Double dipping. Within comic book reading & collecting it commonly refers to buying the original weekly comics of a series and then buying the collected edition. Comic books aren’t cheap so I try and avoid this habit as much as possible; however, when I was able to flip through the Batman RIP hardcover deluxe edition I simply had to have it, it was that beautiful.
Despite what you think (or have heard) about the story you have to tip your hat to DC for putting together one heck of a beautiful book. From the softer-feeling hardcover binding, the over sized print, immediately diving into the story from the very first page, to the extra issues added at the end, this is one of the finer Batman books I’ve ever bought.
Once you open this book though, you are hoping on one of the most fierce Batman roller coasters you’ve ever experienced.
The uniqueness of Batman RIP is quickly realized in the books first scene as the Joker warns Batman, “Some very bad people have decided to hurt you. Hurt you so bad you’ll never recover.” Batman is being hunted by someone unfamiliar to him, to his surrounding cast, and to us the readers. And more than just a story full of punches and explosions (which there are plenty of) this is about a battle being waged in Batman’s mind more than anything else. Were quickly introduced to Dr. Hurt and his Club Of Villains and within a short time the story of breaking Batman’s mind begins. The Bat-computer is hacked, Jezebel Jet (Bruce’s girlfriend at the time) reads the words on the screen, “Zur-en-arr,” and as Dr. Hurt and his crew enter the batcave Bruce Wayne is drugged and left in the streets of Gotham. The gambling game the Black Glove plays has begun.
Dr. Hurt approached Batman in a way no one really had before, by inserting a trigger word into his subconscious that would kick in with the words “Zur-En-Arr” which technically did work; however, as you should never do, Batman was underestimated, and as it turns out he even has a backup plan for being given a subconscious trigger word. Bruce becomes the Batman of “Zur-En-Arr” and is off to save Jezebel and Alfred where the Black Glove, Dr. Hurt, and the Joker are awaiting his arrival.
Grant Morrison has a great story, I enjoyed the conclusion to a lot of questions being built up over the course of his run and like a lot of good writers do, questions are answered with more questions; however, I couldn’t get past just a few of the plot holes and I wonder if the connection between Batman RIP and Final Crisis was too confusing even for the people collecting this book. The final two chapters, Batman #682 & 683 (which originally were not published under the RIP event) have a distinct disconnect from RIP‘s finale. [Spoilers] Batman is in a helicopter explosion at the end of one chapter and at the end of the next one is revealed to be plugged in to some mind machine connected to a lump (a blob-thingy easily confused with Clayface that is literally referred to as “lump”). For devout and average Batman readers alike this and confusing and the story following the events leading up the to the helicopter crash are so out-of-place and so oddly connected to the machine Batman is hooked up to you can’t fault anyone for reading this book and a) think that the events in RIP never actually took place, which they most certainly did, or b) being turned off by the final two chapters to not fully appreciate some of the greatness in Morrison’s story.
And I say greatness appropriately, I really do think Grant Morrison had a great idea and some great execution – for example – the Batman of “Zur-En-Arr” is certainly an interesting concept and fun read, the scene with the Joker and Jezebel’s is intense, Batman coming out of the grave is even more intense, the art is simply stunning, and the mystery surrounding Dr. Hurt only gets bigger. I especially enjoyed the Joker’s interesting commentary to Dr. Hurt and the final showdown between Bruce and Hurt. This is a better story than a lot I have sitting on my bookshelf. Still though, I can’t help but be a little disappointed. Batman RIP is not the beginning or end to a story it’s Lord of the Ring’s Two Towers or Star War’s Empire Strikes Back. I had to read it two-three times to fully appreciate it and understand it and only after reading what all came before and after it. By itself I question it’s ability to really wow a reader. I can’t imagine anyone reading this and fully understanding it without previous knowledge of the essential elements such as Black Glove, Final Crisis, Damian Wayne, Dr. Hurt, The Batman of all Nations, and many other pieces that tied-in from previous stories. As was the example, imagine watching Empire Strikes Back without knowing who Darth Vader was or Two Towers without knowing why Frodo and Sam were shorten than everyone else and why they kept being called “Hobbits.” This isn’t Grant Morrison’s or Tony Daniel’s fault though, rather the fault of the publisher.
Maybe my biggest head-scratcher though, which is the geeky fanboy in me coming out, has to wonder if after RIP we are to assume Joker now knows that Bruce is Batman. He has to. I counted it, 5 times Batman is called Bruce right in front of Joker (and I do mean right in front of him). Now, Bruce does say, “No. Not Bruce. I’m Batman.” But then he takes off his mask. Perhaps the point is supposed to be that the Joker doesn’t care who he really is, maybe he already knew, and maybe Grant is going to use that again at some point. Nevertheless it wasn’t discussed at all in the book and it left me wondering, “Uh…did anyone else see that?”
Overall Batman RIP is great. The idea of Batman responding to a subconscious trigger really intrigued me and it’s even more fun when Nightwing and Robin are involved but sadly the implication of what knowledge you need to know before cracking open this book is lacking, and it hurts the book I think. For fans who read the monthly books this probably isn’t an issue but for the rest of it’s life as it lives in trade, and for anyone who picks it up based on the hype and marketing, I wonder if it’s going to be confusing. For those who have read Grant’s Batman run though this is truly one of the better moments both as a story and in art. This is by far my favorite Tony Daniel artwork. Get this book. Buy the hardcover (it’s worth it) but make sure you know what your getting into.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|One of the masterpieces to Morrison’s overall Batman story.||Confusing. Even for the biggest Bat-fans out there.|