Friday, December 11, 2020

The Man Who Replaced Batman (Part 5): The Vector of the Gun

So, I'm going to skip over the part of the story where: 

  • Batman eavesdrops on a Deadshot phone call by hiding in a closet and putting a (I kid you not) wet-rimmed glass to a wall;
  • hears Deadshot's giving some crook the all-clear for a heist;
  • strong-arms Gordon into a stakeout for said heist, which never happens, thus reaffirming Gordon's dismissal of Batman's concerns about Deadshot as mere jealousy,
  • while Deadshot, who set the whole thing up knowing that Batman would tumble to it, laughs at Batman for being a sucker.

Actually, you deserve to see that last part:

Because Batman's vertigo of cognitive dissonance is a thing of beauty.
"But.. but.. I'm... Batman?"

I simply love the fact that, although criminals have been shooting at Batman every night since May of 1939, this time it's just accepted as fact that: Deadshot has a gun and he's going to shoot Batman dead and get away it.  Even though Batman could kidnap Lawton (and Stevens) and sell them into slavery in the Transvaal, or just drop them off in Antarctica without, you know, ACTUALLY killing them.  Or could announce to the public "Deadshot is a criminal who has vowed to kill me so if he shoots me it was on purpose".  No, the crux of the issue has been that Daddy Gordon now believes DEADSHOT, who is his new favorite, over Batman. So fixing that and that ALONE is the only way out.

But first Deadshot gets to shoot Batman.

"It's a perfect night.... FOR MURDER!"

Then Batman turns the tables by back-sassing Deadshot:

"Have you ever killed a man, Floyd?  Ever hear of a man named 'Jabah'?
Yeah; neither has anyone else..."

I know Batman is a master of criminal psychology (you should read his thesis!), but this is still a baller move.  

Batman seldom unleashes the full power of his most lethal weapon: smack talk.

Batman probably spends too much time with the Joker.

Batman definitely spends too much time with the Joker.

Have ever quaked so badly from self-doubt in the face of existential terror that your domino mask falls off? It makes an already bad situation that much more embarrassing. Spirit gum can't hold together a shattered soul.

What would have been really awesome would have been for Deadshot to shoot himself in the head right then and there.  But this is 1950, not 1940, and it's not the style.  

"By telling him I'd rented a white stretch limo to take you to prom and that you'd promised me third base!"

Batman (the modern Odysseus), it turns out, has won again by his usual method: cheating.

Batman's faith in the mathematics of parallax is unparalleled.

Clearly this is unrealistic because a marksman like Deadshot would almost immediately realize that his sights had been altered and adjust accordingly. But what matters is the thematic come-uppance. Deadshot struck at Batman's confidence in himself and Gordon's confidence in Batman.  But Deadshot was vulnerable because his confidence was externally placed -- in his guns-- rather than internally rooted in himself.  

It's the same way Batman defeats Jean-Paul "Azrael/Batman" Valley in 1994.  

It's why the Dark Knight Returns Batman tells his new troops they don't use guns. 

It's the tactical reason Batman doesn't use them himself. Not because he's 'afraid' of using them; but because he's afraid of becoming reliant on such a tool.  Batman's explanation for how he can do things is not "because I have a gun/utility belt/vast fortune"; it's 


John C said...

I love that we never actually see Deadshot look down the sight, so there's no real reason for Batman to think that twisting a piece of metal would actually affect the story. But you know, it really is the only way to solve the problem. Because if Batman doesn't discredit him here, he'll just grift his way into a licensed vigilante position for the secret puffin society, and tekili-li, tekili-loo, he'll be crimelord, there, and looking to expand his turf to Patagonia.

That all said, DC definitely needs to get on publishing stories on the alternate Earth where Batman just snarks his opponents until their fear vibrates their molecules out of deception.

Bryan L said...

So the running battle between Batman and Deadshot starts in a bait shack on a wharf, behind which we can see a bridge in silhouette. The bridge looks to ba at least about a half-mile or so away. Batman flees the bait shack and runs to the bridge, with Deadshot in hot pursuit, missing every shot? Just by sheer luck, even with the "altered sights," one of the bullets should have connected.

Also, I think this is another time dilation like the skull and crossbones shootin' gallery. Deadshot would have needed to reload several times during this pursuit. I suppose the bridge behind the bait shack could have been another bridge and there was one closer to the bait shack (this is Gotham and there are probably 50 bridges, many of which lead nowhere), but no, you shouldn't show Chekov's Bridge unless you're planning to use it.

Anonymous said...

Very much appreciate the work you put into the subtitles of each section. Didn't know where you were going with "Vector of the Gun", but it was apt. It even holds up to the extent that Kirk and the boys were in a similar jam, where they knew gunmen were going to shoot them and there wasn't anything they could do about it.

Also appreciate the Odysseus comparison; I've been saying for some time that Batman and Odysseus are essentially the same character (suffering noble versed in every manly art and clever enough to take on any man or monster). I'm glad someone else sees it!

Scipio said...

"Vector of the Gun"
I didn't actually expect anyone to get that.

Marcos said...

Really! In this crowd? Know thine audience, Scipio! :)

cybrid said...

No commentary on how this rather banal foppish criminal came to be re-invented as, ultimately, a cold-blooded psychopath who shoots bullets from his wrists, whose "mask" consists of a smooth silver surface with a single targeting sight in place of an eye, who ended up going on assignments in other countries and on other planets, who was given a backstory straight out of Southern Gothic 101, in which he was urged by his mother to kill his father only to kill his brother instead? I was kind of looking forward to that. Oh well. ;-)

Doc said...

I like this blog a lot.
Can you recommend others?
I want to read more.

Marcos said...

@cybrid I would love to see Will Smith bring this version of Deadshot to life . . . :)

Yes! said...

For another example of Batman Fears *sob* Replacement: Holy Musical Batman, the unauthorized musical

Scipio said...

"this rather banal foppish criminal".
No; because this is the REAL Deadshot. The one who, after the costume change you mentioned and years of practice and stewing, got his ass kicked by Batman in a few panels, atop a giant typewriter while Silver St. Cloud looked on.

Scipio said...

"I like this blog a lot.
Can you recommend others?
I want to read more."

I can't; that's why I started to write this one.
But I can recommend removing one syllable from the first line of your haiku.