Saturday, February 16, 2013

Students Can Learn From Batman #2


So, fun side-story about my geeky hobbies. I love comics ( as evidenced all over the place ), but recently the English Major in me got a workout thanks to Batman #17 by Scott Snyder. #17 wraps up a six issue story-run entitled 'Death of the Family' which began in Issue #11 of Batman.

   While the nuts-and-bolts of the plot are based around the same age-old story of "Joker escapes Arkham, Batman stops him, etc...", Snyder mixes in some interesting ( and twisted! ) references to loads of myths. The biggest one?

   Yeeeea, "King Arthur and Batman?!" I hear you asking? The premise that Snyder goes with is that Joker fills the titular role of, well, a Jester. In medieval times, Jesters were renowned for being the only person who could deliver bad news to the King without fear of death. Joker decides to 'deliver some bad news" to Batman in the form of kidnapping Alfred ( his ever-loyal butler and father-figure ), and also professing to have a load of dark secrets about the "Bat Family" ( Batman, Robin, Batgirl, etc...)

   Joker sees Batman as the "King" of Gotham, a kind of dark deity/lord, whose power has waned with every "family member" he takes in - multiple Robins, Alfred, Batgirl, etc... Joker plans to try and force Batman to re-discover himself and admit that, really, only Joker is fit to "stand at his side." He, obviously, intends to also "punish" these interfering/sycophantic Bat-fam. members, people who Joker thinks are crippling Batman and keeping him from solely combating him.

   The story is intense, grizzly, and chuck-full of devious parallels to King Arthur myths - there are Arthur references, thrones, tapestries, Arthurian allusions and even a (seriously!) whacked out Excalibur sequence. You could even argue that Joker is a twisted combination of Merlin and Mordred.

   Is Batman #17 a good way to investigate the myths of King Arthur? No, not at all, however it IS a chilling, thrilling, and disturbing compliment to the tales of heroics found in The Once and Future King and Le Morte D'Arthur. All these stories deal with heroes, identity, and what you do when you realize you've become lost and can no longer find your way in life. I was lucky to have had a course here at UTT with Dr. Strong, a class rather pertinent to my being able to decipher these Arthurian connections!

   If you want to see more of these comics ( apart of the series called 'Death of the Family' ), check out one of our new comics shops, GEEK WORLD.

*[ I am aware that this is the 3rd in the "Students Can Learn From Anything series, however ... that poor Superman article was awful, so let's pretend it doesn't exist! ]

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