Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pseudo-Live-Blogging: Grant Morrison's Batman Run - The Black Casebook

Well, since I'm not procrastinating anything by returning to Morrison's Batman run (and the fact that I'm kindof eager to undertake a similar exploration of Final Crisis) I return to Batman with issues 664 and 665.

Batman #664 - Three Ghosts of Batman

  • Ah, Man-Bat Ninjas. Grant Morrison, you so crazy.
  • "He says you're cool, like James Bond" - I'd never thought about it, but it's a remarkably accurate comparison. Both are, essentially, highly trained people, but not superhuman. Both use high-tech gadgets to accomplish their goals. But where Bond does his work in a tuxedo, Bruce puts on the cape and cowl. Of course, Bruce's entrance in this scene is very Bond as well.
  • It's interesting to watch Jezebel Jet trying to work her way under Bruce's skin. What's supposed to look like a romantic dinner where the pair bond over shared pain almost looks like she's probing him. Maybe I'm reading too much into it?
  • More Zur-En-Arrh graffiti in the background as we transition back to Gotham.
  • Massive guy in a luchadore mask - I wonder just how much I'm supposed to think of Bane.
  • The comments about this big lug being steroid fueled continue the 'Bane' thoughts, but the massive stomp right on Batman's back makes it pretty clear.

Batman #665 - The Black Casebook

  • It's good to see that no matter how rough a town Gotham is, when a Bane/Batman mashup tries to smash your spine, a hooker will drive you home.
  • Ahh, Bruce Wayne's penthouse. I mention this, because in interviews I believe Grant Morrison referred to loving the Batman of this era, where he lived in the city to be more centrally located. Again, with the posh living and secret passages, James Bond similarities aren't far off.
  • Even Bruce draws the connection between Magilla the Gorilla from the last issue and Bane.
  • Another hint of the Black Glove. After defeating Bane-Bat, not only does the criminal up and vanish, but the Mayor is leaning on Gordon to stay away from this. The implication being that someone else is leaning on the Mayor... somebody rich and influential.
  • As Talia returns following the Batman and Son story arc, she's interested in Bruce having been seen with Jezebel Jet recently. I wonder if she's aware back here that Bruce is being targeted by the Black Glove.
  • As Bruce and Jezebel kiss, we see a shot of a pair of hands holding binoculars, spying on them. Hands wearing black gloves.

Some thoughts after reading these two issues.

This story begins to re-introduce some of the elements of Batman that have been missing since Crisis on Infinite Earths rebooted the DC Universe, and Frank Miller's Batman: Year One redefined the Caped Crusader for the modern era. Morrison seems to want to bring back Batman's encounters with aliens and with the supernatural. This is an important aspect that carries over into 'Zur-En-Arrh' and the R.I.P. storyline.

These two issues are pretty straightforward. It could be argued that the next issue, #666 belongs with these two. The stories reference three 'alternate' Batmen that Bruce encountered... one who killed criminals with a gun, another who was a steroid-fueled mass of rage, and a third who sold his soul to the devil and destroyed Gotham. Issue #666 is a clear reference to the final of those three, but because that is a story of Damian Wayne, not Bruce, I'm going to reference it separately.

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