Friday, June 19, 2009

Batman and Eternal Recurrence

Somehow or other, Bruce Wayne, the Batman, recently died in the comics. Writer Neil Gaiman was invited to script a coda to the story of Bruce Wayne and 'Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader' was published in Batman 686 and Detective Comics 853. WARNING MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW

The story begins with various associates and enemies of Batman/Bruce Wayne attending his funeral, while Bruce and another, unknown, voice comment on the experience. Bruce is trying to understand what is happening. One by one, his friends and enemies describe his death, each telling a contradictory story from his own point of view. When they have finished, he walks through a door and sees a figure in a shaft of life. Being a good detective, Bruce works out that this is a near death experience, and, in his case, the figure in the light is his mother. They review his life, particularly his childhood, a bit more, then she tells him that it's time to go on. Bruce tells his mother that he doesn't believe in an afterlife, and she replies that he doesn't get Heaven or Hell, his only reward for being the Batman is to be the Batman. Then there's a touching little scene where she persuades him to say goodnight to al the elements of his life, just as he used to do as a child when going to bed, 'Goodnight Batcave; goodnight giant dinosaur.' Then she tells him to let go, and we see his bat symbol metaphoricall being transformed over a series of steps into a pair of hands which then enter a hospital room where a baby is being born, symbolically presenting the baby. The baby is Bruce, born again into the same time and place.

A very touching story with the fascinating elements of near death experience and eternal recurrence.Perhaps eternal recurrence really is returning.


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