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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Batman and Son

Batman and Son



DC, 2007

Artist: Andy Kubert

Grant Morrison

Batman #655-658, 663-666

Rating: 3/5

in a word, great, though not perhaps the volume I would give a first-time
Batman reader (save that for Batman: Detective). Morrison is steeped here in
Batman coolness, and there's much to savor--from the straight-up superhero
action of the main storyline, the short Joker prose story, the more esoteric
"Black Casebook" two-parter, and the final Elseworlds epilogue--but
the variety of writing styles might jar a casual reader.

alone, Morrison's writing is at times as super-heroic as it is metaphoric.
There's an extended sequence with Batman, Commissioner Gordon, and the Joker in
the first few pages which serve more thematically than anything else (where
Gordon, in true Morrison style, speaks to the reader), and it's hard to miss
the meta-interpretive background when Batman fights ninja Man-Bats in a museum
full of pop art.

I was
most taken in this volume not by the "Batman and Son" storyline,
which has classic elements in its own right, but more by "The Clown at
Midnight" and "The Black Casebook."
"Casebook"--apparently part of Morrison's larger Batman arc--begins
with a match between Batman and a Bane-like figure; Morrison's take on a
Knightfall-haunted Bruce Wayne is remarkably compelling. Even moreso is
Morrison's new Joker novella, with images by John Van Fleet, which is
unquestionable supposed to put one in mind of Morrison's Arkham Asylum. The end
to "Clown" comes a little quick, but there are more than enough scary
bits along the way.

has famously referred to his take on Batman as the "hairy-chested Neal
Adams love god"; think, perhaps, Bruce Wayne crossed with James Bond, a
reference Morrison makes in the story (only, Wayne remarks, "much
cooler"). Indeed, the Bruce Wayne here, in relationships both with Talia
and new character Jezebel Jet, is lustful--if not loving--and also a bit
naive--he can't quite believe Talia would risk the life of her own child.

importantly, in our post-Infinite Crisis world, we see a Bruce Wayne concerned
with things like whether Robin knows that Bruce is proud of him. Whereas
previously we had the sense that Batman's partners were a means to an end in
his war on crime, we now get the sense that his partners are his end--that is,
his war on crime is for the purpose of keeping Alfred, Tim, Selina, and the
rest safe. This is a Bruce Wayne, as in the Batman movies, which has a soft
spot for people who do good and seems eager to find the good in everyone, and
he's far more readable than Batmen past.  

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