The return of the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh was a final-page reveal in last month’s Batman. Reading it, I was skeptical I would enjoy anything that came next. Not even the powers of writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Jorge Jiménez could get me past that mountain of sheer weirdness.
And here I sit, eating crow. Zdarsky and Jiménez made a Batman of Zur-En-Arrh-focused issue that I actually enjoyed.
Who is the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh, or at least the version created by writer Grant Morrison and artist Tony S. Daniel? Oh, you know, he’s the emergency backup personality Batman created within his own mind who takes over when the Caped Crusader’s main personality is sufficiently compromised and immediately puts on his own butt-ugly version of the Batsuit.
And who among us hasn’t bifurcated our own consciousness just in case we underwent a psychotic break right when Gotham needed us? It’s a totally Normal Dude thing to do.
Why is the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh in this story? Well, a relentless robot named Failsafe is trying to kill Batman for murdering the Penguin (it was a frame job), and it turns out Batman asked the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh to create Failsafe just in case he, the main Batman, ever crossed the line, and now he, the main Batman, needs the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh to come out and turn Failsafe off.
See? Totally Normal Dude life events.
What else is happening in the pages of our favorite comics? We’ll tell you. Welcome to Monday Funnies, Polygon’s weekly list of the books that our comics editor enjoyed this past week. It’s part society pages of superhero lives, part reading recommendations, part “look at this cool art.” There may be some spoilers. There may not be enough context. But there will be great comics. (And if you missed the last edition, read this.)
The reason old Zur works for me in this issue is that pretty much everyone in the story is exhausted with him, up to and including Batman himself, who gets in a shouting match with the guy inside his own brain. It’s nice to see other characters have exactly my reaction to the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh: “Good lord, Bruce. Why are you like this?”
Shout out to writer Rainbow Rowell and artist Luca Maresca for bringing back my favorite ship from Dan Slott’s run on She-Hulk: cutthroat attorney Mallory Book and mute, reformed henchman Andy the Awesome Android.
Everyday Hero Machine Boy
There’s a lot of Astro Boy in Everyday Hero Machine Boy — but there’s so, so much more as well. Dog people! Chicken bros! Spaghetti! High school drama! Morally ambiguous boy bands who defend the earth with the power of music! And also grief, self-discovery, and the question of how harm caused out of ignorance or accident can be mended. It is a very good graphic novel and I bet there’s a kid you know who’d love it.
Fantastic Four: Full Circle
Alex Ross’ long-awaited Fantastic Four book is available, and the artist’s first turn at writing a comic is very much in the mold of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s early work on the FF — for better and for worse, and for scattershot plotting. But, as with all of Ross’ work, if you look at it as an exercise in draftsmanship, it’s a beautiful if sometimes overwhelming object of art.