Article #53!


Sometimes the Logic in These Books Eludes Me




There’s an old saying that goes “If you’re looking for logic in a comic book, you’re probably insane.”


And it’s true, although to be fair it could probably be said of all media. When dealing with the vast majority of entertainment out there you’re required to bring a severe suspension of disbelief. To enjoy the story you’ve got to believe that a man can fly, or shoot webbing, or that a rich man would dress up as a bat and go beat up criminals at night, or that a rabbit can talk, or that sorcery can be an everyday event, etc. We completely suspend our disbelief – and then harp on the logistics of a story. Just look at your average message board for just about any show, book, comic, whatever, they’re replete with posting after posting debating such things, and when you sit back and review them, you just have to shake your head. You could take any character and do a little regressive thinking… for instance Spider-Man… Does it make sense that the devil would want to break up Spider-Man’s marriage to Mary Jane? Does it make sense that Spider-Man would be cloned? Does it make sense that being bitten by a radioactive spider would give you superpowers? Wouldn’t being bitten by a radioactive bug eventually give you cancer and kill you instead? So, if you can believe that a man can gain spider powers after being bitten by a radioactive bug, then why can’t you accept that the devil would want to wreck his marriage?


Then you realize it’s really just a matter of what people like.


I like Spider-Man. I can read a story and be thoroughly involved (or put off, depending on the story). If the authors decide to make the devil a home wrecker or bring clone after clone after clone, so be it, it’s their decision and if it’s not my thing, I’ll make it known with my wallet. Strangely enough, it’s not these things that get to me, but the little things that bring everything off the rails. It’s fine if you want to make the devil wreck a marriage, just don’t suddenly color him blue half-way through an issue without a reason. It’s fine if you want to clone Spider-Man, but don’t have the clone dressed up like Wolverine for a panel on page seven. It’s these things that just make me stop and wonder what the heck is going on. Yes, it’s these niggling little points that get to me, and many others, every time. Niggling points like the following…


There are some jobs out there that make me wonder just how someone can manage it for 10, 20 or even 30 years. A teacher, for instance, is one job that seems impossible to me. How anyone can handle a classroom full of kids day in and day out is beyond me. And it’s not just the kids they deal with, but many, many psychotic parents too. It would drive me nuts. I’m sure, like any profession, there are rewarding moments, but it seems to me that they can be few and far between. Nowadays it also seems as though teachers are given less and less authority in their own classrooms. Time was you could punish kids for misbehaving – now you can send them to the office and then, what, a letter to the parents? Does that actually work?


So, regarding teachers, take the following excerpt from Ultimate Spider-Man #150 as an example… (and yes, I realize that “Ultimate Peter Parker” is “dead” now, don’t care)…






Uhm, why does everyone look like lumpy pudding on these 2 pages? Seriously, when I first saw this, I thought I forgot to wear my glasses…


The above 2 pages seem like your typical classroom setting, with the gray haired teacher who seems to have been teaching forever. To be fair this seems like a pretty normal class. Well, as normal as mashed potato people can look. And hey, is it just me, or doesn’t the teacher almost looks like Aunt May? She has the elderly, gray haired matron thing going on, but the lumpy pudding effect makes it kind of hard to tell for sure.


Anyway the class has their assignments, let’s see how they do – and hopefully they’ll have recovered from the spatial anomaly that made them look like Jello…






Aw, it’s touching that Peter chose his dad as his hero and, uhm, what happened to the teacher? Radical surgery? Was the original teacher carted off for saying “mutant” in class? Is she a shape shifting Skrull? Maybe she just dressed up as her favorite superhero for the class (if anyone can name the African-American superhero who fights crime in a purple blouse, blue skirt and heels, let me know, I’m stumped).


You know, the new teacher has a strong handle on the class and knows the homework rather well… maybe a little too well. I can’t see a teacher, any teacher, giving a major assignment and then having a substitute come in and grade it for them (unless they’ve really f****d themselves up). Plus I’ve never in my life had a substitute teacher that knew the names of the students. There’s something suspicious going on here…


My money’s on her being a shape-shifting Skrull. Yes, definitely a Skrull – probably with mind control techniques. That or a mutant…


And just like that I completely lose interest in the story. I know it’s sad, but it’s also true. It’s those little things that just eat away…


Little, niggling things like those in the last story arc in Detective Comics before the big renumbering by DC. It was a really interesting story to begin with. James Gordon, son of Commissioner James W. Gordon and half-brother to Barbara (I was Batgirl but now I’m Oracle) Gordon returns to Gotham. Seems James is the black sheep in the family and may or may not be responsible for the death of one of Barbara’s childhood friends. Needless to say, Barbara doesn’t like him, and the Commissioner has that nagging doubt in his mind that his son may or may not be a killer.


Little James does have antisocial tendencies though, but he claims that they are under control now that he’s part of a behavior modifying drug trial and wants to come back and reach out to his family. The Commissioner is truly touched by this and does as any truly loving parent does…




Man I hope that thing isn’t a suppository.


What, you were expecting a warm and fuzzy father-son hug? In a Batman comic book?


So, does James pass the test?





Again, it’s a Batman comic book. What were you expecting?


Turns out James is off the deep end after all. He’s altered the pill so that it would make people crazy like him and he’s volunteering at a health clinic that does nutrition runs for infants. So, our heroes put two and two together and figure he’s going to spike the kid’s Kool-Aid (trademark and copyright). So the Commissioner goes off to confront his son and…




…for no particular reason the Joker escapes Arkham. Seeing that James has some experience in chemistry, you get the feeling he had a hand in this, but anyway, onto issue #880 of Detective, where I’m sure there’ll be an extensive hunt on for James and the Joker.




Barbara, the Commissioner’s ex-wife, not Barbara (I was Batgirl) Gordon. Barbara poses a very good question as to “The Joker? I don’t understand. You think he’d come after me? WHY?” See, the Joker just got out of Arkham and knows that the entire city police force will be looking for him, not to mention Batman, so naturally he’s going to go after the Commissioner’s ex-wife. By my count, I believe the Joker’s actually gone after the Gordon family once, in The Killing Joke by Moore and Bolland. I don’t believe he’s ever gone after any one else specifically, especially when he’s just gotten out of prison and knows that EVERYBODY is looking for him. He may be insane, but he isn’t stupid. And then there’s James…


What the heck happened to James? They think he’s poisoned babies and is a certifiable psycho-killer, but there’s not a mention, not the slightest hint of a warning. Where’s the APB for him? Through the entire issue there’s nary a hint of him.


And what is it with this family? James and James Jr., Barbara and Barbara Jr.? That’s just weird.


Anyway, Barbara Sr. has a bad run in with a psycho who uses the Joker Venom to leave her with a grin on her face. Our heroes rush her to treatment…




Barbara (I was Batgril) Gordon is making a reference to The Killing Joke and how the Joker crippled her (she didn’t check the peephole on her door before opening it, and the Joker was there). So, learning from her mistake, Barbara (Babs to her friends) will be “waiting” for the Joker this time. Now remember, she has experience as Batgirl, meaning she should know how to defend herself and fortify her home, she is the leader of the Birds of Prey, a group that’s amassed a pretty long list of enemies and has forced Babs to defend herself on several occasions, and she is a computer and security wizard. And right now she’s locked herself in her needle top headquarters while scanning security footage for the Joker. Given her resume I bet she’s checked over her entire home base for any evidence of tampering or entry before beginning her work. I bet there’s cameras, heat sensors, traps, the works in there. Man, it’d be impossible for anyone, even the Joker, to get in and sneak up on her…




…unless you’re her crazy half-brother, in which case you can just walk right up to her and strangle her from behind without a hitch.


And just like that the story’s ruined for me. This is Batgirl we’re talking about, someone who’s proven herself smart and resourceful time-and-again. Someone who just said “This time I’ll be waiting”. I mean, seriously, was she waiting with the lights turned out and the door wide open? Is that her definition of security? Why not just draw a bullseye on your back while hunched over the computer screen?


It just doesn’t make any sense, and you know what, no matter how good the next issue is, it just won’t be able to pull me out of this conundrum. As I said, it’s in the details that I get sidetracked.


So, onto Detective #881. Will Babs Gordon survive? Will her crazy, baby poisoning brother get away? Considering no one bothered to look for (or even mention) him in an entire issue, I’d say the odds are in his favor.


Let’s enter the final issue of Detective #881 as James has just used some high-tech to break into Batman’s headset communicator…




And now James knows Batman’s secret identity. Not only that, but he’s known for YEARS.


Remember what I said about this storyline to start with? How it was a really interesting story?


Well, right now it’s gone from interesting to niggling to hitting a wall full force...




So, want to know what James’ plan is? Basically he’s doing these things (spiking baby punch, killing his half-sister, etc.) to get Dick (Batman) Grayson depressed to the point where he’d give up being a hero. See, he’s focused on Dick because Dick’s an optimist. That’s about it in a nutshell. It took 6 pages of exposition just to explain that much in the comic. Now, I know James is crazy and all, but does that make a lick of sense to you?


Here’s a nice little note that you can apply in the future. You can tell when a story has hit a wall when it takes the author page after page after page to explain a character’s motives and what exactly is going on. This is the last issue of the story, by now the motives should be clear as crystal and a few panels should cover it. Instead we’ve got 17 pages of dialogue.


My question is, why does James do this when he knows the big “Batman” secret? Just blab it in the right place to the right people and before you know it an army of Bat-Rogues will do the job for you. Think the rogues would be going after Batman? Heck no, they’d go right after any civilian remotely connected to Batman first. Easy marks. That’s all James had to do and then he could sit back and watch the fire works. I could understand someone like Ra’s Al Ghul who knows Batman’s secret not doing so, he has some perverse sense of honor where I believe he wants to be directly responsible for the downfall of Gotham and the Batman. But James, a conniving little psychopath who simply enjoys causing trouble?


And like that this promising story just hits another wall.


Anyway, they catch James (he gets shot in the legs but he’ll live). Barbara lived. The babies may or may not be alright. And they caught the Joker last issue in case I forgot to mention it. Yippee. Really, I’ve just given up caring at this point.




And just like that, the authors decide to throw out one more gem, that Commissioner Gordon also knows Dick Grayson’s nocturnal secret. Something that’s been hinted at for decades, that the Commissioner may know Batman’s secret, tossed out just like that.


And James? The killer who knows Batman’s secret? Well, he’s alive and well (in prison or Arkham, they don’t bother saying). And no, he didn’t have amnesia, he’s not in a coma, or anything like that.


And everyone seems highly unconcerned about it.


You know why they’re unconcerned? Because by now the entire line of DC Comics has been restarted at #1, including Detective Comics. And that means this entire story will soon be relegated to the realm of retcon – that is retired/retracted continuity. In short, none of this will have actually happened or mattered.


And it’s things like this that make me wonder why I spent $3.99 on this.








Image Within an Image


Well, seems I’m not the only one with issues in the finale to Detective Comics. Looks like Commissioner Gordon has finally gotten his PhD in biology and gotten a really long-range transfer out of Gotham City, as evidenced in Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #3…




You know, it really says something when you see a transfer to Japan during giant monster attacks as an improvement to being the Police Commissioner of Gotham City. Still, we wish you all the best on your new job Jim. Hope it treats you better than your last one!


Take care until next time…