Funnybook Babylon

November 26, 2008

Batman #681 – “Batman R.I.P. Part 6: Hearts in Darkness”

Filed under: Annotations — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 4:47 pm
Batman #681

Batman #681

Yeah, yeah, I know I have shitty reactions sometimes. Full-on notes below the jump, although this issue is way more straightforward than normal.

Page 1: Batman wakes up in the cave. If this is supposed to be, like later in the book, Batman’s final entry in the Black Casebook, the narration in third-person is kind of bizarre.

Pages 2 & 3: The Book of Changes is the I-Ching, and that line was spoken by the character of that name back in Batman #670, the first part of “Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul.”

Page 4: Flashback. The gargoyle in the first panel heavily resembles the Joker, with the third eye and forked tongue; I’m not sure who the second and third are supposed to be.

Page 5: I have no idea who the dark master is supposed to be; assumedly the Black Glove. I’m not sure why Zur En Arrh is backwards, but it definitely signifies the hole in Bruce’s mind. The last page seems to provide a clearer clue as to its origin.

Page 6: I love the blank word balloons for Pierrot Lunaire, the mime. I’m not sure what the billboard of the which with wires in her head is referring to, if anything?

Page 7: Dark Ranger’s replacement with his successor parallels the feel with Batman near the end of the story, obviously.

Page 8: The Club of Heroes from the, well, Club of Heroes arc (667-669). Beryl Hutchinson/Squire, Cyril Sheldrake/The Knight, Red Raven, Chief Man-of-Bats, Gaucho, Musketeer.

Page 11: Well, this is the Joker’s revenge I was hoping for.

Page 12: The art suggests that this Batcomputer is located in Wayne Tower rather than the Batcave (which got compromised), again reinforcing how prepared Batman was for this.

Page 17: The time he beat Robin’s brains with a crowbar that Joker’s referring to was the death of Jason Todd back in Batman #427. Joker again equates Simon Hurt with the devil. Apophenia is the experience of seeing patterns that don’t exist in random things, which I guess Joker is accusing Batman of either having or causing him to have.

Page 22: Again with the devil references, implying Hurt was responsible for the deaths of the people involved in the movie.

Page 23: I’m not sure what Damian just indiscriminately ramming an ambulance off a bridge signifies here, other than maybe the new guard replacing the old? Still, it doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that’d kill Joker.

Page 23: It seems Batman used the trigger phrase to create the alternate persona while in Thogal, reducing the Black Glove’s ability to control him?

Page 24: The page where Simon Hurt’s identity is left up in the air. At first he claims to be Thomas Wayne, but Bruce shuts him down; still, the comment about Chill losing his nerve is accurate back from #673. Bruce points out that he’s Mangrove Pierce, who was seen in photographs with Bruce’s father discussed in #677 (although they may have been faked). Hurt claims he wore Mangrove Pierce’s skin, a claim the Black Glove made about Mayhew back in #667 as well. Hurt’s final clue is that he is the “HOLE in things, Bruce, the ENEMY, the piece that can NEVER FIT, there since the beginning.” Is that a statement that Hurt is the Devil for sure? Was this arc really Batman versus the Devil?

Page 25: I assume the “next time you wear it will be your LAST!” comment is referring to Final Crisis. Obviously Batman survives this experience tow rite this final entry.

Page 26: That’s the Third Batman with Hurt in the helicopter, who starts repeating to himself that the house always wins. (Definitely not a third guy in the helicopter, as Tony Daniel confirms). Again with the mentions of the devil, this time as the Nietzschean abyss Batman faced down in Thogal. It’s interesting that the mystery man says “The Black Glove always wins” as Batman punches in the window with his, well, black-gloved fist.

Page 27: “And was that FEAR in his eyes?” is a pretty badass line. I guess it could double for whatever Batman saw in the mystery man’s face between punching the glass and the helicopter exploding (I’m really still not clear on *why* it exploded, since it didn’t seem to hit anything).

Page 28: The way Nightwing’s standing and holding the cowl is very reminiscent of Batman’s pose when Damian “blew up” on the last page of Batman #658.

Page 29: The Man-Bats attacking Jet’s, well, jet were almost definitely sent by Talia, as commenter Madkal points out, so I assume she’s dead.

Page 30: This is clearly the scene referred to on the first page, where the mysterious new Batman and Robin declare “BATMAN AND ROBIN CAN NEVER DIE!” in Crisis weather (or maybe after, really). Someone’s killed Cardinal Maggi; maybe the same person who went after Jezebel Jet’s plane with the bats? It seems weird this would drive Bruce Wayne to murder, so…?

Page 31: I really love this page, it’s practically a pitch-perfect ending, and kind of a great statement on Batman. It also fairly definitively links the “Zur En Arrh” phraseword to the experience as a child of seeing Zorro, since the word does kind of sound like a bastardized/slowed-down version of “Zorro.”

UPDATE: Commenters Amadeo and Super-Dad very correctly point out it actually sounds like a bastardization of “Zorro in Arkham,” which are Thomas Wayne’s last words.


  1. “I’m not sure who the second and third are supposed to be”

    The third gives me a Jezebel Jet vibe, but yeah, the red and black on the face of #2 makes me think it’s there for something… but what?

    Comment by Syrg — November 26, 2008 @ 4:54 pm

  2. Also I suspect the killer is the Joker. Remember page 16: “I’ll collect my winnings from all of you, in due course.”

    Comment by Syrg — November 26, 2008 @ 4:58 pm

  3. …alternatively, Jezebel mentions “retribution” as well. Damien in Batman garb in the end?

    Comment by Syrg — November 26, 2008 @ 5:02 pm

  4. fffffff “Jezebel” != “Talia”, that’s it, I’m out.

    Comment by Syrg — November 26, 2008 @ 5:04 pm

  5. I assumed the manbats were sent by Talia, seeing how she had an army of them in the earlier stories, and she was seeking revenge as she said she would, on those who killed Batman

    Comment by Madkal — November 26, 2008 @ 5:06 pm

  6. Christ, I thought those were regular bats, it makes a shitload more sense now. I’ll update it, thanks.

    Comment by David Uzumeri — November 26, 2008 @ 5:08 pm

  7. I thought it was fairly obvious that was Talia sending her ninja Man-Bats after Jezebel. On page 27 Talia says “We’ll take care of retribution” as her ninjas are injecting the Man-Bat formula into themselves. Plus the bats are wearing pants.

    Also, Zur-En-Arrh isn’t just a slurring of “Zorro”, it’s a slurring of “Zorro in Arkham”.

    Comment by Super-Dad — November 26, 2008 @ 5:11 pm

  8. Whoops, beaten on the Man-Bats thing.

    Comment by Super-Dad — November 26, 2008 @ 5:12 pm

  9. How the fuck did I not get the Zorro In Arkham thing? Jesus.

    Comment by David Uzumeri — November 26, 2008 @ 5:15 pm

  10. I would pay for a series, written by Morrison, called “Pennyworth & Damian”.

    Comment by Amadeo — November 26, 2008 @ 5:20 pm

  11. The bats attacking Jet’s plane on page 29 are Talia’s soldiers. You can see them injecting the Man-Bat serum when everybody’s standing around the helicopter wreck.

    Comment by istewart — November 26, 2008 @ 5:44 pm

  12. Oops, beaten on that one. That’s what I get for leaving the tab sitting open and coming back to it a few minutes later.

    Comment by istewart — November 26, 2008 @ 5:45 pm

  13. Posted this in the wrong comments section, but Morrison definitely seems to have been influenced by Nicohals Meyer’s film, the Seven Percent Solution, where Holmes’ victimisation of an innocent maths tutor is given a literal Freudian analysis. during the course of the film the story is told how, when he was a child, Holmes mother betrayed his father by having an affair with Holmes’ maths tutor, leading to Holmes Sr killing her, and then taking his own life. The name of the maths tutor? Moriarty, of course.

    The whole betrayal of the son by the father, leading to the death of the mother seems very close to Batman RIP.

    Comment by Lee — November 26, 2008 @ 5:58 pm

  14. Anyone notice Batman’s mother was wearing a black glove on the last page?


    Comment by frisco — November 26, 2008 @ 7:04 pm

  15. Both his mother and his father were wearing black gloves. You can see his father’s when he is ruffling Bruce’s hair.

    Comment by rusty — November 26, 2008 @ 7:20 pm

  16. How about this: The epilogue isn’t a *flashback* but a memory (the red and black colour scheme fits memories shown from previous issues) buried/created in Bruce’s brain. “Zorro in Arkham” is how he mentally got around “Zur En Arrh.” The phrase triggered the alternate personality which triggered the memory which brought him back to the moment he became Batman, and so on…

    Just a thought. :-)

    Comment by Jack Tango — November 26, 2008 @ 8:12 pm

  17. I just noticed that the paper after the mime has been defeated says “I Give Up”, which happens to be a crumpled up version of the paper on the page before.

    Comment by Dosvidanya — November 26, 2008 @ 8:45 pm

  18. Further to that, most “flashbacks” are just memories, anyway. So, all the flashbacks are simply memories.

    Couple more things:

    Page 1) Batman was writing in third person because he doesn’t think of himself as Batman the person, Bruce Wayne the mask anymore.

    Page 4) The second gargoyle is Dr. Hurt/The Devil (or Darth Maul, heh), the third is Jezebel Jet.

    Page 16) Joker is definitely accusing Batman of having apophenia, but his statement of thinking outside the box then having a new box put around him means that Bats just makes the apophenia work; sort of as a self-fulfilling mental affliction. Joker *thinks* he’s not creating patterns, but Batman finds them, forces them into the patterns (essentially) and alluva sudden, the Joker’s back in the box again.

    Page 26) What third man? There is the third Batman, Dr. Hurt and then a silhouetted figure who, if we are to follow standard rules of storytelling, is either the third Batman or Dr. Hurt, not a just-introduced character. Personally, before reading these annotations (well done, btw), I thought it was obviously Dr. Hurt, since it lines up with the side of the helicopter Bruce jumped to, and the side Hurt was on in the first few panels of that page.

    I read some spoilers in advance and people just didn’t seem satisfied by the ending; I couldn’t disagree more. Well played, Grant. Well played.

    Comment by Jack Tango — November 26, 2008 @ 8:52 pm

  19. I could have done without the scene of the Man-Bat ninjas attacking the plane. They can’t fly that fast or that high.
    I know, pointless nitpicking.

    Comment by John Foley — November 26, 2008 @ 10:33 pm

  20. Great comments, guys.

    Jack Tango, it seems to me there’s a third man in the plane since it doesn’t look like Hurt would have time to move to the back, and the figure saying that doesn’t have a mask on. I thought it was an unrevealed face that was supposed to represent the fear in the devil’s eyes, but that would work for Hurt too, so I could have just been confused by the storytelling.

    Great catch on the black gloves on the last page, I don’t know how I missed that, frisco.

    I just wonder how much of this we’re supposed to take at face value? And did Bruce just recall that final memory? His dad’s last words, that Batman is a crazy concept, seem like the kind of thing that would weigh on him. Was the epilogue supposed to represent that memory coming out? Because I could see that having the give-up-the-cowl effect, maybe. I guess we’ll see next week, hopefully.

    Comment by David Uzumeri — November 26, 2008 @ 10:57 pm

  21. “I could have done without the scene of the Man-Bat ninjas attacking the plane. They can’t fly that fast or that high.
    I know, pointless nitpicking.”

    They’re doctors too.

    Comment by HitTheTargets — November 26, 2008 @ 11:49 pm

  22. Sure they can fly that fast and that high. A regular old vampire bat can do about 15 miles an hour; so, with proportional speed and strength of a bat, a genetically modified Man-Bat could easily achieve what was depicted.

    Comment by Jack Tango — November 27, 2008 @ 1:25 am

  23. Further evidence for “Zur-en-arrh” being “Zorro in Arkham,” is that young Bruce asks, “What?” immediately afterwards, as if mishearing his dad. So he very well could have (thought he) heard his dad say “Zur-en-arrh.”

    Comment by Moai Ou — November 27, 2008 @ 2:30 am

  24. Which, of course, would not have existed as a term for young Bruce, which to me either means that: a) It was a created memory used as a back-up for Bruce to remember his origin to “reboot;” or, as an alternate, b) Dr. Hurt REALLY is Thomas Wayne…

    Comment by Jack Tango — November 27, 2008 @ 2:32 am

  25. Great annotations once again. I have one thing to add that occurred to me upon first reading that may or may not have any merit.

    The comments on the fourth page’s last panel seem to me to describe the bat mite. Specifically the comment “A scar on my consciousness” as there is the unexplained growth or scar on the bat mite’s back. On the next page the scar is referred to as something “tattooed” or “scabbed into place”. This is just before the mention of the cover personality.

    Comment by Grrn — November 27, 2008 @ 4:03 am

  26. Oooooh, next week for more! Somehow that nugget of goodness had passed me by.

    Comment by Zom — November 27, 2008 @ 9:42 am

  27. I actually thought this issue indicated that Dr. Hurt was Thomas Wayne, Jr. Hurt says to Batman, “and if not Dad,” in a way that could have been him referring to Batman’s father in a pejorative manner, but also could have been him referring to their mutual father in the way siblings do, i.e. “and if not Dad, what should we get Mom for Christmas?”

    Comment by Max Criden — November 27, 2008 @ 9:50 am

  28. The fact that Grant Morrison is writing Bats as well as Final Crisis, and promised a connection, keeps gnawing at me. I wouldn’t be surprised if Batman was now immune to the effects of the anti-life equation. Darkseid has much to “fear” from Bruce Wayne.

    Comment by Zebtron A. Rama — November 27, 2008 @ 12:25 pm

  29. “Ah… little did you know that I planned for the eventuality of being captured by an Alpha Lantern who is actually the sadistic servant of the embodiment of all evil while I was in college! And to resist an equation that will take away my will? Don’t make me laugh!”

    Comment by GORE-ILLA — November 27, 2008 @ 12:51 pm

  30. I’m still confused w/the whole Dr. Thomas Wayne thing then. I choose to believe it was Dr. Wayne, rather than the Devil, behind the Black Glove.

    Comment by — November 27, 2008 @ 2:47 pm

  31. In page 23, when the joker gets hit by Damien he says “It’s the …red?… and” after, we see the batmobile (Black paint and red lights) ramming the ambulance. I think it was a nice twist.

    Comment by Vicente — November 27, 2008 @ 11:49 pm

  32. I’m pretty convinced by the last page and Morrison’s promise that the black mask would be a huge reveal that it was Thomas Wayne all along.

    I would like to echo the sentiments of a Damien/Alfred series.

    Comment by JohnnyZito — November 28, 2008 @ 12:08 am

  33. “Batman and Robin will never die!” is some sort of reference to something that happens in Batman’s head in Morrison’s JLA #8, “Imaginary Stories”. There, Tim Drake is Batman and Batman’s son is Robin. No guarantee it’s anything more than that, though.

    Comment by P_B — November 28, 2008 @ 3:28 am

  34. The Thomas Wayne thing WOULD be a huge reveal, if he hadn’t already revealed it a few issues back… didn’t he?

    Comment by Paul I — November 28, 2008 @ 10:20 pm

  35. The Poodle’s annotations/commentary/thingamywotsits are now up over at Mindless Ones.

    Beware: many, many words (all of which are really quite interesting)

    Comment by Zom — November 29, 2008 @ 4:24 pm

  36. OhhHHHHHhhhh, NOW I can see the Glove as The Devil argument. I took the skin-wearing as typical serial killer gross-ness, but I suppose if it’s the devil, then he “wears” people by possessing them?

    However, THE DEVIL isn’t that big of a reveal. Batman fights the devil all the time, doesn’t he? Like, I remember Neron tempting him with Jason Todd in the ’90s, and there was that old Brave and the Bold team-up with Sgt. Rock where they fought Satan, right?

    Comment by caleb — November 30, 2008 @ 6:21 pm

  37. And Gothic. Penned by Morrison.

    C’mon, dudes! Where’s the podcast?

    Comment by Zom — December 3, 2008 @ 10:25 am

  38. 1. who is the black glove?
    2. is dr. hurt thomas wayne?

    is this intentionally vague? has it been spelled out? will the answers be revealed later?

    Comment by the question — December 5, 2008 @ 5:44 pm

  39. there seems to be an allusion to the idea that the black glove is not a person but an organization of five people. This seems to come out of the discussion between the joker and the rest of the evil-doer’s when he says something along the lines of being a sixth finger. what do you all think?

    Comment by the question — December 5, 2008 @ 5:46 pm

  40. caleb..don’t forget that Morrison has used skin wearing in the Invisibles with Orlando, who cuts peoples faces off and wears them….

    one could even extrapolate this to a deepr level with the use of fiction suits, 4-d armor, and other exotica

    Comment by evan — December 6, 2008 @ 8:44 pm

  41. this is a little late now, but le bossu’s plans to bathe in the brains of the cop getting spoiled is the ending of batman and robin 3. full circle

    Comment by word — September 14, 2009 @ 3:54 am

  42. I’ve re-read the Batman R.I.P. arc and the annotations still seems there are more questions and than answers.
    I personally can’t stand Morrison’s writing anymore, reading comic books shouldn’t be guess-work where every other word ballon makes me wanna say “Huh?”.

    Zorro in Arkham? Good one though.

    And btw, the original meaning of the name Jezebel is “The Lord (Baal) exists” – another possible satan reference. And you can find Zur in the King George bible and he has a brother named…Baal.

    So here is another idea: Simon Hurt is Thomas Wayne jr., Bruce Wayne’s older brother (another Morrison revamp of a pre-crisis character?).

    Comment by Da Chef — September 16, 2010 @ 10:08 pm

  43. […] than me have deduced that “Zur-En-Arrh” (the last panel of “RIP”) is a contracted form of the words “Zorro in Arkham,” the last thing we see Bruce’s dad says to him before they’re accosted by Joe Chill (as […]

    Pingback by The Great Morrison Bat Study #7: RIP | Comic Nothings | Nerdy Nothings — January 9, 2011 @ 11:50 am

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