Pushing on with my extra big book week, I have for today’s quick write-up the only one made up of issues I had read before.
I am referring to the first volume in a collection from DC of writer Grant Morrison’s Batman epic, and this first book, titled Batman and Son, covers 15 individual issues. So, how did it go?
So, I had read all these issues previously, and one thing I have generally noticed about Grant Morrison’s writing is his work does tend to read much better in trade form. There’s something of a disjointed quality to Morrison’s work, and if the book for whatever reason doesn’t come out at the regular monthly schedule, there were always plot points from previous issues that I’d just forgotten and he would only bring back multiple issues later. For example, the first few pages of this volume features a cop in a Batman suit shooting the Joker in the face. Then, a few issues later, we’re reminded of it in what looks like an off-hand remark the Joker makes to Batman, and it pops up again one or two more times in the course of the volume. The bottom line is I am pretty sure when I read this the first time I couldn’t quite remember why so many people thought Batman had shot the Joker given one of the most basic tenants of the Batman mythos is the man’s inherent hatred of firearms due to how his parents died. That’s just a basic example. And this particular cop in the Batman suit doesn’t really appear again in this volume–heck, I’m not even sure if he got caught or not as I sit here and think about it–but the plot point of there even being a cop in a Batman suit is a bit more important as that relatively minor plot point in the first few issues is there to set up a bigger storyline that takes place in the second volume of Morrison’s run.
And that’s what I get from reading his work in a longer collection than I did the first time. It’s easier to see the connections to later storyarcs, so when a character like Professor Pyg or Doctor Hurt just seems to get namedropped here, I know it has a greater significance down the road.
Beyond that, Morrison’s other interest when tackling longstanding DC heroes is to take pretty much the sum total of the character’s existence and somehow boil it down to one epic that treats all of the character’s appearances as something special. And that’s actually something of a challenge for Batman since there’s a decades long gap where many of the stories are rather forgettable. Between the early 40s and the early 70s, Batman doesn’t have a lot of noteworthy or memorable comic book appearances. But these are the sorts of stories Morrison actually references, working silly Silver Age concepts like the Club of Heroes and Bat-Mite into the narrative in ways that work for the modern incarnation of the Dark Knight.
So, what happens here? Well, despite the title, there are very few of the reprinted issues here that actually feature Damian Wayne interacting with his father. The Robin Batman works with the most is Tim Drake, a young man Damian almost murders during one of their first conversations. Damian has always been an unruly, pushy, and even somewhat unlikable little monster, but it’s easy to forget just much worse he was when he first appeared, and after the initial four part story, what appearances Damian makes occur in a single flash-forward issue showing him as Batman in the future and various other appearances in short scenes with his mother Talia. The remaining issues are, from what I can gleam, actually more there to set up the storyline where Bruce Wayne “died” at the hands of ultimate criminal mastermind Doctor Hurt, AKA the Black Glove. Perhaps most interesting is a particularly experimental issue that is largely Morrison writing in prose with some illustrations around it, showing how the Joker is changing again into a new persona following other, past versions that explain why he was a lot more harmless in Silver Age comics than he is today, and how the newer, even deadlier Joker is looking to start fresh in a manner that isn’t good for all of his past associates and underlings, a fact that would be very bad for an unsuspecting Harley Quinn. As it is, though various more prominent Batman foes are referenced throughout the work, Joker is the only really famous one to get any sort of screentime for most if not all of Morrison’s run depending on how you feel about Talia and the Man-Bat.
At any rate, these were some great comics when read together, so I got a good kick out of this. 9 out of 10 forgettable love interests.
Yeah, it wouldn’t be a Batman run without the new writer introducing yet another soon-to-be-forgotten girlfriend, and Jezebel Jet isn’t someone who I seem to recall doing much beyond Morrison’s run. Then again, I may have just forgotten she’s working for Doctor Hurt or something. I’ll have to get back to this run soon.