Saturday, December 27, 2008

Batman 655

A couple of comments on this issue: First, Andy Kubert and Dave Stewart slug this one wayyy out of the park, such a bang up job from them, very clean, very colorful. This issue absolutely dazzles with the coolest, most popping art in Morrison's whole tenure on the book (well aside from Club of Heroes with J.H. Williams III, but I don't count that because it's not fair to compare mortal artists with Williams).

If you're rereading the Batman & Son arc after poring over RIP and Last Rites, you'll be immediately startled by the disparity in styles and pacing. This first issue strolls casually along the straight line of its plot, pausing occasionally in its course for some character moments that don't bear at all on the bigger picture. Compare with the last Morrison issue (683), an ultra relevant double tie-in that tears through 20 years of Batman history in 15 pages, somersaulting from memory, to dream, to reality at random intervals, with spacetime left over for Batman to dismantle a clone army with his mind and for Alfred the Butler to sound a touching, if premature, final note for his oldest charge. Yeah.

Page 2-3: The Joker copter, a zany Silver Age concept that Morrison consigns into the belligerent world of modern comics. "In front of a bunch of vulnerable, disabled kids!!!!" He's likely satirizing the propensity toward "darkness" in contemporary comic book writing, the idea that sadism is an essential component of drama, expressed most notably by scribes like J.M. Stracynski and Brad Meltzer, who oversaw, respectively, the rapes of Gwen Stacy and Sue Dibney a year prior.

Page 5: That Morrison guy sure knows how to kick things off with a bang! You see what I did there? You see, he fired the gun and... wait, it's "Blam" you say? Stop killing my moment man! Alright, with that out of my system, The Joker's shooter is the first of Three Ghosts of Batman who gain importance later in the run.

Page 6: The first scrawling of "Zur En Arrh", a phrase that drove both Batman and the interwebs to the brink of insanity

Page 8: The second panel here struck me. The nurse's silhouette outlines the shape of a headsman on the wall while she and Gordon banter about a live beheading! I can't imagine how this connects with anything though, as Gordon escapes Morrison's run relatively unscathed. At the bottom of the page, a glib Commissioner dismisses his nurse, "Everybody needs to lighten up," he says, echoing Grant Morrison's promise to deliver a more a squeezably soft Dark Knight and co - a promise he ultimately won't keep.

Page 16: Talia Al Ghul is threatening to lobotomize Francine Langstrom, unless her husband, Dr. Kirk Langstrom hands over the drug that induces his Man-Bat transformations.

Page 17: "The Earl of Wordenshire," alter ego "The Knight," is a Morrison creation whom we encounter in the Club of Heroes arc down the line in Batman 667.

Page 18: First of many mentions of Gotham Noir

Page 23: "There's a chapter in the latest Artemis Fowl I'm keen to catch up on." The Artemis Fowl series of youth novels follow the fantastic adventures of a cutthroat, twelve year old crime boss. The book seems tame for Alfred though, whose library Bruce calls "a shrine to blood spattered prose" in Batman 675, but perhaps Morrison is only citing the work as an inspiration for the Damian character.

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