Sunday, August 23, 2015

Batman #43 - Who is Mr. Bloom?

Batman returns in issue #43 and he still doesn't know who he is.

It should be said, the Bruce Wayne Batman doesn't know who he is.  The Jim Gordon one certainly does.

He's the one reaching out to Wayne to outfit his desperate needs with Wayne Tech and help  divine the mystery behind Mr. Bloom and the seeds he sows that give users "terrible abilities."  

Alas,  Bruce Wayne is too busy making goo-goo eyes at the young lovely whom he helps at the local outreach center.

Also making eyes is none other than the Man of of Steel himself visiting from Metropolis and in the company of Alfred the butler.

Before we get to the identity of Mr. Bloom, it's probably worthy to see what is going on with the Dark Knight himself and why he is so clueless to his true nature.

When Batman died in unison with the Joker he came in contact with "Dionesium." This not only allowed Batman to experience his rebirth but rewired his brain to such an extant that he is no longer the man crushed by guilt and forged into the dark avenger eternally in pursuit of justice.

Alfred never got around to telling the reborn Bruce Wayne of his alter ego.  He did fill him in of his tragic past but stopped just short of the evolution into one of the great superheroes of all time.

It seems Alfred sees this as a gift.  A gift that would allow Bruce Wayne to grow into his true self.  Compassionate, loving and charitable. 

Good grief Alfred, what are you thinking?

Acting as the voice of sanity, Superman tells Alfred this cannot stand.  

Acting as the voice of insanity, Alfred threatens Clark with kryptonite.

* Editorial Aside *

Maybe Alfred's niece, Julia should completely take over the duties of the Bat Cave.  Alfred is so consumed with Wayne being the innocent he could have been, he actually threatened the world's greatest hero with his one weakness.

You need to lie down Alfred.

Well, all is not lost.  Batman was working on an invention insuring there will always be a Batman so there is our narrative "out" for this mess.

But seriously Alfred, threatening Superman with kryptonite?  If I were the Man of Steel I'd just fly in sometime, grab Wayne and plug him into the machine so we can have the old Bats back.

* End Editorial Aside *

Alfred underestimates the seriousness of Mr. Bloom and his seeds.  As the Gordon Batman struggles with this new threat our Mr. Bloom meets with the Penguin.

Naturally, if there is a new drug on the streets of Gotham the Penguin wants a piece of the action.

Ha, well, not just a piece, the whole thing.  The Penguin has one of his hoods "off" Mr. Bloom and thereby sets something into motion not one of us saw coming.

Quite the metamorphisis I'd say.

So, who is Mr. Bloom?

Well, if Wayne can undergo a metamorphisis of his own on a neurological basis  why can't the Joker, with whom Batman met his demise, undergo a change of his own except on a biological one?

Yes, I'm saying Mr. Bloom is the Joker.

Bloom is conveniently wearing a mask so as not to spoil his true identity.  I'm sure the writer, Scott Snyder, didn't want to divulge all the goodies in one issue.

Bloom is also a lanky sort much like the Joker (check out the pose on our topmost picture.) and his machination of sowing discord in Gotham with his seeds is something the Joker would claim second nature to.  

Outwitting the Penguin is something the Joker would find quite easy.

Would the Joker know getting shot would allow him to evolve into that gangly monster we see in the last frame?  Eh, maybe not, but he may not know he is the Joker either.

This organic being may realize on a seperate level his true nature by evolving into something new.  With the Joker as his biological forebear perhaps the sentience would be enough to make that subconscious determination.

So, as we close, if you look in the corner of this last picture Snyder asks sthe question, "Who is Mr. Bloom?"

Think he'll tell us?

I don't.  I think he'll drag it along a little further.  God knows the Joker loves to make a grand entrance.  What grander one than when Batman regains all his memory and capabilities.

That should be a few issues from now.  Five maybe?

See you then.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Ben Holmes Batman

I've been following a new site as of late and it's called "MoviePilot" (You can access it through the link here.)  It's useful beacause I've found it's added to the conversation for the upcoming Batman v Superman  movie.  Although, I have to say, a lot of it's interests do seem to be all over the map.  That being said, I urge you to give it a try.

I'm glad I did for I wouldn't have discovered the art of Ben Holmes.

Holmes is an artist based in the UK and he recently sampled his wares on the MoviePilot site.  He explains his love for pencil drawings and his journey of discovery into watercolors.  He seems to have a bit of an abstract sensibility and he's pursued his passion for film in the form of self stylized movie posters.

Naturally, this being a Batman page, I've decided to critique his work of the Caped Crusader.  

If you go to the Holmes page you'll see he employs a technique where his subjects tend to explode or shatter into pieces.  Seen below in his "Nightcrawler" effort. 

He doesn't use it for all his work but he "artfully" deploys it for dramatic effect in some of them.

The shattered or explosive effect speaks to the nature of his subjects.  Perhaps it is revelatory to the inner demons that haunt his subjects.

To say Batman has inner demons is to state the obvious.

When I first saw the Holmes Batman image I thought of one of Batman's most iconic antagonists, "Two Face."  Two Face wears his persona overtly (albeit not deliberately) while Bruce Wayne's is hidden behind the cowl.  Both have issues with anger management but Batman has managed to separate his bitterness from turning him to the dark side, to be a force for good.  

At least most of the time.

So lets talk about the image itself and how it reflects on Batman.

Immediately you get the sense that Batman's anger is bursting from his psyche.  It is explosive in nature and barely to be contained.   In fact, you could argue it is the repressed nature of Bruce Wayne yearning to be exposed.  Perhaps a better word would be "revealed."

Perhaps the image is a window into the mind of the Batman/Bruce Wayne character.  Perpetually unresolved.  At once at peace with each other and relentlessly at war with the other.

The shattered splinters evoke a wound that never heals and the use of just black and white reveals the bipolar relationship between the two identities.  Batman is often portrayed living in a black and white world.

Good versus evil.

That is a rash generalization.  I think ardent fans know that Batman is a very complex character and his capacity for good often outweighs his darker nature.

I'm sure Ben Holmes is aware of this also but he has chosen to illustrate the face of Batman we are most familiar with.  Torn, angry, and a force of nature whose presence is at once both unstable and frenzied.  Holmes has captured the Dark Knight as Batman has desired to be seen but also disclosed the side Batman he struggles with every day.

Thanks for the work Mr. Holmes.  I hope your sister thought it as "cool" as you intended it.

For more of  the work of Ben Holmes (especially you Spiderman fans) you can follow the link below.

p.s. Ben, more Batman please!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The New, New Batmen!

(Spoiler alert for the new Batman identities)

There is always a new Batman isn't there?  Pictured above is the new Jim Gordon Batman from

Batman #42.  He's the one in the blue armor.

The other "Bat-being" is a street crud manifestation created to combat Gordon by a thug called Gee Gee Heung.  I loved the frame so much I had to include it in this post.

So, you heard that right, Jim Gordon is the new Batman while the old Batman is purportedly dead.

Of course Batman isn't really dead.  As Bruce Wayne, he is volunteering at a center for disadvantaged youth.   And he really doesn't want to be bothered anymore.

(There's a great preview of Batman #43 over at io9 if you want to see how very reluctant Wayne is.)

As for the Gordon Batman, he a sanctioned vigilante working with the Gotham City police force.  Pity that could have never happened with the old Batman.  Too rough for their tastes?  Gordon has trimmed the trademark mustache and cropped the hair to look more battle ready.  He does a team working with him consisting of Alfred the butler's long lost daughter, Julia, and tech guy named Daryl.  The team is pretty new and the are still working out the kinks.

I'll guess we'll have to see how long it will be before the Bruce Wayne Batman will be back.  No doubt it will take some great misfortune to force him back into the cape and cowl.

Our second Batman is Dick Grayson only he is not of this world.

We all know Dick Grayson as the original Robin.  I've always loved the iterations of the Grayson Batman.  He's abley filled the cape and cowl and bemused his allies with a sense of humor the Wayne Batman never had.

This Grayson is the Earth 2 Dick Grayson.  He was married to Barbara Gordon who tragically died when Earth 2 was attacked by Apokolips.  They did have a son however, John.

Grayson was severely injured during the Convergence story line losing the use of his legs.  A being named Telos restored the use of Grayson's legs by covering them with a metallic like film.

Now Grayson patrols the streets of New Gotham City on the newly restored Earth 2.

The costume isn't bad but it isn't as threatening as the Thomas Wayne Batman that preceded Grayson.

Now this guy was a tough SOB.  Sadly he died foiling the Earth 2 Joker's master plan.  I suppose Grayson wanted to look a little less evil than his predecessor.

I saved the best Batman for last.

What, you haven't heard Batman is a God now?

Or should we say "Bat-God."

This is the Justice League of America version of Batman.  He's still the Bruce Wayne Batman.  Apparently the "Darkseid War" story line for the JLA book is happening just outside the narrative that is going on in the Batman issue I started this review with.

That's the comics for you.

Batman made the mistake of touching the chair of Metron (an other worldly being that drifts between New Genesis and Apokolips observing the Universe.)  Now he sits astride the chair in command of great power and knowledge.

What does one do with great knowledge?

Learn the Joker's real name.

I don't know what I am looking forward to in the next edition of JLA, Batman as a God or finding out who the Joker really is!

Batman has gone through a lot of changes through the ages.  He's taken on many roles and many identities.  If there is one constant to the Dark Knight he can never be said to be boring.

Bat -God!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Why Batman needs a Robin

The hot Batman rumor for the week doesn't deal with the Caped Crusader directly.  Rather, it deals with his long time partner Robin,  Reportedly, actress Jena Malone was set to play Robin in the upcoming Batman v Superman movie or at least have a cameo.

Fueling the speculation was recent photos of Malone with her hair dyed red.  As seen above, the red hair was characteristic of the non-canon Robin, Carrie Kelly from "The Dark Knight Returns."

Non-canon until DC decided to introduce her to the regular DC/Batman universe that is.

Now a report from Latino Review has set the Jena Malone rumor mill on it's ear.

According to Latino Review, and they site three sources, Jena Malone is set to play Barbara Gordon, aka, Batgirl, aka, Oracle.

It makes sense.  With the bright red hair especially.  While I would love to see Batgirl on the big screen it would make even more sense for Malone to be Oracle, the cyber eyes and ears for Batman.  Additionally, Oracle also has a tragic past with the Joker.

That being said, I hope the rumors are not true.

Batman needs a Robin.

More specifically, the Batman as envisioned by Zack Snyder.

According to Snyder, the Batman as introduced in Batman v Superman is seen initially as the villain.  He doesn't say why but if you factor in the trailer quote from Alfred, "That's how it starts, the fever, the rage, that turns good men, cruel." And the one by Affleck's cynical Bruce Wayne later, "Twenty years in Gotham, how may good guys are left, how many stayed that way?"  It is easy to see this iteration of Batman is jaded and angry.

Easier still, when a memorial is kept in the Batcave to remind Batman of his loss.

Yes, we see some of these characteristic in the younger Batman, specifically the one featured in the comics.  But Snyder's Batman is different.  He's older.  He's broken. Quite possibly, beyond repair.

And now, he's got something new to focus his ire on and that is the real or imagined threat of Superman.

To kindle this fire are the machinations of Lex Luthor acting in the background to punish his corporate rival and goad the Batman into irrational acts.

Batman v Superman is subtitled, "Dawn of Justice" so we know with Batman the Justice League will be formed and Batman will be working in concert with the likes of Wonder Woman, Superman and the others. 

But they can't be with him everyday or in Batman's case, every night.

That's why Batman needs a Robin.

Someone to care for.  To look out for.  To share his demons and his adventures with.  An isolated Batman consumed with hate will only implode upon himself.  With a Robin by his side, the focus won't be trying to fix the past but to ensure the future.

The future of a young sidekick that one day may carry on the mantle of the Bat if not just someone to pull up the shawl of an aged Bruce Wayne when the nights get a little colder.

If it's Carrie Kelly then so be it.

Batman needs a Robin to give him hope. 

Hope for Gotham, hope for himself, hope for the future.