Batman Adventures, Batman by Snyder and Capullo, JLA...sure, what's another Batman series to start? I have to follow my heart when I read, and there's always room for more Batman. Grant Morrison made his mark during the "British invasion" that matured the comics industry with series like Neil Gaiman's Sandman, and Alan Moore's Watchmen. He revitalized the JLA in the 90's making it the premier DC title, and in 2006 he was given the premier bat-title, Batman. He did a bunch of weird things with the Dark Knight, and it was pretty entertaining. What stood out the most to me was the introduction of Damian Wayne, featured in Batman & Robin with Frank Quitely. Mainly what I wanted to collect was this title, collected in Batman by Grant Morrison Omnibus Volume Two, but I couldn't exactly help myself. I got the full 3-volume set. So today, here's the first volume:
Batman by Grant Morrison Omnibus: Volume One
by Grant Morrison, Adam Kubert, Lee Garbett, Tony Daniel and more
For continuity's sake, here's the stories collected:
- Batman's year-long hiatus from publication, as seen in the comic book experiment 52, concludes here: Batman returns to Gotham City after exorcising his demons, fears and doubts in a journey to Nanda Parbat, including a month-long sensory deprivation meditation experience.
- Batman and Son: Bruce Wayne strikes a romance with the head of an African nation and global humanitarian, Jezebel Jet. He discovers that he has a son, grown in a laboratory and trained as an assassin by Talia Al Ghul, from the Dennis O'Neil classic, Birth of the Demon. Damian Wayne is a brash, cutthroat kid who's convinced that he's going to help Batman in his war against crime. Damian makes for the perfect foil that helps us see Bruce Wayne in a fatherly, compassionate light. Both Damian and Talia seemingly die in the climax of this story, after failing to hold hostage the Prime Minister's wife.
- Three Ghosts of Batman: For some reason, various police officers are impersonating Batman, and he gets a taste of the second one here: the Batman that accepted shots of Venom and is a weird amalgam of Bane and Batman. He handles it, but for some reason, he knows there's going to be a third one, thinking of his Black Casebook, a collection of dreams, hallucinations, or adventures that he couldn't explain. The third Batman: the one who sold his soul to the devil and destroyed Gotham City.
- Resurrection of R'as Al Ghul: Batman tied in to this 8-part crossover story with the other bat-titles, but there's way too many gaps in the story that reading the two Batman issues doesn't do it any justice. 1-page synopses inclusions from Chris Burnham are neat, but left me empty without being able to read the story in full.
- The Black Glove: Meet the Man-of-Bats and his sidekick, Little Raven! Knight and Squire of England! All these Batman-inspired heroes and more meet at the Island of Mister Mayhew, for their annual Club of Heroes meeting. But it turns sinister when they realize that someone is killing them one-by-one. It's the ultimate theater of Good vs. Evil, engineered by the mad psychiatrist Simon Hurt.
- Batman R.I.P.: An explosive shell to the chest, the kidnapping of his girlfriend, all open him up to psychic suggestions laid by Simon Hurt. He finally triggers them, and drives the Batman to madness -- except Batman has a backup plan for even this! Enter: The Batman of Zur-En-Arrh, the Joker's return from being shot in the face by a Batman look-alike in the first issue, and Dr. Hurt's final drama of Good vs. Evil.
- One-shots: There's various one-shots here, including a kooky prose-style issue that foreshadows the "punchline" in Batman R.I.P. Issue #666 imagines a grim future where Damian is Batman and fights the Batman of Hell. The omnibus ends in a two-part story that explain what's going on in Batman's head, as he attempts to break free from the psychic prison of the New Gods attempting to build a clone army from him, before he's seemingly murdered by Darkseid's Omega Beams in the finale of Final Crisis. The two-part issue does a great job explaining what makes Bruce Wayne Batman, and why he can be the only person that can be Batman.
All things considered, the stories told make for one super-arc that begins with the first issue collected and ends neatly in the third-to-last issue, before the Final Crisis tie-in. The theme goes beyond the typical crime noir that you'd expect from modern Batman stories, and pays tribute to the adventures he's had in the past, while paving stories for the international set in the future. The author isn't afraid to dip into the supernatural and makes the title a jack of all trades, expanding the way we view the Batman. The man who's thought of everything, including even what he hasn't thought of!
It's a shame that the art couldn't be consistent. Adam Kubert's lines are dynamic and action-oriented, perfect for the James Bond-style story that kicks it off. But fill-in artists like Lee Garbett and later the main artist Tony Daniel put in their perfunctory superhero art. Standard, with nothing exciting, and sometimes it's the script that has to do the heavy lifting. Like, what's going on in this page? Reading the art only confuses you; you'd have to read the words to tell what's going on.
I suppose I only have myself to blame, but I purchased this edition in "Acceptable" condition on eBay and it came with the binding torn off. It feels like I'm murdering the book every time I open it, but it's stayed intact so far and doesn't affect the reading experience. It's an unfortunate way to keep these stories, but given the inconsistencies in the art itself, it was worth saving the extra $15. The cover art of the book itself is this neat double-bat icon, and I loved looking at it in my week-ish-long binge of the book. Page numbers are marked but inconsistently since the art often bleeds into the margins.
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