While writing Final Crisis, Grant Morrison also wrote Batman R.I.P. for the Batman title. The two events converged at the end.
Title: Batman R.I.P. (aka Batman #676-683)
Author: Grant Morrison
Illustrator(s): issues 676-681 – Tony S. Daniel (pencils), Sandu Florea (inks), Guy Major (colors); issues 682-683 – Lee Garbett (pencils), Trevor Scott (inks), Guy Major (colours)
Cover Date: June – December 2008
Cover Price: $2.99 US per issue, $24.99 for the collected hardcover.
The Black Glove has been after Batman, hiring individuals to try and kill him. Off balance, Batman finds it hard to work effectively. Dr. Simon Hurt, who was present years ago when Batman went into a sense deprivation chamber to try and understand how the Joker’s mind works, now knows Batman’s identity, and is using that intimate knowledge to take Batman’s mind apart one piece at a time.
Batman is the character who plans and prepares for all forseeable circumstances, as well as a few circumstances that cannot be forseen. That defining aspect of the character comes through quite clearly here.
If read in isolation, issues 682 and 683 should be left out. Collecting them together this way is more likely to confuse readers who didn’t read Final Crisis than anything else.
It’s hard for me to accurately judge how original this is, as I haven’t read a lot of Batman over the years. In fact, most of the stories I’ve read involving Batman are Justice League stories, including several written by Grant Morrison. Many of those depend on the idea that Batman is prepared for everything, and is so self-aware that he can easily determine whether or not he’s in a virtual reality. (The story with the Key stands out in particular.) So, I could be wrong, but it strikes me as though much of this has, in fact, been done before. I give it 4 out of 6.
The artwork by Tony Daniel’s team is great. Lee Garbett’s team was less impressive, particularly when drawing Bruce Wayne (who is a somewhat important character to the story.) I give it 5 out of 6.
The story through issues 676-681 suffers from the same problem as Final Crisis proper: we see effects, but we don’t see causes. If this was set up for years, why wait until now to implement the plan? And are we to believe that Batman wouldn’t have monitored Dr. Hurt, or anyone else who saw him in such a vulnerable state? The immediate effects are interesting, but I’m not sure things would have ever progressed to this point without Batman’s intervention in the first place. I give it 4 out of 6.
The characterization of Batman, Alfred, Robin and Nightwing is well handled. I still find the villains rather shallow. Perhaps this reads better if one has been reading the title since the beginning of Morrison’s run, but I’m betting I’m not the only one who jumped on with the hype and Final Crisis tie-in. For us, the villains are little more than charicatures. I give it 4 out of 6.
The emotional response is highly erratic. There are some great moments, such as the internal monologue about the task which is difficult but not impossible, but there are equally many moments that fall flat, often involving the villains. The conclusion(s) are also pretty dissatisfying with this packaging. If you didn’t read Final Crisis, the ambiguous ending to issue 681 is a good ending point. Otherwise, the contents of issues 682 and 683 will serve to confuse more issues than they clear up. I give it 4 out of 6.
The flow through the story works for a while. Again, the jump to issues 682 and 683 gets pretty jarring, as there are about five issues of Final Crisis that come in between 681 and 682. I give it 4 out of 6.
Overall, this is a decent story, but I can imagine a lot of disappointment from it. The marketing surrounding it wasn’t advertising the story that is published in these pages, and that’s never a good thing. I give it 4 out of 6.
In total, Batman R.I.P. receives 29 out of 42.
Final Crisis Checklist
- Final Crisis #1-2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, complete series
- Batman RIP (Batman #676-683)
- DC Universe #0
- DC Universe: Last Will and Testament
- Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #1-5
- Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns
- Final Crisis: Requiem
- Final Crisis: Resist
- Final Crisis: Revelations #1-5
- Final Crisis: Rogues Revenge #1-3
- Final Crisis: Secret Files
- Final Crisis: Submit
- Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1-2