Batman #45 – Tom King, Writer; Tony Daniel, Artist; John Livesay, Inker; Tomeu Morey, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: Not Buying the Alternate Universe
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Batman #45 takes place in an alternate universe, which has been a classic trope of comic books. It’s created popular new timelines like House of M and Flashpoint for events, as well as stand-alone ones for prestige series like The Dark Knight Returns or Kingdom Come. And if there’s one thing that they generally show us, it’s to be careful what you wish for. This latest one, focusing on Booster Gold trying to give Batman an ill-advised wedding present, doesn’t give you the set-up a lot of them do, instead just plunking the reader down in a new and disturbing universe, and letting us figure it out as we go along. The story mixes Booster’s attempts to complete his mission in this new world with glimpses of how some other characters are faring in this world. It’s very non-King-esque in places, with a dark sense of humor I don’t expect from his work, and it starts from the opening pages, as Booster faces off against a Jokerized Hal Jordan who shoots himself in front of him. As Skeets warns Booster that he’s really screwed up, brief segments clue us in on the rest of the world.
Tim Drake is now a young engineer for Waynetech, carrying on as an office drone while his dickish colleague talks about President Cobblepot making Gotham great again. Jason Todd is an employee for a Gotham tire-taser company that shocks members of the Joker gang. Duke is…it’s not really clear, but it appears he’s been lobotomized and is being brainwashed somehow, in the issue’s most disturbing segment. Talia Al Ghul is scheming to take over her father’s position as Lord of Eurasia, but unlike her mainline version, she has zero interest in producing an heir. And Dick? Dick is a gun-toting Batman who attempts to kill Booster. Booster barely makes it to Wayne Manor where he reveals what he’s done – attempted to create a world where Bruce’s parents were never killed, as a wedding present, so Batman could see that his timeline was the one that was meant to be. Except this Bruce doesn’t care that the world’s fallen apart around him – he just wants to protect his family, and damn the consequences. The issue is almost frantic in pace, and while it’s fascinating to explore, it’s sort of a wild misjudgment even for Booster. I’m excited to see how it plays out, but I’m not entirely sold yet.
Corrina: I’m not sold at all. Yes, I’m going to argue that this is not even in character for Booster Gold. Why? Because I just read a long arc in the Superman comics where Booster Gold insisted that Superman do nothing to save Krypton because time shouldn’t be changed like that.
Usually, I could hand-wave this sort of thing as different creators having different ideas but Booster’s appearance in Superman is so recent and it was written by Booster’s Gold creator, Dan Jurgens. How am I supposed to suspend disbelief that he would, on the one hand, let millions die on Krypton, only to change his mind the next minute and totally change history by saving Thomas and Martha Wayne, even if it’s just to show Bruce that, hey, his life is okay after all?
Answer: I can’t.
But there’s a deeper problem here. It’s that assumption that Gotham and the world were made worse because Bruce Wayne grew up raised by loving parents. There’s an idea in much of fiction that only people who have suffered tragedies can make a difference and that’s frustrating because, surely, people who grow up without psychological obsessions to beat up bad guys in a Halloween costume and instead with loving parents and a support system might just have a positive impact? I sentence you all to go read the classic “To Kill A Legend” story if you doubt me.
On the story itself, the Elseworlds revealed seems fine, though nothing immediately jumps out. I have to disagree with Ray on King’s style, however, because the dialogue and pacing read very much like a Tom King story and I know because I read this back to back with the new issue of Mister Miracle and the similar story beats are unmistakable. Not a criticism, as I like King’s style a great deal, simply an observation.
I would also like to point out with five issues to go to the big wedding issue, we still have not had an issue focusing on Selina Kyle and her life–no, not last issue’s recap of the relationship, a true deep dive into Selina. I suppose that might take place in her just announced new title but I’d have much preferred a Selina focus rather than a whole issue narrated by Booster Gold.
To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.