most damning of all is the felling that Morrison wasn’t really done writing Bruce Wayne. At the end of RIP, he clearly had a lot of story left to tell.

So is Bruce dead or alive? My guess is we won’t find out until DC’s next event, Blackest Night. It’s tagline? The Dead will rise.

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2008 Time Capsule

Fav TV Shows

>Life; One Tree Hill; Heroes; Chuck; Battlestar Galactica

News Program of Choice

>The Colbert Report

Fav Movies

>Iron Man; The Incredible Hulk; Dark Knight; Zack and Miri Make a Porno; Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Fav Songs

>Hallelujah, Kate Voegele; Billie Jean, Chris Cornell; Troubadour, George Strait; Raise the Barn, Kieth Urban

Best Album

Matchbox 20, Greatest Hits

Best Concert

Miranda Lambert @ House of Blues

Hotties

Miranda Lambert; Kristen Bell;  Miley Cyrus; Jesse Jane

Style/clothes

band t-shirts: ACDC, Cash, Led Zepplin

Shoes

>Skechers & Mizuno

Hang Outs

>Masquerades, Rockin’ Sake

Jobs

>Walker Acura, Best Chevrolet

Vehicle

>2000 GMC Jimmy

Trips

> Nashville & Chattanooga, Disney, Mexico

Events of note

>September hurricane evacuation & 15 hours on the road; 2nd International voyage

BATMAN: R.I.P.-OFF

WARNING: SPOILERS

 

it’s been almost a week now since the release of Batman #681, and I think I have enough perspective to speak on it.

I call shenanigans.

I know that will probably make me unpopular, at least with the critical crowd, but it’s true.  Batman R.I.P. was bullshit.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a great arc from start to finish. Phenomenal even.  In fact, if J.H. Williams III was the artist it might have gone down as being the most successful Batman arc in recent history.  The problem is that it fails to deliver on what was promised by solicitations, Grant Morrison himself and even the title!

No, I’m not saying it was bullshit because Bruce Wayne is still alive.   I truly hope that no one was foolish enough to believe that Bruce Wayne would be killed.  Considering the fact that Batman currently brings in more cash (Dark Knight anyone?) than even Superman as a property, Warner Brothers would sooner gut Dan Didio like a Taun Taun and feast on his entrails at a church picnic than allow anyone to screw with their cash cow… err, bat.   In fact, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that the end of Bruce’s reign as the Bat is temporary.  The only viable candidate for the mantle of the Bat is Nightwing, and he’s too valuable to the DC Universe to take on the cowl permanently (he was Batman briefly after Knight’s End).  Tim is way too young and inexperienced to handle Gotham on his own.   So yeah, Bruce will be back, and there really aren’t any lasting consequences to R.I.P. beyond Morrison’s current (and supposedly future) run on the book.

We were promised that this would be the worst day in Batman’s life.  That means it would go above the deaths of Jason and Thomas and Martha Wayne.  It would go beyond that ridiculous story arc where Leslie Tompkins was revealed as a killer (which I guess she’s not, because Spoiler is still running around).   At first it looked like Morrison would succeed.  But then something happened.  You see there are two types of Grant Morrison stories: standard (albeit brilliant and awesome) straightforward story-telling… and then there’s what I like to call the “this is your brain on drugs” stories.  Basically Grant gets higher than a giraffe’s nut sack, goes… AHEM… bat-shit insane and starts writing.   Oddly, many of his best stories fall in the latter category.   This isn’t one of them.  You see, the brain on drugs stories straddle the line between brilliant/ ephemoral and incoherent.  The issue where Batman was hopped up on cocaine worked admirably.  The final issue however was a mish mash of ideas that never got to any sort of point.

For one thing, does anyone remember the first panel of the arc?  It’s a fast forward where Batman and Robin leap into action to attack their enemies.  Well at what point did that happen?  Robin never showed up for the Arkham battle.  Also the crux of the ending is that Bruce knew it was coming. He didn’t know what would happen, so all he could do was prepare and hope his friends could keep up. — Okay, fair enough.  So why the frak couldn’t he give every a heads up? Poor Alfred got the crap kicked out of him.  That kind of makes Bruce a dick.  But beyond that, if he was prepared for the whole thing then at the end of the day, nothing important really happened.  This is just another case where Batman gets beat up for a little while and then ends up overcoming his enemies because he’s smarter than them.

Even worse is the sense that we’ve seen this kind of story before.  And technically we have.  I would argue that R.I.P. was a less successful version of Hush, all the way down to the fact that Tony Daniels is at times a Jim Lee Wanna-be.  Yes, I’m sure someone will read this and try to burn me at the stake.  But look at he facts.  A mysterious enemy from Bruce Wayne’s past comes back to haunt him, sending others to do his bidding and throwing Batman’s world into chaos.  There is a love interest he can’t really trust.  The villain uses subliminal hypnosis to affect his thoughts.  And it ends with both Batman and the reader unsure of just who the hell the villain really is.   And that is the real cardinal sin of this arc.  We were told over and over that we would find out who the Black Glove is.  And we didn’t.  I read various reviews that claimed we did. Well I’m not sure what book they were reading, but unless my copy was missing pages, there was no answer.   Doctor Hurt is not Thomas Wayne.  And even if he was, it’s already been stated that Doctor Hurt is not the Black Glove.  So who the hell is???  Why is the Black Glove so interested in taking down Batman?  Is he another Tommy Elliot (or perhaps the real thing taking a second shot?), or a member of Batman’s cast.  Based on Morrison’s statements, I thought it would be Alfred.  It still could be.

The thing is, the best stories never reveal their whole hand.  There will be questions left unanswered, but you have to answer at least a few of the questions!  That’s why Lost is faltering.  If you fail to give your audience any answers, they’re going to lose interest. When you name an arc Rest In Peace, you expect some sort of finality.   And that isn’t what we got.   What we got was a small piece of a larger puzzle.  And while that piece was admirably delivered, it’s ambiguous ending is ultimately unsatisfying.

The Evils of Downloading

Occasionally I listed to the Kidd Kraddick show in the morning. As much as I love Walton and Johnson, I just needed a break from the heaviness. Unfortunately W & J are the only decent DJs/ Talk Show on the radio. So I listen to the country stations for the music, and then when the Djs start talking I change the station, from time to time landing on the Kidd show. I’m not exactly a fan. They’re affable. And they can be entertaining depending on the day. And I like Big Al, so it works out as long as I don’t listen to them steadily.

Today they had Kelly Rowland on (formerly of Destiny’s Child, currently a solo R & B artist). I actually listened to most of the interview because Rowland seemed to be a decent, down to Earth guest and they all seemed to be having a good time. And then it took a turn for the worse. Rowland asked the leader, Kidd, what he thought of the state of the music industry. And he proceeds to go on what felt like a prepared speech from the music industry about how people need to understand that they’re stealing from artists. I had to shut the radio off. Shut the fuck up, you ass-kissing prick.

That just annoys the shit out of me. Not that he’s entirely wrong, but because that’s the lines that the corporations give you in order to invalidate anyone else’s argument. There are a lot of issues with new media and technology like downloading and burning (both music and DVD’s) which have yet to be resolved.
Downloading is most certainly stealing. No argument around it. Is burning? That’s up for debate. If I buy a cd or DVD and my friend wants to try it because they’re not necessarily big fans, is that theft? No, it’s not. It’s my property, and if I want to give my friend a copy, I purchased it. It isn’t preventing a sale, because in most cases, they aren’t going to buy it one way or the other. At the least, they would just borrow it from me and give it back. And in actuality money is still being spent, because we have to buy software and CDs/ DVDs in order to make the copies.

And looking at it honestly, the new mediums and tricks are irrelevant to the argument. There is no difference between downloading a song now and recording it on the radio back when I was a kid. NO DIFFERENCE. At least not fundamentally. It is a thousand times easier and faster to download. Back then you had to wait by the radio for hours with your finger on the button for the DJ to play the song, and hope that you started recording before the song was too far along, praying that the DJ wouldn’t talk over it, or worse sing along with it. And the same goes for movies. We used to record movies on VHS. We’d rent them and copy them, or use a friend’s copy. For fuck’s sake… THEY SOLD BLANK TAPES AT BLOCKBUSTER/ VIDEO PLUS! Are you going to tell me that Kidd Kraddick never did any of those things? Or that he considers them immoral? Bullshit. It didn’t destroy the entertainment industry then, and it isn’t destroying it now.

The key factors for any consumer is cost vs. value. When I was a kid, recording music off the radio, it was because there was a song I like. Maybe I needed to save up my allowance so I could buy a $9.99 cassette tape. Or maybe I simply realized that the musician in question put out crap and I only wanted the one song. Often the case was the former, but most of the time it was the latter. That’s the worse thing about the music industry. They put out more shit than a manure factory, and they expect you to pay top dollar for it, even though new mediums are cheaper than ever to produce. There are an abundance of artists like the Dixie Chicks out there. In the late 90s I bought the Dixie Chicks’ first two CDs based on the strength of their singles. And you know what? I got ripped off! I spent 18 bucks per CD, and they were both gigantic pieces of shit. You know why? Because the DC’s, like most artists, produce four good songs on every album to get you to buy it, and then make a bunch of half-assed songs as filler. By then, you’ve already spent the money though. But you still like them! Maybe it was fluke. So you buy the second CD. And there they are at the end of the tracks, laughing at you. Fooled you twice, dipshit! So if all they’re going to do is sell singles, why should I buy the album? Should I spend a dollar fifty per song on legal downloading? No, because then you’re still spending top dollar and you don’t even have the physical evidence of the purchase. And as for DVDs, again, it comes down to price. Are you telling me that a DVD which cost 37 cents to make is worth 55 times that amount? Bullshit. My favorite show is Babylon 5, yet I still don’t own a copy of any of the seasons, because Warner Brothers deems the value of it to be 80 dollars per season. THATS ALMOST AS MUCH FOR THE DVD’S AS IT WAS FOR THE DVD PLAYER!!! And yet I still own about a thousand dollars worth of DVDs. Most of it is from Television season box sets. It’s an addiction of mine. Some of them were as a result of watching a friend’s burned copy of one of the discs. That’s right!!!!!! The corporations made money off of a burned DVD!!!! They made a lot of money off of it, from me alone. And when I see a great movie in theatres, I buy the DVD. When I hear a great artist on the radio, one that hasn’t burned me in the past, I buy the CD. But when the corporations put out shitty music and movies, fuck you, I work for a living. THEY DON’T.

It isn’t about the value of intellectual property for a corporation, it’s about greed. And you can’t argue otherwise. For proof, look at the recent Writer’s Guild Strike. How many times were CEO’s caught on tape saying how the future of entertainment is the internet, and then did a 180 and said there’s no money in downloaded content when the WGA wanted a fair cut of their own intellectual property? It’s bullshit. It’s about greed. For instance, I was reading about one of the people sued for downloading off of Napster years ago. The recording industry, featuring more musical acts than any music festival, went after ordinary people. KIDS! One of them was a single mother of two, struggling to survive and put food on her kids’ table. They sued her for something like forty thousand dollars, for what probably amounted to 200 dollars worth of music (probably a lot less). That’s 200 times the actual value, a 2000 percent profit. If you asked them why they did it, they’d probably say it was a moral victory or a warning to other downloaders. Well guess what? There’s nothing moral about setting a woman and her children into poverty over a couple of songs. And the amount of downloading has only increased over the years. The irony is that one of the spearheads of the trials was Lars Ulrich of Metallica. It’s a well known fact that Metallica used to encourage their fans to bring recording devices to their shows, so they could record the music. It’s one of the reasons they first got so popular. So what happened? They got greedy. They turned into a bunch of rich assholes who cared more about their own pathetic, worthless lives than the kids who put them in that position. They sided with corporations who never cared at all.

If the entertainment industry wants to slow the rise of illegal downloading and burning, then they need to stop suing children, college students and single parents. They need to start putting out good music, and good movies. And most of all, lower the cost of legal downloads. Work with companies like iTunes (which by the way, regardless of the existence of companies like Limewire, still make an ungodly amount of money) to lower the cost to the consumer. Maybe make single songs 75 cents and television episodes 2 dollars. People will still buy CDs and DVDs or whatever physical medium comes next. That isn’t going to change. You want the people to stop stealing from you? Well you stop stealing from them first.