Okay, we have arrived at the final chapter of the first act of Kevin Smith’s Batman story The Widening Gyre. This way lies madness, folks, so take a deep breath and say a quick prayer. Also, I should let you know that there are lots of spoilers ahead, so if you give a shit about remaining spoiler-free about this story, then stop reading right now. No one gives a shit, right? Okay then…
The Widening Gyre #6 begins with Batman bringing Silver St. Cloud on a date to Superman’s Fortress of Solitude at the North Pole, so he can give her a flower. Go ahead and give yourself a minute to take that in if you need to.
Now that you’ve seen that picture, can you even remember your life before you saw it? A world where you’ve never seen a picture of Batman wearing a weird white suit that makes him look like a San Rio character, stealing one of Superman’s flowers to give to his babygirl? It’s a beautiful world, and I’m sorry I had to take it away from you. But here we are.
Just in case you thought Batman was done abusing his JLA privileges, next he takes Silver on a romantic getaway to the Justice League’s Watchtower satellite in outer space.
Okay, well I have to admit that bringing a girl up there is probably romantic as fuck. I can’t deny it. Neither can Bruce, because the next thing he does is this:
You’re probably wondering how Solomon Grundy got up there, but no, that’s just Bruce proposing to Silver St. Cloud! Batman’s getting married, everybody!! Back at the Batcave, after breaking the good news to Alfred, Silver finally explains the origin of Bruce’s pet name “Dee Dee.”
What happens next is… well, let’s take our time with what happens next, okay? Bruce has to go on Batman patrol, so he asks Alfred to give Silver a ride home. But then, a moment later, Bruce is all like:
hmmm… what does Bruce mean by that?
…and why would it cause him to cut off Alfred with the Batmobile?
…and violently drag his fiance out of the car?
Why, you might be asking yourself, would Batman tell Silver to shut up as he ripped her hair out of her scalp?
Why would he analyze her DNA? If you’re asking yourselves these questions, well you’ve obviously never been in a serious relationship, because the answer is simple:
He thought she was a robot. HE THOUGHT SHE WAS A ROBOT. Drink it in. Savor it. He thought she was a robot. So how does Silver react to her boyfriend beating the shit out of her on a back road for no reason? She calls him a fucking nutcase and runs away as fast as she can, right?
No, she forgives him and she understands. She understands because it’s hard to be Batman and it’s hard for him to open his heart, and she promises she’ll never hurt him, and she’ll never be a robot. The point of this craziness is, I guess, for Batman to finally learn a lesson about trust and letting his guard down. Not everyone who claims to love him is an enemy looking for vulnerabilities. Not everyone is a robot! It’s okay to let people in! And Batman’s heart grew three sizes that day!! Holy shit.
After this slice of romantic bliss, Batman goes on patrol with Baphomet. Since Baph’ is a newbie at the superhero game, the newly-enlightened Batman decides to open up to him by telling him a story from the early days of his own crimefighting career. This is probably the scene from The Widening Gyre that has generated the most negative criticism from fans and critics, and rightfully so.
The story Batman relates to Baphomet is a retelling of an incident from Frank Miller’s classic Batman: Year One. For those of you who might be unfamiliar with it, Year One, released in 1987, is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most important Batman stories ever published. It redefined the character for a new generation, and later was the direct inspiration for the film Batman Begins. Few Batman stories in the character’s 70-year history are as revered as Year One. One of the most iconic and badass scenes in the story involved Batman making his presence known, for the first time, to Gotham City’s supposedly untouchable crew of gangsters and corrupt politicians. To put this in context, here is that original scene:
Pretty badass, right? Well, let’s take a look at what Kevin Smith does with this:
I understand what he was going for with this idea, I really do. Calling back to an iconic moment like this and recontextualizing it has the potential to be a really clever move. And I get that to do that effectively, to make the point you’re trying to make, you have to approach the scene with a sense of playful irreverence. But come on, Batman pisses himself? Why not just have him say that he was shaking from fear? Or that he had tears streaming down his face when he made his escape? Both of those would get the same idea across, and be just as powerful, but would spare Batman the indignity of pissing himself. And hey, what is with this “bladder spasm” shit? If Batman just has to piss himself, you 12-year-old, can’t he just say that he pissed himself, instead of having to speak like a goddamn Seinfeld character?? He’s Batman. He’s fucking Batman, Kevin Smith.
Grrrr. Anyway, after some more battles together against the likes of Deadshot and Calendar Man, Baphomet sends up another huge red flag:
I am just posting one panel (because, man, this post is gonna be long), but Baphomet goes on and on like this, talking about how they should just snap The Joker’s neck and so forth. Batman reacts basically just by saying he doesn’t kill and that’s the end of the conversation. But not killing is Batman’s entire thing! How can he just shrug it off when his precious Chosen One is talking about executing bad guys? Even if he thinks Baphomet’s intentions are totally pure, doesn’t this prove at the very least that the dude’s attitudes about superheroing are incompatible with Batman’s? How is this guy different from Anarky or any of the other would-be vigilantes Batman has clashed with over the years? I just don’t get it.
Oh yeah, I forgot, Batman has learned to trust again. His girlfriend’s not a robot, so he should stop being so paranoid about everybody! But surely Batman, the world’s greatest detective, is smart enough not to let this lead to impulsive decisions right? He’ll balance this newfound faith in humanity with the sense of caution that goes hand-in-hand with the life he’s chosen, right?
Nope. He takes Baphomet to the Batcave, reveals his secret identity to him, and even introduces him to Silver St. Cloud!
Bruce is probably feeling really enlightened right now, like a great weight has been lifted from his shoulders! He can forge ahead with his wonderful new married life, confident that Gotham is in good hands. What a beautiful thing trust is! But as it turns out…
…Baphomet is really Onomatopoeia in disguise, and he slashes Silver St. Cloud’s throat.