Out Of My Mind: The Death and Return of Batman and Sherlock Holmes
- Published on Tuesday, 18 May 2010 19:30
- Written by Kevin
- Hits: 2415
Welcome to first edition of Out Of My Mind. This will be a new commentary post commenting on various comic book topics, new and old, when it comes to mind. This is a new post that not even Rokk knows about, until now that is. ;)
To start things off this new post, and what made me think of starting a new commentary post, is an interesting comparison between Batman and Sherlock Holmes that I found. More specifically the similarities between the supposed death stories for both characters, Batman: RIP and The Adventures of the Final Problem.
Recently I went back and read Batman: RIP for fun and to get ready for the Return of Bruce Wayne, of which the first issue came out this past Wednesday. While I was reading Batman: RIP I started thinking off how this story reminded me of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Adventure of the Final Problem which was supposed to be the death of Sherlock Holmes just like Batman: RIP was originally Bruce Wayne’s death story. Though Bruce’s final “death” did not come until Final Crisis it’s clear you can still just reading Batman: RIP on its own as the “death” of the character. Now I am going to talk about some of the similarities between the stories and characters “future” stories after those two stories.
Something that became common during Morrison’s run Batman, especially in Batman: RIP, is that we don’t really get inside of Bruce’s head and instead are told by various characters like Tim, Alfred, Dick, and Talia that something is off with Bruce. In many ways what the various members of the Batfamily say about Bruce is how we are able to get a sense of what is going on in Bruce’s head since Morrison never gives us inner monologue. This is very similar to a lot of the Sherlock Holmes short stories were in the stories are being narrated by Watson. Watson is our eyes into the head of Holmes just like the Batfamily are our eye into Bruce’s head in most of Morrison’s run, especially in Batman RIP.
Also in moments during Batman RIP when we do get a look into Bruce’s head it is only when Tim is reading the Blackcase book which is told in past tense since it is Tim that is allowing us to have a look behind what Bruce has been doing during the Black Glove case. Again this is similar to when we do get a look at what is going on in Holmes mind it is either through a letter that Watson is reading, such as the one he reads at the end of The Final Problem, or because Watson is able to read Holmes body language.
One of the first similarities between these two stories is that both Bruce and Sherlock opponents control a large crime syndicates that both characters have a lengthy battle with. And not only were both characters dealing with a new crime ring but it became an obsession for both characters to figure out who was behind it which both their partners pointed out during the stories, Robin and Watson. Even though both Batman and Sherlock are types of characters that immerse themselves in their cases the battle against Dr. Hurt and Professor Moriarty was more personal for both characters.
Are Professor James Moriarty and Doctor Simon Hurt Related?
Way back when, Doyle wanted to move on from writing Sherlock Holmes to focus writing other material so he set out to create a new adversary that would prove to be the ultimate challenge for Sherlock to face. And that is where Moriarty came in as he was created for the sole purpose of killing off Sherlock and allowing Doyle to move on. Throughout The Final Problem Moriarty proves to be more of a match for Sherlock and he became one of the first true super villains. And at the end of the story both characters would have one final clash that causes the death of both characters, or in Sherlock’s case it was retconned a few years later that he only disappeared.
Even though Morrison has brought up within Batman: RIP and in interviews that Dr. Hurt might be the Devil himself, which many fans believe, after reading the story again how cool would it be if Dr. Hurt is a descendent of Professor Moriarty. Though Dr. Hurt already made an appearance within the DCU before Morrison came on in the original story, “Robin Dies at Dawn,” Dr. Hurt was an unnamed scientist in the story and Morrison is the one who named the character. So we can say that Morrison helped in the creation of the character.
Bringing in Dr. Hurt was done in a similar fashion as Doyle brought in Prof. Moriarty as both characters were created to be the ultimate challenge for Bruce and Holmes to face in their respective stories. Both characters are in control of a powerful crime syndicate, the Black Glove and England crime ring. And originally Dr. Hurt was brought in to be the death of Bruce Wayne just like Doyle created Moriarty to be the one that lead to Holmes demise.
Also, both Dr. Hurt and Prof. Moriarty were able to take Bruce and Holmes to their limits. Even when both Bruce and Holmes got close to solving and putting them away Dr. Hurt and Prof. Moriarty were able to do something that caused the characters to go on the run, in Bruce’s case he became Zur-En-Arrh.
And while we all know that Bruce didn’t face his end until Final Crisis you can still read Batman: RIP as the “death” story for Bruce. Though Bruce’s “death” did not happen at some fall it was still over a body of water where Bruce jump towards Dr. Hurt in one final confrontation between the two that caused them to disappear. Similarly to how Holmes and Moriarty met in one final confrontation at Reinchebach Falls that lead to both characters death and disappearance.
One final comparison between both characters is that within these two stories, Batman RIP and The Final Problem, the Batfamily and Watson never actually see Hurt and Moriarty, respectively. Even though this will change in the upcoming Batman and Robin arc which will have Dick Grayson facing Dr. Hurt, in RIP no one in the Batfamily sees how Dr. Hurt looks like. Instead how the Batfamily and Watson know about Hurt and Moriarty is from what Bruce and Sherlock tell them bad guy of the story looks like.
Now it wouldn’t be too hard to have Sherlock Holmes within the DC continuity especially with Morrison if he puts the old 50th anniversary issue of Detective Comics, were Batman teamed-up with Sherlock Holmes, into continuity as a way to show Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty existed in the DCU. Morrison is known for his love for old Batman stories so it is not impossible for him to do this. It would be pretty cool if this would happen as it give a closer comparison to Bruce and Sherlock as the Moriarty family can be connected to the greatest detectives in history.
The Ultimate Partners – Dick Grayson and Doctor John Watson
It will always be argued who is the best Robin between Dick, Jason, and Tim, but when thinking of the Dynamic Duo it is always brought up that the original Dynamic Duo of Bruce and Dick is the best by writers. Bringing it closer to Batman: RIP and recent issues of Batman and Robin Morrison has established that Dick is the one partner that Bruce trust above all others and is the one he counts on in the end. And because of Dick becoming Nightwing the relationship between the two is not that of father and son anymore but more of brothers which is similar to Sherlock Holmes and Watson’s relationship.
Looking at how both Batman: RIP and The Final Problem ended the ones that ended up being the last ones to not only see Bruce and Sherlock during the story but the first ones in the aftermath of both characters death were Dick and Watson, respectively. Out of all the characters in the Batfamily it is Dick who shows up first and finds the Batman cape and cowl just like Watson showing up at Reinchebach Falls after the final confrontation between Holmes and Moriarty and finding a letter from Holmes. Reading through Batman RIP it was originally looked like the whole Batfamily was going to be by Bruce’s side at the end but it turned out that it was Dick and only Dick from the Batfamily that showed up at Bruce’s side before Bruce’s confrontation with Hurt just like when you think of Watson being by Holmes side in his cases.
As I previously mentioned, originally Sherlock was supposed to die in The Final Problem when he and Moriarty fell of the cliff at Reinchebach Falls but do to demand of the character, and financial problems, Doyle brought the character back, or retconned as we comic fans like to say. When the character did return there is a gap in time between when Sherlock disappeared after his battle with Moriarty and his return which is known as “The Great Hiatus.” There is much speculation as to what Sherlock was up to during “The Great Hiatus” with even one person bringing up that Sherlock had an adventure in Alice’s Wonderland.
In a similar fashion we are currently dealing with The Return of Bruce Wayne were Morrison is showing us Bruce Wayne traveling through time having various adventures in different eras. Even though we are seeing what Bruce is doing during his disappearance there are still a lot of question of what is happening to Bruce, why these time periods were picked, etc. Also by the end of the whole story it will probably be a year since Bruce disappeared within DCU time so characters in the DCU will not know the details of what Bruce went through giving him a Great Hiatus type story.
Losing Their Edge Upon Return
Now this is where I am going to get into a theory of what will happen after The Return of Bruce Wayne.
Every story that Doyle wrote that took place after The Final Problem it has been noticed that Sherlock did not return as the same person. There was something different about the character as he almost lost his edge. Most say that after facing down his ultimate opponent in Moriarty during the Final Problem he was never challenged at a similar level.
And while a lot of fans think that when Bruce returns that he will automatically return to being Batman but I don’t think it will be that easy for Bruce to take the role back. With everything that happened to Bruce during Morrison’s run on Batman and Final Crisis and is going to be happening in The Return of Bruce Wayne and the story Morrison will tell once Bruce returns to the present I can’t see Bruce returning as the same old person. Bruce is and has been facing off against one extreme challenge after another and is now travelling through time. Having to jump through time will probably cause some sort of strain on Bruce that once he returns he does not feel returning to being Batman is the correct thing to do as he has lost his edge with everything he has been going through the past few years. And when he returns, similar to when Sherlock returned, Bruce will not be the same as he was when he disappeared.
I can see Morrison have Bruce take on a similar role that he had during Batman Beyond as he becomes an advisor for Dick as Batman and the rest of the Batfamily. Though it won’t be permanent since we know Bruce will eventually return to being Batman I can see that when he returns he does not become Batman like many would like him to do. It would not be Morrison if he just gave Bruce the Batman cape and cowl back so easily. It is just not Morrison.
So what do you think? Are these two stories and characters connected? Did Grant Morrison take a page from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's book and intentionally made Batman: RIP similar to The Adventure of the Final Problem? Or am I just crazy by seeing this connection between Bruce Wayne and Sherlock Holmes? Comment below to give your thoughts on this topic.