Grant Morrison And Game Theory

One of Alan Moore’s recent arguments is that no one is writing or creating comic books, let alone superhero comics, as complex as Watchmen twenty-five years ago. While I’d argue that point, it is true to say that there hasn’t as much ambition, invention or appreciation of the use of the uniqueness of the medium in the genre as there once was. And hell, my own meagre attempts didn’t exactly set the world on fire.

But one of Alan Moore’s nemeses, Grant Morrison, is certainly doing something very interesting on a wider canvas. He’s playing games. Seriously.

There are Seven Games of chance and skill being played across the DC Universe to determine the fate of the multiverse. Here (right)  are the rules if you forgot, from the Bizarro World Comics.

The Supreme A may have been defeated, is it The Supreme E’s turn now, to launch a multidimensional assault againts the DC Universe?

So what games has Grant been playing out in recent books?

Well, there’s the games of Dominos played by Dick Grayson and those around him. Check out all the domino references in his Batman & Robin run, the Mexico Train being a game of dominos,¬†Domino Killer, Pearly King’s game, the Pyg payments, the Joker puns, the robin mask references…

And Bruce Wayne appears to have been playing Checkers. First the film canisters in Batman RIP that get flung about are red and black. But it runs deeper than simple images.

Since the game of checkers uses a chess board, famously Lewis Carroll built Alice Through The Looking Glass around a game of chess. In that book, the pawn Alice crossed six rivers to advance across the chessboard, each indicating a new square, until she was Queened.

So how many rivers has Bruce crossed? Then into the harbour in Batman RIP. ANd seems to have taken dives into the water with each issue of the Return Of Bruce Wayne. Is this his journey across the checkerboard, trying to become the King again…?
And the Joker is playing 3 Card Monte, traditionally played with Queen of Hearts, Jack of Clubs and Jack of Spades

The Jack of Spades is probably the Joker in his Oberon Sexton identity.

In Batman #700 has Dick take out a set of bats with the intent to keep using them in the future – could he be the Jack of Clubs?

And finding the Queen Of Hearts is the point of the game. But since she is also the Red Queen in other versions, and usually coloured red and black, all signs point to Batwoman.

But, Little Bleeders, you have your mission. Looking for games and game references in DC comics, especially Morrison written titles or by close compatriots. Then working out who has won. Then stepping back and seeing the big pictures.

Because when Grant Morrison writes Batman he’s trying to turn all of us into detectives.

Oh and Big Barda is playing Pokemon. Not sure if this one counts…

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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