at least according to Scott Snyder…
Spoilers ahead as we take a look at the epic finale of “The Death of the Family” arc with Batman #17!
Snyder has succeeding (once again!) in writing the most gratingly dull-witted portrayal of the Bat-family characters since those awful early 90’s doldrums. Snyder writes Batman as an incompetent, aloof and impotent simpleton without his trademark meticulously honed mental center. Snyder’s Batman is mediocre at everything and forever content to play the passive fool whose only defense boils down to simply gritting his teeth and throwing out a one liner with each punch. This is the lowest-common denominator Batman, and once you make a character that is supposed to be the world’s greatest detective (a polymath who is regarded as one of the greatest minds of all time) into a shambling buffoon then you’ve broken the character.
Snyder’s Batman observes nothing, plans for nothing, and really, does nothing… except, at the end (just like the awful CotO finale), when it all comes down to punching for a page or two, then leaving good enough alone and conveniently allowing multiple loose ends to abound.
Snyder writes the most arbitrary plots I have ever seen in mainstream comics – and that’s a fairly damning statement when put into context. For example, remember the whole medieval hierarchy allegory from the previous issue – the court of villains standing in the room where the cage dropped? Well if you don’t remember it’s okay! Because they, and the situation they were presented in, meant absolutely nothing – it had zero bearing on anything and was totally arbitrary and superfluous in every way. Remember the big, mysterious motivation behind the Joker cutting his face off that Snyder’s been rattling on about and how the reasoning for this ridiculous plot point would finally be revealed in this issue; lending some credence to the idea that the act itself had importance and unique ramifications attached to it. Well, you know how every author who has ever written the Joker has touched on some sort of painfully obvious mask metaphor and therein Joker’s disregard for Batman’s “real” identity? Well – that’s it basically, that’s the whole “reasoning”. Retreading decades old character traits is not a fucking plot! We know all of this – this is not new, it is simply old information sluggishly regurgitated and wrapped in the tritest “grim/dark” aesthetic you can imagine!
In the spirit of Snyder’s writing style, allow me to reiterate my point yet again just to fill up space on these pages:
Snyder’s Batman is a simple-minded pugilist who possesses no Sherlockian wit, deduction or improvisation. Batman is utterly bereft of his fierce, yogan acuity; he is no longer the superlative rational brain or the ego-death shaman; as such he has ceased to be the Batman. He’s Hal Jordan without his ring – at best.
Snyder’s Batman deserves to have been killed numerous times by now, so it stands to reason that the only things more inept than Batman himself are the villains who surround him.
Joker won’t kill Batman or any of his family? Then why all the incessant talk about how he’s far worse now than ever before – more dangerous – more… more nothing because Joker had every chance in the world to kill Bruce and each and every one of his family members (due to Bruce’s total incompetence, btw), but he didn’t.
So then… he is no danger at all – yet he swings an axe at Batman during the end, and we’re supposed to feel what? Tension? If so it is not earned in the least; without any sort of consistency to the writing it is simply false, just as the hyperbolic hype that spews out of Snyder’s mouth in interviews as he trumpets his “epic” arcs is.
Suddenly the Joker is all about trying to kill Batman – what a dumb fucking character this Joker of Snyder’s is. Being crazy is of course an unassailable trait of the Joker character though, so of course, anything can really be explained away. That I’m willing to concede easily enough – yet that still does not excuse the behavior of the character who is the polar opposite of all that chaos – Batman.
Gah – and all this prattle at the end about why or why not Batman will/won’t kill the Joker – how remedial Snyder makes it all sound!
Batman won’t kill the Joker because he’s afraid he’ll reap some bad karma for it and get someone worse? How fucking stupid is that?
Snyder has proven once and for all that he does not understand the Batman character at the most basic of levels. To wit: It’s not about if or why Batman should or shouldn’t kill the Joker based off of the criminal’s transgressions, it’s about Batman violating his own will.
You see, Batman eschews the traditional ideals of morality for one of ethics. This is a character born out of indifferent human suffering who then evolves into the modern day “Overman”. Batman has a strict sense of value which he assigns to human life, yet, again, he ascribes it only in accordance to his own will; he holds immutable standards which he will not violate regardless of the situation – and he does this not out of fear of punishment, or out of desire for reward, but rather because he has decided that infringing these standards would spoil the ethical structure he hopes to inspire the world to subscribe to. He cares not for gods, governments or mores – he is the true anti-theistic hero in this regard.
So you see, his will, the essence of the character, is the central concern here; he will not/cannot violate the rules he has placed upon himself not only for his own sake, but moreso because it would subvert the entire point of his existence and the campaign of his war. If he broke his rule, he wouldn’t be Batman and he would have failed absolutely – end of story.
As the man famously said; “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely” – so it goes, if Batman allowed himself to assume the role of “God”, he has then corrupted his existence and ceased to be the man standing for men, against “god” (the indifferent violence and suffering which created him).
So you see, it’s moot if he should kill Joker, because he can’t kill Joker. The Batman cannot kill the Joker, or he immediately ceases to be Batman. And if Batman is The Goddamned Batman, then he would never kill anyway, due to his fanatical ethical fortitude. It’s an endless, repeating loop folding in upon itself; a tragic möbius strip of troubling fate.
And that ending?
Ugh, really? Did Snyder even read the last big arc that occurred before he came into the Batstable?
Morrison did it first, more intelligently and most of all, Morrison didn’t rest his entire story on it, it was but one small point in a labyrinthine plot – not something to hang the culmination of a story on.
The Death of the Family? The death of my respect for Snyder’s Batman.