Sunday, July 3, 2016

Dark Knight Returns: The Last Crusade

The Joker is a messy eater.

The Review!
In some ways, this story feels like it was written less by Brian Azzarello and more by Frank Miller. It just doesn't have the nuance of Azzarello in the dialogue. The writing feels a bit blunt and broad-minded. It's also possible that I was simply put off by John Romita Jr.'s art so I put on my grumpy pants and refused to thoroughly enjoy the story. The story itself is about how Batman is as much at fault for Jason Todd's death as The Joker is. I think. That might be the story and even though that wasn't the story in the regular DC Universe, it's the take that maybe the current Jason Todd needs to be true. Batman never said the things Jason needed to hear. Batman simply treated Jason as another Bat-Gadget. Batman was always telling Jason to not do things or to stop doing things a certain way. Batman never told Jason that he had the potential and gifts to someday (and a very soon some day too!) be a great Batman. Batman never fucking hugged the poor kid! And while maybe this is the story that makes more sense of Jason Todd's relationship with Batman, I'm not sure it's the story I want. I suppose Batman is distant and cold and closed off from emotion. He allows Alfred to take on that role for him. But do I want my Batman to be so justice-minded that he lacks the empathy to treat close friends and acquaintances in a kind and, if not loving, at least compassionate way? Does that dilute the power of The Batman? I would hope it would only strengthen him. But then this story isn't really about Jason, is it? It's more about Batman and his failings and learning from those failures. It's just too bad for Jason Todd that he had to be a plot device to help Batman grow!

The Commentary!
Everybody wants to write a Final Joker story. I don't know if this is one of those but it has the Joker on the cover and the word "last" so it probably is. I would make a great cop! I jumped to a conclusion and then found two clues to support that conclusion and that's all the evidence I need to arrest the bastard!

This issue is based on Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. I provided that information for people who forgot to read the cover. I wish I remember The Dark Knight Returns better since it a seminal fluid comic book that everybody else seems to lose their shit when they remember all of the apparently great details in it. I think in Miller's story, The Joker and Batman had sex on a carnival ride. This must be the aftermath of that encounter.

The story begins with The Joker being thrown back into Arkham. Well, that's that! He'll never get out of Arkham! Is this going to be one of those Batman stories where Batman goes into Arkham as a metaphor for delving deep into his subconscious until he comes face to face with The Joker and then realizes it's really a mirror? I suppose it could also be one of those other Arkham stories where The Joker escapes. Those are a lot more common. But judging by the cover, Batman and Robin will be coming to him. Maybe they need him to Hannibal Lecter something for them. I hope Carrie Kelley doesn't get hit in the face by The Mad Hatter's semen!

It turns out this story takes place much earlier than the events in the original Dark Knight series. Jason Todd is the current Robin so maybe this is the Final Jason Todd story! But since it's current and in the Dark Knight Universe, it will probably be a lot more entertaining than that whole Death in the Family garbage from the eighties. Unless it was the nineties. Maybe Jason Todd will be the one to take the metaphorical journey into his subconscious as Arkham where he'll eventually come face to face with The Joker where he realizes it's really the audience!

The media have decided to question Batman's policy of putting children in the line of maniacs. Batman catches wind of it and is all, "But I'm a good guy! Stop criticizing me!" Alfred is all, "Do you need somebody killed for this?" And Batman is all, "No, know. Go polish something."

This book reminds me of that quote about how many men must walk down a road before you can call it a road. Mostly because I just thought of that quote while reading this book and thought, "Does that fit? Does that make sense? It must, right? Or else why would my brain bring it up!"

While the media questions why Batman would train a young person to put themselves in danger, Batman's back is all, "You're too old for this shit! Get a young person in here!" So it's that most ancient of all arguments! I'm not sure exactly what the argument is but it has something to do with old versus young and how the young waste their potential but only realize it once they're old and then the old version of them is all, "Young people are stupid because I was once a stupid young person!" Meanwhile the young people who actually spent their youth in a manner they could live with never grew old because they probably died in a base jumping accident. Then young people look at older people and think "Why are they so grouchy and boring?!" because only the grouchy and boring ones survive to look down their wrinkled noses at the youth. All the cool ones died awesomely when their aging bodies eventually betrayed them.

I think that explains why Batman needs to train a young person to do his job. It's kind of a different reason for Batman needing Robin then the usual reason that Batman needed somebody in bright clothing for the bad guys to shoot at instead of shooting at him. Or maybe the reason was that Robin was Batman's version of Prozac?

If you're wondering why I haven't scanned any artwork yet, it's because I'm afraid DC Comics will send me a cease and desist! No, wait. It's actually because this comic book's physical format makes it really hard to scan pictures. I could take pictures of them but that's totally amateur hour! What am I? A fckuging amataeru? Hardy!

The night after catching The Joker, Batman and Robin head out to catch more of The Joker's gang. During the battle, Jason Todd smashes a guy's head in the door of an overturned van that was catching fire. He saves Batman's life doing it, so Batman understands that sometimes casualties will happen. And it's not like Batman blames himself or Robin for any deaths! If a bad guy dies while Batman tries to apprehend them with explosives and lethal Batarangs and extreme violence, it's the bad guy's fault for not being prepared to live through explosions and blunt objects and sharp objects and Batman's fists of justice!

See? The bad guys are at fault for being too amateurish to reinforce their van against Batman's explosives! Dummies!

I basically ruined the spine of my comic book scanning that panel. Maybe it's more professional to just take a picture of the book! Or perhaps I should be buying them digitally? No way! What am I? A young person?! My world is physical comic books and living in a maze of stacked up comic book boxes in every room! So much better!

I have a theory about the popularity of Young Adult literature that I probably shouldn't bury in the middle of this review but I will anyway. I feel it's popular because the genre usually presents a black and white world where somebody who is a literal unique snowflake and literally doesn't fit in literally sees the literal right way things should be and works toward making the world a better place while also making the reader feel represented. Adult literature is way too ambiguous (and I don't mean fuck books about fucking! Although those are good too and often ambiguous as well). Because the real challenges in life aren't about rising up against an obviously oppressive status quo to make the world a better place, even though your sister and some of your friends might die in the process. People in the real world aren't background automatons brainwashed by the oppressive culture in which they live that need to be led to freedom by one spunky, thoughtful teenager and her friends! People in the real world are complicated by their coping mechanisms and the strategies they've come up with to survive. If only there were a single bad man to bring down to make everything better! If only there were one perfect solution to create a utopia that would make happy each single individual with different views, dreams, backgrounds, and hopes. Although maybe I'm reading Young Adult books incorrectly! Maybe The Lord of the Rings wasn't about bringing down the ultimate bad guy and making the world a safer place for men and hobbits (but not elves!) to live! Maybe it's actually about how travel makes a person less ignorant! And maybe The Hunger Games wasn't about bringing down a fascist regime but about how young people are quickly swept up into events out of their control as they enter adulthood where they get to make fewer and fewer of their own decisions and simply begin to just try to control the aspects of their lives they're able to control! And maybe the Divergent series wasn't about how young people who don't fit into society are actually better than everybody else and go on an adventure to prove that they're better and more creative and totally way more important than those stupid jocks and cheerleadgers! Maybe it was about...well, I don't know what it was about because I liked feeling like I was divergent and that I was better than everybody else because I totally didn't fit into society's fucking square holes! Or maybe Uglies wasn't about flipping the bird to society's conventional beauty standard and was actually, I think that's probably exactly what it was about. I guess all of these Young Adult books are simply about making kids who don't fit in feel like they're better than everybody else. Because you know who reads? Kids who don't fit in! So lets write a bunch of books to make them feel good!

I may have lost my point somewhere in that paragraph but that's my style! Pointless!

Back to The Last Crusade, The Joker begins telling a story about a boy. "Etch a Pooh air," he begins. Although this story isn't about a boy who died soon after childbirth and was thus given a heroic story by his insane mother, written on reams of paper given to her to write letters to her first son Johnny, and sent to an old lover of hers named Zampano who may or may not have been the brother of her husband because it's really unclear how Pelafina knew Zampano at all although it was clear that she did know and love him. This story is about a boy born with a broken neck! The Joker's story is like one of those Young Adult books I was talking about. The broken necked kid was able to see things differently than everybody else because his head turned around more or something. But that was no good! Society hates those who see things differently! And so the doctors fixed his neck and made him normal and that was a true tragedy! They took away his individuality! They took away his power! They took away everything that made him McMurphy McMurphy except for his influence which is why the story isn't really about McMurphy at all but about Chief Broom who manages to escape those damned doctors!

Bruce finds his way into Selina's vagina and is all, "We can't have romantic times yet! I'm still training Jason Todd!" And Selina is all, "Fine! Fine! I'll put the Catsuit back on. But you know I'm feeling old too, old man! Don't expect any back flips onto your penis!"

Meanwhile, Jason Todd continues to delay Bruce's retirement.

Maybe this book isn't about Jason Todd being killed by The Joker at all! Maybe this book is about Batman paying The Joker to kill Jason Todd because Batman is old and tired and want an excuse to quit! And if Jason Todd isn't going to be the Batman Bruce wants him to be, Bruce will have to train a new Robin which could take more years than Bruce has left in him. But if Robin dies under his watch, he can pretend he's hanging up the cape out of mourning and respect!

Poison Ivy is running some scam where she makes rich people love her so that they give her their money. That's the story acting like the main story while The Joker escaping Arkham is pretending to be the B-Plot.

Hate! It's a circle that turns round upon itself!

The previous panel sent me on a quest to watch my favorite two math Schoolhouse Rock videos, Little Twelve Toes and Good Eleven. Little Twelve Toes blew my mind as a kid and Good Eleven, for whatever the fucking reason, makes me cry tears of pure joy. I'm crying right now after having watched it. If I could just distill whatever that fucking song does to me into pill form, I'd be a fucking wreck, probably. "Hey, Tess, why are you crying?!" "Never gave me any trouble til after nine!"

Batman and Robin stop Poison Ivy but Bruce is beaten near to death by Killer Croc in the brawl. As Bruce is bandaged by Alfred later that night, Bruce finds out The Joker is loose again and he's in no shape to stop him. And he doesn't believe Jason is either. So he tells Jason to go to bed and let The Joker do whatever The Joker is going to do anyway. It's just a regular night in Gotham where people are going to be tormented and killed by some maniac. Does it really matter if it happens to be The Joker?

Robin goes out against Batman's orders and is taken by The Joker as the story ends. As Jason is searching for The Joker, Bruce and Alfred discuss their future plans for Jason. They're things that maybe should have been said to Jason and maybe he wouldn't have felt he needed to simply disobey Bruce's orders and commands. Maybe Jason would have survived to be a great Batman had Bruce simply treated him like a partner or a son or a peer instead of a lump of clay or a cadet or an attack dog. And so Jason goes off to his death because Batman forgets to chain him in the yard. Or, you know, treat him like a human being, I guess?

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