Batman Takes Over The World (For REAL This Time)

Posted: March 10, 2011 in Batman, comic books, Jeff Holland, Threat Quality
Tags: , , , ,

So listen, we have to face facts: Grant Morrison will not write Batman forever (ugh, god, just seeing those two words together makes my eyes burn).

I know, I know. Gnash your teeth, rend your garments, shake your fist bitterly at whatever deity has failed to meet your simple request of an ordered universe.

Now shake it off, because I have an even worse reality-check: Whoever comes in after Morrison is going to go ahead and undo all the neat stuff the Great Bald One has set into play.

It’s just the way of things. It may be a bit subtle – notice how little “Final Crisis” has impacted DC – or it may be an immediate reversal – see Chuck Austin’s follow-up to “New X-Men.” But it’s gonna happen.

And in a way, that’s okay. The thing about Grant Morrison is NOBODY WRITES LIKE HIM. Maybe if you got Matt Fraction and Joe Casey’s brains to make out for a weird weekend or two, you might get an acceptable off-brand flavor, but otherwise…well again, see Chuck Austin.

But any way you slice it, once Morrison runs out of ideas and moves on, writers are going to look at the whole “Batman, Inc.” era and not have any idea what to do. (Because as we’ve established, the reason nobody can play with Grant Morrison’s toys after he’s done with them is because they don’t know how to make the cool sound effects with their mouths.) 

So they’re going to dismantle it some way, to get back to the comforting street-level, Chuck Dixon-style stories that represented the last time Batman was fun, but simple (before Greg Rucka’s “Let’s assume Batman’s an incredible asshole” era).

But a stray Twitter comment from Top TQP Agent Erin Snyder – regarding why Batman with a Green Lantern ring is just one more missed opportunity – got me thinking: There is a way to undo “Batman, Inc.” and have it actually make a sort of sense. It might even be kind of cool.

Maybe not wise, or recommended, mind you – but I’m saying, if you’re going to dismantle Morrison? You might as well just go nuts with it:

Give Batman Superman’s powers, AND a GL ring – and watch what happens when a heroic control freak can do pretty much anything he wants.

(Hell, give him access to the Speed Force, too. And Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth. Give him the whole power set of the Justice League. He could tap into the Source Wall for all I care. Point is: More power than he ever could’ve imagined. And Batman can imagine a LOT.)

I’m sure this has been done a few times, pre-Crisis. And I know there have been plenty of Elseworlds that played with the idea. But this story would stem from one of my favorite Batman/Superman team-up stories, by Joe Kelly and Cary Nord in Action Comics #766.

Superman’s been Kryptonite-poisoned and is near death, but Lois is missing – possibly dead. So he enlists the World’s Greatest Detective to help find her.

Turns out, with his enhanced senses AND the fact that everyone trusts him and is willing to bend over backwards to help him, Superman is an ideal multi-tool for a detective. Batman’s narration is the key here:

“If I had eyes like Clark, the work I could do…”

It’s the first time it ever occurred to me that Batman might be a little jealous of Superman. Not in the angry way Frank Miller used in Dark Knight Returns. But actually in more of a Lex Luthor, “If I had those powers, I’d certainly use them smarter” kind of way.

So why not give them to him? What kind of story would that lead to?

I’m no Batmanologist, but I’m pretty sure if you give Batman unlimited power, Things Will Not Go Well.

Because while I’m not a fan of Greg Rucka’s hyper-paranoid interpretation (seriously:

The mid-00's: A Golden Age of Bat-Dickery

Brother Eye?!), I recognize the psychology it was built on. Even the most moderate interpretation of Batman accepts that Batman thinks he knows better than everybody.

“We will fight ideas with better ideas,” sayeth Grant Morrison’s Batman, as he unveils the Batman Inc. initiative. That’s it, right there: Who has better crimefighting ideas than Batman? Nobody, says Batman.

So give him too much power, and watch it go to his head, concocting more ludicrous and dangerous methods of crime-fighting that border on fascism (and for those of you who say, “But Batman would never become a fascist, well…” that’s the point – that there’s both the heart of the story and the way he gets beaten).

Watch Superman have to talk Batman down, for a crazy change of pace. Watch the roles reverse, as the JLA has to come up with contingency plans to take down the one guy who knows all their weak spots.

(For no particular reason – maybe it’s just because of the opening setting of “Batman, Inc.” – but I keep picturing the power-mad Batman setting up his base in Tokyo. Not wanting to sully Gotham, because deep down he knows the power’s adversely affecting him.)

(OH MY GOD, could Batman even have a contingency plan for himself if he ever got superpowers?! I don’t know, I’m just spitballing here.)

Either Batman, Inc. as an idea is over – who’d want to wear the bat after this disaster? – or maybe Batman takes it apart himself.

Hey, there's even an alternate costume design ready to go!

And then when it’s all said and done, Batman decides on a bit of an isolationist policy for a while, cozying back up to Gotham City, being the only Batman for a while.

Beyond that, Batman’s got to deal with a damaged reputation – not among criminals, who are more scared and confused about him than ever – but among heroes, who suddenly realize, “Maybe Batman doesn’t always know best.” And he’d have to cope with humility for a while.

And in the meanwhile, the old-school “Batman fights weird gangsters”  status quo is reset. For as long as it takes for a new Big Idea writer to show up.

There, DC. I’ve written your post-Morrison contingency plan for you. Hell, you can even do it as a line-wide crossover event, I know how much you like them.

Now PUT. DOWN. CHUCK. AUSTIN’S. PHONE NUMBER.

(Seriously, whatever happened to that guy?)

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Comments
  1. Jacob says:

    Many thanks for the link.

  2. Ohhhh, nice idea. I like the idea of Batman imposing a Hobbesian social contract on the world. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG

  3. sebastian says:

    This is a really good idea and the idea of Batman having a contingency plan to defeat himself is amazing.

  4. braak says:

    I am also interested in the idea that Batman actually DOES know best. Like, really, he should be the one who has all the powers, and he is about to get them, but then all the other heroes stop him because they get too freaked out by the idea.

    Like in that issue of Animal Man where the time guy gets out of jail and starts going nuts with time.

  5. Jeff Holland says:

    Now, someone better-versed in current Green Lantern lore would know better than me. But I recall a period during the Kyle Rayner days (maybe when he was dealing with nigh-ultimate power himself as Ion?) when he actually had the ability to make new GL rings himself. Was that only an Ion-power-related deal, or…?

    I only ask because, c’mon, if Bruce Wayne figured out how to make new GL rings out of willpower alone, and then hand them off to Batman Inc. agents? Well that would a) make this whole boondogle even more stupidly awesome, and b) fit right into DC’s habit of GL-related crossovers (though what color would Bruce’s Bat-Lantern Corps be? Gray? The ANTI-COLOR? I smell the stench of DARKSEID all over this one.)

    Seriously, just brainstorming a crossover has left me stupid and punchy, I really can’t imagine what this would be like for an actual, contracted writer.

    Matt Fraction, you finish writing “Fear Itself” and come home to us safe, y’hear? Iron Man needs you in one piece.

  6. Jeff Holland says:

    One more thought: I recall, during – I’m assuming it was the Sinestro Corps War? – that the Guardians were the ones who controlled what the rings could and could not do. So when the Guardians changed the parameters and announced “RINGS CAN KILL PEOPLE NOW!” – that implied there are operating codes to the rings, and the Guardians are the ones in charge of that, right?

    So…has there ever been a Lantern that figured out these cheat codes?

    And now that I’m thinking about this, they recruit agents who are without fear, yes, but…how smart are any of these people? By which I mean: Bruce Wayne is clearly a guy who has experienced fear, has risen above it, and who knows how to use it. Now, I know the Sinestro (Yellow) Corps tried to recruit him, but…wouldn’t he be a huge “get” for the GLs, too?

    Would the Guardians have avoided Bruce Wayne because he might be smart enough to hack into the rings’ operating system himself?

    Gaaah. If I think about Lantern rings long enough I just go goofy. Someone pretend Batman plunges into the Speed Force, just for a logistical change of pace.

  7. braak says:

    I think there’s some stuff about this. My understand was that Bruce Wayne was one of the secondary choices for Hal Jordan’s ring — due, possibly, to his not being quite fearless enough? I thought there was a point where Batman had a Green Lantern ring, and the Green Lanterns were like, “Yeah, you could do this, but you’d have to move on from the death of your parents,” and Batman said, “Well, fuck you guys, then.”

    But “being relatively smart” doesn’t seem to be a major qualification for Green Lantern office. In fact, after the Manhunters went nuts, I can see why the Guardians might actually be a little leery of having soldiers who were too clever.

  8. braak says:

    Oh, shit, though, the Batman’s Batman Contingency is a pretty great idea.

  9. braak says:

    He would have had to hypnotically erase his own memory after developing the plan, in order to prevent himself from coming up with a contingency contingency. Would he have used hypnotic techniques to put a copy of his (old) personality into someone else? Or have some advanced AI program lurking in one of Oracle’s mainframes?

    It would be like Batman + Dark Phoenix + Total Recall.

  10. braak says:

    Now I have in my imagination a story in which an omnipotent Batman is talked down by Superman, to the point that, with his enhanced understanding, he is actually about to eradicate evil from the universe and turn it into a literal paradise in which everyone is happy, only to be thwarted by the machinations of an iron-willed copy of his personality that he’d left in place in order to stop him if he ever became omnipotent.

    Oh bitter irony.

  11. Jeff Holland says:

    Oh no Old Batman, you’ve doomed us allllllll

  12. TGK says:

    If Batman Ever Went Omnipotent & Tried To Take Over The World, The Person To Talk Him Down Would Have To Be A Powerless Human To Remind Batman Of Who He Really Is. I’d Say Alfred, Dick Or If You Really Want A Twist, Ra’s Al Ghul. But Since Almost Anything Is Possible Then Thomas & Martha Wayne Could Come Back & Give Their Son A Good Whuppin’.

  13. TGK says:

    Also Batman Would Never Do That Yada Yada Yada… :p

    Oh & By Powerless I Simply Mean, Human.

  14. Owen Wildish says:

    oh this fits in nicely for my idea for a new ultra manlipulative Criminal mastermind arch-villian who could be corrupting Batman from behind the scenes, he could realize the ultimate outcome of this affair and when Batman is taken down by his piers and lose some of his reputation the villian makes his move… from the shadows, all chaos is unleashed…. with a big manic transfixed grin (that’s not the Jokers…)

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