But before we get into the very merry adventures of Bruce Wayne and company, let’s dive into Marvel’s premiere spectacle of 2015, the 8th issue (of 9) of Secret Wars, an event three years in the making.
*Warning: Below there be spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.
So. First, a recap for the kids at home who haven’t been paying attention.
The multiverse, the conglomeration of all possible realities, was destroyed. Only a dozen or so heroes and villains survived, escaping extinction through life rafts designed by two distinct versions of Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic): one is the hero we know and love, the other is a diabolical supervillain from another world.
In this brave new world, Dr. Doom controls all. With godlike power stolen from an omnipotent alien race, he saved what he could, collecting fragments of universes that no longer exist and merging them into a single planet, where he rules as God with a capital G.
The survivors of the destruction all come to the same conclusion: that this shit is whack and Doom needs to go down. Issue 8 continues where 7 left off, in the midst of a rebellion at Castle Doom …
Starlord, of Guardians of the Galaxy, helps the two Reeds sneak into Castle Doom, where they’ve located the source of Doom’s power. Here he waits for their return, and when confronted by a servant of Doom’s, displays badassery that betrays the goofy way he’s been acting for the entire series. It was pretty damn cool.
Now, in this new world, Reed’s family has been all too creepily appropriated by Doom, who has supplanted himself as the family’s patriarch, completely erasing any instance of Reed from their minds. Yet, some traits can’t be entirely erased. Reed’s daughter Valeria, in this world, Doom’s ‘daughter,’ has grown suspicious of Doom, and, believing they’ve all been lied to, brings her mother Sue to the spot where she believes all of Doom’s lies began. Here, they coincidentally run across the two Reeds.
We then cut to a confrontation between God-Doom and Thanos, one of the biggest baddies from Marvel, a titan who’s been built up as the man behind the man behind the man in the Cinematic Universe, and one who has felt the taste of godhood before. This is sure to be an epic fig–
Oh! Well then.
The issue concludes with the timely arrival of two more survivors of the mainstream universe: Black Panther, King of Wakanda (and the Dead), and Namor, King of Atlantis. Two sworn enemies who have united in the face of Doom. Prior to this, Black Panther was bequeathed an Infinity Gauntlet, an artifact that grants omnipotence to its wielder. Armed with the Gauntlet, a former enemy, and followed by an army of the dead, Panther crashes Castle Doom with a promise:
Never fear, for the King of What-Goes-Bump-In-The-Night is Here.
The last few months have seen a drastic shift in Gotham’s status quo. Bruce Wayne, after a climactic battle with the Joker beneath the city, died …
What truly happened was a miracle. A mysterious well beneath the city healed Bruce of all injuries, physical, mental, and psychological, so he knows nothing of his past, a kind of ‘super amnesia.’ All he knows about himself are things he’s read in the papers. The life of Bruce Wayne, traumatized child turned scourge of the night, is no longer his. His closest friends and family have helped withhold this secret, to give Bruce a chance at a normal life.
But Gotham needs a Batman. So Powers International, the company that swallowed the Wayne Corporation has utilized cutting-edge tech to create a mechanical Batsuit, and inside it they’ve plopped former Commissioner James Gordon, who’s trained relentlessly for the right to wear the cowl of an official, police-sanctioned Batman.
This issue begins with an armor-less Jim having tracked the arc’s villain Mr. Bloom — a Slenderman-esque villain — to a dark warehouse. Bloom has taken control of the Batsuit and pitted it against its our hero.
Through will, skill, and luck, Gordon manages to stop Bloom and bring him in. But nothing’s ever that simple, and it seems mean ol’ Mr. Bloom has grown, sprouting doppelgangers, like a rampaging, homicidal weed.
Now, running parallel to this, is the story of an amnesiac Bruce with one of Gotham’s newest Robins (Confused? We’ll get to that in the next section), Duke Thomas. Now even though Bruce may not have his memories, on a deep, instinctual level, he’s still a hero, as proven when he saves Duke from a couple a Penguin’s goons. The two walk down a subway when Duke’s frustration bubbles to the surface. He can’t take Bruce not being Batman anymore, and so he does something dumb to force Bruce’s memory.
Does it work? Perhaps.
But remember, Batman wasn’t alone when down beneath Gotham when he lost his memory…
The second part of the Robin War event comes as a part of one of DC‘s most quality titles at the moment: Grayson.
This series typically follows Dick Grayson (the first Robin, later Nightwing, current super-spy) in his adventures as one part James Bond, one part Sterling Archer. What’s unique about this issue, is that it’s a tie-in to a larger event, forgoing its typical story in order to tie in to the larger Robin War.
What’s that, you ask? Well, let me tell you, dear reader. Somewhere along the line, the many, many ambitious and rough-around-the-edges youth of Gotham decide to honor the Batman by taking to the streets, dressed as Robin, in a form of vigilante-based teen rebellion. But they’re untrained, and this lack of training led to the death of a police officer. The government imposed martial law on Robins, and any teenager brandishing Robin symbols or wearing Robin colors is subject to immediate arrest.
This does little to impede their ambitions, but the original Robins (four to be exact) take issue with this, and call for a gathering in order to train them. That’s where this issue begins.
Each of the Robins train their proteges in ways most befitting them.
Jason Todd was the second Robin, a street urchin whose anger Bruce believed could be directed into something positive. He died at the hands of the Joker, before being revived, and, after a short stint as a super villain, returns to the side of justice as the anti-hero Red Hood.
Tim Drake, the third Robin, is an investigative and tech genius who deduced Batman’s identity all on his own. He’s the everyman, a typical guy (big brain notwithstanding) who fought every day for the right to be Robin. He now guards Gotham as Red Robin.
Damien Wayne, the current Robin, and the only one to share blood with Bruce, is his son by way of Talia al Ghul, daughter of megalomaniac Ras al Ghul. Damien, true to his heritage, is an elitist, arrogant, and a true warrior. But under Bruce and Dick’s tutelage, he’s on his way to becoming a true hero.
Dick sends everyone on missions, and claims he and Duke will stay in reserve. But the missions are bait. He’s been broadcasting their plans to the GCPD, and by extension Jim Gordon’s Batman, effectively betraying everyone. He’s controlled the arrested, landing his three brothers, as well as the hundreds of wannabe Robins, in jail, where they’ll be safe, and ready to break out once he’s gotten answers.
As the first Robin, Dick feels responsible for everything bad that’s happened, and starts his work to make things right.
Thanks for tuning in to part one of IHC’s Top Comics of the week. Do you agree with our choices? Disagree? Wanna tell us why our taste is trash?
Leave a comment below. Please. We’re lonely.