Grant Morrison’s Batman: Batman in Bethlehem

10 04 2010

Welcome to the next part in my series of posts on Grant Morrison’s Batman. Today, I’m taking on Batman #666, ‘Batman in Bethlehem,’ an issue which takes place in a possible future where Damian Wayne has taken up the cowl of the Batman.

I’d say that this issue has the most amount of hints and teases of the future of Grant’s run. It didn’t happen immediately because we didn’t see any of these things come into play until he launched Batman and Robin. Because of that, there will be spoilers for Batman and Robin in this post.

The issue begins with a brief origin story for Damian Wayne, the new Batman. It’s nothing really out of the ordinary, although we do learn that it’s his fault that a ’Batman’ dies and this becomes his ’Thomas and Martha Wayne’ moment.

Of course, while the Batman here isn’t identified, it definitely feels like he might be Dick Grayson. I’ve touched about this a bit in a recent post, but I think I failed to give the most compelling piece of evidence as to why it might be Grayson and not Wayne kicking the bucket.

That’s Commissioner Gordon, Barbara Gordon, in the panel right there. Judging by the way she talks about the person who died and her previous relationship with Dick, it isn’t much of a stretch to believe that she might be referring to him in that panel right there.

Moving on, the story starts with Batman fighting a rather one-sided fight against a ‘Dollotron.’ These make their first official appearance here, but they officially debut chronologically in here.

From Batman #666(2007)

From Batman and Robin #1(2009)

The dollotrons look like actual dolls now instead of their lumpy faced predecessors. It looks like Professor Pyg improved his technology a decade or so later.  Oh, yes – speaking of Professor Pyg, he makes an appearance in this issue. He doesn’t have his pig mask and he most lost a lot of weight.

From Batman #666

From Batman and Robin #3(2009)

The poem being referenced in the next page is William Butler Yeat’s ‘The Second Coming.’ Written around the end of World War I, it’s rich with apocalyptical imagery and the feeling of looming evil that perfectly sets the backdrop for this story. The slouching figure referenced is most likely referring to the return or ‘the second coming,’ if you will, of the ‘Third Man’ or the ‘Third Ghost of Batman.’

Welcome to Bethlehem.

Another panel I referenced in that Dick Grayson post. A possible allusion to the post-Return of Bruce Wayne status quo?

Batmen and Robin, perhaps?

Little neat thing here, the ‘demon star’ referenced here is Algol from the constellation Perseus. The star is supposed to represent medusa’s head and so it’s name is derived from the Arabic term ‘Ra’s Al Ghul.’

Yes, his cat's named Alfred!

And just so we get this out of the way, it looks likes Grant Morrison made himself Batman.

I'd totally do the same thing if I was in charge of the DCU.

Depending on who you believe, I’m guessing that the ‘devil’ that Damian’s already met is supposed to be Dr. Hurt. Dr. Hurt may or may not be Thomas Wayne, not Bruce’s father mind you – some ‘demon worshipping cultist’ black sheep of the Wayne family, who also may or may not be possessed by Barbatos a bat demon of some sorts. Trust me, it makes more sense when you actually read it.

This scene references five ‘crime bosses’ but strangely he only mentions four. Unless I’m missing something or some odd and obscure reference, we’ve only seen Phosphorus Rex and Professor Pyg appear so far.

Phosphorus Rex from Batman and Robin #2

Batman infiltrates the Hotel Bethlehem where the Third Man has interrupted a summit for climate change. He sends his men after Batman who promptly takes them down violently and systematically. In this scan, we don’t get to see Nikolai’s brother [the man in the first panel]. None of these men, barring Flamingo, have made any appearance yet as of Batman and Robin #10.

This scene shows what makes Damian different from Bruce and Dick – he specializes in cheating.

'The victory is in the preparation'

The last bit of possible foreshadowing in this issue seems to be referencing Barbathos, the bat demon from Dark Knight, Dark City which was referenced again in Batman and Robin #10.

Other than that, there’s not much else to this issue. Damian kills the Third Man and burns his body. Disappointingly the issue ends around there and left  me wanting more from this possible future. There’s really quite a lot of ground left to explore and I really want to see what happens next. Hopefully we’ll be able to see more of Damian’s story when Batman #700 rolls out this June.

So that’s it for ‘Batman In Bethlehem.’ I hope you enjoyed that and I apologize if it was rather late. As usual, I’ll be taking a break for the weekend, but look out for The Wednesday Spotlight this Saturday. And be back here on Monday or Tuesday to check out the International Club of Heroes’ three-issue arc. As always, stay tuned for more.




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