Fight or Flight: our most basic human response to contentious stimuli. Either can be a positive or negative outcome to an intense situation, depending on the context. Much in the same way, Batman books can range from the mundane to the most otherworldly, delivering varying qualities of worth throughout their spectrum. I find these most bizarre Bat-related titles to be the most fascinating, but it remains to be seen how we should react to said stimuli. Do they deserve to be fought for or against? Should you fly away from them in fear or with them on their most spectacular joyrides? I bring these most weird Batman stories to light, confront them, and decide if they are our friend or our foe…
Fight or Flight – Batman: The Abduction
The title is pretty self-explanatory, as this story revolves around Batman getting abducted by aliens…theoretically. Past the title though, nothing is what it seems and the book gets much wilder than even such a far-out concept could prepare you for. Beware…
Trying to piece this sloppy narrative into a cohesive unit must have been an outrageous ride for the author Alan Grant. For the reader, it was a manic fever dream of universal proportions. Let’s do a basic rundown shall we:
- Batman is chasing some criminals
- He has a missing time incident
- He does regression hypnosis and finds out that he was abducted by aliens
- Goes to a UFO convention
- Talks to some guy who then astral projects the both of them into space and into an alien craft (!)
- Batman then fights some Men in Black
- He then fights Bruce Lee/Richard Dragon (?) who then multiplies
- He meets a floating shamanic figure
- Batman figures out he is drugged but also removes an alien implant
- He then deduces the “big plan” is to drug people into a mass UFO sighting to spread belief in aliens throughout the populace
- Stops the plan but realizes that he actually may have been abducted by aliens
- Decides he doesn’t care and swings away.
Yep. That all happened.
The supposition was quite interesting. I mean, Batman gets abducted by aliens. There is so much that could be done with such a premise. I have always been a fan of the paranormal, and utilizing a “grounded” superhero to explore such ideas got me excited. Unfortunately, the comic ended up mostly functioning as a forum to discuss the alien abduction phenomena, poorly might I add, instead of weaving an interesting Batman narrative. Grant tried to hit upon every “big” theory of ufology, but it was more of a “paint by numbers” outline of said experiences/theories that happened to have Batman in it. The lack of acute detective work and Bruce’s apathy towards his situation/the phenomena in general stand as the most glaring weakness of the story. Having Batman jump to every conclusion, blindly accept or deny amazing evidence (I mean, he traveled ethereally into space, to see Greys, abductees, and a “Reptoid” on a spaceship), based on the needs of the story, and then drop leads/cases of earth shaking significance was an anathema. It’s understandable that the writer Alan Grant would struggle with a satisfying conclusion to this eccentric story; while also not refuting Batman’s alien abduction scenario. But having him just give up?
I would have felt more comfortable with Batman main-ling DMT to commune with his space brethren and maybe do “psychic battle” with these extraterrestrials than I would have him surmise: “guess this is too big…who cares that I was abducted, mind-wiped, implanted, violated, and that millions of others have been/will be too…I give up”. This a character whose defining characteristic is a steadfast drive to right wrongs, no matter what the cost. He has devoted his life to such a pursuit, sacrificing everything to this end. Granted, he cannot explore and solve every mystery, but pursuing his own amazing encounter that reveals a sinister mystery of global significance? “Nah, I’m gonna go punch some thugs instead”. Preposterous!
Now, in Golden and Silver age stories, Batman would have some wacky adventures. He would become the king of an alien planet or go hopping around with an interdimensional imp, only to return to Earth to pursue thieves and vandals as a semi-normal human being would. This was commonplace, but obviously made little sense. If you have such amazing alien technology, you would use it to do your job better. But, hey…these are comic books. These older stories were harmless fun, never to be taken too seriously. Alan Grant’s modern tale though wants to function in a storytelling universe of reality and rules. He wants a sense of believability to the entire scenario, something that is missing. Batman directly mentions other aliens that he works with, namely Superman and Martian Manhunter, but he does not pick up the bat-phone to give them a call? This chap hangs out with an alien telepath who could enter his mind, make sense of his experiences, and provide knowledge/muscle to coping with this alien threat. Does he elicit their service in any way? Nope. He does nothing, which, like so much of this yarn, is exasperating.
VERDICT: This book gets a FIGHT…partly because I wanted to beat some sense into this creative team and partly because I should have fought against my better judgment.
I enjoyed the thesis, but the story was maddening. Not because of the insanity of the events; the craziness is fun. I suppose that was part of this prestige one-shot’s charm. The reader is constantly bombarded by the outlandish and the other worldly. Batman fought multiple Bruce Lee’s and then talked to a floating shamanic being that was espousing a “global alien agenda”. That’s nuts, but enjoyable. Batman dismissing all of that a couple pages later, his physical evidence and all, as an illusion he made up due to a drug haze is lazy storytelling. There were no proper explanations and little point to it all, which proved its biggest obstacles toward enjoyment. They seemed to want to have their Bat-cake and eat it too, but this desert was too sour to stomach more than once.