The Ideal and the Infinite Batman, or Why Fractal Narratives Matter

I’m supposed to explain how and why I became a nerd, but I’m currently in the middle of James Gleick’s Chaos: Making a New Science so you’re going to have to bear with me wrestling with my own half-baked attempts at understanding what I’m reading and my discomfort at presenting some particular event as the discrete cause of my nerdy predilections. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Detective_Comics_662So here’s a moment: At some point in late 1993 I, or maybe my brother, purchased Detective Comics #662. Batman vs. Firefly. It has a rather evocative Sam Kieth cover of a Batman on fire. Our hero is exhausted because an unknown entity (we later learn to be Bane) has released the entire rogues gallery from Arkham Asylum, and Batman has been ceaselessly fighting to bring his greatest enemies down. But in this issue, we only get to see Batman take down the pyromaniacal Firefly. ‘Tec #662 has a second number designation to it, #8, as in part 8 of a massive 90s Batman crossover event called “Knightfall.”

Perhaps I could have left it there. Batman fights and defeats Firefly. I could have walked away. But I didn’t. I had questions and, suddenly, a quest. If there’s an 8, there must be a 7 and a 9. Who does Batman have to stop next, and who did he stop before?

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