After that rather long introduction, we finally get to the run ‘proper’ if you will, with Batman and Son. This story is based off an old graphic novel called Batman: Son of the Demon from the late 80’s which was removed from continuity after the events of Zero Hour.
From what I understand based off a little research, Morrison’s story doesn’t have much to do with the original barring the notion that Batman has a son. Now, due to the length of the original post, I’ve decided to split this up into two separate parts. Part one covers Batman #655 and Batman #656. Also, please note that there will be spoilers here for Batman RIP.
The story kicks off with Batman #655, ‘Building a Better Batmobile’, and boy does it kick off. It starts with the Joker with a bloodied cop dressed in a Batman uniform. From what we can infer with the image, The Joker used a crowbar on him which is very reminiscent of what he did to Jason Todd, the second Robin, in A Death in the Family.
The cop, Josef Muller, takes matters into his own hands and shoots the Joker in the face before Batman could intervene. Notice how the bullet bounces off the Joker’s skull based on the trajectory presented by the art. The fallout from Muller’s actions and Joker’s further disfigurement will be explored later in Batman #663.
Again, more imagery from a Death in the Family. Also notable in this scene is the first appearance of ‘Zur-En-Arrh!’ as graffiti on the walls of Gotham City. The phrase can be seen everywhere on the streets of Gotham if you keep a keen eye open. This phrase will be very important later on in Batman RIP and the issues leading up to it. So this will be discussed in detail then. Oh, and if you were wondering – The Joker’s very much alive.
While there’s not much to discuss in this issue, I do like the idea that Batman has to learn how to act like Bruce Wayne again. It’s mentioned quite a lot in the issue and just goes to show you how lost he was before he went on that year long journey to retrace his steps and find himself again. Does this prove that Batman is, in fact, the real personality and Bruce Wayne is the disguise? I’d say no it doesn’t. Bruce Wayne is Batman’s anchor to the real world, he needs to be Bruce Wayne just as much as Bruce Wayne needs to be Batman. Without Bruce Wayne, Batman becomes less human, more Bat than Man, if you will. That’s the reason why Bruce lost his way in the first place.
Kirk Langstrom, better known as Man-bat, shows up in this issue though not in ‘bat-form.’ He’s being coerced into giving up his man-bat formula in exchange of his wife’s life by the League of Assassins. Why would they want that? Simple – Ninja Man-Bats.
Other than that, the issue is notable for teasing the appearance of Damian Wayne, Bruce’s son. He makes an appearance, albeit one concealed in darkness, at the last page of the issue. I won’t bother posting it anymore.
In Batman #656, ‘Man-bats of London,’ Morrison introduces Jezebel Jet. A member of the Black Glove, Jet was part of their grand plot to break the Batman physically and mentally. We’ll be seeing more of her as the series continues, especially in Batman RIP. Also, note – black and red again.
Again, there’s not much to discuss in this issue as Morrison is still planting the seeds for his run. This issue appears to have a reference to Son of the Demon I think. I’m not quite sure as I haven’t read the original yet, but it certainly looks that way.
This issue features a lot of action, a whole lot of it. I‘d say that this single issue has the most action in all of Morrison‘s run. What we get here is a fight with Batman and a hoard of ninja Man-Bats. One of the fun things about the action sequence in this issue is that it uses the canvases of pop art littering the background, much like in the above example, to show Batman’s thoughts, replace sound effects, and even give us an idea how the next panel might play out. I’ve taken a few choice panels from the sequence just to show you how Kubert and Morrison did this.
This issue also brings back another Golden Age character, Aunt Agatha, into modern continuity. I think her first and only appearance was in Batman #89 before she was brought back here. She is not to be confused with Aunt Harriet, another character from the past who made her debut in Detective Comics # 328. Interestingly, the character presented here in this looks more like Aunt Harriet than Aunt Agatha.
Lastly, this issue gives us our first real look at Damian Wayne. Not the most ideal way to be introduced to the son you never knew you had, if I do say so myself.
So, that’s it for now. These two issues were light on story but very heavy on action, the next half looks very promising though, so expect quite a bit of discussion over there and I hope you guys check it out. Stay tuned.
Batman #655-656, ‘Building a Better Batmobile’ and ‘Man-bats of London,’ written by Grant Morrison, art by Andy Kubert.
Batman: A Death in the Family, written by Jim Starlin, art by Jim Aparo and Mike DeCarlo