This weekend, I got around to seeing Skyfall. Overall, I’d say it did everything a Bond film was supposed to do. Little did I know after leaving the theater, that a friend of mind would requisition me a copy of Batman #15. When I sat down to read it, the parallels between Skyfall and Death of the Family hit me like a knotted rope to the testicles (Casino Royale anyone?).
The similarities between classic James Bond and Batman are impossible to ignore. Both men are orphans, driven to develop themselves to physical perfection. They have access to high-tech gadgets and a nigh-inexhaustible war chest. Finally, both cast themselves as loners, yet develop a familial kinship with their surrounding cast of characters.
It seems appropriate then, that the current incarnation of these two characters would follow similar thematic paths. In Skyfall, a former MI-6 operative named Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) falls off the radar and uses his disappearance to concoct an elaborate scheme to kill M (Judi Dench): a figure as much Bond’s surrogate mother as his superior. Silva has great respect and admiration for Bond, approaching a homoerotic fixation. Silva’s danger lies not in his physical prowess, but in the knowledge he possesses and how he uses it. Sound familiar? Replace “Silva” with “Joker”, Bond with “Batman”, and M with any Bat-Family character and we have Death of the Family. (Although, I never really thought of Jason Todd as a surrogate mother to Bruce, but let’s stay out of the weeds folks, shall we?) I’m not saying that one story inspired the other. Instead, both reflect the current zeitgeist of this information age, where personal data in the wrong hands can destroy an individual’s life as effectively as any bullet. It’s a type of shared vulnerability: big or small, we all face the same risks. A savvy hacker in Belarus can simultaneously bankrupt a working stiff in Papau New Guinea and a millionaire in Monte Carlo, all before breakfast.
Batman #15 is a solid issue and continues the trend that Scott Snyder has followed since helming the Batman title: he takes iconic, but heretofore underused elements of the Bat-Universe and vests them with significance. In other words, he makes them make sense, if that makes sense. In this issue, we learn the significance of the giant Joker-card trophy in the Batcave. It ties to a secret. Not a “remember when the JLA erased your mind” secret, but a game-changing one nonetheless.
If there was one hangup I had with this issue, it was the “false awakening” conceit. This trope, also known as a “dream within a dream,” is somewhat overused. I’m not saying that it was used gratuitously or without dramatic purpose, but I can’t help but wonder if those panels could have been better used for plot development. Then again, Scott Snyder tends to follow playwright Anton Chekov’s axiom, “If in Act I you have a pistol hanging on the wall, then it must fire in the last act.” Mr. Snyder has yet to leave a pistol unfired and I am confident that this “dream within a dream” will pay off later and contribute to telling a complete story.
I’m done giving my two cents. When Wednesday rolls around, give this book some love. Digital, print, makes no difference to me. Remember to share your comics and I’ll be back before you know it.
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