This thread is a part of our Grant Morrison Reading Project.

Though I read most of Grant Morrison's run on Batman, I wasn't paying too close of attention so I will re-read them, starting with # 655-658 (S'-D' 06), "Batman and Son".

 

#655:

Great opening. The Joker with his now signature crowbar. An imposter Batman beaten to death but not before shooting the Joker.

 

People imitating Batman was a staple in the Bat-canon since no one had to mimic any super-powers. That this poser was an ex-cop reminds me of the Secret Star, a 50s story where Gordon trains five officiers to replace Batman when the time comes.

 

The Joker's outrage at being shot by (a) Batman is like LOST's Ben Linus' when his daughter is killed. THEY changed the rules!

 

Wow! That "Zur En Arrh" graphitti sure stands out now!

 

Nice bits with Alfred and Tim. And that the Bat-suit is not just cloth and spandex.

 

Going to London is nice, especially with the line about the Earl of Wordenshire.

 

Kirk Langstrom is a wreck here, he's usually a lot more pro-active but he is SCARED!

 

The last page reveal of Talia, her son and Men-Bats was very effective!

 

More to follow! 

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The only Batman by Morrison I've read is Arkhum Asylum which I only just got round to buying.I didn't care for it at all and I know it comes with a great reputation but it just wasn't for me,which is a shame as I am both a Batman and a GM fan.
I've got to admit I was partly put off just by the artwork though as I'm not keen on that glossy "arty" stuff
Arkham Asylum is a tough read as it twists a lot of Bat-villains into unfamilar forms. Also McKean's artwork is an acquired taste. This was from a time when DC gave any writer with a British accent the opportunity to do a Batman story but remember Morrison had no long-range plans for him. His grand design came much later and, I think, that he gained a little more perspective and understanding for the Dark Knight!

Batman #670 (D'07): The Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul....a prelude by Morrison and Daniel, begins in Hong Kong where Batman saves I Ching, Wonder Woman's Pre-Crisis blind asian mentor (and was previously deceased) and prevents the theft of the Book of Changes, another book Morrison introduces. There is the quest for Nanda Parbat and a discussion on possessing another's body. This, of course, screams "Deadman" to me but we'll see!

I Ching taught Wonder Woman, advised Superman and now shares info with Batman. Not bad for a character that people thought was a bad "Oriental" stereotype!

The scene changes to the Sensei, a longtime enemy of Ra's Al Ghul, Batman, Deadman and just about everybody else. He does not like bad news. Later he gathers his Seven Men of Death, another "seven" for Morrison, to attack Nanda Parbat and destroy Ra's.

Later in Las Vegas (?), Talia, exuding sex appeal, sends out amped-up D-listers Dragon Fly, Silken Spider and Tiger Moth (1st and ONLY app. of all was Batman #181 (Ju'66), far more remembered as the debut of a more important femme fatale, Poisin Ivy) for the express purpose of drawing Batman out and telling him that Ra's Al Ghul has somehow returned. They also refer to him as the Casanova of Crime, giving him a Silver Age nickname he never could have.

We see "Casanova" later in full Im-ho-Tep mode reunited with Talia. He is now trapped in a decaying body. He meets his grandson Damian, wearing a Robin outfit. It's a Kodak moment! He casually explains that he intends to put his consciousness into Damian's body as, indeed that is his only purpose for existing. Damian does not take it well. Ra's is shocked by his "vessel's" rebellion. Damain is not a person but spare parts. That is his fate and destiny.

Damian merely stares with his usual contempt, almost proudly stating that his father "will break (Ra's) into little pieces!" Talia can no longer command her assassins and Damian must flee one half of his heritage to find safety in the other!

Next time, Robin #168.

BTW, Figs, how do you reconcile Damian with Ibn al Xu'ffasch from Kingdom Come since they are versions of the same Bat-offspring?
Send in the clones.
http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Earth-22

According to this, Xu'ffasch is on Earth-22.
'Gothic' is a much more conventional Batman story by Morrison, Donovan, and you might enjoy it.

This was from a time when DC gave any writer with a British accent the opportunity to do a Batman story Hah! :-)

Batman [...] prevents the theft of the Book of Changes, another book Morrison introduces.

A tendency of Morrison's that I've only recognised lately is that he often conflates what something is and what it symbolises.

I Ching is the character's name, but here he represents the 'Book of Changes', which is another name for the I Ching - the system of divination of the future. The thugs want I Ching to tell them the hidden knowledge of the road to Nanda Parbat. He is the book! (Grant is taking the oriental sterotype and looping it back to something meaningful.)

BTW You stopped reading Seven Soldiers: Zatanna at the 2nd issue, but someone there is referred to as a being a book too. Books are very important in this Batman run. Another book in this present crossover is the biography of Ra's Al Ghul written by the White Ghost, which Batman gets a hold of in the Peter Milligan's Annual. That's a great comic by the way - and set in Australia to boot.

There is the quest for Nanda Parbat and a discussion on possessing another's body.

Who does possess the second thug? Some nameless Demon in the mask? I don't see how it could be Ra's or Deadman. This being only one of two chapters written by Morrison, I don't think that it's central to Morrison's Bat-epic, but I think there are just a smattering of scenes and concepts that tie into it. The idea of the mask taking over the person is a potent one in the context of his entire run.

Reading up on where Dini took these story elements after the crossover, it looks like this is Dini's baby, and Morrison is just along for the ride. Morrison and his huge readership...

Talia, exuding sex appeal...

Morrison's working method is to write up a script for the artists and then tweak the dialogue etc when he gets the art back. I think the reference to Talia's "naughty secretary" look is Morrison commenting on the art he's been presented with. Great info on these bad girls btw. I wondered about their history.

They also refer to him as the Casanova of Crime, giving him a Silver Age nickname he never could have.

Great point. Of all characters too, Ra's definitely was around long before Detective Comics #27!

Damian is not a person but spare parts. That is his fate and destiny.

I'm sure that somewhere in the definition of child-abuse is the treament of them as objects rather than human beings in their own right. Damian is a comicbook abused child.

I mentioned Damian being at the very beginning of his character arc here, and the core value of his father that he is still learning is the sanctity of human life. It obviously didn't trouble him in the graveyard before, but having to face the effective end of his own life in this issue is the very first lesson for him on that path. Before this, like many children, he wouldn't have thought too much about his own death or the lives of others. He has a humility when he returns to the Batcave in the next part of the crossover, which shows some growth, at least.

Regarding Damian and Ibn al Xu'ffasch, I can only say "Stories, Philip, Stories!" Doc has a good point. Just as the glum, defeated Superman of the Kingdom Come Earth isn't really Superman, then neither is the Son of the Bat there the 'real' Damian! More seriously, it does show that Morrison is great at picking up extremely marginal stories and plot elements within the DCU and showing that there is mileage in those half-told tales. Some critics complain that he gets too much praise for ideas that he didn't come up with, but that's missing the point. It's not where you find it, its what you do with it!

As you are better at pointing out than anyone, Morrison is building his whole saga from the marginal, half-forgotten and willfully ignored bits of the Bat-history.

I'm looking forward to rereading The Kingdom again some day. It didn't get much love at the time, but there seems to be a lot in it that would bear a second look all these years later.

Mind you, I'm wondering if the Son of the Bat still exists, as I think Waid destroyed the entire Earth 22 (several times?) in his Gog - New Years Evil farago.

Or perhaps we don't talk about that...
I forgot to mention that I did read Ra's Al Ghul's origin from the Batman Annual. The story was good with Damain's attitude in the forefront. I will admit being skeptical about an origin not written by Denny O'Neil but that's just the continuity nit-picker (con-nit?) in me! :) The artwork was nice, clear and crisp. The introduction of the White Ghost set off red flags or red herrings to me about RORAG but we'll see.

I noticed similarities between Ra's and DC's other immortal villain, Vandal Savage. Their origins and motivations are vastly different but both existed for centuries, fought in the various wars, operated secretly and have issues with their offspring. Ra's could have observed Batman throughout his entire seventy year career, in retrospect. The amazing thing is that Ra's only fought Batman openly "recently" instead of battling DC's past heroes though there was the Jonah Hex episode from Batman:the Animated Series. Indeed Ra's has stayed in the Bat-titles exclusively until "The Tower Of Babel" arc from JLA. Speaking of which, I hope THAT will continue soon, Figs. No pressure, though!

Talia was always a sexual figure. She knew the effect that she had on men and used it to her advantage. She was smart, cunning, seductive and had a moral code. She was the perfect temptation for our Celibate Crusader. Her role as a mother is as head-scratching as Batman's as a father!

Morrison brillantly now gives us a reason to be sympathetic to Damian. He is not a heir, a grandson or the future. He is a new suit for Ra's, to be cultivated and plucked when needed. It also makes us question how he was conceived. Was it natural or artificial? A moment of passion or the product of science? Did Talia carry him or was he actually grown in a lab? Was he genetically altered, in utero or after birth? Could he be more than human? This also echoes Superboy's origin with a combination of Superman's and Luthor's DNA, a phrase that never should be repeated!

Obviously, all of Ra's inner circle, except for Talia, know what Damian's intended role is. No wonder he has no social skills, why bother? Just keep him fit and healthy. Ra's wanted a union of his and Batman's genepools and now he will regret it.

As for the thug's possession, I though it was the Sensei but I could be wrong.

And I didn't mean to open up a can of Ibns. I was just thinking that they're two sides of the same coin. Now if you want to discuss if Dick Grayson has a secret daughter....
And I didn't mean to open up a can of Ibns

I am the Dark Knight's partner,
Grandson of Ra's Al Ghul.
My Dad's got lots of money,
And Gramps just wants to rule.
Ah, you've seen me in the papers,
I've been in the magazines.
But if I go cold,
I won't get sold.
I'll get put in the back
In the discount rack,
Like another can of Ibns.


I am so, so sorry ...
I loved the Batman Annual this time around. It's a well-structured story. Loved seeing Batman in such a strange environment, talking about the cooling systems in his big dark heavy outfit! Great scene where the Batwing appears too.

Milligan is a fine writer, intelligent and well-read. I especially appreciated how Ra's biography referenced real-world history and not endless nods to the closed-in world of DC history.

(Complete aside: The Duke of Wellington there, getting ready to throw the battle of Waterloo, happened to be born in Ireland. When people asked him if that meant he was Irish, he'd reply that being born in a stable doesn't make you a horse...)

I liked the time that Milligan allowed the characters to talk to one another, so that we got to know them well. You have to do a bit of the work yourself with Morrison's characterisation, as he defines them just by a few throwaway remarks they make in passing.

Now that you mentioned it, I would have liked to see O'Neill write the Ra's Al Ghul origin too, but for moral reasons rather than continuity reasons. Ra's stands amongst the very few iconic (and movie-sanctioned) comicbook villains to be created after the 60s. Great villains aren't that easy to come by, and DC owes O'Neill a lot.

She was smart, cunning, seductive and had a moral code.

I don't think you'd like Death and The Maidens Philip! Talia isn't presented like this at all there. She is made to look really weak just to show us how badass Rucka's character is. It's an important story with reference to this crossover, as this leads on from how Rucka left things at the end of that story. Still, in some ways RoRAG just seems to be some DC housekeeping in order to reverse a lot of Death and The Maidens.

Vandal Savage is potentially a hugely significant villain in the DCU, and I've noticed he's appeared in virtually every major DC 'Big Event', if only in passing. In theory, he's a great character, being the living embodiment of the evil that men do since the beginning of mankind itself. I don't think anyone has written his definitive story yet, to cement his position. Rucka was trying before he bailed, but I don't think he quite managed it.
I have Death of the Maidens but all I remember from it was Talia's battle against the sister we never knew existed and the demise of Ra's that he now resurrecting from!

As for the annual, I liked that Batman was interacting with people again. No more silly urban legend nonsense!

As I was saying.....

Can't believe almost TEN months have gone by! Sadly, between cleaning up for my niece's birthday and the preparing and safeguarding against Hurricane Irene, I can't readily find The Return of Ra's Al Ghul issues that I pulled out so regrettably I will have to skip those. Oddly, I do have Robin #168 (Ja'08), the first part by Peter Milligan and Freddie E. Williams II, so I can add that Damian, after learning that he is supposed to be the new body for Ra's, returns to Wayne Manor for help. Understandably, he is not welcomed back warmly by Tim Drake, who Damian sees as a rival.

The gist of the story is that Damian is scared, perhaps for the first time in his life! He wants Batman to protect him but he's not 100% sure he can. But he truly has no other place to go.

 

Moving on:

Batman #672-675 (F-My'08): These are the issues that precede the Batman R.I.P. storyline. Morrison returns to the Imposter Batmen that began his run.

  • Another Bat-maniac (the Third Man) takes Police HQ hostage, calling out the former commissioner Vane and Batman.
  • In a Gotham City version of The View, they are discussing Bruce and Jezebel Jade's relationship. On the panel is Vicki Vale, not happy that she's been ignored for twenty years.
  • Alfred is also trying to advise Bruce to be careful about his and Jezebel's feelings.
  • Seeing the Bat-Signal, Bruce literally bails out on Jezebel from a balloon with a great full page shot of the Bat-Signal "burning" away Bruce to reveal the Dark Knight!
  • As the two Batmen grapple, Commissioner Gordon is shot as is the Masked Manhunter who suffers a cardiac arrest!
  • The words "Zur En Arrh" appear and we are presented with the butchiest Bat-Mite that we have ever seen!
  • In a flashback/dream/delusion, we get Morrison's take on Joe Chill with an interpretation of Batman #47 (Jl'48) and yet another retelling of Batman's origin.
  • Here we see Batman's revenge fantasy as he torments Chill and gives him back the gun he used to kill his parents!
  • Apparently he also let himself be locked away in a sensory deprivation chamber so he could understand the Joker(?!?!).
  • Sanity is a small price to pay in order to deal with your archfoe, who is insane!
  • Guilt over the Robins is combined with his guilt over being helpless to stop his parents' murders.
  • But he does awaken to find himself the prisoner of a sadistic Bat-maniac!

More to follow! Soon I promise!  

Oh my gosh...it does not seem like that long since that thread was around. Jeesh...time flies.

Philip Portelli said:

As I was saying.....

Can't believe almost TEN months have gone by!

More on Joe Chill: as Morrison expands on Batman's haunting of Chill which was hinted at in the original story, here Batman does not want justice, he wants vengeance, hard and cruel. That may be the clue that this is occurring in his mind as it effectively negates Batman: Year Two. Morrison is presenting us with a Dark Knight who is physically, mentally and emotionally battered. He may persevere but it is getting more difficult. He is in need of healing and renewal. He is ripe for "death"!

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