The third part in this arc takes us to the swamplands of Mississippi. Batman is trying to find out who the Big Bad is behind the web that involved Mr. Freeze in #6.
Scott Snyder has that touch. He has that knack for reinventing the characters. He just doesn’t just have good ideas. He takes an established character, takes a piece of them and utilizes it to make them more three dimensional. He adds that depth that other writers skim over. Other scribes have an idea and reveal the plot from point A to point C to point D to point B and finally to point E. Snyder goes a little further. He not only reaches back into the mythology, but he adds that extra bit that make his stories compelling. He reinvents the mythology by utilizing the smallest details.
We begin in an estuary somewhere in Mississippi. Early on, we have an Alice in Wonderland image with the flamingoes. In the original Lewis Carroll novel (and the 1951 Disney movie), they are part of the croquet game when Alice meets the King and Queen of Hearts. Okay, not exactly subtle but you have to admit, seeing robot flamingos in a swamp is really creepy and you know it’s about to get real.
The Mad Hatter is one of those characters who has his online following but he isn’t taken as seriously as the A-listers but he is one of those characters with an edge that if used right can be compelling. See the BTAS episode ‘Perchance to Dream’ and ‘Mad as a Hatter’. In this issue, he is the next suspect behind the spores that Fries was responsible for. It isn’t a Mad Hatter story without mind control and some references to children’s literature.
Jervis Tetch mentions of a time when he pitched an idea for Bruce Wayne but was rejected. His idea involved hats and how they were able to manipulate what people saw. This sounds a lot like social media today. Lately, I have been blocking pages on my facebook feed as it looks more like clutter than something I would be interested in seeing. At the same time, I ask myself if I am customizing my feed so that I only get the news that I ‘want’. I want to know what is going on in the world but it does get very tiring seeing political memes or videos from a page when I am short on time and I care more about seeing pictures of my new niece and a new business strategy. It’s the customizing of news that becomes dangerous because instead of being informed, people will only get a piece of the information. This is what I think Snyder was hinting at. In a time when ‘fake news’ is a meme and gets mocked (and rightfully so), it’s hard not to notice that.
Another thing that stood out to me was the notion that Tetch knew who Batman really was. Is he one or another character who knows who is under the cowl but cares more about the ‘fairy tale’ than the reality?
A couple of highlights include the use of humor. I did chuckle when I saw Batman fight his ‘family’ who turned out to be members of an elite fighting team called the Blackhawks and noticed that they weren’t really his family because ‘They know how to ******* fight’. The other part that made me smile was when he pushed Tetch’s head into the water and told him to take his issues to Aquaman. While I can see Bruce Wayne saying one line zingers at a private gala, but Batman and some dark humor? Yes, please.
I really liked the part where Tetch is giving Batman hallucinations and he reinterprets the Rogues Galllery as figures from the Lewis Carroll storybook. Clearly Catwoman would be the Cheshire Cat. I liked the reference of Eddie/The Riddler as the Caterpillar as he was never direct, spoke in abstract and asked Alice questions. Having the Joker as the King of Hearts was interesting. As I recall, the King was more even tempered compared to the Hot Tempered Queen who ordered beheadings without question or thought. That would be something Joker would be into and he would be so into using the heads in a game of croquet. Unless maybe I am being too literal and maybe Joker is the Queen. 😉
Overall, I am pleased with this issue. It has fast paced action and creepy elements. I await the next chapter next month.