Batdad never understands. Let's talk about a cliché for a moment. It's the 'you're not ready' cliché. Somebody is really good at something important, something important to the story. They are so good at it it's kind of unbelievable, but it's important that they be good at it, because a lot of people are counting on them. Then there is somebody watching over said person, somebody even gooder at this thing, who poo-poos this somebody at every turn because they are just 'not ready'. “You'll get hurt.” “Others could get hurt.” “You don't act like a team.” “Not until you learn to take orders.”
Batman writers love this cliché, because it fits very well into the contradiction that is the Batfamily. Batman is a lone wolf, a tortured soul dwelling in the cracks in the walls of Gotham, hunting justice flavored catharsis in violent loneliness. Despite this, Batman over the years has developed quite a motley crew of allies, a list that grows every major publishing revolution, and has to split his time between being the Batman and being something else: Batdad, patriarch of the Batfam. Father knows best, and what father knows how to do best is constantly rag on his little Bat sons and daughters for being inadequate in his cowled eyes. How do you write a loner that for some reason is surrounded by people he arms, dresses, and treats like employees? By having him constantly reject them for dramatic purposes.
The latest issue of 'Detective Comics' is bickering and debate of whether the team that Batman just assembled should even be together. The only guy who doesn't have much to say is Clayface, who almost seems resigned to the fact that he really doesn't make much sense as a member of a team made up of teenaged ninjas (though, I guess we should be on the lookout in the next few issues for Clayface to get a new sexy teenage ninja form perhaps...consider this calling it. #ClayfaceIsTheNewLobo ). It's a tale as old as time, Batman doesn't trust his partners to not be bulletbait chowderheads when the going gets tough. But as many Batman writers have gone with this easy drama fodder, the single towering titan of this cliché in the BatAnnals will always be 'Batman and Robin'. And that's what I thought of when I read this. I'm not saying this is written as awfully as that day-glo nightmare, I'm saying that a year shy of 20 years since Joel Schumacher alley murdered Chris O' Donnell's career, writers still haven't learned that Batbickering about readiness isn't exciting, dramatic, or compelling storytelling. It's annoying.
There needs to be a goal. Something to strive for. A metric for what readiness means. To compare to an unrelated but successful piece of media, 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' featured a lot of different people telling the hero Aang he wasn't ready, but there was a specific goal in mind and very specific measurements, both in the universe and narratively, that allowed us to see Aang's path to accomplishment. When his teachers tell him he's not ready, we believe them because we can see that they are right and we want to see him succeed. Here, the teacher doesn't trust anyone, the students are all individually too capable to be locked away from danger, and the threat is intentionally mysterious. When Batman won't even trust the woman he brought on to train his team, Batman ends up being the dumbest guy in the room.
You know the number one reason why stories like this are so tiring? It's all building up to a resolution. The team will come together, fight as one, and win the big game on Sunday. Batman will learn the error of his ways and learn to trust his comrades, having a heart to heart with Robin where he tells him he believes in him and they should go on that fishing trip they always talked about. Teamwork beats evil. All is right in the world.
Until the next writer.
Who does this whole story again.
Superman always comes back to Lois. Xavier always ends up back in the chair. And Batman will always distrust Robin.
Oh, I liked the art in the book a little more than last time. Less crowded rooftop shots. It helped.
[su_box title="Score: 2/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]