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Batman #701 – Least Essential Comic of the Week

It’s kind of sad to see a comic book pretty much meet your worst expectation, but that was Batman #701, the first part of two “missing chapters” that bridge the gap between Batman RIP and Final Crisis.

The problem is, of course, that writer Grant Morrison already DID that in Batman #682-683, making at least this first issue pretty pointless – which is, I’m sure, what most folks felt when they read the solicit in the first place (“Why do they think this story needs telling?”).

I mean, it’s still well told (Morrison goes in depth into Bruce Wayne’s personality, which was nice), but it’s a well told reiteration of what Morrison has already told us in Batman #682-683 – only taking 22 pages to tell just the FIRST part of the story when it took, like, five pages TOTAL to tell the tale in Batman #682-683.

I suppose DC just had a gap in the Batman schedule and they wanted to fill it without conflicting with Morrison’s current stories in Batman and Robin, which is fair enough, but why not just have Morrison and artist Tony Daniel do a completely untold tale? A two-parter telling the story of some untold Batman adventure would have been a lot better than re-telling a “missing” tale that wasn’t actually missing. If it is responding to people who complained about the lack of an super duper extremely straightforward “What happens between RIP and Final Crisis #6″ story, then, well, A. Who cares about those people? and B. why address it over a year and a half later?!?

It’s particularly odd coming from Morrison, who has not “wasted” a single issue of Batman or Batman and Robin until this point. Maybe #702 will have some great twist that will make up for #701 and the two-parter will be ultimately worth it, but it sure is not off to a good start.

36 Comments

Right? I mean, who really need to see EXACTLY what happened between Batman RIP and FC? They give you an general idea in the Last Rites issues, and that should be it.

WTF Morrison…WTF

I heard someone put forward the idea that after the clusterfuck that was Xorn = Magneto, DC wanted to make sure all readers and writers know exactly what happen in Batman RIP to avoid any retcons caused out of simple confusion.

Still, its a shame

Tom Brevort bashed it on twitter, now he has more firepower for his dickery.

I’m guessing that someone up top was worried about all the dumb-dumbs for whom it wasn’t obvious enough, so they asked Morrison to spell it out.

Yeah, I was pretty disappointed myself. Nothing that was presented in that issue contained anything that I didn’t already know or couldn’t have figured out by myself. And at least two of the three splash pages in that issue were completely unnecessary.

I’m guessing that someone up top was worried about all the dumb-dumbs for whom it wasn’t obvious enough, so they asked Morrison to spell it out.

You could be right. Let me edit that into the piece!

If that was the motivation, it definitely makes DC editorial look pretty amateurish. You can’t waste time and effort servicing every fan who’s too slow to keep up.

Andrew Kennedy

July 15, 2010 at 1:54 am

…uh… whoo, boy. Don’t jump on me for this one, boys and girls, but, uh, calm down?

I mean, just a little. Frankly, I almost see this as a better epilogue to the R.I.P. arc then that Last Rites stuff, which was, more or less, a big 1-uppy kind of thing to Batman’s personal history. I mean, yeah, this issue was (technically) not needed plot wise, but it actually kind of made me feel even better about Morrison’s Batman as a whole because,with this issue, I’m finally convinced that Morrison can actually dig into Bruce Wayne more then he has. I don’t mean focusing on Wayne and his parallel thoughts with Batman, but with just Bruce Wayne.

So, all I’m saying is, maybe don’t bash this issue because he didn’t tell us anything new about the plot, but wonder about the character work, I guess. I’m sure some of you already think Morrison has told us everything we need to know about Bruce Wayne, but I think this issue added something. I mean, I think it was the first time I’ve seen Batman confess he’s just “flesh and bone” and even tell himself to “think fast.”

Well, whatever, yeah. There’s my 2 cents.

yeah, i sort of agree. it was a bit slight, but it was quite a nice mood piece and there was a bit of new information there, so i didn’t mind too much.

although batman never calls his parents ‘mom and dad’. it’s ‘mother and father’, grant.

as in: ‘FAAAAATHER, NOOOOO!’

Grant Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol is probably me favorite run of any writer on any run of any book ever. His take on Batman has really let me down. It is all over the place and just doesn’t do the legend justice.

See, nerds? This is what happens when you wish Grant Morrison would write like Geoff Johns. Now we can’t have nice things.

Saying a comic is the “least essential of the week” is like saying your eighty-third breath of the day was the most important.

I was pretty happy with this issue. Though I thought the same thing, that they covered the topic in Last Rites. One thing I like was Morrison scaling Bruce back a little bit, because for the Human character Batman had been doing some very ridiculous inhuman things.

What, you mean like dressing up like a bat and punching muggers? That sort of thing?

funkygreenjerusalem

July 15, 2010 at 5:25 am

I’ve been posting on the CBR Batman boards since B&R started, and let me tell you, there are a lot of people on there who really think they were missing information between RIP and FC, I dare say it may just be an attempt to not alienate the pre-existing fan base for the character, an olive branch if you will.
I enjoyed the issue enough though – I mean, we know nothing happened of any consequence at this point in time, so I knew that what I would be buying was an explanation of what happened in-between, so when you expect nothing, it’s a little easier to enjoy it.
I liked the follow up with the prostitute from way early in Morrison’s run.

Tom Fitzpatrick

July 15, 2010 at 5:40 am

Well, I haven’t read ALL of Morrison’s run on Batman, so I can’t comment on the two-parter.

I wish that he’d go back to his roots and do some more DOOM PATROL and weird stuff.

Joe the Barbarian’s good, but we need more and less super-heroes stuf!

If that was the motivation, it definitely makes DC editorial look pretty amateurish.

Every month since the release of Identity Crisis has had something that made DC editorial pretty amateurish. It’s pretty safe to say at this point it’s more than just a look.

The biggest problem to me is that it’s spread out over 2 issues.

If the next issue is so meaty as to show it couldn’t have all been contained in one issue, then I’ll be more forgiving, but for now this issue was a total waste and a reiteration of information we already knew.

Nothing new came of it.

Agreed. It was slow and didn’t “do” much. It’s gonna be oddly placed no matter where it ends up in a trade.

It really does seem like “an olive branch” (apologies to whoever used that first); a way of laying things out a little more… clearly?…less Morrison-ly? Tony Daniel on the art too? Very much a bridge between Morrison fans and Batman/superhero fans.

I hope that new printings of RIP will have this as the epilogue and then the Last Rites issues can be included in new printings of Final Crisis, as they should be. (I’ve always been mad at DiDio for saying that the panel with Dick holding Bruce’s cowl was inserted at the end of RIP to give an ending for the trade, but then included Last Rites in said trade. Editorial dickery).

Am I the only one who enjoyed this just because I like spending time with Grant Morrison’s Batman?

Jay Phonomancer

July 15, 2010 at 9:02 am

I agree 100% with you Roman. I was happily reading Morrison’s Batman run in trade format enjoying it immensely. When I got to Last Rites I hadn’t a clue what was going on. Who were these dudes and why was Batman hooked up to this machine all of a sudden? The end of RIP with the “Zorro in Arkham” flashback was magnificent. Luckily I didn’t read Last Rites until the next day so I didn’t launch straight into it or it would have pissed me off more I think.

I’m with Jay. I was reading R.I.P., but not Final Crisis, so when Last Rites started I had no idea who those characters were or what was going on. I haven’t read this issue, so I’m not sure if it’s aimed at people that read RIP but not FC, but that could be the thinking behind it. Although why they would do it 2 years later or whatever doesn’t make much sense.

Is it possible that with Superman and Wonder Woman getting so much press of late, DC might be getting a bump (of sorts), and wanted to make sure that any new readers knew what the hell was going on?

Could this simply be about cultivating new fans rather than appeasing the same (dwindling) fan base?

Is it possible that with Superman and Wonder Woman getting so much press of late, DC might be getting a bump (of sorts), and wanted to make sure that any new readers knew what the hell was going on?

Could this simply be about cultivating new fans rather than appeasing the same (dwindling) fan base?

No, that would make zero sense.

“Hey, let’s catch new readers up by showing a story that would only POSSIBLY appeal to fans who already read Batman RIP, which came out nearly two years ago.”

In other words, this issue could only appeal to the exact opposite demographic that you just made reference to.

Ah, I see. Yeah, that doesn’t make much sense, does it?

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 15, 2010 at 12:04 pm

I’m afraid I have to profoundly disagree, in that this issue does what RIP and Last Rites didn’t: it shows Batman wracked with doubt, and a Batman who isn’t flesh and blood made perfect, but who runs up against the limits, the very imperfections of flesh and blood.

Contrast Last Rites, where Batman is Hella Tough that even his traumatic memories are just the weapons he uses to escape Darkseid’s trap. Or RIP, where Batman has prepared for even the total assault on his mind and body, where he was always ahead of Jezebel and the Black Glove, where he says “it’s easy” and doesn’t mean it ironically as he does here.

That’s what this is about: Batman’s vulnerabilities. FLook at his weary response to the JLA call here, his candid admission that he’s only “flesh and blood” while Superman is “mythology.” RIP shows a man literally resurrecting himself by sheer force of will; its climax relies on Batman belieing his own mythology and us believing it with him, from the hallucinatory backup personality of Zurr-En-Arrh to Bat-Mite to the Christ Incvictus moment of bursting from his own grave.

This is the other side of the Bat-myth: he’s the ultimate man because he’s ultmately only a man. A man with governing obsessions, a man with mortal flesh, and a man who can be plagued by the inherent uncertainty of being only human in the face of gods and devils. Fittingly, it’s his need to know the answer to the mystery of Hurt’s existence that destroys him here. A mystery: that’s how you kill the world’s greatest detective.

It’s not the Batman the fanboys love, or even the Bat-god the Morrison fanboys love, but it’s part of the character.

“Why do they think this story needs telling?”

Because people have been bitching about it all over the web it for nearly two years

Here’s a little thought experiment. Pretend Grant Morrison’s name isn’t on the cover of this issue and that he isn’t credited as writer, and read the story. Now… is there anything in this issue other than the credits that makes you certain only Morrison could have written it? I see nothing. To me it doesn’t read like one of his stories at all. I’m wondering if GM merely wrote a plot outline or something and it was actually scripted by someone else; Tony Daniel seems the most likely candidate. Perhaps DC chose not to credit Morrison with “plot” only; perhaps there were contractual or sales reasons. Or maybe I’m wrong and Grant was having his worst off day yet in the 25 years I’ve been reading his work.

Morrison, who has not “wasted” a single issue of Batman

…if you don’t count those two Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul tie-in issues.

funkygreenjerusalem

July 15, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Look at his weary response to the JLA call here, his candid admission that he’s only “flesh and blood” while Superman is “mythology.”

That was great – especially as we’ve all seen the powered heroes get uncomfortable around Batman because he makes them feel like slackers/always wondering how he does stuff.
I got a good laugh out of that bit, it was great character work.

“I’ve been posting on the CBR Batman boards since B&R started, and let me tell you, there are a lot of people on there who really think they were missing information between RIP and FC”

Like the people who were freaking out because they couldn’t figure out if Beast was ACTUALLY GAY????!!!!

funkygreenjerusalem

July 15, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Like the people who were freaking out because they couldn’t figure out if Beast was ACTUALLY GAY????!!!!

No.
Maybe just as silly, but there are a lot of people who struggle to see how RIP and FC link up.
Heck, even the reviewer on the CBR main page thinks it took work to figure out.
It may seem silly to appease those people, but let’s face it, they are the one’s who are going to stay on the book once Morrison leaves, replace by the journeyman stylings of Tomasi, Daniels and Finch.

Batman 701 is really only for two types of people – those who were really confused by the transition from RIP to Last Rites to Final Crisis and the harcore obsessives who have to analyze every issue for clues. Being the latter, I found it tantalising.

i agree that it was kinda unnecessary and wasteful and that it may have been an olive branch for all the other readers that didn’t get RIP/FC (i think it’s fair to admit that not all RIP/FC and more to the point BATMAN readers are comic book superreaders that have phds on grant morrison [i myself am a superreader with a phd on morrisonia earned all the way from DOOM PATROL and INVISIBLES and i absolutely loved and understood RIP/FC [it can even be suitably argued - as someone probably already has somewhere in CBSG - that it's these books' effectivity as critiques of the genre is the main reason why a lot of people were confused by it] but i can still understand why a lot of people would find RIP/FC (and even morrison) slightly too difficult to follow]) but i think we wouldn’t be complaining too much about it if frank quitely did the art for this issue.

botswana baw$

July 31, 2010 at 3:47 pm

just wait till 702 comes out, its def not a wasted issue. its gonna tie in with the return of bruce wayne and the wrap up of morrisons batman and robin run

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