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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Having read it today, I can confirm that Batman #701 - RIP, The Missing Chapter, part 1, is both 'safe' to read going into Final Crisis, and also reads as a pretty essential bridge in your reading project.  It's a fine comic, and probably adds to the pathos of what Batman is about to experience.  It also gives a useful timeline regarding the chronological relationship of RIP to FC.  Go for it!  You can decide whether to slot it into this thread or the other one.

 

Batman #702 - RIP The Missing Chapter part 2 ends with the words 'to be concluded in Return of Bruce Wayne #6 and Batman and Robin #16', so is probably best left to be slotted in just before those comics.

BATMAN #701 (S'10): The Hole in Things (RIP-The Missing Chapter)

As Figs stated, this takes place directly after the events of Batman #681. Why the delay? Final Crisis was running concurrently with Batman RIP and Batman's predicament had to be adressed. We knew he lived through the copter crash because that's what he does!

  • "Surviving is Easy." One of Batman's mantras. He excels at it. But living is hard.
  • A maskless Batman searches the water for Doctor Hurt's body. Again holding his breath is emphasized.
  • I can't explain the picture of the constellation Taurus.
  • I loved the brown cloth emergancy back-up to the back-up cowl. A simple mask, just in case.
  • Instead of Nightwing and the rest, he meets Ellie, a young woman he saved from a life of prostitution. This brief encounter reaffirms his mission and strengthens his resolve.
  • An exhausted and battered Dark Knight returns to Wayne Manor through the front door.
  • Of course Alfred is there and their relationship is reconfirmed. It is as close to normal as these two get.
  • "...and we were right about Jezebel." A simple line that says so much about how he deals with things like this. Still it is a plothole that I can't pave over.
  • Using the Bat-Sub, he can't find Hurt's body, the hole in his piece of mind. Is he alive? What will he do next?
  • Bruce cannot yet wear the Bat-cowl. "THE NEXT TIME YOU WEAR IT WILL BE YOUR LAST." Does he believe that? Should he believe that? If he does or doesn't, will there be a price to pay either way?
  • The grandfather clock has stopped. Not good.
  • The Hidden Room of Wayne Manor. The secret between Bruce and his parents. What COULD it be? ;-)
  • Bruce erasing Jet from his computer but can he erase her fom his memories and his heart.
  • "Super-People." "They sometimes forget I'm flesh and blood." Batman's own persona is working against him. The JLA treat him as superhuman because he wants them to think he is superior to them. But now that he is weary, injured and clearly not focussed, he can't refuse to sit it out.
  • The scandals, the attacks and the losses are assailing him at all angles yet he must BE the Dark Knight now.
  • Defiant, he dons his cowl and jets away, his personal ordeal giving way for the cosmic epic. Is he ready? Is he prepared?
  • "Think Fast, Batman."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Morrison is showing us Bruce Wayne the man not the Caped Crusader. His doubts, his fears, his disappointment in himself. Does he blame himself? Does he feel that he should be better than he is? Morrison's solo Batman must morph back into his super-science JLA Batman but he is still feeling the effects from his odyssey. Will he return? And how will he return?

Other thoughts:

  • Bruce is not that worried about Jezebel, is he? Beyond electronically cutting her out of their pictures, she KNOWS his secret identity, where the Bat-Cave is, who his allies really are, probably his Facebook password, that he likes pina coladas and getting caught in the rain, etc. She is still very dangerous!
  • Bruce knows his limitations. He just doesn't accept them.
  • Nice to see his tech back especially the Bat-Sub. If only the Whirly-Bat would return...
  • I laughed when Superman summoned him to solve the death of Orion. Something so cosmic and it's up to the "human" to do the work. "Hey Bruce, thinking is your thing! But if you need me to bend some steel with my bare hands, you got my number!"
  • Bruce never looked more heroic than going on despite the spectre of his mortality almost consuming him. He may be defeated, he may be killed but he will never give up!
  • Plain old human defiance and stubbornness. Fitting going into Final Crisis, as Morrison knew it would be.

I'll just start by lazily reposting what I wrote when Batman #701 was published in July 2010.  It does mark the first Bat-book in your readthrough that I was reading monthly, rather than trade-waiting,  Batman RIP was the last collection I got.  It felt really great pulling out the hardbacks so far, and losing myself in them without the distractions of the protective bag, or the ads for Trainers and SUVs.

 

In some ways this post gives a feel for how 'The Missing Chapter' felt to read at the time, ie long after Batman RIP, some time after the dust had settled on Final Crisis, and around the time Bruce finally started his journey back to the 21st Century.

 

**********************************************************

 

I had wondered before this came out whether these two issues filled a genuine gap in Morrison's epic Bat-narrative - one that Morrison couldn't fill in until most of Batman & Robin and Return of Bruce Wayne had run their course. Or was it mandated by editorial and the fans who couldn't cope with the narrative jump between RIP and Final Crisis? Judging by the first of these two issues it’s the latter. 



Previously we were able to work out that Batman survived the helicopter crash at the end of RIP and later got the call from the JLA that a New God had been murdered, drawing Batman into the events of Final Crisis. This issue shows us these things happening without really adding anything new. 



How Batman escaped from the crash was always going to boil down to "because he's Batman!" Morrison has been foregrounding this aspect of Batman’s character in his run and he rubs it in further by having Bruce himself say in the very first lines of the book: “Surviving is easy. Surviving is what I do. Ever since that first night when Joe Chill turned his gun on Dad and Mom.”



So is this issue therefore a waste of time? Far from it. The gap between RIP and Final Crisis is perhaps the most notorious of the kind of narrative shortcuts with which Grant was frustrating the hapless linear thinkers of 2007. It was really emblematic of his writing then. This issue probably was editorially driven, but it feels like something of a rapprochement with more traditionally-minded Batfans. Pointedly so perhaps.



Bruce's explanation of how he survived comes in the form of the kind of first-person journal that was used repeatedly in post-Miller Bat-stories, but was the butt of a joke of Morrison’s early in his run. But this access to Batman’s inner monologue is not necessarily a bad thing. After the alienation of the RIP storyline, the distancing techniques of FC, and Bruce's long absence from the ongoing DCU, the time spent here with Bruce's innermost thoughts is a welcome reminder of why we all love the big guy in the first place.



This is a very warm comic. Bruce arrives home after a hell of “a night on the town”, glad to be alive and with the rising sun shining on him like a blessing. I don’t often get to identify with Batman, but it made me think of similar glad early morning homecomings back in my own wild years. The style of the journal entries isn't tough and hard-boiled, but instead show a very human and vulnerable side to Bruce. We see him meeting a young girl he had earlier rescued from the streets, and realise that it's compassion that drives Batman as much as anything. When he gets the call from Superman, he rather disarmingly admits his own vulnerability, at least to himself: “Super-people. I’ve worked so hard to earn their respect, they sometimes forget I’m flesh and blood.”



This is a Batman we aren't used to seeing, and seems a far cry from the Batman of Morrison's 90's JLA. It's also a kind of Winicky Batman comic. It's all about the pleasure of spending time with this much loved icon of our childhood, rather than watching him jumping from one tight spot to the next. It's a strange issue in that regard; a change of gears from Morrison's usual treatment of these heroes. Although it's like Morrison is making time while waiting for the slowcoaches to catch up, it's time well spent. Bruce's musings provide a Coles Notes version of what happened up to Final Crisis. In particular they stress how formidable an opponent Dr Hurt is. We know that Hurt was right when he said that the next time Bruce puts on the mask will be his last, but Bruce doesn't, and that's where the pathos of this issue lies.

The time-lag between when this happened in DCU time and this being published thus does work in its favour. We know that what Bruce thinks of as the end of his torment is only really the beginning, and we feel for what he’s about to go through.

The pathos of Bruce’s brief respite serves for the drama of most of the issue, but the last few pages do convey the idea of a trap closing around our unwitting hero. The ending is one of the most satisfying last pages I’ve read in a while, as Bruce examines Orion’s murder scene and realises big things are happening:

Think fast, Batman!”

 

**********************************************************

Your point about Jezebel and all her cohorts knowing about Bruce's identity and the Batcave is a good one. It made for big shocks in Morrison's run, but doesn't leave things very tidy for whoever is writing along with him, or after him.  In-story, maybe Bruce was aware that these people play at the highest level and wouldn't make any secrets they pick up common knowledge.  Like how there is probably a code amongst high-end celebrities in Hollywood not to share their secrets with the tabloids.  Even the secrets of colleagues they don't particularly like.  A secret is only a weapon if it is a ...secret.

 

No, not a great rationalisation of the situation, but the best I could come up with...

 

Good catch on Bruce not wwearing his costume in the Bat-sub.  He's giving some credence to Hurt's prophecy.

 

Is the Whirly-Bat the seat with the helicopter blades attached?  It has appeared several times in Morrison's run, and not always in flashbacks.

 

Good reading of how Morrison is handling Batman in Final Crisis.  It's not just that he represents the core human who must save the day against cosmic evil, but a human who is stretched to the very limits of his endurance and ability to take on any more.

 

Possibly Bats wouldn't have fallen so quickly to Granny/Kraken if he'd been on top form.  He was just a heartbeat too slow at putting the facts together and reacting to them in FC #2.  But rereading Final Crisis now, it seems masterly to me how the heroes are shown in each scene being just a step behind the curve they need to be on.  We see what their adventures would be like if luck wasn't always on their side.

 

Reading Final Crisis and the Bat-epic together is a strange business isn't it?  Batman's resonance in each is multiplied by the other story.  Final Crisis is a crucial part of the Bat-epic, but it is about so much more than what happens to Bruce.  Again its the strange Venn-diagram relationship between the two epics.  How are they going to be sold, finally? 

 

The two Batman issues that deal with Bruce's captivity in Command D seem strange tacked onto the end of Batman RIP as it is collected at the moment.  And then Batman is such a sketchy character in Final Crisis itself.  His role has much more pathos when read with RIP in mind. 

 

Batman 701 is a perfect bridge between the two stories though, and will hopefully by appended to RIP in future collections.  But then it's strange that the second part will need to be slotted in much later in the readthrough.

Thanks for the kind words and encouragement. I read Final Crisis #3 and am gathering my words. But my God, it is depressing!

Ah, sure, it's a long road has no turnings...

I looked at Batman 701 again last night.  I'll take your word for it that that is a diagram of Taurus there.  I have no idea what it signifies.  As much as Morrison loves his esoterica, I don't think he's very interested in astrology.  I haven't seen much reference to it in his comics.

 

It struck me that 'The Hole in Things' is a somewhat playful title for a comic that fills a much-criticised gap in the narrative between Batman RIP and Final Crisis.

The Mindless Ones have some great coverage of Morrison's Batman, Philip.  They are more playful about what is going on in its pages and some of their responses to the content are quite personal, rather than overly serious and continuity-obsessed.

 

In any case, here is a post on Batman #701, and the follow-up commentary includes some replies by a guy called The Satrap, which are quite insightful.  He wrote it before the Dr Hurt storyline was wrapped up, so some of his ideas didn't play out, but they are worth reading.

 

In this post, he identifies the constellation on P3 as Sagittarius and digs some meaning out of that.

 

To wit:

 

"Fun fact. The graphs on the third page of Batman #701 which showcase “the world and the stars” that turn above the diving, bradycardiac Batman include a very specific set of stars, those of Sagittarius. Within the confines of Sagittarius lies the radio source Sagittarius A*, which is associated with the massive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way. That’s a pretty big “hole in things”, the ultimate in “black suns”. Also, the “arrow” of Sagittarius points towards Scorpius, the very same Scorpio which was put in the sky by Zeus after slaying Orion the Hunter. Sadly, the “radion” bullet that offs our favourite angry red New God at the beginning of Final Crisis does not look particularly scorpion-y."

 

Ever since your recommendation, Figs, this has quickly become one of my absolute favorite podcasts, comics or non-comics related. Hilarious.

Figserello said:

The Mindless Ones have some great coverage of Morrison's Batman, Philip.  They are more playful about what is going on in its pages and some of their responses to the content are quite personal, rather than overly serious and continuity-obsessed.

Sagittarius also represents Chiron the teacher and advisor of heroes who is suddenly taken away as Batman is in Final Crisis #2.

Mythologically speaking, Sagittarius' purpose is to prevent Scorpio from leaving its "spot" and attacking Orion again!

It may surprise you and the others (or not!) to know that I generally don't read anyone else's reviews and opinions on what I comment on. I never read your Morrison threads until after I finished mine. The thoughts here are my own and they're based on my personal knowledge which is why I'm wrong or off base alot. Which is why I depend on you guys to make sense out of all this!

I wondered about that.  It's to your credit, then, as much of your posting so far has been exactly on the money and insightful. Actually, the reason I wondered was that some of your comments were TOO insightful, and I thought you might have been 'cribbing notes' somewhere.  :-)

 

Your reading then also shows that Morrison doesn't have to be read with 5 megs of notes and commentary to hand in order to make sense of it.  Any intelligant reader can get most of the meaning out of it.  Morrison's work just doesn't hold the readers hand in the same way many superhero comics do.

 

For what its worth, I really enjoy reading the commentaries and deductions of wiser heads than my own, but I do put off reading them until I've tried to read through the work myself.  I really don't understand readers who half-read their new Morrison comic and then go straight to the commentators to see what it was about.  That's throwing away half of the enjoyment of the thing.  I suspect that you, like me, are also worried that someone else's reading might 'lock down' the meaning of a comic, whereas there might be other meanings that can only occur to you if you read the story without outside help.

 

Anyway, do let me know what you think of some of my conclusions in the threads of mine that you go back to much later.

 

Sagittarius also represents Chiron the teacher and advisor of heroes who is suddenly taken away as Batman is in Final Crisis #2.

 

See, this is what we keep you around for... ↑

 

I'm glad you like the Mindless Ones Jeff.  I only listened to that excerpt from yer man's spoof fantasy novel after you told me about it.  Geez that was funny!

 

In case anyone is reading this as part of a chronological readthrough of Final Crisis, the next place to go is Final Crisis #1, which includes the subsequent appearance of Batman after the last frame of Batman #701

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