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Grant Morrison tweaks status quo, refers to history in “Batman” run

by Matthew Price Published: November 25, 2011

Writer Grant Morrison shifts the status quo of the Batman titles from the get-go in his run on “Batman.”   The first collection, “Batman and Son,” collects issues #655-#658 and #663-#666 of the DC series “Batman,” written by Morrison and drawn by Andy Kubert.  8

Batman’s son with Talia Al Ghul, daughter of the villainous Ra’s Al Ghul is introduced as a full-blown character in “Batman and Son.”  (The character was introduced in “Son of the Demon” in 1987, and has been referenced a few times, but the continuity is a bit murky.  Still, this is clearly the same character.)  Damian Wayne has been trained for all of his 10 young years by the league of assassins, and thinks and reacts like an assassin.  Talia has left Damian with Batman, but the reasons are a bit unclear.   The addition of a new, hard-edged character who is only a boy adds a different dynamic to the Batman family.

A sequel of sorts to “Batman and Son” is “The Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul.”  This somewhat more straightforward action story involves Batman, his adopted children Tim Drake and Dick Grayson, and his biological son, Damian.  Damian Wayne is sought as a host body for the return of Ra’s Al Ghul. Batman and crew attempt to put a stop to this in this crossover adventure.   The collection contains: Batman #670-671 by Grant Morrison and Tony Daniel, Robin #168-169 by Peter Milligan and Freddie E. Williams II, Nightwing #138-139 by Fabian Nicieza and Don Kramer, Detective Comics #838-839, written by Paul Dini; and two annuals, Batman Annual #26 and Robin Annual #7. 10 (18)

Writer Grant Morrison gets Batman’s detective hat on in the first storyline in “The Black Glove,” which updates a 1950s concept, the “Club of Heroes,” featuring a group of Batman analogues.   They’ve all been called together to an island for a reunion, when there is a murder.   It’s beautifully drawn by J.H. Williams III and is a high mark of the run.

In the second half of the book, Bruce has a fever dream about his past, which leads into Batman RIP later on, as do the mysterious Batman impostors.   The graphic novel contains “Batman” 667-669 and 672-675.  7 (25)

In “Batman RIP,” a club of master criminals have an elaborate plan to destroy the Batman, by convincing him of betrayal and making him doubt his own memory. Batman, however, has a plan.  Morrison and Tony Daniel are able to highlight much about the Dark Knight’s history as he’s thrown through the gauntlet by the Black Glove.  The collection contains “Batman” 676-683.  8 (33)

Batman RIP is followed, pretty much, by “Final Crisis,” also by Morrison, and though it’s not solely a “Batman” story, it does feature a key “Batman” element that you won’t want to miss.  The basic story is that Darkseid does seem as if he’ll manage to take over the universe and evil will triumph, but Batman makes a sacrifice near the end that has important consequences.   This book needs many, many annotations and is probably not for the uninitiated, but some hardcore Morrison fans love it.   Collection includes Final Crisis 1-7, Superman Beyond and Submit.  9 (42)

It’s possible you’d be happier reading “Time and the Batman” in between “RIP” and “Final Crisis,” as this collection of Batman 700-702 fills in some gaps in the storyline that I believe were initially left in for dramatic purpose.  However, it’s a lot cleaner read to have the “RIP missing chapter” right after “RIP.”  It also contains the extra-sized 700, which features Batmen of different eras.   3 (45)
Following Final Crisis, check out “Batman and Robin,” which I talked about here.
Then “Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne” features Bruce’s trip through time as he struggles to return to the present, written by Morrison and drawn by an all-star cast of artists.  The collection contains “Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne” 1-6.   6 (51)

Morrison’s run has been analyzed extensively, and I encourage readers to dig more thoroughly into the story than what I have here.  It’s a fascinating piece of modern comics.  Morrison’s “Batman” stories continue in “Batman Incorporated.”

- Matt Price
Comics read in 2011: 1,799.  Still to go: 212.

by Matthew Price
Features Editor
Features Editor Matthew Price has worked for The Oklahoman since 2000. He’s a University of Oklahoma graduate who has also worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern for the Dallas Morning News. He’s...
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