Tuesday 14 January 2014

How the geek stole Christmas!

This is me. I'm Batman. I am the night. I'm not sure that I am doing it right though. I'll have to look into it. Actually, I'm not sure what I'm doing, but it doesn't look like a very Batman thing to be doing. I'm not often Batman. One might even suggest that I'm pretty much never Batman. I used to be Batman a lot when I was a child. I was the kind of Batman that climbed on the furniture. I loved Batman, and then that Batman movie came out. You know the one. Batman. That was what it was called. Just Batman. When that happened I think my life became suddenly better. It was also around that time that I started reading the comics. I think that the first Batman comic that I read might have been the the one that was based on the movie. I'm not certain about that though. Before that it was all Super Friends and Adam West.

Batman is a DC comics guy, which means that he hangs in a club with Wonder Woman and The Flash. DC comics do this thing where they do crossovers all the time so that you will read their other titles. It's not particularly sly, it's just something they do. Currently, of the fifty two ongoing titles being published by DC, thirteen are under the Batman umbrella, or Batbrella, which means that venturing into this territory is hazardous. You can suddenly find yourself reading thirteen titles a month without even thinking about it. Some years ago I freed myself from this situation, and managed to cut back my regular DC comic consumption to Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps, in no small part due to the cancellation of many of my favourite characters.

I'm not really big on Christmas, which is nearly entirely to do with the time of year. I'm the kind of person who spends most of Summer tired and sweaty, and I haven't usually done anything fun to get that way. Historically, I seem to spend the Christmas period ricocheting through a variety of outdoor themed activities and geographical locations, all the while harassed with promises of fun and mirth. Then I get burnt, and bitten, and stung, and prematurely aged, and scratched, and tired, and grazed, sometimes injured, and usually end up adding unnecessary quantities of seawater and/or chlorine to my diet. Sand! There is also lots of sand.

This Christmas I managed to escape much of these sort of sun related things. It rained, which helped, but there was also a little bit of putting my foot down. Sometimes feet. More often than not though it was my bum. That is the final word really. My bum is down, and I am staying right here.

With my bum firmly placed, I suddenly found myself surrounded. I am completely misrepresenting this situation for dramatic effect. There were numerous bum placings, in each of which it would be fair to say that I knew what I was doing, but let me tell it the other way. I was surrounded by Batmans. Batmen. No. Wait. Let's try this another way.

Retreating from the greater part of humanity, pretty much all of it apart from myself, I sat in the living room of the beach house glad that the grey skies and scattered rain had excused me from a variety of external obligations. I pulled open my laptop, and launched my Steam account. Games had started arriving there as part of the festive season, but I had been deep in the Batman: Arkham games, and launched one. I had been spending my time with them lately, and an understanding was growing, but something had changed. As I steered my Batman through his digital Gotham, my mind lingered on the current role of Robin and Nightwing.

I didn't think much of it at first. A lingering thought about the characters that populated Batman's world. Who are we if we aren't thinking about Batman from time to time?

Early January rolled around, and I found myself looking up from Sribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure. I had just spent six hours in the in-game character encyclopaedia. Six hours in the blink of an eye. How had this happened? How did I reach this point? The last ten days came reeling back in. Lego Batman 2: DC Heroes, Batman: The Dar Knight Returns parts one and two, and all the Young Justice I could find. I had touched everything it had offered me. I had taken it all in. I could see the sickness. I had delved too deep, and I had become infected. I could see then where it would lead me. I knew what awaited me if I failed to regain control. I had been there before.

Frantic, I moved against the tide that would consume. I created as much space as I could between myself and the darkness, fighting for myself and my time on this Earth. I could feel its thousand hungry eyes watching me as I locked it away.

A week passed, and I was beginning to feel free from the lure of the sequential art. My cousin called late one night asking if I would like to catch up. It was late. It was after nine. Well, I was up, but I was surprised that I got a call at that time. That is late for a call. I thought that it would be good to catch up then and there. Sooner the better.

I needed to escape the temptation that had been reaching into every part of my life. He came to get me, and we exchanged those regular greetings that we exchange with family, and he tossed something into my lap. Late Christmas presents. I knew them for what they were straight away. Trade paperbacks. Collected editions.

I looked down at the one on top. Star Wars Legacy. There was no problem here. Dark Horse, who published it, aren't known for their universe sprawling crossovers. This was containable. This was something I could read in isolation Perhaps it would be followed by a handful of sequels, but I would not be consumed.

I was suddenly afraid of what lay underneath. The other title. I had glimpsed the spine, and I knew what it could be, but I wasn't certain. There was the possibility that it was a standalone story. They do those from time to time. More often than you might think. I slowly slid the Star Wars book aside to reveal Batman Volume 1 The Court of the Owls. I knew what I was looking at. I knew full well what this wretched thing was. Full continuity. Ongoing. Part of a DC comics crossover event. It was a gateway book. This is it started.

My cousin pulled out of the drive way, asking me where I wanted to get dinner, but all I could think about was the door that had been opened. I hadn't read it yet, but I would. I knew that. I thought back to the previous week. It hadn't been hunger I had seen. It was patience.

The car picked up, and the night made way for us. It had begun. It knew me now. I was the night.

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