Thursday, August 25, 2005

Batman #644 - So Bad That All I Can Do Is Laugh

I really cannot blame Bill Willingham, as I really do not believe that it was, in fact, he who wrote this issue, or, at least, it was not he who came up with the ridiculous plot point in this story.

Spoilers ahead!

The whole gist of the War Crimes storyline was to see what happened to Stephanie Brown, the former heroine known as Spoiler, who was, for a time, the fourth Robin.

She died after being tortured by Black Mask (because, well, this is DC, and you don't pass up a chance to torture a woman at DC when the opportunity presents itself! And yes, that was horribly unfair of me to DC, and for that, I apologize).

In any event, in this storyline, we learn that Stephanie COULD have been saved, but she was denied treatment. Why? Who would do such a thing?

Well, in this issue, it turns out that it was, in fact, Dr. Leslie Thompkins who decided that it would be better for Stephanie to die, to teach Batman a lesson, than for Leslie to save her.

Says Leslie, "I'd originally planned to claim it was a legitimate triage decision - allocation of time and resources under emergency conditions. But we both know better, Bruce. Truth is I wanted to end it all -- all the secret warriors in hoods and capes. The endless violence. I could no longer be a party to such madness. Best to sacrifice one to caution others from putting on those stupid masks."

Yes, that's right, Dr. Leslie Thompkins decided it better to murder a teenage girl (with a daughter of her own) so that Batman and other vigilantes would realize what their actions resulted in.

In an additional bit of silliness, Batman, the paragon of justice at all costs, decides that he will honor his bond with Leslie, and let her remain free (doing volunteer work in Africa) rather than arrest her (she wants him to kill her, by the by, which ALSO makes no sense. She gives him a gun to shoot her. That just makes no sense!!!!), letting her know that she has an "evil mind" and that she must never return to America or practice medicine again.

Which is odd, but not as odd as Dr. Leslie Thompkins letting a teenager die to prove a point to Batman!!

It is SO ridiculous of a point, in fact, that I personally think that it HAS to be a ruse.

My theory is that Stephanie DIDN'T die, but Leslie decided to hide her from Batman to protect her, as Leslie felt that Stephanie would never give up adventuring, and the adventuring would kill her. So Leslie, being such a noble soul, preferred to make Batman think that she is a murderer than to let him have access to Stephanie.

I will continue to believe that, because the alternative is just so ridiculously horrible.

To be honest, I really want someone to ask Denny O'Neil about this, because if I know anything about Denny O'Neil, he will be extremely polite and respectful to the decisions of the other writers and editors...and it will be hilarious to hear, because you KNOW that O'Neil will HAVE to be thinking, "WHAT? Dr. Leslie Thompkins killed a kid to teach Batman a lesson? But that makes absolutely no sense! Less than that, it actually makes the opposite of sense! It makes UNSENSE!"

See? Ya gotta laugh.

Some stories are so bad that all you can do is laugh.

Read More


Blogger kelvingreen said...

Ah, it's Wanda's doing. All will be explained in House of M...

I just read the JRJR Batman/Punisher crossover, and in that Batman does a similar thing; he lets the Punisher go (after Castle has massacred hundreds of gangsters), telling him to get out of Gotham and never come back. Obviously he had to do that because there's no way Marvel would let Batman send the Punisher to jail. Batman also saves the Joker from the Punisher, telling him to run for his life while he fights Castle to a standstill.

Rubbish, of course, but you expect that from a 90's Marvel/DC crossover. You don't expect the same stuff to happen in Batman's own comic... :/

8/25/2005 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger Hisham Zubi said...

Reading your description of the issue, I'll go along with the theory that it's all a ruse.

Thinking otherwise is just too depressing.

8/25/2005 10:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not laughing, Brian. Seriously I'm beginning to think that Fredric Wertham was the best thing to happen to comics and he should happen again now.
Gratuitous death, rape, deliberate murder, a movement to ban all this shit from comics should happen now, right now.

8/25/2005 10:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What you guys said.

Also, check for an interesting perspective on Wertham.

8/25/2005 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger Lex said...

I think the editors of the bat books have gone mad with power. It's like they just don't care anymore and are either allowing bad writing to happen or dictating their horrible ideas to the current writers.

I was very glad to hear about the editorial shake-up that will be coming soon. After the One Year Later event, I'm hoping that the Bat books will be readable again.

8/25/2005 11:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

While yes, you could hold Willingham blameless here, his treatment of women in his books leads me to believe that only he would agree to write something so brutally stupid.

8/25/2005 11:41:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

I think Cronin made it up. Batman #644 REALLY features a team-up of King Tut and the Bookworm, with a romp across rooftops decorated with giant typewriters and water slides. In the end the two villains have a falling out and Batman captures them both using his anti-shark spray (don't ask) and manages to deliver a homily to children about the dangers of meth.

JH Christ, this issue is even more offensive than raping Sue Dibny. Why? Because it's offensive AND unbelievably stupid and completely against not only what a doctor would do, but what any decent human being would do. It makes no sense whatsoever. Who the hell is running the ship at DC? Are they even cognizant of what makes a story?

8/26/2005 12:06:00 AM  
Blogger Ken Robinson said...

Here's hoping your theory about Lesklie lying about Stephanie's pans out, Brian. Though I doubt it will. It seems overly-complicated. It would have been much easier and more reasonable for Leslie to have lied by saying she did all she could to save Stephanie, but that she ultimately couldn't keep her alive, rather than go through this ridiculous routine to cover for her (theoretical) disappearance. Still even a convoluted idea like that HAS to be better than having this issue's mind-numbingly awful explanation be true.

8/26/2005 12:50:00 AM  
Blogger Doctor Sordid said...

I fear you've posted this review in the wrong blog. Sounds like it belongs in Comics Shouldn't Be Shit instead.

8/26/2005 07:43:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Heck, I came up with the "Leslie faked her death: idea about five minutes after War Games ended, and wrote a 1000-word fanfic about it.

As for Denny O'Neill, I know a couple guys who are taking a comics writing course he's teaching at NYU this fall. Want me to have them ask him?

8/26/2005 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Joe Rice said...

Give it up, guys. Drop the supershit. Too much good comics out there to waste your time or money on this junk.

8/26/2005 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

"Give it up, guys. Drop the supershit. Too much good comics out there to waste your time or money on this junk."

Give me a break. There's good indie stuff, there's bad indie stuff, there's good superhero stuff, there's bad superhero stuff. Just because something is about capes doesn't mean it automatically sucks.

8/26/2005 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger joncormier said...

I'm just upset DC didn't set up a 1-800 number to let the fans decide on Batman's reaction to Leslie's information.

I posted the same thing elsewhere. When all the friggin' books are connected how can the same character be portrayed in such vastly different roles? He's the moral compass in JLA but the archetect of destruction in Omac and in this title it seems to be that Gotham's water supply was poisoned with nanomites that suddenly resurrect people or cause bi-polar issues in others. Maybe it's the Omacs?

8/26/2005 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Joe Rice said...

T., by "supershit" I don't mean "all superhero comics." I mean "shitty superhero comics." Which is most of them, mind you, but not all. Read the good superhero stuff, read the good stuff from other genres, and from art comix or what have you. Stop wasting it on summer crossovers you know will be terrible.

8/26/2005 12:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Spencer said...

How many people here would bomb the DC office if this was just a set up to have Spoiler come back as an OMAC?

8/26/2005 01:21:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

"T., by "supershit" I don't mean "all superhero comics." I mean "shitty superhero comics." Which is most of them, mind you, but not all. Read the good superhero stuff, read the good stuff from other genres, and from art comix or what have you. Stop wasting it on summer crossovers you know will be terrible."

Understood and agreed.

8/26/2005 01:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Aaron Kashtan said...

If Denny O'Neil were dead, he would be rolling over in his grave.

8/26/2005 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

You know, it's hard to say what Denny would do. Sure he wrote a well-rounded Batman with a personality in the 70s, but he also ushered in the era of Miller-worship in the 90s that turned Batman and his world into an unrelentingly depressing world populated by grim and gritty assholes. Batman became an emotionally detached isolated prick under his watch.

So I think the Denny of the 70s, who is dead, is turning over in his grave. The 90s Denny probably would approve though.

8/26/2005 05:27:00 PM  
Anonymous steve dowling said...

Next time I take my kid to the ER, I'm gonna ask the doc if she has any kind of "message" for me.
Because she could send me a card or something.

8/26/2005 09:47:00 PM  
Anonymous thekamisma said...

I think they are constantly trying to make Batman more and more unlikable as a character. The "batgod" thing from a few years back didn't work, so now they have to make him the "batdick". Maybe it has something to do with the Infinite Crisis crapola.. so people think Batman is expendible as a character and need of replacing (i.e. like Jason Todd as Robin)?
I dunno, all the more reason for me to re-read my old Batman comics instead.

8/27/2005 03:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And Mr. Willingham says "Bite me!"

8/29/2005 01:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like your "hiding Stephenie" idea. Might be a good way to retcon this mess.

8/29/2005 09:48:00 PM  
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3/25/2009 08:47:00 PM  
Blogger J. L. Bell said...

My theory is that Stephanie DIDN'T die, but Leslie decided to hide her from Batman to protect her, as Leslie felt that Stephanie would never give up adventuring, and the adventuring would kill her. So Leslie, being such a noble soul, preferred to make Batman think that she is a murderer than to let him have access to Stephanie.Ho, ho! Outlandish! As if the company would ever expect fans to accept that!


Wait a minute.

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