Title: Batman R.I.P.
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Tony S. Daniel
Publisher: DC Comics
Review by: Bill Jones
In the deluxe edition collection of Batman R.I.P., Grant Morrison’s greatest strengths also prove to be his weaknesses. Morrison, who has had runs with Doom Patrol, Superman and numerous other DC mega-titles over the last 20 years, brings a long run with the Batman series to a somewhat strange and ambiguous close with these six issues leading into his hyped, multi-character extravaganza, Final Crisis.
Morrison is up to his usual in R.I.P., taking Batman into a stranger realm than he’s arguably ever been. Morrison resurrects many of the strange Silver Age Batman tales, which he explains away as training hallucinations from self-imposed sensory-deprivation and solitary confinement. This background is only hinted at in the main arc, but fleshed out further in two bonus issues. The six issues also rely heavily on Morrison’s run with the series, leaving anyone who picked this book up as a hopeful stand-alone way out in the cold without reading up on its background first. It also doesn’t help that the ending to the series isn’t concrete, with ambiguous questions about the main villain and Batman’s fate left hanging in anticipation of Final Crisis. Morrison may weave a fantastic story with great skill, but for readers who aren’t incredibly steeped in Batman lore, it may be all for naught.
The story centers on Batman’s confrontation with the mysterious Black Glove organization and/or person who seeks to destroy the virtue, the Bruce Wayne, that drives Batman at its very core in an elaborate plan to attack the thing on which he most relies, his mind. The artwork of Tony S. Daniel is absolutely fantastic, matching the energy of Morrison’s crazy story. But it’s hard not to think that the plot, in Morrison’s effort to resurrect ridiculous old stories, has become quite ridiculous in its own right.
The reveals are interesting and make for immensely powerful scenes on all ends of the emotional spectrum, and the finale sees Morrison delving into concepts as the enemy moreso than physical villains, and asks if Batman might be facing the devil himself, in one form or another. The makings are there for a big Batman story, but Morrison’s vision gets lost in the clutter of years of series continuity that ultimately weighs down an otherwise interesting experience.
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