Monday, October 3

Batman: Gates of Gotham #5 of 5 (L. Oct 2011) and Batman: The Dark Knight #5 (Oct 2011)

“Welcome to the Future”

Okay... Like The Architect, we find out that what we've known so far isn't quite what we've been led to think. I was reeling from the very first page – where Dick Grayson Batman's interior monologue immediately sent me back to the previous issues. “'The families will fall by the Gates of Gotham.' … Dillon May – The Architect – has been attempting to destroy the legacies of the Waynes, Cobblepots and Elliots through the structures built by their families. … Dillon believes that Gothams elite should be punished because they betrayed his ancestors – the Gates.” Such a definite ID? – I missed it, but in #3, Tim's research into the Gotham bomber's armor reveals it to be a “Gates suit,” an underwater construction suit designed by the Gates brothers. “They were durable but dangerous, especially with excessive use.” (Keep that in mind.) They were abandoned after the “accidental” death of Robert Kane (which of course we've seen in #4 was not an accident, rather a murder by a Gates-suited Nicholas Gate). Tim further shows the Bats an ID for Dillon May, “[a] collector who worked for the City Planning commission, and owner of the last known Gates suit. That is, until it was stolen six months ago.” When Tim and Damian investigate May's home, they find a “shrine” to turn of the century Gotham, including something that makes Tim say, “I think we're definitely in the right place.” At which point the bomber appears – “As the lion said to the lambs who followed him home … Welcome to dinner” – and identifies himself as The Architect in the continuation of that scene in #4, further as “Gotham's forgotten son.” – “Who followed him home”; the Gates, the forgotten “fourth family.” Yeah, I missed it, but partially I plead the nature of reading these little pieces of the story spaced out a month or so apart – I bet it reads a lot clearer all at once. Oh well. … And Dick continued: “But he's wrong.”

All the pieces are right there. Of course, the Bats thwart The Architect's plans – but along the way we find that in fact excessive use of the Gates suit had caused extreme decompression sickness that drove Bradley Gates to “delusions – hallucinations – and paranoia” that implicitly caused his death – and transformed Nicholas “into a cold-blooded killer.” This is what Dick tells a raging May, continuing, “You blame the families for what happened, but their cover-up wasn't done to destroy the Gates. … It was done to protect them. … It was done so that every time people looked across that skyline they wouldn't think about – murder – madness – and the Gates of Gotham.” There is an epilogue scene, however, that does reveal that Alan Wayne wasn't really sure that Cameron Kane had nothing to do with Bradley's death, so yes, he did stand in solidarity with “his” people against the “outsider” Nicholas – doubtless contributing to the latter's final snap. So, in addition to covering up the whole mess being in the interests of the families, Alan was not entirely blameless for what happened, in my opinion.

Anyway, before that final scene, there is another where Dick reports what's been happening in Gotham to Bruce, away on Batman, Incorporated, business, and ruminates on the nature of Gotham and individual responsibility. “To be honest,” he tells Bruce, “the thing that scared me the most about becoming Batman was the chance that the City might change me into you. … But Gotham doesn't change you. She just reveals things, whether you like them or not. … And today she showed me that I can be Batman.” Despite the jab (because of it? – look what he says!), Bruce replies, “I never doubted it, Dick. Given enough time, I'm sure you'd make an even better Batman than me. … But that's something we'll need to talk about when I return.” Dick's – as well as Damian's who's listening – reaction to this is … ambigious. But it's a good nod to the changed status quo coming in the New 52.

“Golden Dawn, Part Five”

Well, can't say I saw that coming – Bruce Wayne Batman fails. Not for lack of trying. Taking up immediately from last issue, standing on a penthouse balcony with Dawn Golden but without a clue what's coming, Bruce ruminates, “I keep asking myself 'Why?' Why risk everything for a girl I once knew? … But I already know the answer. Deep down, I'll do everything in my power to save her. … Because I'm the g—d— Batman” – er, no, not that last, but rather, “Because we were children together when my mother and father were still alive. … She's one of the few remaining things that connects me to them.” Seriously, my point being, why is he asking himself this? – Bruce would do this for any innocent about to become a human sacrifice! Dial down the angst, guys.

Anyway, I'm not going to do a detailed recap. Dawn is captured by the gargoyle-creatures scaling the building within a couple of minutes, then Bruce is attacked by Etrigan, who is under the control of Blaze – as Dawn is tied down to an altar and her demonic father prepares the ritual. His demonic lackeys chant, “Ex malum abbas adveho malum filia! Prognatus in infectus viscus. Parvulus quisnam mos presto malum fatum! Is addo vita eternus!

Oh, brother! Where to start? I think Father Golden learned his Latin by correspondence course, probably the same one Harry Dresden did (see Harry before the White Council in Summer Knight), which is to say this is awful! I've never been that good with Latin composition, but I can read it okay (used to could read it much better than now, but like all skills it has to be constantly practiced to keep it honed, but anyway) and I can definitely recognize bad grammar when I see it, especially when it's this bad. Most obvious is a good bit of noun-adjective disagreement, e.g. malum abbas should be malas abbas (not that I would use abbas in this context, rather pater), malum filia should be mala filia, and vita eterna, or more likely it's the wrong case altogether and should be vitae eternae; adveho is not the word to be used here – “to carry toward”? – but rather simply venit “comes.” It looks like somebody just looked up words in a dictionary without knowing syntax nor rules of grammar. Anyway, in general, the “translation” given immediately below is what is meant if you take the “Latin” word by word, sort of, more or less (probably more less than more) – “From the unholy father comes the unholy daughter. Born into corrupted flesh. A child of unholy destiny. … Bringer of life eternal!”

In any case … Bruce manages to talk Etrigan down and back to his side in an effort to save Dawn. In they swoop, Etrigan having his rhyme back – “Back again, and how I've grown! … But this time I am not alone! … By my side you'll find a new foe! … Call us the DEMONIC DUO!” Pretty good line, that – but to no avail. Even as a terrified Dawn pleads, “Batman! Over here – please! … You've got to s–” FWWT That's the sound of her father's sacrificial dagger plunging into her breast, extinguishing her life. Etrigan's demonic power overwhelms Golden, however, denying him the eternal life he sacrificed her to attain. It's as ashes in Bruce's mouth, though – he recalls playing with Dawn as a child – but Etrigan tells him, “The spirit is gone, you must let her go. … Know that you saved her, even so.” Bruce lets it go.

There is an epilogue: The Batmobile-thief girl meets with a thug. To save her father, she's supposed to give him the specifications of the car. She can't. What she can give him is a jamming device built for Batman by Wayne Industries to render all his communications untraceable. “A weapon may kill one man or many. But this device gives you the world.” She has bought the life of her father … but it transpires she is acting for Batman. The thugs don't know he's on them. “The End...?”

Actually this issue and this arc overall aren't as bad as my snarkiness above would suggest. My two main complaints, besides the erratic publication schedule that sucked any driving narrative force from it, are that Bruce really seems to be all angsty and out of character, particularly as I quoted above, and it truly irks me when poseurs who don't know a whit of Latin, a wonderful language, pretend to know Latin. How much work would it take to get a consultant? Call the local college or high school! Latin may not be a living language, but it ain't dead either!

Sorry – that struck a nerve. So ends what has to be the shortest of the pre-Flashpoint series to be rebooted to #1!

Cheers – and thanks for reading.

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