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Across the DC Universe #25 - Part 1

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Welcome to the first part of this week’s BF roundup of events across the DC Universe. In this first part we will be concentrating on the World’s Finest team with a look at developments in the lives of Superman, Batman and associated books. And in the oh-so-unlikely event that you’ve been exiled to the Phantom Zone or locked in solitary confinement in Arkham Asylum for the last seven days please take heed of our Spoiler Warning: Read no further if you’ve not had your DC fix this week and don’t want to read about key story elements.

Batman R.I.P.

This Issue Batman Dies!!! So screamed the covers of a month’s worth of Batman-related titles in a 2001 themed crossover event. This week those words actually seemed to come to pass... or did they? With its echoes of Crisis On Infinite Earths #7 the stark image of Superman holding Batman’s mummified corpse in Final Crisis #6 appeared to signal the end of an era. However, the reality is probably a little more complex...

The pivotal moment of Final Crisis #6 is Batman’s confrontation with Darkseid ending with both characters taking each other out after a metaphysical Mexican standoff. Much has been made online over the last few days of Darkseid’s use of the Omega Sanction to "kill" Batman and how it plays into the foreshadowed "fate worse than death" for the Dark Knight. As per Shilo Norman’s ordeal in the Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle miniseries, though, it seems more likely that Batman has actually been sent to live through a series of "inescapable", torturous other lives; or as Darkseid puts it "The death that is life". Given the themes of Final Crisis you have to wonder whether there could even be a Multiversal aspect to this.

It’s also worth considering the symbolism of Batman using the gun that killed Orion to shoot Darkseid. In its own way this very act could be said to embody the very notion of "Batman R.I.P." undermining, as it does in a moment of clever dramatic irony, everything the character stands for and betraying the fundamental nature of the hero and his origins. To Bruce Wayne the very thought of using a gun is surely as much a "fate worse than death" as an infinite number of reincarnated, hellish, alternate lives.

Batman Family

Moving on to the monthly Batman books the "Faces of Evil" theme comes to Nightwing #152 in the form of the recently-resurrected Ra’s Al Ghul. Suspecting the demise of his greatest enemy, Ra’s arranges a meeting with Dick Grayson in the Thar Desert to confirm events and express his dismay that he was not the one to deliver the killing blow. While we’re on the subject of Ra’s Al Ghul, Ollie Queen and Dinah Lance stop Merlyn, a member of Ra’s’ League of Assassins, in Green Arrow and Black Canary #16.

Elsewhere, on the peripheries of the Bat-universe, the truth behind the origins of Gotham’s mystical gatekeeper continue to slowly unfold in Simon Dark #16. Batman Confidential #25 concludes the current four-parter examining the early days of the Joker’s criminal career after his first confrontation with the Caped Crusader (as we used to call him once upon a lifetime ago). The topical and cultural references in this arc have been a little jarring making it appear like it was set in the near present day, rather than the beginning of Batman’s career. However, with comics’ ever-sliding timeframes anyone re-reading this storyline in ten years time will doubtless find the chronology spot-on...

Superman Family

General Lane’s manipulations have led to war between Earth’s heroes and the Kryptonians in Action Comics #873. Fleeing, to avoid the magic-based DC heroes, the Kandorians create their own version of their home planet in Earth’s orbit opposite the sun. Just a handful of Kryptonians remain on Earth including the new Nightwing and Flamebird. Now that there are virtually no Giffen/DeMatteis Justice Leaguers left we seem to be moving on to Dan Jurgens’ era for JLA casualties. Agent Liberty learns that the new Superwoman is Luthor’s thrall just in time for her to apparently kill him with a dose of heat vision to the brain.

This latter development would rather nix my theory that Alura could be the new Superwoman (she's off-planet on New Krypton when Superwoman dispatches Agent Liberty). However, the major twist of the issue comes when we discover that Supergirl’s mother is in cahoots with Phantom Zone villains General Zod, Ursa and Non. Supergirl also leaves Earth with her mother but a flashback to her father’s dying words imply this is subterfuge not loyalty.

There’s more recounting of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman’s influence on the history of "Earth-Krona" in Trinity #33 as their "Godhood" plays out with some surprisingly familiar twists on that world. Meanwhile, on the remade New Earth, Morgaine Le Fey uses the Chaos Rifts in reshaping the planet to reflect her nature. There are hints herein that Le Fey’s ally Enigma may be having more than a few pangs of conscience about his role in events.

Join us on Monday when we look at the rest of the DC Universe including Manhunter’s finale, the return of Prometheus, Booster Gold’s meeting with Enemy Ace and more on that Final Crisis...

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