Sunday, February 13, 2011

Batman and Son


Batman and Son, written by Grant Morrison, illustrated by Andy Kubert, Jesse Delperdang and John Van Fleet (2006-2007): Nearly five years later, writer Gtant Morrison's first arc upon first writing Batman makes a lot more sense than it did at the time. Whatever his faults, Morrison has almost always been one of the best 'long-form' plotters the mainstream comic-book industry has ever had, though it takes a second reading to divine some of his twistier bits of set-up. Morrison built towards not only the Batman RIP storyline, Batman's 'death' in Final Crisis, and the Return of Bruce Wayne, but also towards his new Batman, Inc. on-going storyline. Five years of plotting. Great googly-moogly.

The greatest bit of weird genius throughout Morrison's (on-going) work on the adventures of Batman has been his attention to the elements of Batman history that most continuity wonks have been trying to forget for the last 50 years: the odd science-fiction and fantasy tales that dominate late 1950's and early 1960's Batman stories.

These are the stories that the majority of Batman fans have hated and shunned and mocked for decades. So Morrison says, how do I make these work with the Batman we know now? And can I use them as the foundation of The Batman Epic to End All Batman Epics (until the next one)?

And so Batman's adventures with the Batman of another planet; his interactions with magical nuisance Bat-mite; his battles with interstellar criminals; his membership in The Club of Heroes, a somewhat lame assortment of the Batman of many nations: these all become grist for Grant's mill. Somewhere out there, Batman's greatest enemy is waiting. And you haven't met him yet. Or have you?

Here, Morrison brings in what would eventually be the 'new' Robin -- Damian, the genetically altered product of a liason between Batman and Talia (daughter of super-criminal Ra's Al Ghul). Batman's dealing with a product of one of the funkier Batman villains introduced in the 1960's -- Man-bat, part-man, part-bat.

Talia's gotten hold of the Man-bat formula and has changed a number of members of her League of Assassins into ninja-Man-bats. And she's kidnapped the British Prime Minister's wife so as to be able to blackmail the U.K. into giving her Gibraltar, which she wants for the League of Assassins' new base. Or she may just be goofing around. Weird stuff. Also, the Joker mutates into a new, more homicidal personality! Groovy. Highly recommended.

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