“Bring out your dead!”Â “But Iâ€™m not dead yet!”
Bet you thought Batman #681 featured the death of Batman, and all the hype USA Today, and other newspapers and magazines spewed out that week capped off the end of a legend. Turns out Batman didnâ€™t die in that fiery helicopter crash, and Grant Morrison is now spending two additional issues tying the appearance of Batman in Batman to the Batman weâ€™ve seen walking freely around in Countdown. Thatâ€™s right true believers – it ainâ€™t done yet!
Last issue readers discovered Batman didnâ€™t die in the helicopter crash. Instead he was being held by Dark Sideâ€™s minions as they tried to extract his essence so as to transfer it to a clone army that would wreck havoc on the world. Huh, for some reason, I thought the Anti-Life Equation was going to take care of all that. But whatever, right?
In order to make the transference a bit easier on good olâ€™ Bruce, false memories were being fed to the Dark Knight, which not only tied in to all the great and groovy tales from the 50â€™s, 60â€™s and early 70â€™s, but makes complete sense with what Morrison is trying to do to wrap his RIP story up in a way that doesnâ€™t take a major dump on DCâ€™s number one property.
A note about RIP. Perhaps most of us believed RIP was a reference to the death of the lead character. By now it is probably apparent the acronym simply means Batman finds peace and can finally rest.
As the last issue wrapped, it was clear that the man who has a plan for everything realizes his predicament (thanks to the death and return of Alfred Pennyworth). Through further flashbacks, we see the moments that make Bruce Batman, and eventually uncover the thing that everyone, include Batman fears most – a totally out of control Batman that will do anything to defeat his enemies.
Through his psychic connection with The Lump, Batman is able to convince his lumpy foe to join his side, and when the agreement is made, the essence of Batman is finally revealed, and it is too much for the clones to take, as they begin ripping their eyes out of their still forming heads. Itâ€™s is a pretty awesome moment, as readers realize that the dark and twisted mind of Grant Morrison Batman is a place no one wants to be.
Batman escapes, and through a final narrative by Alfred, we discover Batman doesnâ€™t even die in this issue either, but wanders off to a place even his most trusted friend doesnâ€™t know about. Instead, readers are left with the final thought, â€œThere will be no hiding place for evilâ€ quickly followed by â€œFollow the Dark Knight to His Last Adventure in Final Crisis #6.â€ Which really should have been followed by, â€œA-Ha! We figured out how to drag this RIP story out even further to get you saps to part with more money!â€ I know. Iâ€™m a bit hard on that last bit, but it just seems like the denouement we expected three issues ago is now being played out an epilogue that is going on for ever. But isnâ€™t that also the point of Batman? Heâ€™ll go on forever, just like his stories? Perhaps. I think we all need to reflect on this thought a bit longer.
Did I like the continued flashbacks? Yes, they were really well done, and the fact they came fast and furious, as readers capture brief glimpses of the past, reminds one of the moments just before waking from a dream. Iâ€™m interested to find out what this last adventure Batman has in Final Crisis #6, when it (finally) arrives, and what the big moment will be that will finally cause Batman to find peace heâ€™s been looking for.
The issueâ€™s layout and art are really good, and I like what Lee Carbett did with certain pages as years worth of stories are presented in single monumental panels.
Iâ€™m not going so far as to claim this is Morrisonâ€™s most brilliant work in all eternity, and those that donâ€™t believe are doomed to burn in Moron Hell for not repenting at the last minute. No, I wonâ€™t do that. These last two issues have been very good Batman stories, but not great Batman stories. The fact that this issue pushes readers again to buy yet another issue (which is not even a Batman issue mind you), which will more than likely still not explain what happens, forcing readers to buy yet another issue, does bother me though. Iâ€™m hoping when all this is said and done, we get a definite answer. Thatâ€™s all I and others are asking for; clarification, summation, conclusion, so we can move on. I did dig this issue, which is why Iâ€™m giving Batman #683 4 out of 5 Stars.