The Grant Morrison Bat-Epic Part 3: Wherein Bruce Realizes That The Former Love Of His Life Be Trippin'

Greeting fellow acolytes of the Bat, welcome to part 3 of my trip through Grant Morrison's Batman run. Today we're going to be looking at Batman #658, which is the fourth and final part of the storyline "Batman and Son".I can understand why Tim fans don't like Damian. I just can't understand being a Tim fan. Boosh!At the end of the last issue, Damian had ambushed Tim Drake (the current Robin) in the Batcave and gutted him like a fish. Damian is using League of Assassin's logic here, which makes sense since that's the only thing he's ever known. Damian sees being Robin as his birthright due to being Batman's son, so he kills the current Robin to take his place. Bruce is horrified and quickly rushes back to the cave to help Tim, who's hanging in there. Alfred is able to stabilize Tim which allows Bruce to focus on the bigger problem, Talia al Ghul holding the British Prime Minister's wife hostage with a battalion of Ninja Man-bats to protect her. Figuring that Damian is too dangerous to be left alone, Bruce decides to bring him along. Damian really feels like a kid here, as he knows that he has disappointed his father and is desperate to redeem himself. He reveals that his mother's true intentions are to gain control of a naval base. Batman of course already figured this out, because he's the world's greatest goddamn detective, but it was still a nice gesture from Damian.Bat-Rocket was the original space-XThe only was to reach Talia in time is to take Bruce's fastest mode of transportation: the Bat-rocket. This leads to some touching moments between Bruce and Damian as the father and son get to know each other. Damian asks Bruce what his father was like and Bruce lightly teases his son about not knowing about the rocket. Damian clearly idolizes Bruce and Bruce can't help but feel affection towards this lost little boy.This moment of peace turns out o be short lived when they arrive at the base and quickly engage the ninja Man-bats. Talia reveals that she knew Damian would bring Batman here and offers an ultimatum; Bruce must agree to be her lover and then she will quit her life of crime and devote the resources of the League of Assassins to fighting crime with Bruce as they raise their son together. Bruce doesn't even refuse her, he simply hesitates.  Talia declares that the only other option is war and an explosion leaves Bruce unscathed as Talia and Damian disappear, seemingly killed.Weirdest custody hearing everThe choice is very interesting here since there are two ways to looks at it. From a  practical sense, Bruce definitely should have taken Talia's offer; it removes Talia as a threat and allows Damian to grow up knowing both of his parents. But the fact that Talia wold endanger numerous lives just to get Batman's attention certainly doesn't seem to present her as a stable individual and certainly not as someone who's word can be trusted. Even when she is trying to sell Bruce on her giving up her world-conquering ways, she refers to Damian as being the start of a dynasty that will rule for thousands of years, which is a pretty textbook example of mixed signals. And the simple fact is that Bruce does not love her, and what she feels towards Batman seems more accurately described as possessive than loving. Either way, Bruce is definitely not feeling great about the fact that his son appears to have died. Don't worry Bruce its comics! If you don't see a body then I'm pretty sure we're gonna see him again.Next time we're heading back to Gotham for a very special party. What makes is so special? Just wait til you meet the entertainment...

The Grant Morrison Bat-Epic Part 1: Ninjas, Pop Art, And Building A Better Batmobile

Greetings Yetiheads! (Yetiheads is a term now, accept it)This is the start of an ongoing series where I take an in-depth look at my favorite comic-book run of all-time, Grant Morrison's enormous 7-year Batman story. Let's start at the very beginning (a very good place to start) with the opening storyline, the aptly titled Batman & Son.I want to see the Venn diagram of People who care about an article about a Batman run that ended 2 years ago vs. people who would get a Sound of Music reference. I'm going niche Baby!The arc starts with a bang in Batman #655. The commissioner has been poisoned by the Joker! Batman is helpless on the Rooftop of the GCPD!You think Leto will have a Jokercopter? Dumb question, of course he will Unfortunately for Puddin', this isn't Batman at all! It's actually a cop dressed as Batman who proceeds to pull a gun out of his utility belt and shoot Joker right between the eyes. Being the Joker and all, he doesn't die from this and  we get a great moment where the real Batman is carrying the Joker and upon discovering that he is still alive tosses him into the dumpster. Harsh, but  I mean it is the Joker. This cop seems unimportant initially but both he and the idea of "alternate Batmen" will continue to be important. More on that later.Next we learn that with the Joker now in custody, Bruce has effectively wiped out all of the supercriminals in Gotham. This is part of what I personally love about Grant Morrison, but also what can make him so divisive; he never writes a story without including some sort of meta-commentary about the story himself. Here it is the idea of recreating Batman in a way that makes him feel fresh and new without abandoning or ignoring his roots. This is idea represented throughout the series through Bruce's desire to build a better batmobile, which starts with the realization that Bruce has pretty much perfected the old way of doing things (gritty supercrime in Gotham) and it is time for him to try something new (colourful international supercrime)."Does it come in black?" - Bruce at the tarp storeThe interaction with the Joker is a perfect example of this. We open with a classic Joker/Batman scenario, poisoned commissioner, hostage kids, ect. and it is immediately flipped on its head as Batman does the unthinkable and tries to kill the Joker. I'm not giving too much away by saying that Joker won't exactly care that it wasn't the real Batman, and the relationship between the two characters will evolve as a result. Joker will still be in Batman's world, but it isn't the same old type of stories that we have come to expect.Another idea that is presented in this first issue is that Bruce has fallen so far into the Batman persona, that he has forgotten how to be Bruce Wayne. The next issue features Bruce expanding his horizons by attending a fundraiser in Africa where he really struts his playboy stuff. One of my favorite things about Morrison's run is the way he writes Bruce. I think he is one of those character that it can be difficult to make interesting, outside of the context of being Batman, and as a result either have the Bruce Wayne personality be either a paranoid lunatic or non-existent. Morrison instead chooses to make Bruce an interesting and enigmatic scoundrel, with a wry sense of humour and an air of self-awareness about the ridiculousness of the things he does and the world he lives in.Bruce talking with future-flame Jezebel Jet (her name is alliterative, so you know she's important)The fundraiser is actually an art show, featuring comic book art, which allows for a bit or meta-commentary on comic books as art. Batman himself states that if there is one thing he hates "... it's art with no content." Morrison argues that a book about ninja man-bats can still be high art and the dynamic action scene from Andy Kubert that follows, where Bruce fights the aforementioned Man-bats while the comic book panels in the background simulate old school sound effects and thought bubbles make it hard to argue with him. It's such a perfect blend of new and old as Bruce fights a fusion of two classic foes (Man-bat and the League of Assassins) while referencing silver age characters like Vicki Vale and Aunt Agatha.Aunt Agatha was introduced to help alleviate the rumours that Batman and Robin are lovers.We learn that Talia Al Ghul, daughter of Ra's, has set up this attack by forcing Kirk Langstrom, the original man-bat, to give her his formula. Talia is another classic Bat-character, and longtime love interest for Bruce, that Morrison is reinventing. Here she is less innocent bystander and more of an equal with Bruce, as she defeats him merely to get his attention. We end this issue with the reveal of what she wants his attention for: an introduction to his 10-year old son, Damian Wayne.What a delightful little scamp.We'll pick up here next time, as we learn why Bruce is such a deadbeat dad! Until next time, keep Zurr 'En Arrhing kids!

July Comic Roundup (Part 2)

Grayson #10My favorite book right now just keeps getting better. With his ex-partner Huntress running Spyral, you'd think things might get a little easier for former Robin Dick Grayson. But when he discovers that he is being framed for murder, Dick Grayson finds that he is on his own against whoever is out to get him. This issue he crosses paths with the always entertaining Lex Luthor. This book is full of amazing action, intrigue, humour and art. I'll probably never review an issue again since I have so little to say, but I just wanted to get the word out about how good Grayson is.Wonder Woman #42The reign of the Finches (husband and wife writer/artist team David and Meredith) continues as they begin their second arc on the book. This issue opens with a bit of a PSA about men being respectful to women in a club situation as a slimy guy tries to grope Wonder Woman and gets a judo flip for his efforts. Sometimes this sort of soapbox writing can be detrimental to the quality of a book, or can take the reader out of the story. It is very quick and honestly if any character should be allowed to get on a soapbox about woman's rights it is Wonder Woman, so I didn't mind it.We are introduced to our new villain: Aegeus, great-grandson of Theseus. He is a regular guy who wants to become the god of war and is being backed by an unseen party. The Finches have been sticking to the groundwork laid by Azzarello and Chiang in their well-beloved run that preceded this one. They are continuing to utilize the Greek Pantheon as a supporting cast and as plot points and I appreciate the continuity.For a book that I initially thought was very weak, I enjoyed this issue a lot. I think we are watching Meredith gradually become a better writer and this is the best art I've ever seen from David.Punisher #20Frank deals with the end of the old universe the only way he knows how, by murdering a whole bunch of people. While I have found Edmonson's Punisher run to be a bit on the boring side, this issue provides a possible ending to Frank's story an it's really a lot of fun. Frank is crossing any and all borders to punish as many people as he can before the universe ends (thanks a lot secret wars!) and he wages an all out assault on a terrorist compound.Definitely a must read for Frank fans. Lots of great action and character moments. Plus murder, lots and lots of murder.Magneto #20Magneto also faces the end of days in his second last issue of this volume. Writer Cullen Bunn really has a handle on just what makes Magneto tick as Eric rage against the machine in an attempt to stop the end of the universe (secret wars again). Most of the issue is told in flashback as we see Magneto preparing for what we learn is a suicidal attempt to save the world.I am really enjoying these last days tie-ins to secret wars and would have liked to have seen more of them. Being able to give an a-list character a definitive ending is pretty rare. Hopefully the last issue of Magneto is able to maintain this momentum.