Comics

Batman: Year 100 #4 (of 4)

E. John Love

In Paul Pope's version of Batman, the state has become the super-villian.

Batman

Publisher: DC Comics
Subtitle: Year 100 #4 (of 4)
Contributors: Paul Pope (Artist), Colours by Jose Villarrubia. ()
Price: $5.99
Writer: Paul Pope
Item Type: Comic
Length: 48
Publication Date: 2006-05
Amazon

This series has made a lot of statements about losing personal privacy and civil rights. Not only do the citizens of Gotham live with nightly curfews and constant airborne infrared surveillance, but Captain Gordon and the rest of the local Gotham police force seem powerless to prevent it.

In Paul Pope's version of Batman, the state has become the super-villian. "I don't think we're dealing with a laughing sociopath in pancake make-up this time. This is starting to look like a full out military coup," says Batman on page two.

It caught my attention that even one hundred years into the future, a federal office of homeland security is still in place, implying (to me anyway) that a Republican federal government is also in power. The use of the term "homeland security" blatantly refers to today's political climate in the United States. In fact, aside from the Blade Runner flying cop cars and holographic projections, the future Gotham and America inhabited by Batman seems extremely familiar. Pope's Batman might just as easily be set in the current day.

The "meeting" scene between Gordon and Batman, towards which the previous issues have been building, was dramatic. Pope's holographic versions of Tibble and Batman remind me of spirits or demon images rising out of a fire. Tibble appears in a red haze, looking vaguely horned and devilish, while Batman materializes expressionless, in a green glow, like a different kind of demon. Poor Captain Gordon seems to be stuck between these two forces, both of which are outside his control. The personal pasts and identities of Batman and Jim Gordon do exist in parallel to each other, providing a way for these two archetypal DC comic characters to come to terms with each other, and a way for the vigilante to become legitimized once again.

In this series, Paul Pope has also established a theme of family lineage and personal destiny, through the grandfather/father/son relationship embodied in Captain Gordon, the master/apprentice theme in Batman and Robin, and the mother/daughter relationship in the Doctor and her daughter, Tora, who are like surrogates for Barbara Gordon.

Perhaps few influences are stronger than the life example of a family member whom you respect. It's natural to want to follow those people's examples, and follow in their footsteps. I wonder if this is Pope's modern answer to the old "Batman Family", the extended collection of Bat-prefixed characters developed from the 1940s to the 1960s that formed a clan or extended family unit.

Issues three and four of this series seemed to have more emphasis on action than on character insights or moving the story along. It seemed like all the fantastic questions and mysteries presented in the first issue were what gave the story its incredible momentum. With each issue after that, the dramatic tension seemed to drop off noticeably. Thankfully, Pope's expressionistic inking and Villarubia's vibrant colouring remain consistently strong throughout the series.

Although I don't want to give it away, the big plot payoff that I was looking forward to throughout this series -- learning Batman's true identity -- was turned into a major anticlimax. It's frustrating that I still know almost nothing about the man behind the mask. I really expected this series to deliver on that.

A few other questions raised by Pope remain unanswered: When is a vigilante (or in the words of the Gotham media, a "terrorist") like Batman required or justified? Also, must a son, or a great-grandson, always follow on in his predecessor's footsteps?

In this final issue, Robin admits to Tora "He's got big feet. I had to stuff a rag in the toe to get his boots to fit." Batman does indeed have big shoes to fill. In spite of the slightly weak finish, I do think that Paul Pope and Jose Villarubia have largely succeeded in filling them.

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
5
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

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

rating-image