By: Kryptonian Detective
Written by Grant Morrison;
Art by Tony Daniel and Sandu Florea;
Cover by Alex Ross
DC Comics describes the latest storyline featured in the Batman ongoing title as follows.
“Legendary writer Grant Morrison concocts an unthinkable plot: The death of The Dark Knight! Collecting BATMAN #676-683 in an oversized Deluxe Edition, this volume features artwork by Tony Daniel. While Bruce Wayne drops out of sight, The Club of Villains begins a crime spree through the streets of Gotham City, while Batman’s allies attempt to keep order in the city and find The Dark Knight.”
The most hyped Batman event in comic books in recent years turned out to be mediocre, not as great as advertised. To even advertise the death of Batman in the synopsis is an injustice. For those who haven’t read it (Spoiler Alert!) that never happens. If they had advertised this as the breakdown of Batman, both physically and mentally, it would do this story justice. Usually I’m enamored with just about everything Grant Morrison writes, but this piece left me both excited and confused. I think the idea of having Batman infiltrated and beaten, to a degree, by someone close to him is genius. But, to have it accomplished by some no name rich prissy that he falls in love with over a handful of issues is ridiculous. Having Bruce Wayne essentially lose his mind, as a result of unwillingly subjecting himself to mind manipulation, is something new that readers have yet to see happen. For me this plot point was ruined by the fact that Batman had a failsafe plan for just such a scenario. Not only that, but this apparently elaborate plan only serves to make Batman look like one of the nut jobs he puts in Arkham Asylum. Also, he utters a gibberish phrase that calls upon Bat-Mite, that little imp from the 60’s cartoons. All the while, Bruce Wayne starts talking to dead drug dealers, dons a purple and red bat-suit, and starts acting like the Punisher! If you’ve gotten to this point and are thinking to yourself “WTF? Are you serious” then you know exactly how I felt reading it! I really despised the fact that Jezebel Jet was the mastermind of this whole thing, and that she was added by the Club of Villains. I ask you, who the f*%k are these guys? Damned if I know! You’d think if anyone was going to break Batman as seen here, it would be a collection of his greatest foes? However, only one appears, The Joker… and his role is very minor. He goes on a killing spree before having his @$$ handed to him by Batman. On to the ending… We have Batman chasing after Dr. Hurt, both fighting in a helicopter that eventually crashes in flames into the harbour. I thought, “Nice suspense… is Batman dead or alive?” Well, this was ruined a mere month later in a lame attempt by Morrison to tie R.I.P. into Final Crisis. This left me with two lingering questions. One, why did I bother reading R.I.P., if the real conclusion is in Final Crisis? Two, was Grant Morrison high on some hard drugs when he wrote this story?
Tony Daniel’s art ultimately suffers the same flip/flop effect as Grant Morrison’s writing. He can draw a menacing Batman. Just look at the opening page of Batman #676 where he has Batman and Robin perched on a building in the pouring rain surrounded by a blood-red, thunder-filled sky. That’s spine tingling. However, the purple and red Batman that he drew looks about as menacing as Barney the dinosaur and the Teletubbies combined. The Joker looks way too much like Marylyn Manson, and is never in his traditional garb. It’s too off-putting and distracting. Despite this, Tony Daniel has some pretty iconic imagery in this storyline, and I look forward to his work in Batman: Battle for the Cowl. He may just prove himself to be a perennial bat-artist, along with some of the greats that have illustrated this character in the past.