Batman for fun and profit

Now that the more-or-less final chapter of Phase 2 of Grant Morrison’s grand Batman mega-run, The Return of Bruce Wayne #6, has been released, I took the opportunity to read all of his Return-related comics in a row, interspersed in a way that made at least some sense to me. This is how I did it:

Batman and Robin #10
Batman and Robin #11
Batman and Robin #12
Batman #700
Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1
Batman and Robin #13
Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #2
Batman and Robin #14
Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #3
Batman #701
Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #4
Batman #702
Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #5
Batman and Robin #15
Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #6
Batman and Robin #16

I post this for two reasons. One, I’m wondering if anyone else there has a better or more official reading order for this material. (God, can you imagine how nuts this would all drive a civilian?) Two, I want to say that reading all this material back-to-back was almost unspeakably badass. A gigantic Batman epic sprawling from the dawn of man to the end of time, involving all his oldest friends and allies and three of his creepiest and scariest villains, with more secrets and clues and booby traps and symbols than Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, featuring impeccably choreographed fight scenes, dotted with career-best work from Frazer Irving and Cameron Stewart and some fine stuff by a whole lot of other people too. I’m not going to say “if you like superhero comics at all, you’ll love this” because I’ve been at this long enough to know that there isn’t a single comic out there of which this is true–certainly not a Grant Morrison comic at that. But it is absolutely, positively what I come to superhero comics for. And after a month and a half spent reading the work of Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, all that jumping back and forth in space and time and story necessitated by interpolating the different series and storylines like I did only made it better. I imagine that if I were to have read his entire run back-to-back, including Batman R.I.P. and Final Crisis and everything, I’d be in something akin to a happy Bat-coma. Such a magnificent comics-reading experience!

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11 Responses to Batman for fun and profit

  1. nicholas says:

    sean, would the first batch just included his batman run up to r.i.p? where would you include final crisis (would you have to include final crisis?) this sounds like fun!

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  3. David! says:

    I had the exact same question as Nicolas. Where does FC fit in all of this and the related issue(s) of 52 . I actually pulled out all my Morrison Batman and Final Crisis issues (incl. Superman 3D and the other one shot) a couple of days ago with the intent of putting them all in order and reading to the end of Batman and Robin 16.

    I brought this up with my local comic shop buddies this week and we were all a bit scrambled by this.

    I think that Sean should create the ultimate maga Morrison reading list for this story.

  4. Duncan says:

    Right boys

    The only really integral issue of 52 is week 30, which they really should trade at the start of Morrison’s Batman run, beginning ish #655

    Fairly straightforward hence (Although! I do kind of think Batman #663 is chronologically somewhere betwixt #655-6) until #674 – avoid #659-662 as they don’t count – and then there’s the hindrance of the Return of Ra’s al-Ghul crossover which no-one will want to read twice

    Then! You have DC Universe #0, ostensibly the endpoint of a series called Countdown which you are Ignoring on Pain of Death ->

    RIP (#675-81) leads directly into Final Crisis – you can read the missing chapters #701 inbetween and #702 after FC if you like for a lark, it works alright; the two tie-in issues of Batman #682-3 go between FC #5 & 6 (Offishal Morrison Order there)

    After aw that, for simplicity’s sake I’d just read B&R#1-12, Batman 700 (I’d actually read through to to 702 here because it leads into…), The Return of Bruce Wayne #1-6 and then B&R #13-16; the story’s essentially bifurcated with RoBW and the three Batman issues until B&R #16

    but kind of the whole point, as with Seven Soldiers which I drove myself mentalll trying to get a Korrekt Kronologikal read of, is that it’s a bit of a hologram, and it looks different from different vantages, which is why you, the loyal customer can shuffle yr single issues as reward for tolerating flowbreaking ugly ads

    splash about a bit

  5. Duncan says:

    n.b. I don’t THINK you have to include Final Crisis, of which Batman features on about fully 10 pages of, most of which are almost fully recapped in Batman #701-2. Just kind of have to know it happened really.

  6. Thanks, Duncan! I love outsourcing! 🙂

    I like to include Final Crisis since obviously Batman’s standoff with Darkseid is such an integral part of the rest of the Bat-run. Besides, it feels similar, and why not? As Duncan says, Morrison considers Batman #682-683 part of Final Crisis and says they should be read between issues #5-6. (I’ve wedged mine into the hardcover!)

    I’m sure Duncan’s right and that the recent overlapping Bat-material could be read separately as he suggests, but I have to say I really enjoyed bouncing back and forth from storyline to storyline by alternating them. If you’re at all used to similar techniques in television or other comics–my Los Bros example, for example–you’ll get a lot out of it.

    FWIW, here’s Morrison’s official reading order for Final Crisis and its tie-ins:

    FINAL CRISIS # 1- 3
    FINAL CRISIS # 4 – 5
    BATMAN #682 – 683
    FINAL CRISIS # 6 – 7

  7. Hey Sean – looks good to me. you just totally reminded me that I forgot all about Batman issues 700-702 on my list for Bruce Wayne: The Road Home etc.

    Thanks a lot for that, I’ve added the couple issues and linked back to you for credit. Let me know if you have any other advice as you continue reading, I always like to hear what other people are thinking.

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  9. hilker says:

    A few observations:

    1. The “today” section of #700 fits best between B&R #9 and 10. It introduces the whole time travel theme and I like the idea of the dynamic duo pausing to honor the Waynes on Crime Alley before looking for Bruce.

    2. Dialogue in the Blüdhaven scene in ROBW #3 places that scene between B&R #12 and 13.

    3. #701-2 are harder to place, and it might be a question of how strongly the reader wants to identify with Bruce Wayne. If you read 701 and 702 right before and after Final Crisis itself, you’re recreating BW’s experience. If you place them later, maybe you’re putting yourself in the shoes of one of the investigators, reviewing BW’s case notes for clues. The contents of 702 aren’t in play for those investigators until after ROBW #1, and get referenced in an investigator’s dialogue in ROBW #5. The contents of #701 aren’t referenced directly that I recall, but I think it’s plausible that someone would have reviewed them early in the investigation.

  10. Richard Baez says:

    700 is an odd duck – it’ll be interesting to see where that gets shoehorned in the scheme of trading.

    For simplicity’s sake, #701-2 work remarkably well as a prelude for ROBW – it’s bound to be problematic (to say the least) for anyone coming to the tale cold, but those two issues do a lot of heavy lifting; DC would be wise to place those at the beginning when the mini’s traded.

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