I think about a world to come where the books were found by the golden ones, written in pain, written in awe by a puzzled man who questioned, "What are we here for?" All the strangers came today and it looks as though they're here to stay.

-David Bowie "Oh! You Pretty Things"

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Guano (Huge Bat-Related Crap)

I open up the Facebook application on my iPhone. It takes a really long time and I'm still not completely certain all of my notifications have loaded properly. As I read the updated status of a certain "Optimistic" friend from my favorites list, it feels as if something is caught in my throat. He writes, "Geeeesh. I just ignored a spoiler warning and spoiled one of the biggest shockers in pop culture history. Dang me." I become frightened, wondering if I might stumble upon this same tidbit in much the same way while hoping that this friend is not doomed to eternal dangnation for his transgression. Shortly thereafter I receive a group text from a similarly named individual with a simple warning: "Warning: Stay away from ALL comic-related web sites and beware spoiler warnings. HUGE bat-related crap just went down today. I recommend getting caught up on the Batman title." (Editor's note: While I have edited these quotes for capitalization, punctuation, and a few other things, I have left the original phrase "bat-related crap" intact despite the word "guano" being a much better fit.)

Nary a "comic-related web site" have I visited since these grave warnings on Wednesday (comic book day), June 13, 2012, despite having caught up on "the Batman title" in question. I now understand what "Optimistic" (for your ease, just consider this analogy - "Optimistic" is to Justin Tiemeyer, the publisher of Cavemen Go as "Deep Throat" is to Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein and the American public) was referring to when he spoke of "one of the biggest shockers in pop culture history," and because I don't want anyone else to tread the obsidian path of doom that my friend recently walked I'm going to warn you now not to read this post if you don't want the great Bat-secret spoiled for you as well.

Because of a busy week of marriage-related hijinx (congratulations to Stephan and Sarah on their recent bout of Holy Matrimony!), I didn't get to read any comic books until Monday, June 18. Yes, I waited five days when the Wednesday of would have been just as welcoming, and I did it for love. Rather than work on my current writing project - a history of the City of Lowell, Michigan that points to the need for responsibility in the face of sacrifice - I plowed through my catch-up pile of comics (Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9, Star Wars: Knight Errant - Escape, and Batgirl) in order to get to Batman #10. As I read this book, I felt certain that some giant reveal would be behind the corner. I am not going to lie: I felt a strange anxiety the whole time that writer Scott Snyder was going to kill off Alfred Pennyworth. (My fear was not entirely selfless. While completing repetitive jobs with my hands at work, I've often found my mind occupied with outlining a Batman arc tentatively titled "The Last Alfred Pennyworth Story" in which we meet Alfred's estranged son who takes a difficult journey with the Bat-family that leads to the last breath of everyone's favorite butler.) But the death of an elderly caretaker was not what I witnessed. Instead (I'm warning you, this is your last chance to pull out unspoiled), I learned that the world's most famous only child was not the only boy orphaned when Thomas and Martha Wayne were gunned down in a slum in Gotham that would one day be called Crime Alley.

That's right, Bruce Wayne, the Batman, has a brother, one Thomas Wayne, Jr.

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