Tuesday, March 13, 2018

It's kind of like that movie "Passengers," except with Robin, I guess.

Yeah, I didn't see Passengers, but traditionally in sci-fi, if you don't have faster-than-light warp drive or hyperspace or what-have-you, you either have to sleep out a long space trip in hibernation or cold sleep or something, or you've got the generational ship where the original crew members at launch will be long dead and the journey will be completed by their descendants. Today we have the latter, which is usually depressing, even with the addition of Batman and Robin! From 1996, Robin Annual #5, "The Iron Sky" Written by Chuck Dixon, pencils by Staz Johnson, inks by Rob Leigh.

This, like all the 1996 DC annuals, was the Elseworlds themed Legends of the Dead Earth; all set after earth was gone, but the legends and legacies of its heroes continued. I thought I had read more of these, but this one was new to me last week! In a future Gotham, a lowly farmer girl, Tris, is excited to see the outlaw hero Batman fighting the robot sentinels called Jokers; but she attracts the attention of the Proctors. It's obvious early the society has pretty strict classes; and in being scanned as a troublemaker, Tris becomes an outlaw as well, but she embraces the chance to become her own legend. Still, it's nearly a short one, when she runs into a Proctor gunship; but she's saved by Batman. Who takes Tris to see the truth:

Babies were created by artificial incubation, put to work on the farms when they turn nine, then Logan's Run'd when they turn 30. Batman had been a Proctor, but opted out of the "Giving" and learned the truth. "Gotham" had been named after the earth city, but was a "generation ship" that was supposed to take humanity to a new home. That had been the plan, anyway: either the ship was off-course or there was nothing at their destination, and the Proctors either didn't realize or didn't care. But maybe Batman could set the ship on a new course--with a little help.

Batman and Robin fight their way into the Proctors' headquarters, to try and get access to the ship's navigation. (Dixon skips the traditional peasant uprising: they consider it, for about three seconds.) Batman sacrifices himself to get Robin in there, and she manages to get the computers to figure out a new course. And it would only take...another three centuries and change. It's a victory, even if she knows she won't live to see it. In fact, she seems pretty much done with life there, as the next pages show Tris walking into the Giving. (Even though she wouldn't make it to earth, there did seem to be a lot of inequity she could have fought; but may not have had the page count for.) And centuries later, on a beautiful new world, a grandfather tells his bratty grandkids the story, and the legend continues.

That ending was dark for me. Like, if Tris had been gunned down, that would've been more upbeat somehow. I suspect more than a few of these annuals were down endings as well, but I may have to keep an eye out for any that don't look familiar.

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

I don't own anyone of these myself, but I do remember the concept. I do believe it was pretty much a mixed bag about the endings, either being upbeat or not. I'm sure if tackled now, the stories would probably be a little better. Maybe.