Oroboros: The End is the Beginning is the End

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Lately, a few folks have e-mailed me with thoughts regarding Grant Morrison’s Batman Inc Vol. 2, and how it might function as both a major arc in the New 52 and the actual final tale of the Modern Age. Most notably, site-contributor Jamison, who is always positively provoking me with insightful musings, said:

“I think it’s obvious that DC has sort of shoe-horned Batman Inc Vol 2 into New 52 canon forcibly. It’s confusing because the book sort of demands to be the main event in Batman’s world, yet DC is pushing [Scott] Snyder’s book as the main plot. […] It sends a very mixed message to readers. […] Ideally Batman Inc vol 2 would have been marketed as the conclusion to the pre-Flashpoint universe (much like Leviathan Strikes), but I suppose they figured it would sell more books as a part of New 52 canon. […] [Morrison’s Batman Inc Vol 2] is definitely New 52 canon, but I believe these 13 issues—(14 including the zero issue)—can literally count toward both continuities simultaneously. If you read these issues in the context of the Modern era, then it’s the end. If you read them in the context of the New 52, then it’s the beginning. [This is] much like [Morrison’s] Oroboros concept, with the snake eating its tail, as well as the looped universe timeline concept from the Return of Bruce Wayne.”

Based upon this statement, I wanted to more closely examine whether or not this could actually be a possibility. Bear in mind, there are still four issues that haven’t been released yet, and any tiny thing within those four issues could mark Batman Inc Vol. 2 as being solely in the New 52 realm. But amazingly enough, Jamison (and a few others) aren’t wrong! And I want to adress all of this with greater scrutiny.

But first, let’s talk about the Modern Age’s abrupt end: When Flashpoint occurred and the New 52 began, the Modern Age came to an official end. BUT… gloriously, there was still one more Modern Age tale to be told. At the time, I thought to myself, “Gods be praised, Grant Morrison gets to write the capstone to the Modern Age, the final ever Modern Age DC comic book… and it’s Batman to boot!” The months leading up to that book were exciting for me as I imagined the various ways Morrison could send off not only Batman, but the entire DC multiverse as well. I really thought that Leviathan Strikes would be that story, featuring a narrative that would possibly span centuries. And when the double-sized issue was released and I read that opening “takes place in a previous continuity” editor’s note on the first page, I jumped for joy and said, “Morrison can do whatever he wants and he’s going to!” However, as awesome as the issue still was, it was something else entirely—it was a big “to be continued in the New 52.” While the prospect of Morrison getting more issues was fantastic, at the same time, I was really let down. But the prospect of having Batman Inc Vol. 2 function in both continuities is really really amazing. But can it work?

To find out, let’s address a few major points and delve into the nitty-gritty. For one thing, Morrison doesn’t seem to be catering to the New 52’s continuity that much—(although, to play devil’s advocate, drafted his scripts similarly when regarding the continuity of others in the Modern Age as well). There are a plethora of references to the Modern Age, but very few references to the New 52.

Here are a bunch of items that reflect the Modern Age more than the New 52.
1. Batman Inc Vol. 2 seems to be a direct continuation of Leviathan Strikes (the conclusion of which even says the story continues).
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2. Batman Inc Vol. 2 #0, which details some of the early Batman Inc recruiting, tells us that Damian is ELEVEN-YEARS-OLD!! This age fits the Modern era perfectly, as Damian was dropped off with Bruce for the first time at age 10 and Batman Inc starts roughly a little over a year later! In the New Age, Batman’s mention of Damian being 11 is an out-and-out continuity flub.
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3. Batman Inc Vol. 2 #0 makes many references to a bunch of things that seem more Modern than New. In fact, you can spot a lot of references throughout issues #1-9 that do the same thing as well. But let’s not get too hung up on that, and move on.
4. Keeping with the debacle that is Damian’s age in the New Age for the moment: Batman Inc Vol. 2 #1-2 highlights a version of Damian’s life that seems to imply that he ages normally, year by year, and that Batman’s history with the Al Ghul’s goes back well over a decade (instead of the messy six or seven New Age years).
5. Furthermore, Morrison references Element Man aka Metamorpho as having been in the Justice League, a nod to his own run on JLA. While this can be explained away in the New Age, it registers as a direct reference to the Modern Age.
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6. In Batman Inc Vol. 2 #1, Black Lighting, Katana, and Element Man (Metamorpho) are subtly referenced as Outsiders (or former Outsiders at the very least), when in the New 52, neither Lightning nor Katana were meant to be a part of the team (or if they were it was for a short period). Katana is actually featured in Leviathan Strikes as an Outsider, although she fails to appear in Vol. 2. Likewise Element Man fails to appear as well, although he is mentioned.
7. Talia appears in issue #2 in a flashback which shows her leading the Secret Society of Super-Villains with Black Adam and others. This is another out-and-out continuity error, something that couldn’t have possibly happened in the New Age, and that requires significant caveats to explain.
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8. So far, Morrison has avoided even mentioning Batgirl. Steph Brown was Batgirl in Levithan Strikes, but in the New 52 she doesn’t exist and Babs has morphed from paralyzed Oracle to un-paralyzed Batgirl. Is the avoidance deliberate so that the story can work in the Modern Age?
9. In relation to the Babs examination, the future dream of the world of 666 shown in Batman Inc Vol. 2 puts Babs in her Modern Age wheelchair. This is either another nod to the Modern Age, or we have to assume in the New 52 that she would have gotten re-paralyzed.

The list could probably even go on, but you get the point. If we really were to add Batman Inc Vol. 2 to the Modern Age, we’d need to make a few notations that occur in-between Leviathan Strikes and Batman Inc Vol. 2—mostly cosmetic and non-problematic.
1. Batman Japan changes his costume after defeating Gorilla guy.
2. Katana is not present after Leviathan Strikes, despite being in Leviathan Strikes, so we’d have to invent a reason for her not continuing on with Batman Inc, which probably wouldn’t be difficult. Same goes for Metamorpho/Element Man. We’d also have to mention the simple fact that Metamorpho changes his name to Element Man.
3. Dick becomes Nightwing again. (Although, in Batman: Gates of Gotham #5, Batman specifically says that Dick will soon return to his role as Nightiwng anyway)!
4. Since there so far has been no mention of Batgirl, Steph’s absence must be explained as well.
5. Gordon has red hair and a red moustache. Must be a dye job? It’s not like we didn’t experience this same “problem” early in Year One Era anyway!
6. The Bat Family must get Titus (the dog).
7. Tim must debut new Red Robin costume.
8. Batman must open a new Batcave West in San Francisco. (The old Batcave West was in Los Angeles).

Besides these items, that’s really it! But there are a few actual problems that must be addressed.
1. Obviously, Batman switches costume back to non-yellow oval costume. However, he does it early on—during recruitment process in issue #0, which means he must switch back-and-forth between the black symbol and the yellow-oval costume intermittently during the early Batman Inc Vol. 1 days.
2. The ONLY New 52 story arc that Batman Inc Vol. 2 references is Tomasi’s Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #1-8—references to Titus and Nobody. We even learn that Morgan Ducard aka Nobody (from B&R #1-8) is killed by Damian BEFORE Leviathan Strikes, which oddly means that this New 52 arc would occur in some shape or form before Levithan Strikes.
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3. If Batman Inc Vol. 2 really is the true end to the Modern Age then much of the future stuff with Damian as Terry McGinnis’s mentor and Damian’s own career as Batman, which were both supposedly canon, simply couldn’t be. And Morrison’s own concept of time lends itself to hold true that the future is relatively set in stone, whether it be Damian as Batman or the world of the 853rd century. Yet at the same time, we know Morrison had always intended on killing Damian—in fact, he wanted to do it much sooner. With that in mind, we could then assume that the entire “world of Batman #666″ (including glimpses from Superman/Batman and Batman #700) is comprised of Bruce’s vivid death dream of the future—a future that was never meant to happen and clearly never did. Honestly, this is the one hiccup that I’m having the most issue with. Batman #700 clearly references further down the road to the time of Brane Taylor and then to the 853rd century. Superman/Batman #75 and #80 both refer, in what seems canonical fashion, to a Batman #666 and #700 world, but one where Damian survives, becomes the trench-collared Batman, and trains Terry McGinnis. If we assume that Damian dies and then gets resurrected in the Modern Age (which is a big stretch to make) then, and only then, would these future references work, right? Otherwise, we’d be (sadly) erasing a very large chunk of the “Welcome to the Future” section of my site.

It’s all food for thought. Don’t forget, I’m not trying to debate whether or not Batman Inc Vol. 2 works in the Modern Age versus the New Age. It is 100% a part of the New Age, there’s no argument there. I am simply trying to see if it also works in the Modern Age. If Batman Inc Vol. 2 does indeed simultaneously function as the concluding chapter of the Modern Age, I can tell you with absolute certainty that it makes for a great bookend. And it directly continues the story from Batman Inc Vol 1 and Leviathan Strikes, doing so really only by making cosmetic changes and non-mentions to cater to the New 52 continuity. Only the final four issues and some dedicated thought to the conundrum will give us an answer. Morrison’s Batman Inc arc is THE definitive end to the Modern Age. So, the end of that story surely would or should end the definitive end, right?

About Collin Colsher

Collin Colsher, the creator of The Real Batman Chronology Project and disCONTINUITY, is a writer, filmmaker, teacher, and comic book historian that currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He has lectured at various universities, libraries, and book fairs. Collin has also served on the jury for the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, which is sponsored by the US Library of Congress.
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49 Responses to Oroboros: The End is the Beginning is the End

  1. Jamison says:

    I’m sure you probably saw this, but its pretty related to this old post. It looks like DC is finally acknowledging in some way that Batman Inc v2 belongs in the modern age as much as it does in the New 52. The original artists are redrawing the pages they missed for the Batman Incorporated Absolute edition and making cosmetic changes to reflect the pre-Flashpoint continuity such as converting Batman’s costume to the Neal Adams version during the Tales of the Demon flashback. Very cool stuff. This makes me happy.

    http://comicsalliance.com/batman-incorporated-absolute-process-nathan-fairbairn/

  2. Jamison says:

    I think the “I shall become a bat” scene may have rubbed some people the wrong way. Much more than the previous two issues of zero year, this one definitely invites the most comparison to frank miller, and based on the reviews I’ve read, many people think it fell short of miller’s greatness. I always thought that in order to reboot the batman universe successfully, we didn’t need a story that attempts to do what frank miller already did, but rather we needed a new take on batman that is as radically different as frank millers batman was at the time. Frank millers batman was a batman no one had seen before, and while I think the zero year story so far has been night and day with year one, I am not sure if this take on batman’s character is something that we haven’t seen before. But maybe that doesn’t really matter. The new age is still very young, and it seems like now more than ever the dc executives are making efforts to give this new age an identity. Scott Snyder is good, but between grant Morrison and frank miller, he and whoever succeeds him have enormous shoes to fill.

    • He’ll never fill those shoes, but I think he knows that and that will be to his advantage. I’m putting up a very rambling new blog post that talks a bit more about Snyder, a lot more about Morrison’s run, and a bit about how some folks have responded negatively to the “overly-intellectual” superhero comics that Morrison has made over the years. I’m sure there will be a response to this comment in there.

  3. Jamison says:

    One more line from this article I want to highlight supporting my “We did the best we could to tie up the modern age” notion. This is the final sentence of the article: “The puzzle can never be completed: there’s a piece that doesn’t fit, leaving a hole in things. It’s the most complete it’s ever going to get. And we, and Bruce, need to learn to live with that.”

    • Great article, don’t know how I missed it, especially since I read everyone else’s (including Rikdad’s, who gets a shout-out in the comments section: “Best post i’ve ever read on this site. Nearly rikdad caliber.”) Uzumeri (and others like Rikdad, the guy who does Gotham Spoilers, Martin Gray, and a few more, either kicked their comics journalism/blogging ventures into overdrive or literally started their comics journalism/blogging ventures as a direct response to the exciting things Grant Morrison started doing seven-plus years ago. I commented on Gotham Spoilers not too long ago about how influential Morrison was to the current wave of truly intellectual comic writers on the web. Morrison isn’t just my favorite comic book writer because he’s an undeniably wonderful storyteller, but also because he’s important to the industry/culture in regard to the stimulation of analysis and readership. Like a lot of super-fans, seven years ago, I was thinking of stopping reading comics altogether. Then Morrison came along and shot me in the arm with adrenaline the likes of which I doubt any of us will ever see again. Like the many other internauts, the MAIN reason I started The Real Batman Chronology Project was because of Grant Morrison. If he hadn’t taken over the reins of Batman and filled me with such wonderment and awe, this site, quite simply, would never have ever existed.

      It’s a damn shame, howver, that those money grubbers at the top couldn’t wait a measly two years to let Morrison finish before the reboot. Would have made a near perfect story that much better. Same thing goes for Johns’ Green Lantern that ended the Modern Age for GL yet overlapped with the New 52—an excellent run that ended beautifully and gracefully, but which would have been much better if done before the actual reboot.

      On a side note, I’ve been on the fence about Snyder’s run so far, but I think that without having to live in Morrison’s large shadow anymore, Snyder can really spread his wings and fly for once. I’m looking forward to a New 52 that doesn’t have to concern itself with fitting in with Morrison’s epic arc (or Johns’). Maybe we can finally get that brilliant experimental new wave of superhero storytelling that we were promised in 2011. Batman #23 IMO is Snyder’s best single issue superhero comic book he’s ever written. After fully processing his version of the “I shall become a Bat” scene, I finally have faith in his abilities to lead Batman into the future.

  4. Jamison says:

    I found one more essay about this topic from someone who seems to have concurrently developed ideas very similar to the ones we worked on. Look at this sentence referring to Batman Incorporated v2: ” …this is truly the last gasp of the old DC Universe, and the complete handoff of Batman and his history into the new, out of the weird limbo-zone in which he’s been residing for the past two years, in both continuities at once but not fully in either.”
    Check out the full article here.
    http://comicsalliance.com/grant-morrison-batman-review-dc/

  5. Jamison says:

    This is a recent article by Oliver Sava from AV club reviewing Batman Inc 13 and Grant Morrison’s run at large. He seems to agree with the idea of Batman Inc v2 being connected to the modern continuity, and commends Morrison for “not compromising his work for the editorial regime.” The article also analyses Morrison’s metatextual commentary on his divided audience. “There are people whose hurt feelings can trigger wars. People whose broken hearts become grand opera, on an international stage.” is an allegory for the countless anti-Morrison rants all over the internet. There are also a lot of other interesting points that Sava makes, so the article is definitely worth reading. http://www.avclub.com/articles/batman-incorporated-13-concludes-grant-morrisons-7,101112/

  6. Jamison says:

    I think in the context of the modern age, Gordon referring to “The Zero Year” is just a nickname for the No Man’s Land period. If you’re going to try to say that because of that throw away reference Batman Inc vol 2 can’t fit in the modern age, then I would say that it can’t fit in the new age either because the Ororboros trigger was something established in the modern age without being reintroduced in the new age. This story can’t fit perfectly into either continuity no matter how much editorial tries, so the best solution for me is still just to include it in both. Overall I liked the ending quite a bit. Morrison couldn’t overtly make Batman retire (Because they aren’t going to cancel Batman), but I think he did a good job of telling us that this is the end of the modern age even though Batman will go on forever. This is where he hands the torch off to the next generation of Batman fans, and the next continuity.

    • Jamison says:

      Also, I think he definitely heavily insinuates that this is where Bruce retires without it messing up the new 52 continuity, and for that I applaud him.

  7. Ok, so the Damian of the future could clearly be one of the “Sons of Batman” clones. But what about the CLEAR reference to Zero Year? How do we explain THAT ONE in the Modern Age without a complete retcon?

  8. Jamison says:

    I saw this very recent interview with Grant Morrison about Batman Inc #13. It’s really interesting. Morrison believes many fans will hate the final issue, then over a period of months come to appreciate it. What do you guys think? http://www.newsarama.com/18471-morrison-on-batman-inc-finale-i-think-people-will-hate-it.html

    • Jamison says:

      Also, Warner Bros announced that there will be a new DC Universe Animated Original Movie based on Morrison’s Batman and Son story. Details in the article above.

  9. Darkmaster006 says:

    Regarding to the article I’d say that you’d have to the explain the disapparition of Cassandra Cain too, member of Batman Inc. and the Bat-Family, adopted daughter of Bruce too. She was working in Hong Kong as asked by Bruce but after “Gates of Gotham #5” she said she’ll return to Gotham, of course that hasn’t happened just because Flashpoint happened and we never saw her going back to Gotham, but it’d happen, so there’d be no reason for no one to mention her like Bruce or Tim. The same problem as Steph, but DC has really messed up with these two erasing them nonsensely, as I’m sure they can bring them back horribly with new origins, backstories, etc. And it seems they’re being replaced by the new Carrie Kelly and Harper Row. Morrison, Snyder and other writers have publicly explained that they wanted to bring back them but someone (I’m guessing DiDio) wouldn’t let them.

    • Jamison says:

      I think for the purposes of continuity, we would assume that Cassy and Steph (and Oracle) still communicate with Bruce off panel somewhere in comic book meta-time. Just because they aren’t mentioned anywhere in Inc vol 2 (for editorial reasons) doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t exist. Also, it’s not really clear when Gates of Gotham occurs relative to Batman Inc vol 2. Although a lot of time has passed in our dimension, Batman Inc seems to move at a really fast pace despite the fact that the series was delayed for a while, and only comes out in monthly installments. As for Dan Didio, I can only assume that there’s a dart board somewhere in his office with Cassie and Steph’s faces on it. If you’ve been paying attention to the whole Vertigo fiasco recently, you’ll know that Dan Didio has publicly stated that he doesn’t care what a relatively small portion of DCs fans want, no matter how passionate their pleas.

      • Darkmaster006 says:

        Yes, he really shows he doesn’t care, even telling lies like: “Yea we have plans for them.” or “The Batverse won’t be changed.” before the reboot. Anyways, at this point I wouldn’t want them to be reintroduced because they’ll fuck them up with new origins, no backstory, like they did with Tim Drake, but sooo much worse.

  10. Jamison says:

    I did hear about this. At least it’s only going to be a four issue mini series, so we wont be kept waiting years to finish the puzzle.

  11. Jamison says:

    Spoiler Warning for Batman Inc #12

    When you read issue 12, you will see that the 666 future Damian cannot be the Heretic as speculated above. There is now one more issue of Batman Incorporated left, and still quite a few questions to answer. I suspect it is possible that Morrison may not address the 666 future in his final issue, and if so, I am not sure what that will mean exactly for the timeline. That said, I thought issue 12 was amazing. I think it may create some continuity issues for the rest of the new 52 bat books, though. I’m pretty sure I recall seeing the Wayne Enterprises building standing tall in issues that supposedly take place after the events of Batman Incorporated. That doesn’t bother me much, though. I’m excited to think that the modern age will end in a fight between Talia and Bruce in the Batcave itself a la Knightsend. Here’s to hoping Barbara Gordon remains absent for the final issue (or at least sitting down).
    I’m reading the Invisibles right now for the first time. I’m trying to finish Morrison’s whole body of work, less his X-Men run, before Batman Inc 13 comes out.

    • Did you see the announcement of Damian: Son of Batman? Might be a HUGE game-changer. Rich Johnston (at Bleeding Cool) is implying that the series might take place in the Modern Age and that in the Modern Age Damian lives while Bruce dies… just as originally seen in the 666 nightmare future. Not sure how I feel about this… I guess we’ll have wait EVEN LONGER to find out whats going on. Someone gimme some answers!

      Of course, adding in more details to the 666 future doesn’t necessarily mean the 666 future is canon in any reality.

  12. Sam Groover says:

    Haven’t perused the new Batman Incorporated #12 yet, but I found it interesting that the just-announced Damian: Son of Batman mini-series is supposedly taking place in the Batman #666 timeline. Kubert is writing and illustrating. No doubt this story will have some major bearing upon the line of discussion we’re pursuing here.

    • Wow. Didn’t even know about that. Totally changes everything. Bleeding Cool is implying that the series might take place in the Modern Age and that in the Modern Age Damian lives while Bruce dies… just as originally seen in the 666 nightmare future.

  13. BatfanReborn says:

    Hey All, Interesting discussion here! I thought I’d mention though, Collin, that when you describe Morrison future as ‘set in stone’, I immediately think of ‘Rock of Ages’ where he wrote of a future which was created and existed but was then averted. Damian’s death may well have erased the 666 timeline.

  14. Someone wrote me an e-mail (I think) that posited that “Batman Inc Vol. 2” seemed to be hinting at a Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight Returns” future for Batman. I scoffed at the idea at the time, but now, after re-reading Brad Meltzer’s flash-forwards from the classic “Justice League of America Vol. 2 #0,” I’m less resistant to the idea. One of those flash-forwards clearly seems to reference “TDKR” or some version of it as being canon. Just a thought.

    • Jamison says:

      I just re-read this issue, and you’re right. Maybe the timeline for the end of the modern age could be as follows:
      -Events of Batman Incorporated v1 and v2
      -Death of Damian
      -Final battle between Batman and Leviathan (Final Variable)
      -Bruce vowing “Never again” in light of his son’s death.
      -10 years pass, the mutant gang introduced in Batman Inc v2 issue #1 has grown exponentially in Gotham and crime and corruption have once again claimed the city.
      -The events of the Dark Knight Returns
      -Resurrection of the still 11-year-old Damian Wayne
      -A couple years pass, Damian meets Dr. Hurt.
      -The events of Batman 666 play out. Bruce is killed in battle.
      -Some time later, the conversation between Superman and Wonder Woman takes place from Justice League of America v 2 #0 , which references the death of Bruce Wayne as seen in Batman #666.
      -The rest of the Batman 666 timeline occurs here and Gotham is destroyed in a nuclear blast, following with the fall of western civilization. (Note that in the Batman 666 timeline, the succumbing of the population of Gotham to the Joker toxin is referred to as “the Joker’s final gag.” Indicating that the Joker posthumously infected Gotham. He must have set up the dominoes for this plot either before he fell into a coma, or in between the time where he wakes up and appears on the David Endocrine program. He most likely was approached by Leviathan before Damian’s death. )
      -Maybe this is the start of the “Great Disaster” and the beginning of Jack Kirby’s Kamandi timeline?

      I reread the Geoff Johns/Sean McKeaver future Teen Titans stories again. I kind of got the impression after reading the second story by Sean McKeaver, that that future would not end up coming to be. The reason that the future heroes return to the present according to Lex Luthor, was that the present Titan’s knowledge of the future was changing the future Titans reality. Surely after the revelations of “Titans of Tomorrow”, Tim Drake would do everything to ensure that that future would never come to be, right? Although maybe not in the New 52, since he’s being written as a total douche bag. (No disrespect to the new 52 at large, I just don’t like Scott Lobdell).

      • Love this timeline so far. Except I think the discussion about Batman’s “death” from JLofA #0 is probably in reference to his “death” from Dark Knight Returns, clearly a reference to that story’s government smear campaign of Batman and Batman’s own hatred of Superman leading to their final fight. In Dark Knight Returns, everyone thought Batman died at the end, including Superman, so his grieving makes sense. Also, the epilogue to Teen Titans #54 shows Tim being approached and manipulated by Luthor and Miss Martian, despite the fact that the very same issue tells us that the dark “Titans Tomorrow” future definitely does not happen. Therefore, something happens in 2017 where Luthor and Martian attempt to use Tim, but they fail (as opposed to their original previous success), thus allowing for our 666 timeline to continue on.

        But as you say, there is still one HUGE variable. The final issues of Batman Inc Vol. 2. Wait and see.

  15. Singh says:

    Just something, Damian was conceived in the Tropic of Cancer (or was it Capric0rn) in the Modern Age, right? In this one, it shows Damian conceived in a desert, I believe after Bruce defeated Ra’s. Now I’m not too sure on this one considering I don’t have the comic at hand.

  16. Singh says:

    Just one thing, didn’t the Modern Age state Damian was conceived in the Tropic of Cancer? I’m not sure this is what happens in this age, I think it shows this happening in some desert, but I’m sure we could work around this, if it is an issue, with Bruce claiming he was drugged.

  17. Singh says:

    The Barbara wheel chair thing, I just took it as her back giving away again in the New 52 and for the old continuity, just never getting fixed. With Chris Burnham confirming that Inc, 11 takes place in the old continuity, Batman’s “new” suit being visible in the previews, I think the costume switching is also a yes.

    • The return the the wheelchair and the costume-switching of several characters will have to be noted, should Batman Inc‘s second volume go into the Modern Age. (It will definitely probably go into the Modern Age). In regard to Burnham’s IGN interview about issue #11, we should be hesitant to say that it “takes place in the old continuity.” Burnham’s exact quote is: “The whole Bat-team thought it would be fun to hop back into the spirit of the pre-New 52 incarnation of Batman Inc. and do one last done-in-one romp, so we made this issue as self-contained as possible.”

      Issue #11 is merely done in the spirit of the pre-New 52. The last-one-in-done romp means the last one in the series (besides the recently announced summer Special). I don’t think issue #11 will be that much different than the rest of volume 2. Like I’ve said, it’s my belief that ALL of volume two has been done in the spirit of the Modern Age to the extent that it basically IS a Modern Age arc. That being said, volume two still definitively works in the New 52. In the preview for issue #11, we can see Alfred the Cat and Damian’s grave, and nothing in that preview seems to suggest that it is solely pre-52.

  18. Jamison says:

    Also another argument for Inc vol 2 fitting into the modern age: In issue #5, Bruce’s “vision of the future” includes Barbara in a wheel chair. If she isn’t in a wheel chair presently, why would he imagine her that way in the future?

    Expanding more on Damian’s comment about meeting the devil: I’m not sure if you’ve brought this line up before, but the idea that Damian will have an eventual but unseen/unchronicled resurrection is making more and more sense to me. Morrison planned to kill Damian from the beginning, and though he may have never planned to write the resurrection story, this clue tells us that this may be the case for a future which we will, for the most part, have to extrapolate ourselves. I’d like to think if the modern age continued, it would into the future, always keep that fringe-y Morrison/Batman beyond-like tone. This is the only reasonable/textually-supported answer I can come up with unless more information is revealed in the final issues of Batman Incorporated. If not, then I personally am actually satisfied with my conclusion.

    • The Batgirl in a wheelchair thing is a big link to the Modern Age that hasn’t gone unnoticed.

      The idea of Damian getting resurrected has also crossed my mind, but that still wouldn’t really explain the sequences showing him as a teen, lamenting the death of Batman. Nor would it explain the scene where the teenage Damian meets with Simon Hurt—who I’m fairly certain was meant to be the aforementioned “devil.” Could the devil really be THE devil? Maybe it’s possible—we’ll wait and see what happens with the final two Morrison issues. When I have all the facts, I will examine everything with a fine-toothed comb and come up with a suitable timeline.

      Thanks for the ideas!

      • Jamison says:

        The age thing actually isn’t a problem. It makes sense to me that during the time of Damian’s death, he would not age. Why would he? At the time of his resurrection he would still likely be an 11-year-old boy. I see no reason for him to age while he is dead. Maybe a couple years after his resurrection is the event where Batman dies and Damian mourns him.

        • Whoa, that seems so obvious, I’m surprised that I hadn’t really given in proper thought or regard! I’ll keep that in the forefront of my mind as I draft future timelines. Thanks for the eye-opener!

  19. Jamison says:

    Hey Collin,
    I reread my copy of Batman 666 again. There is a curious line that Damian says in the shower about having met the devil. Perhaps he is talking about his own death and eventual resurrection here. Just a thought.

  20. Jamison says:

    P.S.
    We should start a DC Comics related podcast together. It would be most comprehensive and nerdy.

    • This sounds like an amazing idea! Although I’ve never been much of a public speaker or podcaster, hence the written word/blog as my preferred platform. Something to discuss though…

      I’m always looking for “guest posters” for the blog though. I’ve had a few people commissioned to write posts in the past (pro bono, can’t pay anyone unfortunately) but nothing panned out. If you’d be interested in that, lemme know. You could, of course, write about anything your heart desires.

      • Jamison says:

        I would be interested in that. I’d like to prepare a Grant Morrison retrospective in time for his final issue of Batman Incorporated. It’s a perfect time for such an article given that Morrison is leaving super hero comics for the foreseeable future. It would be a lengthy article focusing on how misunderstood Morrison is in the here and now, and will cover everything he’s done from JLA to Batman Inc, including Seven Soldiers, 52, Final Crisis and all the Batman related titles. In the documentary “Talking with Gods” Morrison talked about how disheartened he became with the advent of internet criticism. Despite his books always selling well, there are a lot of scathing reviews of his work on Amazon.com, especially in regard to Final Crisis. I imagine that the new readers who jumped on at the advent of the new 52 (expecting a Nolan-like interpretation of Batman) would be most perplexed by his work, but I’d like to bring it all in perspective and write my love letter. Don’t let that stop you from writing a new blog about what we have been discussing lately. I think my retrospective will be a different topic altogether.

        • Sounds absolutely fantastic. If you want to straighten out the finer details of this proposal/write-up just shoot me an email (therealbatmanchronologyproject @gmail.com). I’d love to share your thoughts via the blog.

  21. Jamison says:

    Collin,
    I’ve been reading a lot of Morrison hate on the interwebs regarding the ignoring of the Langstrom stuff from Detective #19. I’ve also read comments of people complaining that Batgirl is nowhere to be found, and ought to be involved. People are saying Morrison is screwing up the continuity. None of this, however, surprises me or bothers me in the least. DC was playing with fire when they tried to structure a line-wide reboot while tip-toeing around Morrison’s well-selling epic. DC has dealt with Morrison for years and should have realized something like this was guaranteed to happen. I don’t blame Morrison for these continuity snafus. He is here to finish his story that he started years ago, and so he will. We should respect that he’s not willing to compromise his vision for the sake of a half-baked, hastily conceived editorial mandate. (We know the new 52 initiative was very sudden and jarring to the DC writers)
    That said, I think I may have come up with a new way of looking at Batman Inc vol 2 in the context of the new 52. Consider this: Scott Snyder insists that most of the modern age continuity is still canon in the new 52, but remembered in a different way. For example, he insists No Man’s Land happened, but if you try to fit this story into the new 52, it creates problems, such as Tim Drake being Robin (not Red Robin), Stephanie Brown existing, Kirk Langstrom already having been Man-Bat, Harley not being perma-clowned and much, much more… If we accept Batman Inc vol 2 as a modern age story, think of it as affecting the new 52 in a way similar to No Man’s Land. Between issues 17 and 19 of Batman and Robin vol 2 something happens. Something about which the details are very fuzzy. Something similar to the events of the modern age story Batman Inc vol 2, but remembered in a different way (just as is No Mans Land, Batman Inc vol 1, Batman and Robin vol 1, or any other modern age story that loosely counts to the New 52). Damian dies during an unseen event, and we pick up our story again with the members of the Bat-Family in mourning, reluctant to speak much about the horror that has occurred. We have some idea about it thanks to Batman Inc vol 2, but the details are fuzzy. This is a very unique case, because it occurs after the events of Flashpoint, but it is what it is. What do we do now? We move on. With Morrison gone pretty soon, these kinds of continuity problems will likely, for the most part, go with him. Hopefully DC will have learned their lesson about having two epic event timelines occurring simultaneously for a single character. My impression is they don’t care much about continuity errors because Snyder’s Batman and Morrison’s Batman are both cash cows for them. Though, when DC tells us not to think about the errors, I feel insulted. Sigh…

    • Agreed on all points. Although, as the end draws nearer I’m less inclined to play the game of deciding which continuity Batman Inc Vol. 2 fits into better. Instead, I’m starting to think (and am amazed) that Morrison has been writing a single arc that includes incredible minutiae and multiple characters and references, yet still manages to simultaneously fit into two different continuities! It’s almost as if Morrison was challenged to do so (by the untimely reboot) and has been making it work. Most of the so-called “errors” within Batman Inc that people gripe about aren’t really errors at all. In regard to the Langstrom thing, I noted on my chronology that the scene is deliberately vague–it can be read as Batman having just met with Langstrom, but it could (and maybe should) be read as Batman stealing the serum/antidote without direct contact with Langstrom. Gotham Spoilers doesn’t even bother to see it any other way than the latter, thus avoiding continuity errors within the New 52 and avoiding the conversation altogether. So if we look at Batman Inc Vol. 2 as Morrison deliberately crafting a tale that works in two simultaneous continuities, we are looking at a brilliant new type of superhero book that hasn’t been tried before. With no precedent whatsoever and via an adventurous Kurosawa-ian view, Morrison is treating us to an Edgar Rubin Vase in the form of a highly complex visual narrative tale.

      But back to the “errors”: Does Batman Inc Vol. 2 screw with the flow of the rest of the New 52? Undeniably, yes. Although, I stand by what I said above, that it doesn’t ruin anything completely and it still fits and works. And like you said, Jamison, Morrison’s not to blame. The problems stemming from a poorly timed reboot have caused the errors. But these errors in the other Bat Family books are not so bad that they can’t be explained away or fixed with tiny asterisks. It’s annoying, I’ll admit, but as you also commented, things should smooth out once Batman Inc is done.

      There’s a great scholarly-ish blog post in this mess and I’m definitely going to post something about it soon so that more people can comment and we can get some more opinions.

  22. Jamison says:

    Collin,
    Have you considered the theory that the Damian of the 666 universe may actually be the Heretic? He seems to be a Damian who hasn’t learned much his father. He does not hesitate to kill. You would think having gained so much respect for his father before his death, Damian would never cross that line again. Perhaps the panel of Damian morning Bruce’s dead body is simply a reflection of Bruce’s greatest fear (as noted in Batman and Robin vol 2 #2) that if Bruce were to truly be gone that Damian would end up a monstrous killer. Perhaps the 666 future can still work if we accept that Bruce’s vision of the future is slightly skewed by his own personal fears. I know this is your biggest reservation about Batman Inc vol 2. If there’s anything I can do to help, I’m on board.
    Thoughts?

    • I’d be more open to the Batman of 666 being the Heretic, but a few things make me weary. Most of all, as you’ve already pointed at, the panels from Batman Inc Vol. 2 #5 and Batman #666 that show the roughly 14-year-old Damian screaming in agony over the corpse of his father, who notably is wearing the black-bat insignia in both continuities! (A hint that Batman was switching back to the black bat insignia from the yellow oval had the Modern Age continued on). Batman Inc Vol. 2 #5 also shows Damian, same age, making the deal with the devil that is Simon Hurt. This is mentioned in Batman #666 as well. But that’s not all that bothers me. In DC One Million #3, the Batman of the 853rd century says that “the second Batman” defeats 2-Face-2, who we know is Batman 666’s arch rival. This was always a weird reference since Batman 666 would technically be the fourth Batman. However, he would have been the second permanent Batman, so maybe it makes sense. Superman/Batman #80 shows Epoch in the 2020s fighting Batman 666, who is referred to as “the original Batman’s son” by the Robin the Toy Wonder. Odd to call him that if he is the clone of the original Batman’s son and not his actual son. Maybe they define those things differently in the 853rd century? And finally, in Superman/Batman #75, we bear witness to a scene that probably takes place sometime in the 2050s where Conner Kent chats with Batman 666, who is specifically named as “Damian” and is specifically said to be in the process of training Terry McGinnis. Could the Heretic have gotten on better terms with the rest of the DCU, enough to bear tribute to his “father” and to hang with Conner? Maybe in thirty or forty years he could? And would he adopt the name of his clone? It’s possible I suppose.

      All of these items bear heavy caveats if the Heretic assumes the role. The scenes of teenage Damian are still problematic though. If we regard them as a reflection of Bruce’s greatest fear, then why stop there? Why not regard the whole thing as simply a dream, simply a possibility? Or why not regard parts? It’s tough. I’m hoping for some illumination from the remaining four issues. But I’m not holding my breath.

      • Jamison says:

        Those are all very valid concerns, however one thing remains true. Even if we weren’t trying to see if Batman Inc vol 2 could fit into the modern age, we would still be having this same problem with the Batman 666 future. We know that, new 52 reboot or not, Morrison was planning to kill Damian the entire time. As far as the “welcome to the future section” goes, it is simply incidental that Morrison ended up waiting until after the reboot to kill Damian. Because of that, we can conveniently say that the Batman 666 world is the future of the modern age DCU, as Damian happens to still be alive before the new 52 began. However, Damian’s death could have happened at any time pre-reboot, thus 666’status as the canonical future of either the modern age or the new age is disputed.

        To address your points, though: I do find it plausible that Heretic would assume Damian’s identity, but I don’t see the rest of the DC heroes just forgetting that Damian died at the hands of his clone… Unless they believed the Heretic was Damian, and that Bruce’s son’s death was some sort of ruse/hoax. Heretic would have to be impersonating Damian in order for this scenario to work. Maybe he feels guilty for killing Damian, and is on some sort of misguided path to personal redemption? I always viewed the Heretic as being pretty unhinged. Maybe assuming the mantle of the bat is his twisted way of atoning for the murder of Damian.

        I realize that these are pretty big stretches. Maybe this Batman of 666 is neither Damian or Heretic at all, but another of Talia’s clones. I’m quite used to Morrison not worrying about whether he’s stepped on someone else’ continuity, but I’ve never seen him mess up continuity within his own writing. I have to believe that it will all come together in his final four issues, otherwise, I might just have to assume the whole 666 future is merely a dream, as you said.

        • The preview for Batman Inc #10 is very telling…

          Batman visits Michael Lane and tells him about his vision of the world destroyed at the hands of his son. To which the sage crazy Lane replies, “We’re all your sons, Batman. Any one of us could end the world. Or save it.” To which Batman says, “My son is dead. The future I saw wasn’t his after all.”

          Is Morrison subtly addressing our concerns already…? Which “son” will fill the role of Batman 666? Or is it all just a nightmare that will never come to pass?

          • Well now that I’ve read Batman Inc #10 in its entirety, your thoughts are seeming to make more and more sense. This issue, above all others before it, reads so much like a Modern Age book, it’s kinda ridiculous. Again, nothing blatant, but the Langstrom stuff does ostensibly contradict the events of Detective Comics #19, unless you include a caveat or suggestion about how to interpret what goes down. Also, how do the other “requiem” issues fit neatly into the narrative flow? Short answer: They don’t. At least not yet anyway. Damian dies in Batman Inc #8 and Leviathan immediately exerts its control over Gotham, causing the outlawing of Batman and the Bat Family, which goes on through issue #9, #10, #11, and maybe even #12 and #13. None of the “requiem” issues reflect any of what’s going on in these issues, merely focusing on aftermath of the death of Damian. That being said, most of the “requiem” issues can probably feasibly occur after Batman Inc has wrapped. But Nightwing #18, with its reference to “Death of the Family” ending roughly two weeks before Damian’s death is perplexing. I guess it could fit in-between Batman Inc #9 and Batman Inc #10 and make sense, but again, it’s a bit of a stretch.

            I’m beginning to think, more and more, that Batman Inc Vol. 2 is more definitively a Modern Age story than a New 52 story after all. Unfortunately, DC has forever permanently stamped it into the continuity of the New 52 (like hammering a circle into a triangle-shaped hole), leaving us on our lonesome own to decide how and if it should be added to the Modern Age as well.

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