Hello again. We’re about to wrap things up here before moving on to Batman R.I.P. which, going by reviews, should instigate even lengthier posts than usual. So let’s get this out the way.
As you might expect from the title, quite obviously a throwback to Robin Dies At Dawn, our first issue is another weird one. But we get a ton of answers to questions that we’ve been pondering now for quite a while. First of all, it’s confirmed by Bat-Devil that he and the other two ghosts were part of another experiment of Hurt’s after all. There were a number of candidates – the Farreli we keep running into was one – but only three made results. The test was, of course, to create replacements for when Batman died. As I’ve mentioned, I think back in my review of Batman and Son somewhere, I found out that Batman has actually faced these three guys before in an old story, although in a different form. That is also confirmed by Batman to having been a test of their strength against his. The question now, obviously, is why they’re showing up and, indeed, this is how Bat-Devil, actually a man called Lane, which is how I’ll now refer to him, leaves the story. But we can be pretty sure that Batman at this point realises Hurt’s involvement in all of this, as I’ll talk about in a minute, alongside other things. The story of this chapter, first of all, ends with Bruce quite hilariously crawling into a dumpster and having Alfred gather the media in preparation for his excuse he’ll be making to Jezebel. Just had to mention that.
So, anyway, lots of other interesting things going on here. First of all, when Batman escapes from the chair he’s strapped to, he immediately goes off on a long monologue of various thoughts, which last several pages, and these actually brought a huge smile to my face. In the past I’ve said that Morrison’s Batman is the one who really is the world’s greatest detective – the man who thinks of everything. Boy, has he, right enough. You see, Lane thinks that he’s cut off Batman’s hand but, actually, he only cut through an empty glove…because Batman had prepared for such a situation and has dislocated his arm during his time in the chair so he could get a hand free. Um, yeah, badass, or what? Cue also his thoughts of there possibly being an “ultimate villain, […], an absolute mastermind”. It’s only one of many thoughts – apparently he thinks of a thousand possible scenarios per day, the busy, obsessive chap – but, as he points out, “If my hypothetical ultimate enemy can be imagined, I can’t help considering the possibility that he actually exists”. Oh, man, consider me excited. To be honest, this and one of Lane’s lines – “See, Doctor Hurt wasn’t human. Doctor Hurt was the devil.” – also got me thinking about who this Darkseid of Final Crisis could be. As I’ve said I already know, that’s the person who kills Batman, but I’m now also wondering if Lane isn’t just being metaphorical here – that if Darkseid is actually Hurt, and Hurt, Darkseid. Not sure how it could be possible but that certainly would make him Batman’s greatest foe. Either way, if our Batman really has thought of everything, I can’t wait to see just what his plan could be, if he has one.
There’s not a lot else to say about this issue, though. We get more flashbacks, the most notable of which is Batman telling Robin that he “must put away [his] Batman costume and retire from crime fighting”, which is said in Robin Dies At Dawn. Difference is, Robin doesn’t react by crying. Oh, and being a flashback, Bat Mite’s floating in the background, repeats the same line, but has this to say about it: “Wonder who hid that command in your head, Bruce”. Oh, that is amazing, Mr. Morrison. In the original story, you see, once Batman said that, Robin went to Hurt to see about getting Batman “fixed”, thereby accidentally confirming to Hurt that his apparent activation phrase, planted during Batman’s isolation period as part of the “space medicine” test – had worked. Bloody amazing.
Apart from that, the only other significant thing to happen in this issue is Lane burning the Black Casebook, which apparently holds the key to defeating Hurt. Oh noes! Yet – wait a minute! As I’ve repeatedly pointed out as strange, Alfred has the files on a portable device which could mean three things: 1) I have wronged our faithful butler and he’s actually a good guy after all, working as a double agent for Hurt; 2) he is a bad guy – please, Morrison, no – and has simply removed any way of getting the files (remember, they were stored on one of the Batcave’s computers); or 3) um, nothing, and it was just a coincidence I looked too far into. Either way, I’m eager to find out how Batman can best Hurt, if some special method’s indeed hidden amongst old cases.
But that wraps us up for that issue. The final chapter of this book, The Fiend With Nine Eyes (Batman #675), is a bit of an oddity to me. If you read the post I left a link to for my last review, about the connection to 52 that’s made, you’ll know that the assassins worked for a Ten-Eyed Man, the same man here apparently, only for some reason missing a finger. So, anyway, this is your basic plot for this issue: a week later, Bruce and Jezebel are on another date – did I mention there were rumours on the television that the two might get engaged three issues ago? Only pointing it out because the Ten-Eyed Man is actually missing his ring finger, which could perhaps be significant as foreshadowing, which would be interesting because Bruce rarely gets that close with anyone – when the titular dude and his cronies crash the party. Of course, he kicks their arses but in doing so, Jezebel realises that he’s Batman, concluding the book. Meanwhile, both Talia and Damian, the latter now doing better, realise that someone’s out to get Bruce when they hear of this attack, and plot to come up with a counter-plan. Mean-meanwhile, Robin and Nightwing talk a little about Bruce possibly going insane again, and that’s all there is to it.
So, let’s talk about Bruce’s accidental reveal. That was quite a funny way to end the story because Jezebel went all-out psycho on Bruce at the start in a rant about not being another one of his “bimbo heiresses”, the highlight of her outburst being her thought that Bruce is hiding some dark secret, that all she sees is “a mask of a man”. The other interesting thing about their scenes here is that she first talks about wealth, mentioning her poverty stricken home country, and then the Nine-Eyed Man shows up and asks her how much her dress cost: “How many children might this shameless scrap of rag have fed?” This kinda stuff is again tying back into all rich people talk and the point here is perhaps that she’s insincere about her charity work much in the way of John Mayhew. Yes, I am always going to be convinced that she’s a bad guy.
But, anyway, there isn’t really anything to say about Talia and Damian’s scenes, nor Robin’s and Nightwing’s – it’s really as simple as I’ve described it in both cases. The only other thing to point out, of course, is that it’s quite odd that the Black Glove, or so we can presume, hired this Nine-Eyed Man. But, by his missing finger, I’m not sure if “hired” is the right word. Maybe our mystery group holds enough power to coerce people into doing their bidding? Could be interesting if that’s the case. But, yeah, I don’t think I have anything else to add. Oh, I suppose that I should mention that one Ryan Benjamin did the art on this last story, whoever he is. Well, um, he’s crap too, with some of his faces looking particularly weird on some pages. Meh.
On that note we can move on to Batman R.I.P. at long last. Although I’m crossing my fingers that Daniels doesn’t consistently fuck things up, if he does, don’t worry – I won’t let it ruin my reading of the run by going off on wild tangents about how much I hate him or something. As far as I’m aware, this and Final Crisis are the two most confusing books of the series, with the most mad stuff taking place. Which is fine with me because I’m actually loving this run so far. Bring it on, Morrison!
One last thing before we go. In a post that seems ages ago, but was actually only two weeks, I made a post in which you can find my reading order of the run. Slight change: after consulting the recommendation I left a link to in that post, I will actually read Time and Batman after Final Crisis, but before I start reading the Batman and Robin series. This is because one of the stories in that book, told in two parts, will explain some of the events between R.I.P. and Final Crisis. You might ask, “Why not read it after R.I.P.?”, but apparently it spoils events of the latter story. What I guess this means is that something happens at the end of R.I.P. that is significant in some way to Final Crisis, but really bloody confusing, and this story will be our explanation for both. Fuck knows, to be perfectly blunt. Either way, that’s what we’re doing. It might even be at that point that we’ll take a short break from the run, seeing as R.I.P. and Final Crisis are actually quite large books in comparison to those we’ve read so far, and Batman and Robin afterwards.
So, until next time, cheery bye. No additional post gathering my thoughts about this book’s revelations as I think I’ve made myself quite clear about which direction we seem to be heading.