Thursday, February 26, 2015

"Palin Protocol"...?

Last week's New 52: Futures End included this strange, unexplained reference, which I'm going to present in context here.

It is the year 2020, and superhero-turned-tech entrepreneur Mr. Terrific and Batman Bruce Wayne had previously collaborated on the creation of some sort of advanced A.I. called "Brother Eye." Terrific has been talking with it, but seems to be unaware of the fact that it's developed some form of sentience, and/or has been compromised by space-faring machine intelligence Brainiac, who is currently trying to remove Manhattan in tact from the planet Earth in order to add it to his collection of stolen cities.

Readers know that in the future, Brother Eye will go all Skynet on planet Earth, conquering it and turning its superhumans in murderous cyborg enforcers, which is why the Batman of the future sent his protegee Batman, Terry McGinnis, back in time to the year 2019 (the goal was 2014, in order to stop Terrific and that era's Batman from creating Brother Eye in the first place, but the time travel screwed up).

So, in New 52: Futures End #42, drawn by Scot Eaton and Scott Hanna and written as always by the four-man writing team of Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen,, Batman confronts Terrific about Brother Eye, and sticks a flash drive into a nearby computer, issuing the command "Initiate Palin protocol," apparently in an attempt to shut down Brother Eye.

Here's the scene in question, in which Batman's final line appears as a "voiceover" to the next scene, in which Terry McGinnis fights a murder-borg from the future:

So, uh, what exactly is the Palin Protocol, and why is it called that?

Presumably this week's Futures End #43 will show what it does, but apparently it doesn't explain why Batman (and/or Azzarello and company chose that particular name). I can't think of any DC characters attached to the name Palin, nor can I find any by Googling. More tellingly, Robot 6's DC expert Tom Bondurant didn't come up with a DC Comics-connection to the name either, joking in last week's "Futures Index" that the odds that it refers to Monty Python are almost astronomically low.

So I guess we have to assume that the "Palin" in "The Palin Protocol" refers to the number one Goolge search result for "Palin": Sarah Palin.

But what's it do, and why is it called that?

Does it translate Brother Eye's commands into complete, undecipherable gibberish, thus rendering it impossible for Brother Eye to communicate with any other systems?

Does it convince most other computer systems that Brother Eye just isn't qualified to take control over them by demonstrating Brother Eye's inexperience, ignorance, mean-spiritedness and limited world-view?

Does it make Brother Eye quit half-way through the path it had previously committed itself to?

Does it cause Brother Eye to abandon its professed ambition to become one of the most powerful forces in the world by convincing it that it would be really, really hard and not much fun to get there, and/or by convincing Brother Eye that it could make much more money if it pursued a career as a reality television star and cable news special commentator?

I guess we'll have to wait until future issues of Futures End to find out. Finally, the series has produced a cliffhanger I'm actually interested to see the conclusion of!


By the way, as long as I posted that page in which Mr. Terrific tells Batman he spoke to "God," did that strike anyone else as super-weird? Mr. Terrific II Michael Holt was, in the pre-Flashpoint DCU, rather pointedly atheist, which made interactions with ghosts and The Spectre and other supernatural characters and conflicts particularly uncomfortable for him.

Did he lose his atheism in the New 52 re-boot? (I didn't read his short-lived solo series, and his faith and worldview didn't really come up in any of his appearances in Earth 2 or Earth 2: Worlds End that I've read). Or is that the point of the scene, that his interactions with Brother Eye and/or Brainiac have so-changed him that they converted him from atheism to belief in a God, even if it's a super-powerful alien machine intelligence rather than the God most people who believe in God might think of (Not that that's a uniform concept, either, but I'd bet very few people who believe in God believe that his real name is Brainiac).


Tom Fulcher said...

I did read Mr Terrific's N52 series (don't), and yeah, he's an atheist there, too. In fact, he's a "I'm an atheist and a jerk about it" kind of atheist.

bad wolf said...

My interpretation was that a Palin Protocol was a Self-destruct mechanism. Which, fair enough, that's one way of describing her path, but also could come across as coastal elitist dead horse-beating.