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Batman: R.I.P. Hardcover – February 10, 2009
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Batman is pushed past the edge of sanity in this spectacular story that mixes icy mind games and passionate outbursts. A club of criminal masterminds, the Black Glove, has an elaborate plot to make Bruce Wayne/Batman self-destruct by convincing him that all his friends and lovers have betrayed him and that his most trusted memories are false. As clever in their scheming as the villains are, however, they have no idea how thorough Batman has been in planning ways to protect his obsessions; consequently, the action is fractured between scenes of what is really happening, what might be happening, what probably isn't happening, etc. This premise gives scriptwriter Morrison and principal artist Daniel a chance to review key episodes and images from the Caped Crime Fighter's long career—including, of course, numerous encounters with the Joker, who's too chaotic to be happy in any organization like the Black Glove, but who struts through the action wielding sardonic humor and two straight razors. Whether Batman winds up (or ever was) totally sane is unresolved, but he's a fascinating protagonist in this sweeping, emotionally draining saga. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Having largely abandoned the outré projects (e.g., Doom Patrol, The Invisibles) that made his reputation for chronicling DC’s big superheros, Morrison here gives us the caper that puts the lid over the Caped Crusader. Dr. Simon Hurt, leader of the international criminal associates known as the Black Glove, has devised an elaborate psychological trap for Batman. The scheme succeeds in breaking Batman’s sanity, long established as being dangerously fragile, and leading him to adopt a psychotically violent persona, the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh, who squares off in Arkham Asylum against Dr. Hurt’s new ally, the Joker. Batman’s delusions are likely to be as confusing to readers as they are to him. Morrison uses elements from seven decades’ worth of disparate and contradictory versions of the character, and only the most dedicated fans will recognize most of them. Tony Daniel’s art grounds the complex proceedings with clarity and verve. Batman’s apparent demise at the saga’s end leads into an arc in which various would-be successors vie for the right to wear his cowl. --Gordon Flagg
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What do I mean by that? There are two different groups who may benefit from buying this book. The first is those who just want to see the Black Glove storyline introduced in Batman and Son played out to its conclusion. This book definitely gives you "an" ending to that story. The second is those who want to experience the full story that began in Batman and Son. For those people, they'll need to read this followed by: Final Crisis, Batman: Time and the Batman, Morrison's Batman and Robin Vol 1-3, The Return of Bruce Wayne, Morrison's Batman Incorporated, and the New 52 volumes of Batman Incorporated.
One quick note for those who wish to follow the whole storyline: when reading this book, stop at the point where the Black Glove storyline seemingly ends and the book jumps into what seems like a completely different plot (to minimize spoilers, said climax involves an aerial vehicle crashing). The issues after that moment are included in Final Crisis, and they make a lot more sense when read in that context as opposed to how they are presented in this book.
The main commonality amongst all the reviews here seem to be Grant Morrison's writing in RIP. This is sensible, as it is the writing, not the art, that is the most defining feature of this book. With Morrison, it is his style that tends to pull focus for the reader.
To begin, the writing is pretty much what I expected from Morrison. It is dense, complex, confusing, entertaining, and appropriately Batman. Morrison is not my favorite writer, and I struggle with reading pretty much any of his collections in one sitting. Before judging, it is not because I am not smart enough to comprehend a deeper meaning he hides, or too distracted for works without payoffs every page. No, I struggle because his work gives me a lot to think about and process what I just read. Though the reader gets this complete story collection in one book, it was not meant to be read this way. The story feels like it was meant to have the reader wait months for the whole picture. As a result, reading two or three chapters at once may reduce the drama, or overload the reader without be given the chance to digest the chapter.
The story itself is somewhat disjointed and fragmented, but that's exactly what was expected. I would say there were maybe five or six times I checked to see if two pages were stuck together, because the story shifted gears so suddenly and inorganically. Morrison was probably going for this angle, but just because this was his intent doesn't mean it is all excusable. I can appreciate waiting a long time to see answers finally revealed in a story, even in vague, uncertain terms, but I also value some degree of clarity and linear ideas. I confess, I had to head over to Wikipedia to make sure I got everything after I had read this book a couple of times, just to make sure I got everything. I am not a comics snob, but I dislike having to go to Wikipedia for summaries. So, I felt a little dumb having to read a summary of a COMIC book that I read twice. I'm not a Mensa member, but I don't feel that I am unintelligent. I am all in favor of a thought-provoking comic book, and this certainly is one. I only feel that at times it is more of a head-scratcher out of confusion, instead of big ideas.
The final not on the writing is that, as I'm sure others have mentioned, is that the actual moment when Bruce Wayne 'dies', is not included in a collection called Batman RIP. Some might say that having that moment when Darkseid blasts Batman with his Omega beams would feel really out of place in this book. They are right, sort of. The issues where Bruce is suddenly being experimented on by Darkseid's scientists are included, with zero explanation of how this whole situation came to be. I mean nothing. Not even a *see Final Crisis for the context of this bizarre scene* note. The moment of Batman's 'death' probably could have been included, with panels worked in with at least a mild sense of context. However, knowing Morrison, this idea was probably tested, and the final panel would just not have worked as well.
The art is passable. It's certainly not Daniels' best work, but he is one of those artists who have been improving over time, so I don't believe he was not trying here. Daniels has proven himself a most talented artist on the Justice League and Batman & Robin Eternal series. The only reason I mention this is that when I saw his name on the cover, I was expecting the quality of work he shows on more recent titles. His work here is not as dynamic as that of Hush, or as clean as that in Year One, but it gets the job done without ever crossing into mediocre territory. His Joker is creepy, almost to the point of being grotesque, but undeniably the Clown Prince of Crime. The covers by Alex Ross are all welcome and fantastic. I would not have wanted his particular style to tell this story, but his art was great to see and actually helped my overall view of this collection. To be fair to Daniels, having his work offset by one of my favorite artists may have accentuated the differences in artistic skill.
Thanks if you've stuck with me this far. To conclude, I like this story, but it may not be for everyone. It feels like Batman, without a doubt, but there is an alien element, something different that is immediately noticeable. While relatively inexpensive, this story almost certainly requires the reader to invest in more than one collection to gain full appreciation for Morrison's Batman.