Batman #681 Review
Batman #681 review by Hugo Bravo
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Tony Daniel
After seven long months, we have arrived at the conclusion of Batman R.I.P. After reading and rereading all seven issues, it's clear that if there is one thing Grant Morrison does not do, it's spoon-feed his readers. R.I.P. has been possibly the most talked about DC storyline of the last year, and though the conclusion may leave as many questions as answers, few writers would dare to include so much history, controversy, and still find a way to let readers draw their own conclusions on what really happened to Batman. Morrison teased that the identity of the main villain would be someone so close to Batman, it would shatter Bruce Wayne to pieces. Though that may not be the case anymore, he made good on his promise to change the scope of Batman forever.
Many years ago, as a safety precaution and to prove that Batman does indeed think of everything, he created a separate identity for himself, the Batman of Zur en Ahh, in case of an attack on his mind and psyche. Right before the Black Glove infiltrated the Batcave, a trigger set off the new identity in Batman to keep him safe. With the rest of the Batfamily incapacitated, Bruce Wayne is left in a street-made, mismatched costume and with his imagination taking the form of his guide Bat-mite. The final issue opens with Batman trapped and buried alive in Arkham Asylum by the society of the Black Glove, led by Dr. Samuel Hurt. Bruce Wayne's girlfriend Jezebel Jet has been working with the Black Glove all along, and they have invited their members, as well as the Joker, to witness Batman's danse macabre. In the midst of the story, we learn that during his training in the year-long epic 52, he encountered this same evil and its followers, to not just outsmart it and defeat it, but to show it mercy and look forward to facing it again.
Though I will not reveal the identity of the Black Glove and its villainous Dr. Hurt, it seems that this particular figure (if it is who I believe it is) has been playing a prominent role in both Marvel and DC, altering character's lives, and in this case, quite possibly being responsible for the creation of Batman himself. Many readers may feel that the use of this is a copout, a solution to unexplained evil to excuse lazy writing. Though that may occasionally be the case, it is in the delivery itself that Morrison makes the case for this being not only acceptable, but clear from the beginning of the arc. There are minor clues, such as the constant use of the term ‘servant' and the colors in key scenes, but when it all comes together at the end, readers will debate amongst each other if it lived up to expectations. For me, it definitely did. It helps if you had been following Morrison's Batman since he started on the book back in late 2006. Morrison's work on an issue by issue basis can be too confusing for the average reader (unlike say, his work on All-Star Superman). I loved how the Joker gives yet another dimension on his relationship with Batman, and the last page, the answer to the nagging question of what exactly is Zur en Ahh.
Will Batman R.I.P. be one of those Bat events that remain in readers' mind years from now, like the death of Jason Todd and Bane crippling the Dark Knight? Only time will tell. For now, after the semi-disappointing Batman and Son and the very disappointing Return of Ra's Al Ghul, Grant Morrison has finally delivered on his promise to change the status quo of Batman, even if the results from it are not clear as of now, and probably won't be until the end of Final Crisis. Grant Morrison stated that the Batman in that DC epic is indeed Bruce Wayne, so I'm curious to see how exactly this will all pan out. After facing the evil he has faced in R.I.P., where can the Dark Knight possibly go from here?