Comics Time: Batman R.I.P.

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Batman R.I.P.

Grant Morrison, writer

Tony S. Daniel, Lee Garbett, artists

DC, 2010

224 pages

$14.99

Buy it from Amazon.com

Here’s a quick list of fun things found in this immensely enjoyable comic:

* Opening a story called Batman R.I.P. with a splash page which reads “YOU’RE WRONG! BATMAN AND ROBIN WILL NEVER DIE!

* A bunch of weird supervillains from around the world sweeping into Gotham City to take it over as a joint venture

* Batman coming home from a long night of crimebusting to bang his gorgeous model/aristocrat girlfriend

* Robin thinking that’s kinda weird

* The Joker drawn as a nightmarish cross between the Thin White Duke, a Cenobite, and bell hooks

* Bruce Wayne’s girlfriend methodically explaining away the majority of the Bat-mythos as signs of debilitating mental illness

* Graffiti shutting down Batman’s brain

* A hunchback and a bunch of guys dressed like gargoyles pounding the snot out of Alfred with clubs

* Batman embedding within himself a back-up personality just in case his regular personality is in some way compromised

* Said back-up personality making a multi-colored costume for itself out of garbage and then running around braining villains with a baseball bat

* The central clue/metaphor being revealed as a pun on the femme fatale’s skin tone and hair color

* Said femme fatale’s leering facial expression when her villainy is revealed

* An impeccably choreographed martial-arts battle between Robin and a killer mime from France

* Villains who are all drawn look like they’re having the time of their lives until the precise moment Batman and his friends arrive to kick their asses, which they in turn are drawn to look like they were born to do

* Doctor Hurt repeatedly referring to himself as Doctor Thomas Wayne and no one believing him

* Jezebel Jet saying “What’s that sound?”–cut to a silent panel of her plane being swarmed by an army of Man-Bats

* Ending with a two-issue Lynchian psychogenic fugue induced by New Gods from Apokalips that simultaneously reincorporates the goofy old Batman adventures from the Silver Age and presents a bunch of shoulda-woulda-coulda alternative realities and ends when a chainsmoking orange person shoots a giant psychic lump of clay repeatedly because Batman has proven too awesome to psychically pirate and clone

11 Responses to Comics Time: Batman R.I.P.

  1. spbelcher says:

    And people say this storyline didn’t deliver. Not every Morrison issue has been a gem, but in general his entire run has been massively satisfying, for me anyway.

  2. Zom says:

    I was surprised how much I enjoyed it when I reread it the other week given that month to month speculation was such a big part of the book’s appeal the first time around.

    And you know what? For all his faults, I actually like Daniel’s dirty art. That splash of the Batman of Zur En Arrh charging out of the frame is one of my favourite comic book panels of recent years.

  3. Sean: Me too. It’s the ongoing Batman comic I always wanted. In all honesty it’s the only ongoing Batman comic I’ve ever enjoyed! (Well, Knightfall was fun.)

    Zom: I know what you mean, but it’s like anything that’s good: In the moment, speculation and anticipation’s a big part of it, but subsequent viewings/readings are rewarding in a different way. Otherwise Twin Peaks, for example, would have zero rewatch value and that’s obviously not the case.

    Also, I’m definitely down with Daniel. He comes in for criticism for all sorts of sins he doesn’t even commit–I’ve seen people bash the clarity of his storytelling, but I’ve never had any trouble following it, something I can’t say for (say) Andy Kubert. I mean, he’s not Quitely or Irving or Williams, but, like, DUH.

  4. Zom says:

    As much as I like Fraser Irving – to take one lauded Morrison collaborator – I found his work on Seven Soldiers and ROBW 2 much more difficult to follow than anything Daniel has done, so the clarity issue remains a mystery to me too. Like you say, he’s not perfect, and I can think of a number of instances where he’s got something flat out wrong, but my eye never struggles across the page.

    On the week to week thing, of course I appreciate that speculation is often replaced by other pleasures upon a reread, but until you go back to a work its difficult to know whether or not that will be case, especially if you were very caught up in the serialised aspect the first time around, as I was in this instance. As much as I like most of Morrison’s work, as much as I think he’s by far the best writer with a regular gig in the superhero sandpit, he is capable of boring and irritating me so it wasn’t a given that I’d enjoy his Batman run a second time around.

    But I did. Oh yes.

  5. For me it was the Return of Bruce Wayne puritan issue where clarity became an issue for me with Irving, simply because his Puritan Bruce Wayne and that other, evil guy looked too much alike.

  6. Pat Kastner says:

    Nice review, Sean. When you list all the great, mad ideas that Morrison incorporates in the story, it makes me realize what a landmark Batman story it was. Now I have to re-read it!

    I’m still not a huge fan of Daniel. I don’t have problems with his storytelling (other than the fact that he isn’t Quitely). I just don’t care for his style. Just not a fan of the post-Jim Lee aesthetic. So I guess I don’t like him any better or worse than the hundreds of other artists out there drawing in the same style.

  7. mckracken says:

    Truly groundbreaking stuff not just for Batman, but for the entire genre.

    Batshit Batman comics from the 50ies made sensible and given a modern context, where they could not only exist but even blossom.

    Girlfriend tells it like it is: “grow the hell up” and/or “30 year old guy doing boys fantasy and playing dress up = should be in therapy”

    Too bad the ending sucked.

    The ultimate villain with the ultimate masterplan should have buried Batman for good – made good on the actual title R.I.P. Now that would have been something, wouldn’t it?

  8. Pat: That’s a totally fair line of criticism. He wouldn’t have been my choice to work with Morrison for that very reason. But since he is, I’ve enjoyed the parts of his work that are enjoyable in that context. I’d say he’s in the upper 50% of Morrison’s recent collaborators.

  9. hilker says:

    Dan DiDio in a Newsarama Q&A, December 2008: “But as I said, because we live in the world of collected editions, we needed a conclusion in the Batman series, so that we could collect it properly within Batman, without having to bring in segments of Final Crisis to complete the story.”

    And then the collected editions people brought those segments of Final Crisis in anyway. What were they thinking?

  10. Zom says:

    Wayne and that other, evil guy looked too much alike.

    Yup.

    Hilker, I suspect they were thinking that it would make a shitload more sense.

    Pat, I understand where you’re coming from. I absolutely do not love, Daniel, but in some ways it’s precisely his genericness that I enjoy, and I say that as someone who was never a fan of 90s comic book art. I think it has to do with the way its blandness rubs up against all that corruption.

  11. tester says:

    Truly groundbreaking stuff not just for Batman, but for the entire genre.

    Batshit Batman comics from the 50ies made sensible and given a modern context, where they could not only exist but even blossom.

    Girlfriend tells it like it is: “grow the hell up” and/or “30 year old guy doing boys fantasy and playing dress up = should be in therapy”

    Too bad the ending sucked.

    The ultimate villain with the ultimate masterplan should have buried Batman for good – made good on the actual title R.I.P. Now that would have been something, wouldn’t it?