Batman: Year 100 #4 (of 4)

E. John Love

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


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

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.





12 Essential Kate Bush Songs

While Kate Bush is a national treasure in the UK, American listeners don't know her as well. The following 12 songs capture her irrepressible spirit.


Tatsuya Nakatani and Shane Parish Replace Form with Risk on 'Interactivity'

The more any notions of preconceived musicality are flicked to the curb, the more absorbing Tatsuya Nakatani and Shane Parish's Interactivity gets.


Martin Green's Junkshop Yields the Gritty, Weird Story of Britpop Wannabes

Featuring a litany of otherwise-forgotten budget bin purchases, Martin Green's two-disc overview of coulda-been Britpop contenders knows little of genre confines, making for a fun historical detour if nothing else.


Haux Compellingly Explores Pain via 'Violence in a Quiet Mind'

By returning to defined moments of pain and struggle, Haux cultivates breathtaking music built on quiet, albeit intense, anguish.


'Stratoplay' Revels in the Delicious New Wave of the Revillos

Cherry Red Records' six-disc Revillos compilation, Stratoplay, successfully charts the convoluted history of Scottish new wave sensations.


Rising Young Jazz Pianist Micah Thomas Debuts with 'Tide'

Micah Thomas' Tide is the debut of a young jazz pianist who is comfortable and fluent in a "new mainstream": abstraction as well as tonality, freedom as well as technical complexity.


Why Australia's Alice Ivy Doesn't Want to Sleep

Alice Ivy walks a fine line between chillwave cool and Big Beat freakouts, and her 2018 debut record was an electropop wonder. Now, in the middle of a pandemic, she tries to keep the good vibes going with a new record decked out in endless collaborations.


Five Women Who Fought the Patriarchy

Whether one chooses to read Square Haunting for the sketches of the five fascinating women, or to understand how misogyny and patriarchy constricted intellectual and public life in the period, Francesca Wade's book is a superb achievement.


Director Denis Côté on Making Film Fearlessly

In this interview with PopMatters, director Denis Côté recalls 2010's Curling (now on Blu-Ray) discusses film as a "creative experiment in time", and making films for an audience excited by the idea of filling in playful narrative gaps.


Learning to Take a Picture: An Interview With Inara George

Inara George is unafraid to explore life's more difficult and tender moments. Discussion of her latest music, The Youth of Angst, leads to stories of working with Van Dyke Parks and getting David Lee Roth's musical approval.


Country Westerns Bask in an Unparalleled Sound and Energy on Their Debut

Country Westerns are intent on rejecting assumptions about a band from Nashville while basking in an unparalleled sound and energy.


Rediscovering Japanese Director Tomu Uchida

A world-class filmmaker of diverse styles, we take a look at Tomu Uchida's very different Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji and The Mad Fox.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.