Monday, December 29, 2008

Pseudo-Live-Blogging: Grant Morrison's Batman Run - Batman & Son

As you may know (or care) my job leaves me with a fair bit of empty time in the middle of the night. How do I fill the empty hours, you ask? Instead of pondering exisential crises, I've been reading a lot of comics. Having recently read through Batman #681, I've been playing with the idea of re-reading Morrison's run over the course of a few nights of work. There are definitely a few issues in there that aren't very straightforward on their first read. I figured I'd like to see if they made more sense as a bigger part of a coherent whole. So I grabbed a handful of issues before I came in tonight, and I'm going to write my impressions as I re-read them.

The only issues I plan on skipping are the Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul issues. I'll probably even post my comments as I torture myself by re-reading the Grotesk story arc that popped up early in Morrison's run. Hey, my torture is your enertainment. I get that.

Now, because I do have to ge up and occasionally do bits of work, I'm just going to save drafts, and push the 'Publish Post' button once at the end of the night. (Hence, pseudo-live-blogging.)

So let's get started with Batman #655, the start of Morrison's run.

  • Wow, talk about starting off with a bang. The commisioner's been gassed! The Joker's beaten Batman with a crowbar. I can't help but wonder if it's the same one he beat Jason Todd with.

  • Okay, just noticed that. Graffitioed all over the wall on the page with the title/credits is "Zur En Arrh". Seriously, it's ALL OVER the wall. That's really something Morrison was playing from the beginning.

  • I don't know what amuses me more... that Alfred actually feeds the Bats in the cave, that Bruce has never noticed, or that the bats apparently have a favorite meal. Those are some spoiled rodents.

  • I like the scene where Alfred is coaching Bruce on the finer points of being Bruce. It's a nice commentary on the Batman books.

  • Damian gets a nice intro in this issue. It's subtle, but you can pick up on the fact that he's a bright kid. He's good enough to pick out the father he's never met in a crowded room. Of course, that may be in part due to the fact that Bruce is so used to being Batman.

This issue's a nice entry point. It throws a fair bit of Batman at the reader, with Jim Gordon, Alfred, Robin, The Joker and Kirk Langstrom... but it never quite manages to seem overwhelming. It also punctuates the 'grim and gritty' with a few surprising bits of humor.

  • Grant... you had me at Ninja Man Bats.

  • I love the interplay between Batman vs Ninja-Man-Bat action, and the comic-book art panels on display in the museum. Really neat way to work in sound effects, etc.

  • I like the way Batman goes through plans A through D in a matter of seconds, as he waches the situation escalate.

  • It might be a tip that Jesebel knows that Bruce is Batman. As Alfred helps her out of the museum, she comments that Bruce Wayne is still inside with the Prime Minister's wife.

This one's another solid issue, but where the last issue was largely setup, this one consists mostly of action. But it's never hard to follow and it's never dull. There are also nice touches to help explain Batman's almost superhuman tactical skill. He comments (via inner monologue in a caption box) that the cowl's mic is so sensitive it can pick up the Man-Bat's navigational shrieks.

  • Wow... Talia just tells Bruce that he's Damian's father and he's already showing him around the cave?

  • The confrontation between Damian and Robin seems a little sudden. I don't know, maybe it's just that Tim has been around long enough as Robin that I don't expect him to immediately feel threatened by Damian.

  • I like that Batman is making wry comments on Damian's spoiled behavior. It's good to remind us that Bruce does have a sense of humor.

  • I like the idea that the police try to infiltrate the gangs of Gotham's costumed criminals. Nice touch. But in the first issue, didn't they say that Batman had coralled pretty much all of the costumed crooks in the city? Was the Spook too small a fish to count?

  • The notion of Damian as a rival for Tim is a really neat idea. I wonder why they never let him into the Robin title? That would have made for some great reading. The more I read about Damian, the more I like him. He's absolutely brilliant, but criminally misguided.

  • Does anything ever surprise Alfred? Beaten up by Bruce's son and locked in a closet, and he's right back to business as usual? I suggest testing him for metagene activity.
  • Damian's a surprising character at every turn. He's brilliant, and dangerous with a criminally skewed view of the world. But seeing him desperate for Batman's approval? I'm suspicious. But this first four issue arc has me wishing we'd spent more time with him.
  • Batman has a rocket? I can see boats, cars and jets... but I tend to have a little trouble with the non-traditional vehicles.
  • Why does Batman refuse Talia? If he joins her, she'll help him fight crime. I'd have liked a little more explanation for saying no. Granted, kidnapping the wife of the British Prime Minister seems a bit of a complex task for making the offer, but it did get Bruce to spend some time with Damian.

I think I'm going to draw this post to a close here. Maybe I'll stick with generating a post for each story/story arc.

What did we get out of this issue? "Zur En Arrh" all over Gotham City. Jezebel Jet was introduced to Bruce's life, and we know she plays a big role later on. Damian was introduced, and he also comes back into play... both for the Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul and in Batman R.I.P.

It's also a good, fun Batman story. If you haven't read it, I'd recommend picking it up. Aside from the buildup towards Batman R.I.P. this one's an entertaining story all on it's own. Grant Morrison is showing his love not just for Batman, but for Bruce Wayne. He's referencing some of the earlier, crazier Batman stories with elements like space ships and Zur En Arrh... that's a trend that definitely continues later into the run, and is key to Batman R.I.P. It's good stuff.


p said...

Interesting. I look forward to your re-reading of the next several issues. I have also been meaning to re-read Morrison's run on the title, but haven't found the time or dug out the issues to do it yet.

Latenite said...

I've been out of comics for ages - is Damian the end result of the events in the Batman: Son of the Demon one shot?

Jovial1 said...

P - It's totally worth it. Well, up until I re-read Grotesk. Since it has no bearing on anything, I highly recommend giving that arc a pass.

Latenite - Morrison has certainly referenced Son of the Demon in interviews. Talia refers back to the night she spent with Bruce. While none of the specifics of Son of the Demon are referred to, it shouldn't be a great surprise that DC re-printed it right before Morrison's run started. And Damian is still around, with folks suspecting he'll soon be Robin.