Friday, January 23, 2009

Revisited: Batman RI....whuuu?

If you prefer not to be spoiled about the actual dribbling end of the RIP storyline, go away.

When we last left off, Batman had disappeared into the river amidst Dr. Hurt's helicopter explosion. Apparently that wasn't the actual end of the RIP storyline (My initial review below). In Batman 682, Last Rites (still by Grant Morrison), we begin to travel through time revisiting the events of Bruce's life from Alfred's point of view, only things are slightly off-kilter. At the end of the issue we find Batman strapped into an Apokoliptian mind-wiping machine powered by the "Lump," who resembles (but isn't) Clayface, tended by Apokoliptian scientists. One might assume that Batman escaped the helicopter crash only to be kidnapped by Darkseid's minions and carted off to experience yet another mind control experiment. One would assume slightly wrong.

Next, in 683, we continue the journey through Bruce's Batman career, still from Alfred's point of view, only now Bruce is slowly regaining control of his mind--something we know he has the strength to do since he managed just recently in the RIP arc to do the very same thing! Huh.

Three pages from the end, there are three panels that seem completely shoehorned in. They depict Bruce returning to the cave after the helicopter crash and telling Alfred he has to run off to join the Justice League. At which point he must have been abducted by the Apokoliptian scientists and taken control of by the Lump, blah blah blah now he's escaped.

At which point we rejoin Batman in Final Crisis 6. OK. Up 'til now I had chosen not to read the Final Crisis series, also by Grant Morrison. But apparently the whole RIP arc happens before the events of Final Crisis, even though the two comic storylines are running concurrently. So of course, I had to find out the real ending of RIP...two Batman issues and a whole other title removed from the actual RIP storyline. Coming in for the penultimate issue of the Final Crisis event, which meant I had only a little idea of what was going on.

So we rejoin Batman near the end of Final Crisis 6. He's face to face with Darkseid, who (on the previous page) we are informed is "sitting at the center of his own personal singularity," according to Wally West...or Barry Allen--there were three Flashes conversing and I could really only tell which one was Jay Garrick. And yes, Barry Allen has been resurrected.

So anyway, Batman is face to face with Darkseid and he draws a gun. A gun! Batman doesn't use guns! Of course he explains that he is making an exception, then pulls the trigger to launch this radion filled bullet into Darkseid, who says, "Can you outrace the Omega Sanction? The Death that is Life!" before he keels over. And we see Batman hit in the head and heart by two beams in a kind-of-ugly two-page spread. Then we don't see him again until Superman is holding his lifeless, crispy, desiccated body.

Batman, it would seem, is deader than a doornail. Omega beams being terrifically deadly.

Oh. Wait. Did he say "Omega Sanction?" At which point I refer you to this article at Newsarama, or this commentary over at Batman-on-Film. In short, the Omega Sanction sends the victim off into a series of alternate realities.... And for the third time in quick succession, Batman is lost basically in his own mind. I don't know how he'll rectify the whole crispified body thing when he gets back...eventually. I guess we'll see when that happens. Because, and I've said this before, if DC really killed off Bruce Wayne, there would be an ugly fan revolt. And actually, I think they're in trouble as it is.

RIP in itself was a pretty good story. At least I thought it was a pretty good story. But having the end not be the end and then putting the end in a different title and storyline altogether is really...cumbersome. To say the least. And it kind of made the whole RIP arc less good. So I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed in the storytelling and in DC. It's almost as if the Morrison storytelling machine got too unwieldy and all they could do was let it go and see what happened.

Meanwhile, Denny O'Neil wrote a two-part story that began in Detective 851 and finished in Batman 684 that followed Dick/Nightwing as he comes to grips with Gotham being Batman-less and what his role could possibly be. Yay Denny O'Neil! It was a quiet story, well told, and exactly what was needed after a spin on the Morrison-ride-of-mindbending-convolution.

I am still looking forward to Tony Daniel's Battle for the Cowl series. And also the Oracle story. But I think I'll just play it month by month with my comic-buying. And hope DC rights the ship before it goes down.

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