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Comic Review: Batman #676 – Batman R.I.P. #1
MajorJJH   |  

Batman #676
Batman #676
Batman R.I.P. #1
Written by Grant Morrison
Pencils by Tony Daniel
Colors by Guy Major
Letters by Randy Gentile
Covers by Tony Daniel (1), Alex Ross (2)
DC Comics
Cover price: $2.99; Available now

With the dawn of Final Crisis comes a number of other DC Universe storylines set to bedazzle and ensnare even the most conservative of comic buyers. Easily at the top of my list, is Batman R.I.P.

I’ve been very lackadaisical in reading my Batman comics of late, and the pile up of comics was beginning to become a little unbearable. And, for a neurotic reader like myself, the situation was an untenable one at best. So this evening, after awaking from a 3 hour nap, eating dinner, and watching the first part of the Color of Magic BBC mini-series, I sat down and waded through The Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul, and its following Batman and Detective titles.

‘The Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul’ was a tale told over four books — Batman, Detective, Robin, and Nightwing — and saw the return of probably Batman’s greatest nemesis (the only other comparable is the Joker). But the story also dealt with Batman’s son with Talia Al Ghul, Damian, with Tim Drake’s feelings of inadequacy, and with the growing turmoil in Batman’s mind.

In fact, the preceding storyline in Batman seems so intrinsically linked with what seems to be evolving in Batman R.I.P. that you will be hard pressed to catch up without having read through those 9 issues (there was a prologue and epilogue).

I won’t sum it up, because that would be a horrendous misuse of my role and a similarly horrible misuse of the story. But a base thought gleaned from the pages of previous issues suggests that Batman is becoming a little unhinged. Let us say, a few bats short of a belfry! This is reiterated several times by way of Tim Drake, who seems to feel that Batman, aka, Bruce Wayne, has not dealt with certain life changing experiences endured during the previous storylines.

There has been a lot dredged up by writer Grant Morrison in the last few issues alone, dealing with Wayne’s past willing mental abuse, or training, call it what you will. A multi-week meditation session that is described by Alfred in 676 as “nothing less … than a complete rehearsal, while living, of the experience of death,” in addition to a week-long sensory deprivation experience in which Wayne hallucinated that he had lost Dick Grayson, aka, the first Robin.

It comes as no surprise then, after the reemergence of all of this information, that Grant Morrison in his R.I.P. title is taking a mental tact in dealing with Batman.

What we see evolving over the past year, and now flourishing in 676, is the creation of ‘The Black Glove’, a group that is planning “the Batman’s Dance of Death.” This fact is hinted at in the opening pages, but revealed in the last to the Joker, who is recruited to the Black Glove as “the Master.”

I won’t spend much time looking at just what this book is, because like many being published at the moment at the top of Final Crisis, they are simply setting the scene for what is to come. So what I will do is attempt to guess what will come.

Tim Drake, as mentioned, is very concerned with Bruce Wayne’s state of mind, however it seems that both Nightwing and Alfred are less concerned, and trust in Wayne’s mental abilities. That the Batman R.I.P. checklist includes issues from Nightwing, Robin and Batman & the Outsiders, I would posit that Robin will be the sole member of the Bat-verse that is looking out for Batman’s mental state in the months to come.

That is not to say that the rest of the Bat-verse do not or will not care about Batman’s mental state, only that it will take until towards the end of the R.I.P. event for them to realize an issue exists.

Of this, I am only hazarding a guess. Drake seems to be being set up for this role, but it goes against my belief that Nightwing and Alfred are looking out for Batman regardless of anything. So how that plays out I am not 100% certain. Of one thing I am certain, Batman is about to lose another love of his life.

Over the past several issues we have seen Bruce Wayne become attached to Jezebel Jet, an ex-model or something that has taken up her now dead fathers charity work. However just last issue Wayne, albeit unexpectedly and seemingly unprepared, revealed his secret to her. The revelation of Batman’s secret to any Wayne love interest is like pulling on a red security jumper in Star Trek; death will soon follow.

Lastly, we’ve seen Batman take a renewed interest in the Joker, especially in the DC Universe #0 special that came out a few weeks back. Now, with the way that the Joker was written in to this issue, there is no guessing as to who will be Batman’s prime villain throughout R.I.P.

The scene was nothing short of creepy, with Tony Daniel‘s art simply spine chilling. All the colors were withdrawn from the page, leaving it an eerie gray, except for red and green; the Jokers colors. The scene of devastation that saw Robin, Nightwing and his visitor butchered, was nothing more than the Jokers imagination responding to a Rorschach inkblot.

Daniel’s has shown a continual ability to perfectly visually interpret the Bat-verse characters. Having worked with Morrison since he started his run on Batman, Daniel’s has only gotten better, and his portrayal of every character shows a real understanding of the characters themselves. And while I haven’t seen a better Tim Drake or Nightwing in awhile, it is the Joker that Daniel’s has perfected, and by the end of this Bat-verse crossover event, I have no doubt that this Joker will align very closely to Heath Ledger’s cinematic portrayal, in cinemas in July.

The last thing I want to say for this comic is the variant cover by Alex Ross is stunning. Not surprisingly, of course, but the painted realistic approach that Ross has made his own has always been best suited to Batman and his friends and enemies. Make sure you pick up this cover, if you haven’t already!

This comic gets 4 out of 5 for the storyline – as it’s only just beginning – but 5 out of 5 for the artwork. Batman R.I.P.; make sure your reading this!

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