There are some spoilers here. Nothing major. But go in warned.
It was the rain and puddles that did it for me in Batman #13. Reminiscent of the rain-drenched Killing Joke, they started to trigger off other signs in the comic. The comic began by seeing the Joker’s van looking over the water to the island of Gotham, surrounded by water, in the rain… but he doesn’t set foot on the ground.
Never Land, the setting for JM Barrie’s Peter Pan stage plays and novels was always different in the mind of each child, but always an island, separated by water. To which Peter would take Wendy and the Lost Boys. Water was dangerous too, the home of Captain Hook, or Pirates, of crocodiles, of death. Water divides us, it means a journey, it separates once place from another, it brings life and it kills. And Death Of The Family, water is everywhere.
Peter Pan was in many ways based on the children of the Llewellyn Davies family, to whom JM Barrie became a family friend. The young Michael, who informed the later Peter Pan stories, was deadly afraid of water, and drowned when he was at University.
And so water is a sign of danger here, in both Batman #13 and #14, where it becomes the site of conflict, the Joker revisiting the reservoir he poisoned way back in The Man Who Laughs. But it’s been with us for the journey.
His first step into Gotham is into water.
And rain drips down everywhere, accompanying his evil machinations. But back to Batman #14 and the reservoir. Wendy’s surname was Darling, wasn’t it?
That scene also sees Batman in the form of the Joker’s shadow, a reflection across the bridge over the reservoir. Or vice versa. Something we also get references to, the Batman and the Joker being so linked, as The Killing Joke made text, different flavours of the same event that caused them both.
Peter tried to catch his shadow and often failed, resorting to nailing him to the spot. Joker does a similar trick in Batman #14.
There’s more of course, especially by the reservoir. But there’s more to come for the Peter Pan imagery.
Note the bed, the open window, that it is dark, and there is a large shadow in the room. Can you see where Batman ends and the shadow begins?
And if any of you think I’m over reaching with the Peter Pan imagery here… well…
We have out pointers. Let’s keep our eyes open and see where it leads us….
Ahead of her appearance at this year’s Malta Comic-Con in December, Orbital is proud to host a brief retrospective of Emma Rios‘ work. Featuring some of her very favourite pieces, there will be pages from Osborn, Cloak & Dagger, Amazing Spider-man, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange Season One, Prophet & more. This very special exhibition is on from November 21 to December 4, so hurry down and admire Emma’s gorgeous work in person.
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