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Cryptomimetic tropes in Yoshitomo Nakura’s Batman: Death Mask.

Round, J., 2010. Cryptomimetic tropes in Yoshitomo Nakura’s Batman: Death Mask. Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction.

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Cryptomimesis_and_Death_Mask_-_paper.pdf - Accepted Version



This article discusses the gothic and science fiction influences apparent in Yoshinori Natsume’s Batman: Death Mask with reference to the Derridean notion of the crypt and Jodey Castricano’s linguistic/structural model of cryptomimesis. It begins at the widest level, noting the gothic nature of the superhero in general (whose fragmented identity and use of tropes such as the mask reference this mode. It notes a similar presence of science fiction motifs in the industry’s archetypes, making reference to notions such as pseudo-science and alternate worlds. It then relates these observations specifically to Batman, arguing that this character encapsulates many of these tropes. In terms of the gothic, it discusses the psychogeographic setting of Gotham City, the mask motif, and the tropes of night-time and the vampire bat. It proceeds to consider science fiction tropes in similar terms, making reference to elements such as Batman’s lack of powers and extensive use of gadgetry. It introduces the Derridean notion of the crypt (as something both hidden and external to itself) and, more particularly, to Jodey Castricano’s theories of cryptomimesis (as reliant upon notion of absence, reversal and the other within). It relates these observations to the comics medium in terms of its non-linear nature and hierarchical construction of story arcs. It argues that the cryptomimetic model is particularly applicable to the Batman mythos, which revolves around the notion of memories locked inside and the reversals of ‘secret identity’ and ‘alter ego’. It then narrows this argument still further to consider the presence of gothic and science fiction tropes in Natsume’s Batman: Death Mask. It notes the style and structure of this comic and argues that the juxtaposition of manga stylistics with American comics tropes produces an inherently alien and futuristic effect, despite the historical nature of the story in question, which draws on Japanese tradition. It analyses the comic’s content in similar terms, paying particular attention to the addition of an extra identity to the ‘Batman’ and ‘Bruce Wayne’ facets of this character, and the reversal of the mask motif (as a threat rather than a shield). It concludes by demonstrating that the presentation of these elements is cryptomimetic: reliant on absence, reversal and the notion of the other within.

Item Type:Article
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:14101
Deposited By: Dr Julia Round
Deposited On:30 Apr 2010 07:56
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 13:30


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