How I Read Batman 3: Batman Gothic
As you will learn through the course of this blog, I have a very love/hate relationship with Grant Morrison's Batman. And while my recent feelings towards his Caped Crusader usually involve me blacking out with rage, I'm a huge fan of his 80s and 90s work.
One of the things I find most intriguing/frustrating about Morrison's Batman is how he plays with time and dreams. In stories such as Gothic (Legends Of The Dark Knight 6-10), Morrison gives us his signature coded dreams that tie into Bruce Wayne's real life. Whereas in recent years, I've felt his dream sequences and time fluctuations detract from the stories he tries to tell, in Gothic the dreams are placed in context almost immediately.
This story also gives us a rare glimpse into Bruce's childhood. Most writers seem to think there was nothing to his youth other than the night his parents were shot. Morrison presents us with a trauma of a different sort, as Bruce is nearly the victim of a serial killer who moonlights as the headmaster of the Bruce's very creepy alma mater.
The killer, Mr. Whisper (no relation to Hush, though it's interesting that the two villains connected to Bruce Wayne's childhood both have names with a quiet theme), returns during Batman's early days to take down a group of criminals who had tried to kill him shortly after Bruce was pulled out of school.
These sort of chronological coincidences usually rankle me the wrong way. All the characters and subplots of the story wrap up a little neatly for my taste. I do appreciate that there's a misdirect early on in the story when a young nun shows up, looking very similar to Selina Kyle's sister from Year One, and My Sister's Keeper.
While it's probably due more to editorial reasons than Morrison's shortcomings as a writer, it is disappointing that we don't see any other continuity characters in this arc. The criminals don't appear to have any connections to the Falcones, and there's no mention of James Gordon. We do have the first use of a, not the, a Bat-Signal in this issue, when the nervous criminals attach an upside-down Bat logo to a spotlight to get the caped crusader's attention.
Story 3/5, Art 3/5
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