Saturday, May 18, 2024

Detective Comics And The Deus Ex Machinas

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[Danny Elfman Theme Plays]
Man, I have had like, a week. That always seems to happen the same time that Detective Comics is wonderfully straightforward, which is spooky since this is like the fourth instance. That title isn’t supposed to be insulting, by the way. I mean it in the most literal, Latin sense. God from the Machine. Eh? Anyway, looks we got—hey, wait a minute why is Bruce going after the God Machine? He had Metron’s Chair! You all remember Geoff Johns’s Darkseid War mega-arc that closed out the New52, right?

…no? Really? It had the Anti-Monitor and Darkseid got murdered and the Earth-3 Crime Syndicate popped up. It was pretty cool.

Okay, well, uh, Batman briefly became the God of Knowledge because they killed Darkseid and he stole Metron’s chair. So he knew literally everything and used it to solve all crime in Gotham, figured out there were three Jokers (I don’t know where that’s going; nobody does yet) and gave up the chair because it was killing him. Then Owlman, his evil older brother from Earth-3, stole it and got aspolded along with Grid (evil Earth-3 Cyborg) and Metron by Dr. Manhattan for asking the wrong question.

That’s what you get for being voiced by James Woods, Owlman.

And now it’s on the moon! Just sorta floating there. Which would be a problem if Bruce didn’t also have a batcave on the moon that Superman and his villains keep exploding rather often. So I dunno why he doesn’t go grab that if the risks are basically the same. Maybe he doesn’t want to mess with New Gods stuff and is more comfortable with the Old Gods? Or maybe he…just has no idea that the chair is up there on the moon. Dr. Manhattan could have moved it, I guess.

Well, anyway, before I was so rudely interrupted by my own thoughts, I wanted to touch on the fact that Teenage Bruce and Zatanna were totally shtupping. Sneaking around her dad’s place, picking lock, staying out late at night in Vegas…yeah, those two had some adorable young love.

We zip back into the present, Bruce recaps the past three arcs and also the New52 (I think?) and we get a cool, and drop dead gorgeous (once again ultra-mega props to Martinez, Fernandez and Anderson! Man I am such a broken record) sequence where Zatanna waxes on about existentialism, humanity and how many roads must a man walk the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.

Funny story: she’s not technically human. Zatanna and her family belong to a…mutant race? Or something? They’re called homo magi, that I do know. Basically they have an innate affinity for magic, where normal humans, like John Constantine, simply don’t.

Then Bruce teases Dark Nights: Metal and/or Doomsday Clock. Or the future Detective Comics arc A Lonely Place Of Living. It could be about four other things to be honest, I’m not entirely sure. Well, it’s not the Colony this time around. 


Ascalon, feeling the need to be dramatic or be alone with its (his? Her? their?) thoughts despite having the ability to teleport at will, walks into the Red Cathedral, passing the bodies of the monks he has presumably killed. He talks to a guy clearly modeled after the Pope, but wearing his own Suit of Sorrows sorta deal. Ascalon reports, and the…let’s go with Metal Pope for now. Because that won’t be confusing.  Right, the Metal Pope—

—soothes Ascalon’s fears while taking a…curiously Jewish approach to supervillainy and the order of Saint Dumas. I should specify that I mean judaism itself, not cultural jewishness. Which is super weird because I wrote a whole thing talking about this for the Intelligence arc teaser back in Detective Comics 950 . But in the event you don’t feel the need to read an entire other review for context, I’ll just snatch Orange is the New Black’s method of explaining judaism when Black Cindy (yes that is the character name) justifies her decision to convert. Ironically, they actually did that pretty damn well, despite other missteps:

“Honestly? I think I found my people. I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell. If I was good, I’d go to heaven. If I asked Jesus, he’d forgive me, and that was that. And here, y’all sayin’ it ain’t no hell. Ain’t sure about heaven. And if you do something wrong, you got to figure it out yourself. And as far as God is concerned, it’s yo’ job to keep askin’ questions, and to keep learnin’ and to keep arguing. It’s like a verb. It’s like—you do God. And it’s a lot of work, but I think I’m in.”

Yeah, so that’s really similar to what’s going on here? With Ascalon? And it’s…surprising. At least, I think it is. I don’t recall the Order of St. Dumas being like this, but they could have been back in the 90s. Again, not an expert.

Either way, it’s pretty explicit what Tynion is doing here, since Metal Pope only goes Old Testament when there are some far more…colorful examples in the New Testament to prove his point. Also he’s probably Jean-Paul’s dad, but that—no. No, it couldn’t be that. We already did that with Kate and Jacob, so…just gonna throw a shot in the dark here, uhhhh…

Michael Lane? Yeah, sure, can’t make out Metal Pope’s skin tone (Michael is black) so that could work. The second man to call himself Azrael, back in the late 2000s. Didn’t really catch on, and I only know who he is because he showed up in two of the Arkham games.

Anyway, Jean-Paul is still freaking out as the System, the Order of Saint Dumas’s complex and crazy brainwashing/indoctrination program, starts putting itself back in place. Or wait, wouldn’t that mean Mother’s methods of mind shaping are reasserting themselves too? I guess they’re the same thing, or rather go to the same place so that works.

Detective Comics and the Case of the Missing Cast Members

Meanwhile, back at the ranch at the Iceberg Lounge, Zatanna continues to try and scare Bruce straight by poking fun at his raging masculinity (zing) and revealing herself to be one of the many, many, many, many reincarnations of Princess Zelda. You know, the latest in a long lineage of birthright protectors of a sacred artifact of ultimate power that she herself cannot use and is honor and duty bound to keep safe at all costs? The most Dutiful of Princesses, of course.

Zatanna reveals to us the Gnosis Sphere, also known as the Miracle Machine God Machine. Which, again, serves functionally the same purpose as Metron’s Chair except it’s magic and not New Gods tech. Though I guess you can’t hack magic, so that’s something. Zatanna reads Bruce’s mind, and we get a nice super-glowy-flashback recapping Tim’s death, Ra’s being a jerk and the…Court of Owls? What?


Could be a reference to “the Mantling”, whatever that is, or another Metal tease to go along with…the actual Metal tease. No, seriously, why the Court of Owls? That’s sorta out of place. Eh, it’ll make sense later.

Just like that perfect transition cut, if Martinez had a camera, from the super serious finger-tips remark to Kate wearing…high school science class safety goggles and connecting wires. Goggles that protect the most covered part of her face. From…nothing.

God I love this so much. ‘Cause it means that Kate and Luke are good enough friends to just dick around in that lab for a few hours and be silly because it’s fun. Why else is Luke wearing a lab coat over his jumpsuit? And why would they be wearing goggles? It’s hilarious and it just makes me appreciate how organically their friendship developed all the more. Especially since they are so clearly the sexiest members of the Detective Comics team by like, so many miles. And still totally-unsurprisingly manage to be platonic best buddies! It’s just so fun.

I am, however, bummed that Tynion didn’t go with Young Frankenstein over the classic film adaptation. Sure, not everyone knows Mel Brooks anymore (and they should be ashamed, just like the people who don’t know Airplane!) but it would have been funnier. Probably.

After Luke almost dodges telling Kate that the giant conspicuous box in the center of the room is holding a reimagining/modern redesign of the Bat-Azrael armor from the 90s (spoilers?), Ascalon teleports in and gets a little weirded out that Luke copied…their brain (it’s probably sapient now) into a bunch of suits. And then he Skynets them. Kate puts out an alert, but before they can retreat Jean-Paul gets to do a one-liner.


…what? Cass and Clayface didn’t show up at all. You can’t get a perfect score if the heart and soul of your team don’t make an appearance. I don’t make the rules, that’s just how it goes.

NEXT WEEK: BATWOMAN #5—wait really?! Holy shit that snuck up on me!


Writer: James Tynion IV

Pencils: Alvaro Martinez

Inks: Raul Fernandez

Colors: Brad Anderson

Letterer: Sal Cipriano

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