The “mystery” behind Harper Row is finally revealed. I say “mystery”, because I’m pretty sure that everyone saw that coming from a mile away. Since nothing that transpired during this issue was truly a surprise, you’re just going to have to garner your entertainment from seeing the specifics of the expected event unfold. That’s not to say that all effort wasn’t put forth to try and make it as emotional as possible, but nonetheless, I personally find it difficult to feel empathetic towards Harper. Don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoy her as a character, I just really have a problem with how she is being shoehorned into the Batman Legacy at the moment, and that’s probably making me feel less than sympathetic towards her plight.
Just to give you a heads up. This is going to be one of those reviews where I talk more about my general feelings towards recently unfolding events rather than the specifics of the issue itself. There will be some evaluation going on, but the majority will just be me presenting my apprehensiveness about this and other world building events that have been taking place of late. I wanted to warn you because I know it can be draining to read something where someone does nothing but belly-ache. But I need to get it out, and this seemed like the perfect time. If you’d rather read something where I’m more jubilant, check out the Detective review from this week. That story was great! But now it’s time to talk about this one.
One second while I get up on this soapbox…
While I don’t necessarily appreciate what Scott Snyder is trying to do (Yes, I realize he did not write this issue, but he did craft the overall story), I can still understand part of the reasoning behind it. As a writer, I’m sure that there is no greater joy than seeing one of your creations take root in the public mind. Knowing that you have left behind a legacy. Long after you are dead and gone, people will be reading the adventures of your brainchild, and as that character comes alive in the minds of the reader, a piece of the writer lives on. I guess what I really take issue with is how he is inserting his creations into the heart of something bigger than himself while simultaneously ignoring the existing hierarchy and legacy.
In this issue, it is revealed that Harper is the girl that was destined to be Robin. It’s as if Snyder knows that this will never come to pass, so he is simply saying that, while she isn’t, she should be. He desperately wants her to be Robin. In fact, he has both his young creations on the hopeful fast-track to Robin. Having books based in the future where Duke is Robin and now flat out saying that Harper should be Robin. I just wish he would work with what he has instead of trying to place his own personal everlasting stamp on the Batman mythos.
Even in the world of the comic, it seems highly convoluted and unlikely that Harper is an acceptable candidate for Mother’s process. Granted, I don’t fully understand Mother’s selection criteria, but surely there are some preferable traits that they look for to cultivate in their acquisitions. What is so special about Harper that she would make a better Robin than Dick Grayson? I mean seriously! That is what I see when I read this: Snyder somehow thinks that the character he made is somehow superior to Dick Grayson- a character that has existed for 75 years. With that kind of longevity, it’s exceedingly presumptuous to assume that something you just came up with can contend with that kind of legacy.
While I’m going down this route…I also take issue with the audacity of DC and the mistreatment of their entire pantheon of characters. Many of these characters existed long before the people in charge were even born, and they will be around long after they are gone. In many ways, the writers, artists, editors, and even the fans are simply stewards for Batman. You don’t take ownership of Batman. You don’t make him yours. You make him better than you. You take up the torch for as long as it is yours to carry, and when you pass it onto the next person, hopefully things are in a better state than when you received them. I realize that DC OWNS Batman (in the strictest sense of the term), but nobody really owns him. He belongs to everybody. He is in the public consciousness. We have all lived alongside him. Experienced his triumphs and tribulation. When you consider that perception is reality. He is far more real to me than any of the writers or artists who have brought him to life.
I just wish everybody involved would be a little more respectful of the legacy that they are privileged enough to take part in.
If you’re still with me, I thank you for reading and sharing in my pain. I suppose this has been building for awhile now. It’s rather cathartic to get it out there, and maybe in the process, be able to connect with those of you who think like me. Chances are, the next generation of children who grow up to be the very writers and artists that bring us the Batman stories of the future are reading this now. I just ask that when the time comes, you show the characters the respect they deserve.
It’s scenes like this that really make me miss not having Batman around for the last 9 months.
In regards to the issue…Batman completely owns everybody like nobody’s business. And rightly so. I mean…he’s Batman. And when I say he beats them, that is an understatement. Mother actually resorts to attempted suicide! To go there…that is way more than just a physical beating. That is saying that you beat me to my very core. So much so that recovery is such an impossibility that death seems like a more welcoming option than to go on living.
Reminding anyone of the Joker interrogation scene from The Dark Knight?
After Batman, the next best part (and real surprise for me) was Mother. Her dialogue is soooooo good. She exudes that icy uncaring heart of darkness that I love to see in a villain. I mean…I’ve liked her since the moment she met Dick Grayson backstage, but now I love her. She is awesome. It is kind of weird how she reprimands Batman for not approving of her process, since one similar to it made him. Although, where she turned tragedy into more tragedy, he turned it into something positive. She can’t be that obtuse. She must be doing it to be contrary for contrary’s sake. I also thought it was odd that she tried to make Batman feel responsible for Harper’s plight. I mean, if Harper was so great, wouldn’t she have been collected whether or not Batman had been involved.
It’s only arrogance if you don’t have the skills to back it up.
Considering you’re the one on the floor, you might want to rethink your quips.
While the reveal was no surprise to me, I can see how someone not in the know would have found this quite exhilarating. Technically speaking, the pacing really does drive the story forward, and I actually liked the editing. It cuts back and forth between the past and present, with both time-frames only giving up a small morsel of info at a time. This way, they are able to draw out the tension, and make the experience last longer for the reader.
Considering the art, I may have been a little too hard on Scot Eaton last week. Sometimes all you need is a sense of comparison to really make you appreciate an artist. Last week, I went on about the cover and how Scot didn’t measure up. This week I like Scot again. It’s not because the cover is bad. No no no. That Tony S. Daniel cover is just as good as the Finch one from last week. No, the thing that has me back to appreciating Eaton is that another artist fills in on the last couple of pages. Just take a look at these faces and you’ll see what I mean.
I want to say something…but where does one even begin?
- You wanna see Batman kick butt!
- You want to find out what the deal is with Harper’s secret past.
- You like your villains with a heart of…..ice.
We finally get the “big secret” behind Harper, but for me, the Batman/Mother sections completely stole the show. While this issue excels in a lot of technical aspects, I found it hard to invest in the Harper section of the story. But seeing as that preference is steeped in a lot of personal hangups I presently have with DC’s chosen direction, I can see where another reader wouldn’t have any quibbles with this issue at all.
SCORE: 7.5 / 10