Stone Washington
Batman's Bloom = America's Rebirth, Part 1
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By Stone Washington
November 20, 2017


"Say it. 'Damn all of them. There's only me.' Say it. Say it! Because the city was built on divisions. Dead flower dolls. Gotham isn't some tame garden! It's a wild bloody landscape! So, stop wasting your lives! Don't take the pennies! Come to the land of giants! Go get what's yours. Get it! And let what's here die as it should, and grow something wonderful in it's place!"

~Mr. Bloom, Supervillain

This article is an ongoing continuation of my analysis on the New York Times bestselling comic book series: Batman New 52, focusing on one of the final installments to the ground-breaking saga: Batman Vol. 9: Bloom. This article continues my series of essays that examine the many Shakespearian and philosophical elements behind what is unarguably the greatest representation of Batman for the ages and a literary, artistic masterpiece devised by the dynamic duo, Columbia University Professor and writer Scott Snyder, and illustrator, Greg Capullo.

Bloom – Part 1

The story continues after the events of Batman Vol. 8: Superheavy, where the unpredictable plant-like super villain Mr. Bloom has just crashed a major gala hosted by Geri Powers, CEO of Powers Inc., that contains many of Gotham City's (comic representation of New York City) most prominent socialites. Mr. Bloom uses his powers to stretch his fingers to razor sharp lengths and pierces through over a dozen Gothamites who are attempting to flee the building. Mr. Bloom sarcastically speaks on how he is merely here to celebrate with the many familiar faces of Gotham attending the event. Bloom relates to the many guests attenable, including community activists and the police force, recounting how he was once a good-hearted soldier for Gotham, fighting to make the city a better place. As he speaks, Bloom uses his fingers to impale several citizens at random before Geri Powers interjects and orders him to stop killing people. Bloom tells Powers that all he wants is for her to keep doing a good job fundraising for the city and for the new Batman initiative made to replace the old Batman, who is believed by all to have died saving Gotham in battle against the Joker. The former Batman is now replaced by a new Batman, Police Commissioner Jim Gordon.

As Bloom sarcastically thanks Powers and hands her a measly dollar for the fundraiser, Commissioner Gordon as the new Batman leaps from an overhead rafter and shoots Bloom in the head with multiple high-voltage batarangs. But Bloom, unfazed, retaliates by side-swiping Gordon into a wall and pinning him to the ground. Gordon remotely orders his faithful robotic Batman suit to attack Bloom, who is pierced by the villain with three of his outstretched fingers and takes off its metal bat symbol covering its chest. Bloom then stabs Gordon on the shoulder with one of his fingers and prepares to pin the symbol onto Gordon, while tauntingly telling him: "I want to pin this on just right. After all, because of you, 'Bat' has lost its meaning. That's the real feat. The great symbol has no power in Gotham anymore." But before Bloom can act, the massive Bat blimp that he hijacked earlier is activated by Julia Pennyworth, Gordon's technical assistant, which magnetically attaches Bloom to the blimp (due to his powers deriving from electro-magnetic "seeds" implanted in his body). As Gordon taunts Mr. Bloom in his powerless position, the Gotham Police send a squadron of officers into the room. Bloom tells Gordon that they will talk more alone, and he uses his arms and legs to smash the magnet on the blimp, allowing him to run and escape the building.


Elsewhere in Gotham, the former Batman and ex-billionaire of Wayne Enterprises, Bruce Wayne, is shown pursuing a quite civilian life with his love-interest and life-long friend Julie Madison. Wayne recently suffered amnesia following the deadly events of Joker's Endgame attack on Gotham, and is unable to remember anything about his former life as Gotham's protector, Batman. Wayne tells Madison that he recognizes her rough family History, recounting that her father was a notorious gunrunner who likely sold a fire- arm to Joe Chill, the criminal responsible for killing Wayne's parents when he was a boy (thus sending him on his path toward becoming Batman). Wayne tells her that he doesn't care about what her father did and proposes his desire to marry her. Meanwhile in Gotham, Duke Thomas, a 16-year old former ally of Bruce Wayne, leads a solo vigilante mission (while dressed as Batman's former sidekick: Robin) to break into the Penguin's hideout known as the New Iceberg Lounge (an actual iceberg gentrified into a living hideout). He speaks to his friend Darryl Gutierrez, a technician for Commissioner Gordon, on phone about the whereabouts of his parents, who went missing following the recent Joker attack.

After the two talk, Thomas uses a canister of liquid nitrogen to burn a hole through the ice (since heat will set off the alarms) and uses a harness to shimmy down into Penguin's uninhabited office, knowing that Penguin was recently admitted to the hospital after a near-death encounter with Mr. Bloom. Searching through Penguin's files for information about Mr. Bloom, Thomas discovers a file with an eye- opening secret. The scene shifts to the situation with Commissioner Gordon who speaks with Geri Powers at a secret facility housing an army of massive battle-ready Batman robots ranging from 10-30 feet in height. Geri explains the purpose of her new robots: "Batman was human. He had no powers He stood next to 'gods' [the Justice League] and said, 'I handle my city.' He was the start of something, and these suits are the continuation. They're a way of saying that we can be our own Superheroes." Powers proposes that they use these robots to infiltrate Mr. Bloom's hideout, discovered to be within the Corner neighborhood in Gotham. But Gordon disagrees, stating that this type of powerful display of force will only play into Bloom's trap and endanger innocents. Gordon proposes that he go in alone to Bloom's hideout, to which Powers reluctantly agrees.


Elsewhere at the Lucius Fox Center for Gotham's youth, Bruce Wayne is revealed by a fellow co-worker regarding the severity of Mr. Bloom's recent massacre at the Powers' gala. Wayne thinks of the seed (created by Mr. Bloom) that Commissioner Gordon gave to him as evidence earlier, but is unable to find it, since Duke Thomas took it secretly in his mission to unmask Bloom. Switching to Thomas' situation, the boy is discovered by Penguin and his cabal of crime bosses: Mr. White, Black Mask, and the Ventriloquist. As Thomas attempts to escape with Penguin's secrets, Penguin stabs his leg with a shard of ice, as Mr. White uses his shark-like teeth to bite his shoe. As Thomas struggles, elsewhere, Commissioner Gordon, in his robotic batsuit, rides a motorcycle through the Corner to Mr. Bloom's hideout on Blossom Row, an old intersection that divided the wealthy North from the lower-class South during Gotham's industrial era in the early 20th Century. An armed Gordon infiltrates Bloom's secret warehouse where he tells the Supervillain, sitting atop a crate, to turn himself in. As Gordon orders his robotic suit to attack Bloom, the villain somehow orders Gordon's suit to instead attack him, to which he obeys and grabs Gordon by the neck.

Bloom – Part 2

Gordon begs the suit to let him go, to which Bloom tells him to listen to Gordon's plea. Letting him go, the suit then throws Gordon through the roof of the warehouse into the sky towards a news chopper broadcasting the situation. Gordon avoids the sharp propellers of the helicopter by shooting a cable from his belt into the warehouse, which allows him to swing back into the building, crashing down onto a crate of Bloom's seeds. Gordon acts fast against his suit (being controlled by one of Mr. Bloom's transmitters), using his molecular contractor in his gloves to shrink the missile tubes on the robot, while shooting its leg with high-voltage batarangs to short-circuit it. As the immobilized robot attempts to shoot Gordon with a long-range missile, the missile tube overloads and explodes, destroying the robot. Meanwhile at the New Iceberg Lounge, as the Supervillains close in on Duke Thomas, the boy throws the remainder of his liquid nitrogen on the crooks, allowing him time to climb up his harness out of the office and run. But Penguin pulls out a gun that launches a grenade which blasts through the ice above him where Thomas is fleeing, causing the boy to be launched into the icy waters around them.


Elsewhere, Mr. Bloom is shown to have pinned down Commissioner Gordon, taunting the hero with his unique powers of harnessing electricity and fire, granted to him by his electro-magnetic seeds. But Gordon grins, telling Bloom that he secretly activated a quite charge that overloaded the hundreds of seeds in the warehouse, bravely telling him that he is ready to die knowing that he at least stopped the villain from unleashing his devious plot on Gotham. As Bloom activates his electrical charge to attack Gordon, his power is cut off due to a blocker in the helmet from the exploded bat-suit that belonged to Gordon, de-activating the seeds in Bloom's body. Now shrunken down to his normal human size and shape, Bloom is defenseless against Gordon, who knocks the villain out through a window and prepares to take him in for capture. Meanwhile, Duke Thomas is shown to have landed in the Gotham river surrounding the New Iceberg Lounge, and climbs back on land where is laughed at by two of Penguin's body guards armed with semi-automatic rifles. Before they open fire, Bruce Wayne suddenly appears and knocks the men out, while extending a hand to help Thomas.


At the Gotham train station, Wayne scolds Thomas for being so reckless to use the Fox Center computer to research his vigilante mission to infiltrate Penguin's lair. Wayne wants to know why Thomas has been giving him the cold shoulder for the past months following the Joker attack, to which Thomas asks how he found him. Wayne tells him that he couldn't find the Bloom seed that Gordon gave him, which Thomas took, and used the computer's search history to track Thomas' motives. Thomas tells him that that's the point; Bruce Wayne is meant to solve riddles, deduce solutions to difficult problems no one else can, alluding to the fact that he used to be the World's greatest crime fighting detective: Batman. Thomas is infuriated that Bruce doesn't remember his Superhero identity or the fact that Wayne saved him as a young boy years ago. Thomas seeks to make him remember by standing in front of an incoming train to trigger his memory. As the train nears closer and closer Bruce's memory partially activates, showing an image of a large bat in place of the train, which forces Bruce to grab Duke and jump out of the train's path just in time. Thomas tells a confused Bruce to stay away from him, as he runs away in disappointment.

Elsewhere, it is revealed that Gordon captured Mr. Bloom and rendezvoused with Julia and Darryl in the Bat truck, surrounded by a crowd of cheering citizens. Gordon tells his crew that he still feels uneasy about his role as Batman, but he knows he did right in capturing Bloom. As he seeks to interrogate the villain and see his real identity underneath his mask, suddenly an elongated finger pierces Gordon from a torn hole in the roof of the truck, in the direction of two individuals having the exact same out-fit, mask and powers as Mr. Bloom. And in the street are a small crowd of other Bloom look- alikes, one of which stretches his finger to pierce one of the tires of their truck, causing it to crash.

Meanwhile in a Gotham city park, Bruce Wayne contemplates to himself his former identity, which he suspects was Batman, and tries to force himself to accept it. But suddenly a man appears and asks to sit down next to him on the bench, mentioning that he sees Wayne sit there day to day. As Bruce agrees, he tells him that he enjoys the peaceful spot because he was in an accident during the Joker attack in the same area, to which the man tells him that he was also in an accident in this very park. The man is revealed to be non-other than the former arch-Supervillain: The Joker, who like Bruce Wayne, has lost his memory during his deadly battle against Batman that nearly cost them their lives, and is now an average civilian oblivious to his past as a Supervillain.


The man tells Wayne that they seem to love the peaceful spot in the park equally, as he throws food to fish in the water and gossips to him about various Gotham city rumors. But an uninterested Bruce cuts him off and prepares to leave, before being stopped by the man who wants to show Wayne something. The scene cuts away to Gordon, who is shown to have survived the truck crash and is surrounded by Mr. Bloom and over a dozen of his minions that look almost identical to him. Bloom grabs Gordon, just as the scene shifts back to Bruce Wayne and the former Joker, who reveals a gun to him, telling of his troubling circumstances losing his memory just like Wayne and his former intent to contemplate suicide due to his agonizing confusion in life. But he tells Wayne that he has abandoned his suicidal thoughts and pursued a new life as a butcher.

The man then tells Bruce to not go back to who he was before, to which Wayne grabs the man and angrily asks why he should even be given a reason to go back to who he was, as he has already built a beautiful new life that he enjoys. But the confused man tells him that he only wanted him not to go back to being the billionaire Bruce Wayne because Wayne formerly ignored the past pollution of the Gotham lake in front of them, and now wants to ask him to support its current cleansed condition, since Wayne's amnesia has made him focus on more simpler things, such as appreciating nature. But Bruce tells him he doesn't wield the authority and prestige he once had as a head of Wayne enterprises and cant help with that. As Wayne contemplates what would even be the point of becoming who he once was, if his life somehow falls apart or proves to be less meaningful than his current life, the man tells him,

"Or maybe that's all there is. We just make the most of what we have, and it carries forward. We were here. And that's enough. So even if it goes away, or goes back to something ugly... maybe that's okay."

But the man then succumbs to his desire for suicide and raises his gun to shoot himself. But before he does, a large explosion erupts nearby in downtown Gotham, forcing Bruce to leave the park and run toward the noise as he worries of his girlfriend, Julie. The scene of the explosion is caused by non-other than Mr. Bloom and his minions, using their powers to destroy property and harm innocents in the area. Constantly growing to a massive size of over 30 feet tall while carrying Commissioner Gordon, Mr. Bloom uses a nearby helicopter broadcasting the event live to Gotham as a venue to announce his twisted world-view. Bloom compares Gotham to a garden, an unnatural plot of flowers designed to look pretty from afar, but up close in reality, it is a collection of plants that don't belong with each other, constantly fighting for sunlight and water. The people represent the flowers in the garden, while the gardeners are the politicians, businessmen, police and other public officials, portrayed as those who abuse their power to exploit the people they pretend to serve.


Bloom continues to say that the gardeners only care about placing themselves first, referring especially to the new Batman, Commissioner Gordon, who represents the false Superhero chosen by the corrupt system of individuals tarnishing Batman's legacy. Bloom reveals how his many minions around him are the dozens of criminals Gordon caught in his career as a police man, who were set free shortly after their capture (an example of the failed system). Bloom commends the original Batman as being like a wildflower, someone who took power into his own hands like himself. Bloom offers the city a chance to be like himself, revealing how he hid thousands of his super-powered seeds across the city to be used by the people to liberate themselves from the failed system that has betrayed them. Bloom declares his desire by stating:

"Say it. 'Damn all of them. There's only me.' Say it. Say it! Because the city was built on divisions. Dead flower dolls. Gotham isn't some tame garden! It's a wild bloody landscape! So stop wasting your lives! Don't take the pennies! Come to the land of giants! Go get what's yours. Get it! And let what's here die as it should, and grow something wonderful in it's place!"

As Commissioner Gordon attempts to yell to the people below to not listen to Bloom's words, Bloom uses one of his fingers to expand down Gordon's throat, seeking to rupture his internal organs. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne runs to meet Julie and the kids at the Fox Center where he finds that one of the children was corrupted by Bloom's speech, implanting a seed in her body which causes her body to mutate and explode (as 50% of the seeds have the potential to self-destruct). In shock, Bruce Wayne journeys back to Wayne Manor to where he kicks down one of the doors of his home where his faithful butler Alfred Pennyworth is sitting watching Mr. Bloom's rampage unfold on television. Wayne demands that Alfred take him to the Batcave, seeking to once again become Batman in order to save Gotham from Mr. Bloom.

Message for Modern Day

This epic and riveting Batman story holds many political, philosophical, and moral connotations for modern day America. The weed-like Super villain Mr. Bloom represents the weed-like, power-grip of the Democrat Party in the Trump Era of government, seeking to consolidate all their power to oppose Republicans and the Trump Agenda at every turn, despite being a minority in both Houses of Congress. Mr. Bloom's seeds granting criminals and civilians various super-powers represent the deadly seeds of opposition preached by many radical voices in the Left toward Americans to resist the status quo of a productive government and society sought by Republicans. Notable Democrats in direct opposition to President Trump's agenda include: Rep. Maxine Waters, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Bob Corker, Senator Tim Flake, and many others that have either vocally expressed their negative sentiments against the President, advocated for impeachment, or promoted opposition among the general public to block Trump's beneficial measures simply because their rejected ideas run contrary to the President's.

As the new Batman, Commissioner Gordon represents the newly established Republican majority in both houses of Congress following the 2016 Election. Despite providing great protection for the city of Gotham by battling crime, Gordon's failure to prevent Mr. Bloom from taking over Gotham in anarchy and destruction represents how Republicans have failed to pass key legislation in Congress to do away with crippling Democratic measures put in place by the former Obama Administration such as: Obamacare, DACA, the Clean Air Act, and the TPP, which has forced President Trump to nullify many of these policies himself through Executive Order. The rampaging citizens fighting over Bloom's seeds represent the rising anarchy and crime of far-Left hate groups such as: Antifa and Black Lives Matter, heavily funded by Democrat billionaire and former Nazi collaborator George Soros. These groups have been notorious in carrying out the violent opposition, preached by various Democrats, to the extreme, attacking Americans' supporting Trump and hijacking various political and social rights marches. In opposition to Soros' funding, Geri Powers on the other hand represents the many corporate backers and generous donors funding the GOP's efforts to defeat Democrats running in the upcoming 2018 Election.

Duke Thomas' vigilantism against the Penguin represents the proud independence of the rising tide of Nationalist conservatives in America, seeking to take power into their own hands (like a vigilante) to reshape the political structure in America by taking power from the GOP establishment. And lastly, the amnesiac Bruce Wayne represents the dormant potential of his former glory as the original Batman. In his heyday, Wayne funded Gotham to be a prosperous and plentiful city similar to how President Trump helped resurrect many aspects of New York through the Trump Organization. But can Wayne reawaken his forgotten memory and regain the years of unmatched skill and ability once harnessed by his alter-ego, the original Batman? Can Wayne ultimately save Gotham from Bloom? Or is the city already forsaken to its impending demise ... to Bloom? Will liberal tyranny bloom? Or will America experience a beneficial rebirth under President Trump?

*N.B.: This essay is based in part on The New 52's Batman Vol. 9: Bloom by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, Nos. 46-50.

© Stone Washington

 

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Stone Washington

Stone Washington is a Junior History Major at Clemson University, in Clemson, South Carolina, home of the 2016 College Football National Champions. Stone is a five-year alumnus of Envision Leadership Conferences, an exclusive program built around inviting the most accomplished students from across the World and establishing America's next generation of leaders through academic programs designed to foster a readiness in multiple sectors of society, including: politics, law, business, medicine, and economics.... (more)

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