Comics

The Metaphors and Mythology of "Batman #9"

Michael D. Stewart

The back-up has a strong gothic feel, most notably derived from the artwork of Rafael Albuquerque. The panels are beautiful in their sinister and menacing rendering. It is the most stylized art of whole issue…


Batman #9

Publisher: DC
Length: 22 pages
Writer: Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Rafael Albuquerque
Price: $2.99
Publication Date: 2012-06
Amazon

For all its action and violence, the most startling aspects of Batman #9 are the issue’s use of metaphors and its exploration of the mythology surrounding this New 52 Dark Knight and his cohorts. The seeming slasher-type horror tone of the previous installment of “Night of the Owls” is gone, replaced with a violent desperation for revenge. The event moves on, and so too does Batman.

Writer Scott Snyder opens this chapter again with more revelations about the Wayne family and its history with owls. This time it’s a metaphoric story that works in part as a recap of this epic struggle with the Court of Owls. The Owls have always been there, but so too have been the bats; at odds with each for the heart of the cave below Wayne Manor and Gotham City itself. Here the Talons of the Owls are the latest to drive the bats deeper into their dark sanctuary. The darkness being what allows the bats to recover and bring winged vengeance upon the intruders.

This technique that Snyder uses to showcase Batman overcoming the assault on his home has become something of a trademark. In everything he’s written--American Vampire, Detective Comics, Gates of Gotham, etc.--the protagonist remembers a story from the past that has some metaphoric bearing on the presents. It is a useful gimmick to set the tone, recall the essential elements of the story and poetically move the narrative along.

It allows Snyder a moment to drive home the personal nature of this story. There is a scene in the midst of the cave fighting where one of the Talons drives a dagger deep into the helmet of Batman’s battle armor, the blade coming just short of going between Bruce’s eyes. This story, no matter how many Wayne’s (or Pennyworth’s) are drawn in, is about him and we should not forget that aspect.

This is the climax of this part of the story. The rest of issue muddles through to the end and the final declaration from Bruce that he intends to “burn down” the Court’s home. A missing piece that contributes heavily to this muddling was actually presented prior to this issue in Detective Comics #9, a rather confusing move, but one we have to live with. The intent is to sell copies of another book. It has little bearing on the overall event aside from creating an unnatural pause in the story presented in these pages.

As with the last issue of Batman, this one also features a back-up story that explores a further aspect of the Court of Owls saga. “The Fall of the House of Wayne” is a flashback based on a letter written by Alfred’s father, Jarvis, a former butler of the Wayne family. A seed is planted that the Court may have had something to do with the fate of Martha and Thomas Wayne--a startling a potentially dangerous revelation--but these scenes also confirm one part of the New 52 continuity. This Volume Two understanding of Alfred sees him as an amalgamation of his character’s history, similar to the way he’s been presented in the most recent decades. But while that stays the same, Snyder and back-up co writer James Tynion fill in the cracks and crannies of continuity with new pieces of the mythology that may prove to be provocative.

The back-up has a strong gothic feel, most notably derived from the artwork of Rafael Albuquerque. The panels are beautiful in their sinister and menacing rendering. It is the most stylized art of whole issue. Greg Capullo’s pencils in the main feature are very workmanlike, and are admirable in how they tell the visual aspect of the story. The action is at times hard to follow, but that seems to be result of a compressed script rather than overly busy layout choice.

Batman #9 presents a very dark and aggressive Bruce. The psychological and physical toll of the Court has pushed him to the brink, and his anger has finally been unleashed. Much as Snyder has done throughout this early run of Batman Volume Two, expansion of Bat-mythology combined with metaphoric storytelling strongly points toward robust characterization and a very personal narrative. It’s also a story of legacy, taking a deep root in the history of Batman. Aside from a lackluster conclusion to the main feature of this issue, Batman #9 is a fine addition to this epic.

6

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image