Sunday, October 5, 2008

Batman #680 Review

Creative Team
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Tony Daniel
Inker: Sandu Florea

Issue Rating
Story: 6.8/10
Art: 10/10
Overall: 8.4/10

Issue Summary
A bunch of villains from around the world arrive at Arkham Asylum. They are all greeted by Dr. Hurt welcoming them Black Glove's main event: the destruction of a hero (Batman) and all those around him.

Outside of Joker's cell Le Bossu is explaining to Joker that everyone sees him as Doctor Guy Dax and do not realize the monster known as Le Bossu he really is. While he is explaining this the Doctor is changing into his Le Bossu costume and releases Joker from his cell.

In an operating room Blue Devil is asking one her men were is Le Bossu because the Blue Scorpion Venom inside of Nightwing is about to wear off and is worried that Nightwing is going to wake up any second.

As midnight approaches Dr. Hurt is preparing all his men for Batman's arrival and tells Senor Sombero to join him once he is done giving orders to the gargoyled thugs. But before Senor Sombrero can joing Dr. Hurt, Joker appears in front of him, kills him, and throws his body through a window were Dr. Hurt is having his gathering. Dr. Hurt welcomes the Joker and tells Joker to give him a second to tell him what they plan on doing to Batman.

While that is going on Batman of Zur-en-arrh arrives at Arkham Asylum with Batmite by his side. But as they enter Arkham Batmite tells Batman he cannot go any further because were Batman is going is not a place of reason and therefore Batman must face it himself. When Batman is ask Batmite if he is really from the 5th dimension or just a figment of his imagination Batmite tells him that the 5th dimension is imagination. With Batmite's departure Batman starts beating the crap out of all Black Glove's thugs making his way through Arkham to find the Black Glove.

The scene shifts to Commissioner Gordon carefully making his way through Wayne Manor trying to not trigger one of the traps, one of which killed his partner. All of a sudden one of the pictures of a Wayne ancestor hanging on the wall starts talking and gives Gordon the challange of reaching Bruce's emergency red telephone before it rings five times or else it will blow up. As Gordon runs towards the phone he triggers a trap that cause one of the knight armors to come alive prepared to shoot him. But before the knight can shot it is struck by an arrow. Talia, Damian, and the League of Shadows appear in front of Gordon with the destroyed phone ready to help Gordon investigate Bruce's disapperance.

Back at Arkham Asylum Batman of Zur-en-arrh is still making his way through Arkham and starts seeing Joker's smiling face on all the screens. Even though Batman ignores everything the Joker says he cannot ignore Jezebel's screaming out to be saved which triggers Batman of Zur-en-arrh slow transformation back into his original Bruce Wayne persona. As Batman Zur-en-arrh looks for Jezebel he enters a room were Joker is waiting for him for a fight. Batman ask Joker were Jezebel is but the Joker responds by telling Batman they represent the force of Ying and Yang and slices part of his tongue in half to give himself the appearance of a snake. Batman lunges at Joker and starts to punch the Joker repeatably while Dr. Hurt and his party watch on. But as Batman is about to finish off the Joker the curtains behind him open to reveal a tied up Jezebel and in a straight jacket.

Seeing Jezebel tied up is the last trigger for Batman Zur-en-arrh transformation back to his original Bruce Wayne persona. Bruce takes of his Batman Zur-en-arrh cowl and grabs a knife to try and brake the glass were Jezebel is in. Joker starts telling Bruce, calling him by name, that he is finally figuring it out that the red and black petals on the floor are filled with neurotoxins. Before Joker starts taunting him some more Dr. Hurt stops him telling him that it is midnight and Bruce is already in the Black Glove's grasp.

As Bruce is finally able to brake into the room Jezebel is in he falls to the floor apologizing to Jezebel. More red and black petals are on the floor and Joker smiles that Bruce finaly gets it. Bruce feeling the effects of the neurotoxins starts fade. As Bruce is slipping into unconsciousness Jezebel gets on her feet puts on black gloves saying Bruce is giving in. The scen goes black with Joker saying "Now do you get it?" End of issue.

Highlight of the Issue
"Leave it Batman to make a costume that bright and colorful look badass."

"So Joker was in on it the whole time?"

"DC should make this into a poster."

"That Bat-radar is useless."
"Who didn't see this coming."

Batman #680 was a mixe bag, storywise anyways, with me. It is not because I found this story to be way to complex or confusing but actually the opposite that I did understand everything that was going on that caused me to have mixed feelings for this issue. So before even starting this review I read some reviews of this issue on various comic websites and blogs to see that maybe that I missed something. After reading all the reviews, which have been overwhelmingly positive, and re-reading this issue I see that I am still mixed with that I thought of this issue.

Like in the previous issues I have to credit Morrison for how he has been able to deconstruct Bruce and Batman down to there very core. What is suprising about Batman RIP in general is how well Morrison has been able to incorporate all of Batman's history from the campy version of the 50s to the current one. This is very clever way to show how vulnerable and unstable Bruce is because it is clear that from the beggining of Morrison's run on Batman that Bruce has been inching closer and closer to the braking point. Even Bruce's backup plan of Batman Zur-en-arrh isn't enough for Bruce to finally lose it. It just shows how bad of a situation he is in.

It is not only that Bruce finally went crazy that is suprising but how he finally feel to all the insanity around him that has made Batman RIP a good read. It has always been said that given time for preperation Bruce could beat any superhero or villain. But even with his backup plan/persona of Batman Zur-en-arrh in case of a mental attack like the one he has received in Batman RIP was not enough. For everyone that thought this would end with the death of Batman they were partily correct because this story seems to be serving as the death of Batman persona leaving only Bruce Wayne as the only one left standing. The way Bruce goes out at the end of this issue just shows how much everything has affected him because he really looked pathetic and shell of himself trying to get his Bat-radia to help when all it is a piece of junk.

But my favorite part of Morrison's Batman RIP and what made this issue better than it should have been is how Morrison writes the Joker. After watching The Dark Knight it is hard to beat Ledger's version of Joker but the way Morrison has been writing Joker in his run on Batman is near the level Ledger version. Joker in this story shows enough insanity and intelligence were it is hard to tell if he is one or another or both. In any case the dialog between Bruce and Joker was excellent. Joker telling Bruce that they co-exist with one another and that if one of them is gone the other one will be to perfectly summarizes how these two long time nemises are destined to always battle it out with one another with neither one getting the upper hand. The scene were Joker slices his tongue in half just to gain the appearance of a snake was both sick and awesome showing how insane Joker is.

With all that said there were still things that I did not like about this issue or have liked in Batman RIP. My biggest problem with this story has been with the villains of this story. While I do think that there plan do destroy the Batman has been smart at the same time unrealistic for a story that is suppose to break Batman. The biggest example of this has been that they only used a captured Jezebel to get to Bruce/Batman and not Nightwing, Robin, or Alfred to break him. They already captured Nightwing, who they know was the first Robin, and Alfred who are much closer to Bruce than Jezebel and would be a much more realistic to use them as hostages along with Jezebel. By having both Nightwing and Alfred tied up in chairs along with Jezebel that would have made the reveal of Jezebel being Black Glove, more on her in a second, much more dramatic than it was.

The other problem I have with Dr. Hurt and the League of Villains in general is the lack of backstory and motivation for doing what they are doing. While reading the dialog of Dr. Hurt, Le Bossu, and Blue Devil I keep thinking how forced some of their dialog was. Also other than smashing Alfred's skull with a wine bottle Dr. Hurt and his gang have not really done anything on screen except talk about this being the end Batman over and over again. Even the capturing of Nightwing and Alfred happened of-screen which in turn does not convinced me of them being as great of villains many people they have been saying they are.

Another problem is the reveal of Black Glove herself was just to obvious and had no shock value at all. To some extent revealing that Black Glove is Jezebel is Morrison's equivalent to putting her in the "Women in a Refrigirator" scenerio. The problem with Jezebel being Black Glove is that she wasn't even an interesting character to begin with so that when she is revealed as Black Glove I was thinking that I hope she is just being used as a proxy for the real Black Glove instead. Even with the symbolism of the black and red petals being the same color as Jezebel physical appearance did not make the scene as dramatic for as I think Morrison wanted it to be. I might be wrong about Jezebel being Black Glove being a horrible reveal with one issue left to go in Batman RIP but as of right now this reveal does nothing for me.

The final problem I have been with Batman RIP is the lack of apperance of the Batfamily. Sure this issue had a panel showing what is happening to Nightwing and a short one page apperance of Talia and Damien. this is pretty lazy writing considering Robin is being chased by the guy with the bucket on his head and the gargoyle thugs and Robin himself was suppose to be heading towards Arkham Asylum aswell. At the very least Robin should have appeared in this issue in Arkham Asylum to be a witness to Bruce breaking down and Black Glove's reveal much more dramatic. And having Talia and Damien appear this late in the story is does nothing but make me ask why they are part of this story in the first place. I think with as crazy and complex Morrison has made this story by adding a few more scenes of what Alfred, Nightwing, Robin, Barbara, Talia and Damien are doing would have grounded this story much more which is what this story need to be considered one of the best storylines of all time, which is the category many people want to put it in.

The saving grace for Morrison's story has been the art of Tony Daniel and his inker Sandu Florea. With out Daniel's art this story would be tedering on being nothing more than average. I love how Daniel draws Joker. Daniel's Joker just looks insane with the bullet scar on his forehead and slicing his tongue in half were great visuals. Also it's a great touch by Daniel and Florea that with each page the colors get darker with the use of black and read that it just shows the reader how crazy of a state Bruce is in and how sinester the villains.