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Grant Morrison Reveals the Secrets of Batman & Robin Covers

What is the significance of the satanic imagery in Grant Morrison's Batman & Robin run?

Batman and Robin #15

Most comics are easy enough to follow that if they're released monthly or bi-monthly you (the reader) still have a general idea of what the heck is going on. Grant Morrison's Batman run, however, is not one of those books. If you didn't pick up every issue in that series and didn't understand what the heck was going on--you're probably not alone. With Morrison, you have to not only read every single issue, but also look to the history of Batman comics to get all his references. The editors at DC Comics know this, and have since begun releasing hardcover volumes collecting the individual issues of that series, which include more than just the collected issues, but also insightful creator commentary as well. The most recent is Batman and Robin: The Deluxe Edition- Batman Must Die! (released May 11th, 2011) which compiles issues 13-16 as well as Batman: The Return #1.

While many of us are still waiting for an omnibus edition combining the series in its entirety, I'm almost tempted to drop the $25 dollars on this hardcover for Grant Morrison's commentary. Here's why this particular trade is so enticing.

== TEASER ==
Detective Comics #38

At first reading, Morrison's Batman & Robin run appears to be a giant puddle of imagery and metaphors meant to confuse you. While you may know what you're reading is amazing, you may not quite know what you're reading. That's why Morrison's commentary really enhances the experience, even if you own the individual issues.

When I first read Morrison's Batman, I recall being completely hung up on all of the satanic imagery connected to Dr. Simon Hurt's character-- something I only found out later was purposely done by Morrison to lead the reader down the wrong path. Yeah, I fell for it. Morrison explains this in his explanation of the imagery on the cover of issue #15 of Batman and Robin.

This cover was intended as a kind of Satanic reverse of the famous panel from DETECTIVE COMICS #38 published in 1940, where Batman solemnly inducts the young Robin into the crime-fighting fraternity.

Here the figures are flipped around, with left hands raised instead of right hands and a candelabra designed to hint at a trident or pitchfork shape, suggestive of the Devil. A huge, inverted cross appeared in the original drawing as an homage to the imagery of late ’60s and early ’70s “Devil” pictures such as Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist and The Omen, but this was considered to be too “on-the-nose” and was dropped from the final version.

Now that the story is complete, it's much easier to reflect on what we've read--and I admit, the commentary lets me read the arc again in a slightly different light.

Did you think that Dr. Hurt was Satan at the time? What about the run - did you like or not like, get or not get, and do you think that the new commentary will get you to pick up this trade?

via The Source

66 Comments
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Posted by blueninjapanther

i got to read this
Posted by Sydpart2

this article really needs to be edited

Posted by Dracade102

The upside down cross was a dead giveaway for me...

Posted by VaizD

I still kinda just want a huge expose written by Morrison explaining everything from Batman and Son to Bruce's Return bit-by-bit. I mean, we know the basic premise now and that none of it was quite as creepy-supernatural as it seemed, but I'm willing to bet there are still dozens of tiny details no one's picked up on yet.

Posted by FLStyle

What I liked the most was that more than any other run I've read (which admittedly isn't a long list), the latter stages were more satisfying simply because of the amount of things I didn't understand before compared to the end. That to me felt like almost like a TV show.

I also fall for behind the scenes info every time so the commentary would definitely be a factor in buying it. Especially when it's based on this example provided, not once did I think of that Detective Comics panel.

Edited by thabigred

I hate to say it but Grant Morrison's treatment of Damian and Dick reminds me of  ‘The Apple Pie’ by Moebius. I don't know what that says about me or what it says about Grant.

Posted by Wise Son
@Dracade102 said:
The upside down cross was a dead giveaway for me...
My thoughts exactly. This isn't really news to me.
Edited by JonesDeini

LMAO was this not obvious to anybody with eyes? He's infused occult imagery in every one of his Batman works to date. Hell, that's all Arkham Asylum really was. 


I LOVE how ambitious Morrison is as a writer, but he always gets so lost in his own mind. And more often than not thinks he's being more clever than he actually is. But the pretension and pseudo philosophical stuff comes with the territory, so I learned to take it in stride. Morrison created and continues to perpetuate The "Batgod". And I feel that this characterization's the worse thing to happen of the character since everybody decided to copy Miller's DKR and go all gritty and brooding. I admire his knowledge of Batman lore but really didn't like the silver age characters he kept trying to shove down my throat his run would've been vastly superior minus the international Batmen and their lame ass villains. They especially ruined Batman R.I.P. Seriously, man, you don't have to tie up every loose end that's ever occurred in the history of the character ever. You actually end up creating more continuity issues that way. I also feel that Batman was the wrong character for him to get all meta with, though I do like the way he handles the joker. I hated Damian Wayne and he more or less signifies all that went wrong in Morrison's run for me. I hated the way he wrote Dick in the first 8/9 Issues of B&R. Batman Inc. is so opposite of how Bruce thinks and acts even after his grand "Revelation" at the end of ROBW. By the way, Grant, that revelation wasn't anything new. We've known it for years, Bruce's known it for years...having him say it really felt wrong to me. When you really analyze Final Crisis/ROBW you can't help but notice the huge, huge plothole at the center of it all. Why would Darkseid bother with such a needlessly elaborate plan? If could could foresee his death at the hands of Bruce why not oh...kill him in the past with a beam from the future (since apparently he had this kind of power) or destroy the world by using one of his followers as an omega bomb? And don't give me that "He chose Batman because of his extreme will to live and survival skills/instincts" crap. Why bother with the Thomas Wayne/Simon Hurt thing at all?  
Posted by Feliciano2040

Very interesting, didn't catch on those little things.

Posted by The Psyentist

Ooh. Cool.

Posted by Gambit1024

Huh....


This guy's a freak. 
Posted by BlueStarr86

The upside down cross isn't satanic! It represented (before ignorance took it as something evil) the martyrdom of St. Peter. Mr. Morrison, please stop disrespecting history while simultaneously referencing old comic books. Poor St. Peter does not deserve this kind of disrespect.

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

I liked every bit of this whole run, everything from Batman and Son all the way to the Return.  I did catch the satanic references and even at one point did consider the possibility that Hurt may have been Satan himself, but only considered it since it seemed a stretch to include such a Judeo-Christian entity within the scope of major arc.  

Posted by JonesDeini
@BlueStarr86
That's the kind of quasi intellectual stuff I'm talking about. The Pentagrams he includes throughout his run also aren't Satanic lol. The Pentacle was once considered a symbol of protection and faith before it became associated with the Baphomet/Devil's foot print/pagan ritual (which was seen as evil in the eyes of the Church). 
Posted by JoseDRiveraTCR7
@BlueStarr86: It's true that the upside down cross represents St Peter, but to many people it's a satanic symbol.
Posted by Mrfuzzynutz

I got to wonder however...what is the point of writing something that will be clearly over your fan bases heads?

Creativity or plain stubborness??
Posted by Lovingdamnation

Gotta get the GM  commentary didn't realize what I've been missing.

Posted by BlueStarr86
@JoseDRiveraTCR7 said:
@BlueStarr86: It's true that the upside down cross represents St Peter, but to many people it's a satanic symbol.
I'm not a teacher, so it really isn't my place to show they why they are wrong, just to be annoyed at them for being wrong. Ignorance should be frowned upon, not perpetuated, especially by authors. To make things worse it's being perpetuated by writers in the already rather misunderstood and looked down upon comic book industry. This kind of work isn't doing anyone any favors.
Posted by shawn87

I just bought the Batman Must Die HC for $13. 


I cant wait to read his run on Batman. I haven't even started yet. I almost have the entire collection. Im waiting to get it all before I read it
Posted by Question08

Actually an upside-down cross is not a satanic image.  It's the symbol of a saint who asked to be crucified upside-down because he didn't feel he was worthy to die the same way Jesus did.  It's a sign of humility.
In related news: Catholic school finally pays off.

Posted by GTG12

 

I don't really understand the point of putting evil symbols in comic books but oh well.

Posted by _Muse

I wanna see more of the "satanic images"

Posted by Last_Guardian
@JonesDeini said:
LMAO was this not obvious to anybody with eyes? He's infused occult imagery in every one of his Batman works to date. Hell, that's all Arkham Asylum really was. 

I LOVE how ambitious Morrison is as a writer, but he always gets so lost in his own mind. And more often than not thinks he's being more clever than he actually is. But the pretension and pseudo philosophical stuff comes with the territory, so I learned to take it in stride. Morrison created and continues to perpetuate The "Batgod". And I feel that this characterization's the worse thing to happen of the character since everybody decided to copy Miller's DKR and go all gritty and brooding. I admire his knowledge of Batman lore but really didn't like the silver age characters he kept trying to shove down my throat his run would've been vastly superior minus the international Batmen and their lame ass villains. They especially ruined Batman R.I.P. Seriously, man, you don't have to tie up every loose end that's ever occurred in the history of the character ever. You actually end up creating more continuity issues that way. I also feel that Batman was the wrong character for him to get all meta with, though I do like the way he handles the joker. I hated Damian Wayne and he more or less signifies all that went wrong in Morrison's run for me. I hated the way he wrote Dick in the first 8/9 Issues of B&R. Batman Inc. is so opposite of how Bruce thinks and acts even after his grand "Revelation" at the end of ROBW. By the way, Grant, that revelation wasn't anything new. We've known it for years, Bruce's known it for years...having him say it really felt wrong to me. When you really analyze Final Crisis/ROBW you can't help but notice the huge, huge plothole at the center of it all. Why would Darkseid bother with such a needlessly elaborate plan? If could could foresee his death at the hands of Bruce why not oh...kill him in the past with a beam from the future (since apparently he had this kind of power) or destroy the world by using one of his followers as an omega bomb? And don't give me that "He chose Batman because of his extreme will to live and survival skills/instincts" crap. Why bother with the Thomas Wayne/Simon Hurt thing at all?  
AMEN!

Glad I'm not the only one that thinks Morison's approach seems pretentious at times.  I remember reading Batman R.I.P. and hating  a lot of it.  It wasn't because I didn't understand it or I didn't find a deeper meaning to all of it, it was because  he made everything so damn needlessly complicated.     
Posted by zombietag

finally someone admitted it, when you read grant morrisons work you have no idea whats going on. at all.


i think hes a great writer, but i really dont know whats going on when i read some of his batman work and then i see everyone else loving it and it makes me feel stupid haha im not as big of a fan as most people.
Posted by zombietag
@Wise Son said:
@Dracade102 said:
The upside down cross was a dead giveaway for me...
My thoughts exactly. This isn't really news to me.
im glad you guys think youre really smart, but if you read the article (and have the issue), they cut out the cross from the cover. thats the unedited image.
Posted by entropy_aegis

Meh,what's the point of this now? gimme some Leviathan.Simon Hurt is old news.

Posted by zombietag
@Gambit1024 said:
Huh....

This guy's a freak. 
HAHAHA
Posted by entropy_aegis
@GTG12 said:

 

I don't really understand the point of putting evil symbols in comic books but oh well.

Me neither,i disliked it and funnily enough it was edited out later.Stuff like this is hard to get right,people pointed out this to me before and they're doing it here as well.Facts and myths get mixed up many times.
Posted by Wise Son
@zombietag said:
@Wise Son said:
@Dracade102 said:
The upside down cross was a dead giveaway for me...
My thoughts exactly. This isn't really news to me.
im glad you guys think youre really smart, but if you read the article (and have the issue), they cut out the cross from the cover. thats the unedited image.
I don't think I'm really smart because I had prior knowledge of the information and an edited image in a comic. Still not news to me. He's been doing that for a while, so it comes to no surprise. 

@JonesDeini said: 

LMAO was this not obvious to anybody with eyes? He's infused occult imagery in every one of his Batman works to date. Hell, that's all Arkham Asylum really was. 

I LOVE how ambitious Morrison is as a writer, but he always gets so lost in his own mind. And more often than not thinks he's being more clever than he actually is. But the pretension and pseudo philosophical stuff comes with the territory, so I learned to take it in stride. Morrison created and continues to perpetuate The "Batgod". And I feel that this characterization's the worse thing to happen of the character since everybody decided to copy Miller's DKR and go all gritty and brooding. I admire his knowledge of Batman lore but really didn't like the silver age characters he kept trying to shove down my throat his run would've been vastly superior minus the international Batmen and their lame ass villains. They especially ruined Batman R.I.P. Seriously, man, you don't have to tie up every loose end that's ever occurred in the history of the character ever. You actually end up creating more continuity issues that way. I also feel that Batman was the wrong character for him to get all meta with, though I do like the way he handles the joker. I hated Damian Wayne and he more or less signifies all that went wrong in Morrison's run for me. I hated the way he wrote Dick in the first 8/9 Issues of B&R. Batman Inc. is so opposite of how Bruce thinks and acts even after his grand "Revelation" at the end of ROBW. By the way, Grant, that revelation wasn't anything new. We've known it for years, Bruce's known it for years...having him say it really felt wrong to me. When you really analyze Final Crisis/ROBW you can't help but notice the huge, huge plothole at the center of it all. Why would Darkseid bother with such a needlessly elaborate plan? If could could foresee his death at the hands of Bruce why not oh...kill him in the past with a beam from the future (since apparently he had this kind of power) or destroy the world by using one of his followers as an omega bomb? And don't give me that "He chose Batman because of his extreme will to live and survival skills/instincts" crap. Why bother with the Thomas Wayne/Simon Hurt thing at all?  

QFT.    

Posted by No_Name_
@zombietag said:
im glad you guys think youre really smart, but if you read the article (and have the issue), they cut out the cross from the cover. thats the unedited image.
;)
Posted by TheDrifter
@Question08

Learned that from Cracked.
Posted by OliverGuido

As much as I love reading Batman stories, Morrison' s writing is becoming a bit too thick for my liking. I dont have the expansive knowledge of DC history to understand half of whats going on, so to me, I feel like I miss out on too much. I'm even considering dropping batman inc from my pull list simply because I dont get it. I rather read Red Robin and not feel like I'm try to decode things the entire time. 


And I REFUSE to cliff note! 
Posted by Doctorchimp
@zombietag said:
@Wise Son said:
@Dracade102 said:
The upside down cross was a dead giveaway for me...
My thoughts exactly. This isn't really news to me.
im glad you guys think youre really smart, but if you read the article (and have the issue), they cut out the cross from the cover. thats the unedited image.
Hey remember when that issue came out and comicvine showed us all that unedited image with the satanic cross way way back?
Posted by JonesDeini
@Obi Wan Kenobi! said:
@JonesDeini said:
LMAO was this not obvious to anybody with eyes? He's infused occult imagery in every one of his Batman works to date. Hell, that's all Arkham Asylum really was. 

I LOVE how ambitious Morrison is as a writer, but he always gets so lost in his own mind. And more often than not thinks he's being more clever than he actually is. But the pretension and pseudo philosophical stuff comes with the territory, so I learned to take it in stride. Morrison created and continues to perpetuate The "Batgod". And I feel that this characterization's the worse thing to happen of the character since everybody decided to copy Miller's DKR and go all gritty and brooding. I admire his knowledge of Batman lore but really didn't like the silver age characters he kept trying to shove down my throat his run would've been vastly superior minus the international Batmen and their lame ass villains. They especially ruined Batman R.I.P. Seriously, man, you don't have to tie up every loose end that's ever occurred in the history of the character ever. You actually end up creating more continuity issues that way. I also feel that Batman was the wrong character for him to get all meta with, though I do like the way he handles the joker. I hated Damian Wayne and he more or less signifies all that went wrong in Morrison's run for me. I hated the way he wrote Dick in the first 8/9 Issues of B&R. Batman Inc. is so opposite of how Bruce thinks and acts even after his grand "Revelation" at the end of ROBW. By the way, Grant, that revelation wasn't anything new. We've known it for years, Bruce's known it for years...having him say it really felt wrong to me. When you really analyze Final Crisis/ROBW you can't help but notice the huge, huge plothole at the center of it all. Why would Darkseid bother with such a needlessly elaborate plan? If could could foresee his death at the hands of Bruce why not oh...kill him in the past with a beam from the future (since apparently he had this kind of power) or destroy the world by using one of his followers as an omega bomb? And don't give me that "He chose Batman because of his extreme will to live and survival skills/instincts" crap. Why bother with the Thomas Wayne/Simon Hurt thing at all?  
AMEN!

Glad I'm not the only one that thinks Morison's approach seems pretentious at times.  I remember reading Batman R.I.P. and hating  a lot of it.  It wasn't because I didn't understand it or I didn't find a deeper meaning to all of it, it was because  he made everything so damn needlessly complicated.     
I love and respect Grant Morrison, but hate that for many readers and reviewers he's become a sacred cow that none may touch. Well somebody has to stand up, get their Moses on and cast down the golden calf. Dude has flaws in his game, and ignoring them or pretending their positives doesn't help us or him. Sometimes when something doesn't make sense it's because it genuinely doesn't make sense, folk. Grant Morrison's style of writing is best suited for his Vertigo works or original creator owned stuff. All his mainstream work starts off well enough, then some of the inevitable acid trip kicks in and he feels compelled to cryptically inform us of what his spirit guide, Frank The Bunny, has to tell us. Because of course, Justice League, X-Men, and Batman are he PERFECT conduits for such stories...:/

I Initially loved R.I.P., but then I really sat down and analyzed it and was less impressed with it. I do give Grant credit for the intricate detail he's capable of adding, though it can frustrating at times to wait for the pay off and sometimes it's really not worth it. ROBW #2 made sense out of a seemingly random panel in R.I.P. In the grand scheme of things it wasn't major, just ensured me that my copy of R.I.P. didn't have a misprint lol. There's also moments in his B&R run that are made much better by reading ROBW and made his Batman and Son issues better reads as well. I loved how B&R ended and it's probably my favorite of his Batman work, despite how much I hate that last page. It was New X-Men all over again, folk. I gave Inc. a chance and read the first four or so issues. Just...not...working for me. Thank God for Snyder's Detective, It's atmospheric, dense, layered, and psychologically intriguing and so far, free of time traveling and Hunter-Killer metaphors/Hyper Adapters. Anyways if I had to rate Morrison's Batman run to this point I'd give it a 3.5 it certainly has it's strengths that can't be denied. Perhaps reading it as one cohesive work will raise my opinion of it. But as of now I find it to be overrated.  
Posted by Mancotron

I have a love/hate relationship with Morrison, but I lean closer to love than hate. The bat totem stuff I'm not really interested in, but I do like his characterization of Batman as human potential personified. I'm not sure what to make of Damian just yet as he's still a relatively new character which always means there's going to be a hit/miss quality. 

I'm not sure why everyone is poo-pooing the satanic imagery stuff as ignorant, I mean he stated his reasoning for using it, and I think Heavy Metal is far more guilty of perpetuating pentacles, and inverted crosses as satanic than anything else on the planet. 

As for his co-opting of Batman lore, he incorporates enough of his own weirdness that I don't always mind it. I mean I can imagine he does it to reconcile all the loose threads in the Bat-lore. 

On the other hand, he gets up his own ass alot; which can either really pay off or it's just mind-boggling.

Posted by Cervantes


Babs, on another matter entirely, as an Andy Samberg fan it was quite a coup for you to land a spot in a music video with him! We almost didn't recognize you...

 

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Posted by LiquidSwords
Posted by Cervantes
Posted by fox01313

Artists have always been trying to sneak images/text in comics so not surprised to see this.

Posted by Eyz

There's quite a lot of quite specific imagery in Morrison's run. The more reason to love it - igonre the nerdhate :/

Posted by TDK_1997

cool

Posted by Squares
@Question08: This just in: you're totally my hero :D
Posted by Out_of_Space

Nice
Posted by BlueStarr86
@Obi Wan Kenobi! said:
AMEN!

Glad I'm not the only one that thinks Morison's approach seems pretentious at times.  I remember reading Batman R.I.P. and hating  a lot of it.  It wasn't because I didn't understand it or I didn't find a deeper meaning to all of it, it was because  he made everything so damn needlessly complicated.     
I try not using the word pretentious, in general, but it does fit Morrison, and many of his fans. What's most vexing is that some of them seem convinced that this has never been done before, or at least that's how they behave, I've become convinced many of them live under rocks.
Posted by JonesDeini
@BlueStarr86 said:
@Obi Wan Kenobi! said:
AMEN!

Glad I'm not the only one that thinks Morison's approach seems pretentious at times.  I remember reading Batman R.I.P. and hating  a lot of it.  It wasn't because I didn't understand it or I didn't find a deeper meaning to all of it, it was because  he made everything so damn needlessly complicated.     
I try not using the word pretentious, in general, but it does fit Morrison, and many of his fans. What's most vexing is that some of them seem convinced that this has never been done before, or at least that's how they behave, I've become convinced many of them live under rocks.
I don't like to make blanket statements but many Grant Morrison fan(atics) are generally quick to disregard any valid criticism you have of his work then dismiss you as either being 1) Too dumb to get it or 2) A blind hater who's spouting piss and vinegar because of 1. I generally avoid discussion/debate with people like this on any topic, but especially when it comes to Morrison's work. It's like talking to a wrestling fan who knows it's not real but refuses to admit it.  
Posted by Sammo21

Inverted crosses aren't Satanic...its actually quite unsatanic...but then again who cares about this stuff in the end, right...lmfao inverted cross.

Posted by Sammo21
@Question08: haha I just thought the same thing
Posted by zombietag
@doctorchimp said:
@zombietag said:
@Wise Son said:
@Dracade102 said:
The upside down cross was a dead giveaway for me...
My thoughts exactly. This isn't really news to me.
im glad you guys think youre really smart, but if you read the article (and have the issue), they cut out the cross from the cover. thats the unedited image.
Hey remember when that issue came out and comicvine showed us all that unedited image with the satanic cross way way back?
no i dont... can you get me a link?
Posted by Matthevv

Since no one can use their fingers to search on the web before coming up with an off the cuff answer.
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross_of_St._Peter

 http://www.arthermitage.org/Lionello-Spada/Martyrdom-of-St-Peter.jpg

Now, modern cinema seems to think that the upside down cross is sacrilegious, but like most modern cinema, they are stupid.  The inverted cross is the sign of St. Peter, who was to be crucified and felt that he could not be martyred in the same way as Christ, believing he was unworthy, so he was inverted and crucified upside down, and the cross inverted is not only his symbol, but also the symbol of the early faith of the apostolic church, and the sign of Peter, the st of.... wait for it.... waaaiiit for it.... justice.

For more on St. Peter, check the most standard and dubious method, wikipedia 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Peter
Or, actually go read a book. I highly suggest  any of the following. Thank you for bothering to listen to my rant, I am merely a historian and I feel as if the American education system has failed you all, not your own fault for getting all your info from movies, we should have an education system which actually educates, but that's for another blog.
 

Russell, Jeffrey B., A History of Medieval Christianity: Prophecy and Order (1968).

Jolly, Karen, Tradition and Diversity: Christianity in a World Context to 1500 (1997)  
Posted by No_Name_
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