ALERT! The following contains lots and lots of SPOILERS!
Batman’s standalone one-shot for the DC Universe Rebirth is a quick change of pace for anyone who has read the overarching DC Universe Rebirth one-shot. For starters, it’s not 80 pages; in fact, the 40-page issue is 22 pages of ads. But fear not. Batman’s one-shot still has its own version of the mega issue’s Watchmen introduction.
Calendar Man is causing sporadic (ha…ha…ha…) mayhem in Gotham City, Alfred Pennyworth likes avocado seeds, and the events leading to Bruce Wayne’s “retirement” might very well be in play. It’s a mess, I know, but let’s get right into it.
No. 1: Batman’s Doomsday
Almost right off the bat, we’re introduced to the first villain Wayne encounters in the DC Universe Rebirth: Calendar Man. His ability to die in the winter and revive in the spring as a new and improved version of his former self instantly reminded me of Doomsday, the renowned Superman killer (though, Doomsday has a MUCH cooler name).
While training with Wayne at the end of the issue, Duke Thomas gives a little exposition, detailing Calendar Man’s abilities.
It says that every time he comes back, he comes back slightly different, his DNA altered. He’s a different person, but he retains all the memories he had last time. He’ll come up with new ideas… He comes back better every time.
In one six-panel page, Calendar Man is shown molting his old self’s skin and crawling out anew. As he comes out, he does that villain-talking-to-himself/herself thing.
Tell yourself that. Tell yourself it’s done. But it’s never done.
No idea how or why his new hand is coming out of his old body’s mouth, though…
No. 2: For guacamole’s sake
So this speculation is probably me seriously over-thinking three seemingly insignificant pages, but let’s see where we can get with this.
In three pages, everyone’s favorite comic-book butler is seen picking his avocados. By the end of the issue, he splits one in half and throws it down a small bat cave.
Here’s where it gets sticky. Pennyworth is seen picking avocados in the first page of the issue when Thomas appears at the doorstep of Wayne Manor, saying he’s here about an offer. Thomas’s appearance coincides with Pennyworth picking the avocado, as it is perhaps both telling and symbolic of the coming of a new hero in a bigger way than we can expect.
Alright, keep up with me here.
In the second-to-last page of the issue, Pennyworth is seen picking avocados in the background while Wayne, on the left, and Thomas, on the right, are training. In the foreground, Wayne’s parents’ gravestones can be seen (I’ll let you take that in for a second…) just behind three cutouts of Pennyworth throwing the newly picked avocado down a bat cave after he removes the seed.
Lastly, in what can be interpreted as a comic book’s equivalent to an after-credits scene, one half of the avocado is seen “bleeding” on a rock as bats are spiraling downward into the cave, presumably toward the now-disposed fruit (vegetable?).
The juxtaposition between each page is what’s most telling here. Wayne is positioned on the left and Thomas on the right in the final training scene. In the cutout showing the two halves of the avocado falling, the one on the left is pointing downward—maybe representing Wayne—and is perhaps the one that meets a crashing, bleeding demise. The fate of the other half is unknown.
What’s key to all of this, though, is the seed Pennyworth takes from the avocado. Retcon-Punch.com’s Drew Baumgartner highlights in a piece about this topic that avocados are not native to the northeastern United States, where Wayne Manor and Gotham are typically located. Additionally, bats that eat avocados are also not native to the northeast. Here, the seed could be representative of the birth of a new superhero, which, despite there being a whole lot of them in the DC Universe, are not abundantly “native” to the world.
Simply put, Wayne might die, and Thomas takes over as the new Batman.
No. 3: I’m listening
…which brings me to my final point.
After Thomas’s parents went insane in “Batman: Endgame” because of the Joker, Wayne had offered a sanctuary for the now-orphan. The eerie part about this is that Thomas was orphaned in the same manner that Wayne was, as the Joker attempted a reenactment of Wayne’s parents’ deaths with Thomas’s parents.
Throughout the one-shot, the most important thing to note is not regarding any of Calendar Man’s attacks or his abilities; rather, it’s the fact that Thomas is with Wayne from beginning to end.
Thomas, who appeared in the “We Are Robin” series as one of several teenagers who took up the sidekick identity, follows Wayne throughout the Batcave. Then the two eventually have the following exchange.
So, take that all in for a minute. Wayne said he’s not training a new Robin, perhaps the most iconic sidekick in all of superheroes. Yeah, my speculation is a little (very?) far-fetched, but the reintroduction of Thomas might be telling enough of a major status-quo change in the Batman storyline.
It didn’t seem like a lot happened, but Batman’s one-shot did have its own subtle Watchmen-introduction moment. The focus was clearly on Thomas and Wayne with Calendar Man simply there to show them working together against a common foe.
“Batman No. 1” is already out—it has been for a while (I’m slacking!). There’s a lot more that might hint at the “retirement” of Wayne as Batman in the official start to the new storyline.