I hope I post more pictures from this issue than the zero pictures I posted from last issue!
Oh, did I forget to mention that Batman was knocked down into a labyrinth deep in the sewers by the Talon at the end of last issue? Yeah, that happened. And apparently he’s been gone for 8 days now!
So all the Gotham Super Heroes are searching for him. And apparently Robin is a little bastard!
Down in the maze, Batman is going through a trial. He’s been deprived of food and water for over a week. And there is this fountain with water being vomited up by a giant owl. So he drinks.
And is drugged.
And is told a story. This story is familiar (and not just in a House of Leaves way). It’s about the Court of Owls. But it’s also about Batman. Rather, it is about Batman which means it’s about the Court of Owls because the Court of Owls feels a lot like the story of Batman. Nocturnal flying predator. Both creatures used to invoke fear and terror.
Yeah, it kind of spins round and round just like the comic book issue as you read it.
This entire story so far has had Gotham City as a major character. The city has supported and been there for Bruce Wayne. And Bruce knows every inch of the city. The Court of Owls labyrinth has caused Batman to become lost in Gotham for the first time in his life. More than any other thing that causes Batman to suddenly become fearful and feel he needs to hide in the shadows of the maze is this feeling of being lost in his city. For the first time, he feels like the Court of Owls is real and that Gotham is their place and always has been. It’s not just fear he is feeling now. It’s hurt. It’s loss.
Bruce also goes around and around in the maze. We see him in a room of pictures where he starts clawing at the ground saying that he invented the tricks. He does this again several pages later and ending up back in the room with the pictures. These pictures are of people lost and killed in this labyrinth over the last hundred years.
And then he finds this room:
Upon all the coffins is the picture of a small child. And the talon on the wall. These are the Talon assassins from across the last 100 years. Each one created in the exact same way The Batman was created. Tragic loss as a child. Orphans. Trained in killing and revenge. But Batman, of course, is not a killer. He had Alfred. And perhaps being a child of wealth put him at an advantage so as not to be used and manipulated. He had time to become a more ethical man yet still very closely tied to what these Talons are.
And the empty coffin. With the picture. The picture that Bruce seems to recognize but denies himself the ability to believe. My guess: Lincoln March. Of course, it’s not that much of a limb to stretch out on being that he’s the only other major character in the book who we don’t know anything about and the Talon just has to be someone we’ve been introduced to up until now to get the full effect.
But to guess that Lincoln March was Talon before this moment was just being a cynically douchey smart ass who knows all the conventions of mystery writing! Now, we see why Lincoln reached out and flirted, I mean, felt such a connection with Bruce Wayne. Lincoln was also an orphaned child but he grew up in a dilapidated orphanage that very nearly collapsed and killed everyone within. He was perfect for the Court of Owls to gather up and train.
Along with the House of Leaves reading and theme of loss, we get this bit of Memento redemption:
Just as in Memento where we see the one flash of his dream future, we see him with his wife and the tattoo on his chest in the place he was saving for when he finally got his wife’s killer, we see that Batman’s quest is not about revenge or justice either. He’s just looking, somehow, in someway, to get his parents back.
But this can never happen, just as Leonard can never actually bring his wife back. So Batman, like Leonard, has lost himself in the routine of hunting and hunting and hunting and hunting. But while Leonard can trick himself into thinking the quest is never over by falsifying clues as to the killer of his wife that he’ll never remember falsifying, Batman does not have this luxury.
But in this brief drug-induced hallucination, we see his true quest.
And then it is done. The Minotaur’s hunt is over. But is this just part of the hallucination? Or is it just one more stab wound that Alfred is going to have to brew a nice hot cup of tea to cure?