I’m not one of those people who think, just reading his name in the credits of a given book, that Grant Morrison is some kind of deeply impenetrable and obtuse writer. And for the most part, while deeply and wonderfully strange, “Batman R.I.P.” has not been at all difficult to follow. But the closing pages of this issue are (not literally) a little hard to read.
I think? Maybe? Batman might have died? Definitely betrayed. That’s for sure. And, I may be wrong but I think this issue’s events mean that at one point he may have totally banged Harley Quinn (again, not 100% sure), but as far as where the next issue will start? I haven’t the slightest idea. But that’s the end. I’m getting ahead of myself here.
As “The Thin White Duke Of Death” begins (guess who the title refers to) the action is joined as The Black Glove’s henchmen and paying customers gather to watch Batman fly face first into the trap that’s been laid for him. All part of the plan is the simultaneous arrival of The Joker, who Morrison writes in particularly vicious and startlingly violent fashion. Dude’s crazy. The two of them fight. And Batman learns the true dire nature of his current predicament.
There is plenty to enjoy in this issue. Bat Mite, whether real or imagined, has the best lines in the book. Watching people outclever Batman is always fun. The arrival of the second tier players for the finale -- like Gordon, Robin, Damien, etc -- certainly whets ones appetite for the big finish. But something about the issue just feels a little. . . lacking.
Maybe it’s the fact that out of all the varied members of Batman’s Rogues Gallery, the antagonists of this story all look like theater troupe rejects without any real inherent menace. Maybe it’s the fact that Tony Daniel’s art, while clearly and visibly improving with every subsequent issue, is still a bit too rough in some spots, his storytelling sometimes unnecessarily obscured. Or maybe it’s just the fact that we’re reading a Batman comic. And everyone knows that Batman can never really die.
That being said, it’s not an incredibly disappointing issue. Just one that feels a bit slight. And when Batman is facing down The Joker, one wouldn’t expect that to be the case. But this isn’t the final issue, of course. And there are explosions and dramatic set-pieces. Maybe I’m being a bit too overly harsh. But this is supposed to be a big (the biggest?) Batman story! I guess I just want a little bit more.
But there’s always next issue, of course. And whoever lives to see it.