Whether you call it disaster porn or destruction porn or, if you’re like me, boring; America can’t get it’s fill of exploding buildings, collapsing bridges, or shock waves leveling cities. Movie after movie gives us scene after scene of such wholesale destruction. Usually, it’s meteors or earthquakes or volcanoes or tornadoes or hurricanes or leaks from the earth’s molten core. Sometimes it’s alien invaders or great big robots or even greater bigger scaly monsters. (Big? They’re monstrous. Kaiju ask?) But whatever the cause, the effect is destruction.
Given America’s love of destruction porn, it’s not surprising the “art” form found its way into comic books. Batman Eternal started with a two-page money shot of subway trains colliding. And more than half a year later, the series, like a victim of the destruction it glorifies, has limped it’s way to the latest images of orgiastic destruction found in Batman Eternal #35.
(Yes, Batman Eternal again. But cheer up. I’ve reached the last issue in my Batman Eternal stories I’ve got to write about pile. So unless Batman Eternal does something incredibly stupid in the issue that comes out this week, I won’t be writing about it next week. Promise. Of course, a promise predicated on Batman Eternal not doing anything stupid is kind of an empty promise.)
Anyway, I am writing about Batman Eternal #35 this week. However, before I can do that, I must do this…
Batman Eternal #35 doesn’t end – the story’s got seventeen issues to go – but if you don’t want to know the cliff from which Batman was left hanging at the end of issue 35 stop reading this column. Oh and don’t look at the cover, either, because the cliffhanger for issue 35 is stupidly on it’s cover.
For a change, it wasn’t natural disasters causing the destruction in Batman Eternal# 35. It was Jason Bard, the acting commissioner of the GCPD. Turns out Bard wasn’t the shining example of good honest cop that Commissioner Gordon believed him to be when Gordon recruited Bard from the Detroit Police to the GCPD. Bard was in bed with crime boss Carmine Falcone, masked villain Hush, and whoever’s secretly planning the whole Batman Eternal scheme which has been torturing Batman – not to mention us – for close to a year now. But Bard wasn’t your usual corrupt cop in Gotham City. (In Gotham City a corrupt cop is more usual than the suspects in Casablanca). Bard wasn’t in it for the money, he had a personal reason to take down Batman.
As ace reporter Vicki Vale learned from a bartender in Batman Eternal # 35 and 36, Jason’s fiancé was also a cop in Detroit. One night during a drug raid, a Batman wannabee distracted Jason’s fiancé and she was killed. Jason blamed Batman for his fiance’s death. (Which is about as logical as blaming Elvis because your brother was watching an Elvis impersonator on the Vegas Strip instead of looking where he was going and stupidly walked into oncoming traffic. But who said logic was ever a part of Batman Eternal?) Actually, Bard blamed Batman and Commissioner Gordon for encouraging law-breaking vigilantes. So he joined the criminal scheme to take them both down.
It took Vicki all of one day in Detroit to learn of Jason’s psychological infirmary. How is it that seasoned police commissioner Jim Gordon’s vetting process wasn’t as good as hers? When Jim Gordon recruited Bard, he didn’t talk to any co-workers or friends to learn that Bard hated both him and Batman?
But I digress. (Or maybe I’m stalling, because I don’t want to write about the idiocy that came next.) In Batman Eternal # 35, Bard set a trap for Batman. After the United States Government took control of all of Wayne Enterprises‘ assets and operations in Batman Eternal #34, because Wayne Enterprises had helped Batman secret explosives throughout Gotham City, it gave Bard access to Wayne Enterprises. Bard plundered Wayne Enterprises R&D department, which created the equipment for Batman and Batman, Incorporated. In addition, Lucius Fox, who designed all of Batman’s weapons, agreed to work with Bard to set the trap.
The story didn’t reveal why Fox agreed to help trap Batman. Maybe he had nothing better to do. In Batman Eternal 35, Wayne Enterprises building has a sign on it saying the government had seized it and no entry was permitted. So apparently the government shut down all operations of Wayne Enterprises, even the ones that didn’t involve planting secret weapons caches. Because that’s what the government would want to do after taking over a multi-billion dollar multinational conglomerate; cease all operations and put thousands of people out of work. Isn’t that why President Truman seized the steel mills during the Korean War, so he could shut them down?
Where was I? Oh yes, the trap. Jason lured Batman into Gotham City by blowing up the Beacon Tower construction site. Yes, the police baited it’s trap by blowing up a construction site. Okay, the site itself was a Wayne Enterprises project so it was shut down and deserted. But, still, the police blew it up. What if the government decided to start the project up again? Oops.
So no one was present at the site when it exploded. Which is more than can be said for the clearly occupied buildings that had their lights on which were right next to the explosions. We can only hope that they didn’t sustain any collateral damage or injuries from being near a big bang. We can hope, because, Bard apparently didn’t give a fig.
As Batman drove into Gotham City, Jason had Lucius Fox take control of the car. The Batmobile became Bard’s “very own RC racer.” Bard ordered Batman to pull over and give up. When Batman refused, Bard sprang the trap. Did he use the remote controls to stop the car? Of course not, that would have been the sensible thing to do. No, Bard activated the car’s jet propulsion unit, despite the fact that there were people in the street near the Batmobile, and sent it racing through city streets at jet-propelled speed.
Bard steered the Batmobile first up and then off a highway overpass. It launched into the air and flew on a course Bard had set. A collision course. It crashed into a building, went through it and crashed out the other side. Then it crashed through a second building while en route to Bard’s actual target, the Wayne Enterprises tower. Finally, it crashed through the Wayne building; in one side and out the other. By then the Batmobile had lost enough momentum that it couldn’t fly any longer. It free-fell toward a fiery crash with the ground several dozen stories below.
This entire scene was like a high-speed car chase. Yeah there was only one car, but it had all the other elements; a car speeding through the streets of a city out of control causing property damage and potentially risking injury to the people.
Police departments don’t like high-speed car chases. They even have protocols dictating what steps police officers must take before they get involved in a high-speed chase, because they try to avoid them. Know why police departments don’t like high-speed chases? Because they involve a car speeding through the streets of a city out of control causing property damage and potentially risking injury to the people.
But as I said, this was only like a high-speed car chase. See, in a high-speed chase, the police are chasing someone who is trying to get away. The police didn’t instigate the potentially dangerous situation. In this story, the police totally caused everything that happened.
The police blew up a construction site. The police fired up jet engines on a city street which had people on it. The police caused a car to careen through the guard rail of a major highway overpass. The police sent the car flying through not one, not two, but three buildings. Yes, the Wayne Enterprises building was empty, but what about the other two? The police sent a jet-powered car through them without regard for the safety of anyone who might be inside them. Finally, the police caused the car to free-fall to the ground below, without regard for the safety of any drivers or pedestrians who might near the WE building at the wrong time.
Know another reason why police departments don’t like high-speed chases? Because innocent bystanders sue cities and police departments over the personal injuries and property damage caused by high-speed chases. And even though such suits frequently fail, because police departments have a qualified immunity from civil suits when they are acting within clearly established law, it still costs the police department time and money to defend such suits. That’s another reason why police departments have procedures they follow for high-speed chases, so they can show their protocols follow clearly established law. However, when the police actually cause all the property damage and personal injury, by sending a remote-controlled, jet-propelled guided missile on a literal collision course with several buildings and possibly several people, all to capture one man, it’s not acting within clearly established law. I’m not sure Gotham City and its Police Department wouldn’t be found liable in this case.
All this property damage and all the potential for injury to innocent people who were nearby, caused because the police were trying to arrest one man. It’s enough to make you glad the police are on our side. Imagine the mayhem they could cause if they were working against us.