Book of Doom:
Batman #682

Batman 682Having just read Batman #682 for a second time, I’m still not quite sure if I liked it or not. But I guess considering my usual reaction to Grant Morrison’s work, that’s an above-average result.

I like the trip through memory lane that Morrison wrote out here. You don’t see Batman’s Golden Age roots mentioned very often in today’s comics. I guess that might have something to do with the fact that post-Crisis, Batman didn’t exist in the Golden Age, but who knows?

Something that stood out to me is that Batman doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of milestones in his career. There’s the night he decided to become Batman, the debut of Robin, Robin turning into Nightwing…is that it? I guess we’re only halfway through the life and times of Batman, so we’ve still got The Killing Joke, Bane and several more Robins to go through, but this issue just made Batman seem a little unremarkable.

One thing that this issue didn’t even begin to clear up though: how did Batman go from “dying” in a mysterious helicopter crash to being strapped to a weird chair in Final Crisis? That’s kind of what I was expecting this to be about, but I guess that’s what’ll happen next issue.

Doom DeLuise: Well, that was…something.

After last week’s finale to RIP, this week’s issue of Batman seeks to bridge the gap between Batman being blown up in a helicopter crash in the harbor and the first issue of Final Crisis, where we’ll eventually learn the “ultimate fate of the Dark Knight.”

Did it succeed in that? Hell no. I have no idea how Batman got from being blown up and finding himself captured in the EVIL FACTORY by Darkseid’s minions. This issue doesn’t even try to explain it. Instead, we’re given a bunch of flashbacks of bullcrap. It’s not until the last couple of pages that we realize where Batman even is. And, really, I’m sorry, but I can’t get past that stupid F*%#ING name. THE EVIL FACTORY? For crying out loud, that might be the dumbest name for anything ever.

And another thing. Why is this issue titled, “The Butler Did It?” Did they rewrite the ending of RIP, or is it just nonsense for the sake of it?

I was willing to go easy on Grant Morrison last week, but I’m getting pretty sick of all this jumbled-up, freaked-out gobbledygook. Is it too much to ask for a straight-forward, no-nonsense explanation of what the hell’s going on with the death of the Batman?

Jim Doom: So this two-part story is attempting to be two things — a retrospective on Batman’s career and a bridge from RIP to Final Crisis.

On the first front, I’m glad that Morrison figured out a way to make it more than just a nostalgic trip down memory lane. By inserting The Lump — a terribly lame yet oddly appropriate creature given the Apokolips connection — into the story, it puts a storyline within a flashback, making it more than just a flashback.

And that’s good, because as a retrospective alone, I think it kind of fails, because it’s so disjointed that you have to know what happened to make much sense of it. It’s more like a “You had to be there” inside joke, because nobody new to Batman is going to feel like they have a good sense of his history from reading this. That’s how DC seemed to market it, but I’m glad that it’s something different. Giving it its own thread to run throughout the memories — giving readers something to re-read and look deeper for — saved it from being what could’ve been kind of boring or at least superfluous.

As far as a connection to Final Crisis goes, at least we have an acknowledgment of what’s happening. A regular ongoing DC title is actually admitting that Final Crisis exists, and all it takes is the guy writing it to do it. I figure next issue is when we see how Bruce goes from helicopter explosion to Evil Factory. My money is on Nightwing fishing him from the water and handing him over and then they say “Here, you can keep the costume.” Remember, the evil factory is in BLüDHAVEN! Actually, it looks like the betrayal might actually end up being a fictional memory implant to make it appear as if Alfred betrayed Bruce, which seems like a cop-out but I’m willing to let it play out before I judge.

I think I’m going easy on the things that I wasn’t immediately sold on because I actually have more faith than ever that there is going to be a definite and satisfying connection of story threads. Jim Doom of six months ago would never have said this, but I’m disappointed that whatever fallout between DC and Morrison has happened, because I have come to really enjoy his handling of Batman. I mean the guy is even fighting back in his dreams, figuring out that the bad guys have infiltrated his memories! He’s a fantastic depiction of a superhero on the edge who is still managing to harness the chaos he’s willfully unleashed. I love it.