“The Black Glove”, Chapters 6 & 7: Batman Dies At Dawn (Batman #674) and The Fiend With Nine Eyes (Batman #675)

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.

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“The Black Glove”, Chapters 4 & 5: Space Medicine (Batman #672) and Joe Chill In Hell (Batman #673)

Welcome back.  The four remaining issues of this book will be reviewed in two parts. There’s a lot to talk about, but we can do so with two issues grouped together per post, seeing as it isn’t just plain guesswork before Morrison gives us some answers much later – we get quite a lot here, for a change.

One thing I’ll get out of the way right now, before we start, is Tony S. Daniel, the artist behind the next three issues (I’ll talk about the other guy in the next post). To get straight to the point, I don’t like this guy very much. In fact, he’s my least favourite kind of artist. You can’t call the guy utter shit because occasionally he’s pretty good and vice versa; but it’s hard to tell which of those he is most of the time. Yes, we sadly have a rather inconsistent artist on our hands here. Well, actually, the one thing he is consistent about is his bloody terrible splash pages. I’m sorry to his fans, but the guy just fucks up every one of these because it’s in those that his on-and-off again accurate body proportion is at its absolute worst. For instance, what should be an iconic reveal of Bat Mite at the end of this first issue (yes, really) is ruined by the little guy’s massive head and shoulders standing at odds against these tiny, stubby legs. But there’s also way too much detail for that character in that shot, though to be fair, that may be the inker’s fault…but only in part. In my opinion Daniels should have based his design on the original look of the character, as childish as it is – this one looks very dark and serious, which is at odds with his cheerful personality.

Anyway, outside of splash shots, you simply find these really peculiar images or weird little things that he does. Take his line work. For some reason this guy loves using lots of cross hatching to create structure to a character’s face or muscles or what have you – but he does so terribly! Sometimes there isn’t any cross hatching – just lines in addition to the black areas that already make the shape of Batman’s cape more clear or whatever, for no damn reason at all. Like I said, there could be some fault from the inker’s here, and possibly even the colourists. In these three issues the colours are very dark but, combined with some of Daniel’s more confusing looking images,  like whatever the third panel on page 96 is supposed to be (the broken Bat Signal against the sky?), it really, really doesn’t help sell me on this chap. The best comparison I can make of him is to Jim Lee. That man takes a more realistic approach to his artwork and it’s this same approach that Daniels seems to be attempting. Unlike Lee, however, he can’t seem to get human anatomy right and his action sequences lack a real punch, real movement, and he ultimately looks like a generic copycat of Lee.

*sigh* Well, I started that short rant by suggesting he’s not bad or good, but screw it: he’s terrible and we’re stuck with him for most of R.I.P. in which I can only hope he’ll step up his game. Indeed, nothing would make me happier if he were to completely surprise me when I get to that. Hell, for all I know, these three issues were simply something he found himself suddenly confronted with out of the blue, and had to rush in order for them to reach stores. It’d be nice if it were the case but I have a feeling that he may be the kind of artist who swings from above average work to what-the-fuck-man crap quite often.

On that optimistic note, let’s actually get to reviewing the real reason that we’re here. In contrast to Daniels, Morrison does not disappoint us. He starts Space Medicine (Batman #672) as has become a standard at this point: not as you’d expect following on from last issue, in this case with the third ghost of Batman, dubbed Bat-Devil by I, breaking into Gotham City Police Department, demanding to speak to a Commissioner Vane and Batman. This Commissioner apparently once took Gordon’s position in an old, old tale, many moons ago, but I believe this is the first time the name has risen up. Either way, apparently the last time this Bat-Devil dude was in Gotham, it was this man acting as Commissioner, which could be significant, particularly as its quickly revealed that this “ghost” is also a former police officer. Suspicious, eh?

Anyway, in what’s perhaps meant to be symbolic of his role as Batman, Bruce is in a hot air balloon over Gotham – the symbolism I suggest being him watching over it, even on a date – with Jezebel when they coincidentally cross paths with the Bat Signal’s beam. Of course, as they do a bit of parachuting, Bruce makes his exit and leaves Alfred, as always, with an excuse to make. Before I move on, I would like to point out one thing Jezebel says, possibly reinforcing my theory that she’s a villain. Just like John Mayhew in our last story arc, she “wants to do everything”. And that’s literally it. I know, I know, it probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but Mayhew was also as rich as she is and seemed to have joined the Black Glove, becoming a villain out of boredom. Indeed, now that I think about it, what rich men and women do with all their money is a question that seems to be coming up fairly often now, and Jezebel suggesting that she wants to experience everything life offers is perhaps indicative of her going down the same route as Mayhew. Or maybe I’m just paranoid, so let’s move on.

Things get interesting on top of GCPD. The last time we were here bad things happened and this is the case again. Both Batman and Gordon are shot by Bat-Devil’s flame thrower-like gun. The latter will probably be alright but the former, well…yeah, maybe not. First of all, he hallucinates that Bat-Devil is the robot that “kills” Robin all the way back in Robin Dies At Dawn, which was a little out of the blue. But then we see a hand – possibly of that belonging to Dr. Hurt if we presume it’s him behind this, which is most likely the case with the tie to Robin Dies At Dawn in which it was he who had Batman take part in the experiment (incidentally, called “space medicine”) – tracing the words, you guessed it, Zur En Arrh on a computer monitor or something as Batman’s heart rate quickens. Oh, and the symbolism again isn’t lost on me when Batman thinks, “My heart”, and we then get the only good splash page from Daniels: that of a bat breaking through the window of his home like in Year One. But to wrap this short sequence of madness up, we’re presented with Bat Mite, who says, “Now you’re in trouble, Bruce”. Um, yeah, I’d have to agree on that score.

Things, needless to say, quickly get much worse for our Dark Knight in Joe Chill In Hell (Batman #673) and very, very confusing for your average reader. In fact, if I hadn’t read The Black Casebook before starting this run, I would have no idea what was going on here. Even then, though, it is a bit mental and there’s at least two things I didn’t get until a Google search gave me some answers. So here’s the thing: this whole issue is like a large dream sequence that Batman’s experiencing after last issue’s cliffhanger, one which revolves around two stories from the past that are of the utmost importance: The Origin of Batman (Batman# 47) and Robin Dies At Dawn (Batman #156). Someone following my reading of Morrison’s run from my review of The Black Casebook may notice that the former story isn’t actually included in that collection. Indeed, I had to do a Google search about what exactly was the deal with Joe Chill – who is the murderer of Bruce’s parents, by the way – in this issue, and I was pointed to that story. But by some beautiful coincidence, and which again reinforces what I already said about unfortunately having not read this as well, prior to the run, The Origin of Batman is included in The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told. And, having read it, one can see the role it plays here.

In that story a young Bruce Wayne is spared by Chill when the latter looks in the boy’s eyes and finds himself frightened by what he sees. Having later become Batman, Bruce goes out of his way to have Chill arrested for his parent’s murders all those years ago, to such a point that he reveals his identity to Chill. The twist is that Chill tells his cronies about this and they, realising that he “created” Batman the moment he robbed the boy’s parents of their lives, turn on him and kill him. This issue, like I said, is a dream and things are indeed a little different, as you might expect. For instance, this Batman – designed to look like Bob Kane’s version, by the way – has already been spending time stalking Chill, whose lackeys don’t actually believe him about Batman; but he hasn’t revealed his identity. And, in the end, he doesn’t by pulling off his mask either – what he does instead is bring Chill the same gun he used to kill Martha and Thomas Wayne, at which point Chill adds two and two together, and repeats the line about having “created” Batman. And then he kills himself. Yep, Batman makes a guy commit suicide. Which is interesting because this plot part of the dream is therefore kind of reminiscent of some revenge fantasy, further emphasised by this Batman’s insane laughter. But I think that’s all this part of the issue is – a twisted memory of how Chill was really confronted.

So, that was one of the two things I didn’t initially understand. The other, and which I still don’t understand, is this reference from the first page, that’s carried on throughout the issue, to a “Thogal ritual”. It’s a form of meditation and, though not the first time some meditative form has been mentioned, it is the first specific one and, as far as I know, the only one to connect elsewhere. In this case, the only thing I could find out was that the ritual itself and the strange men with swords that we see attack Batman were actually seen in a story called 52. Read this handy post if you’d like to understand a bit more because, although we’ll no doubt be seeing this again, meaning I’ll mention it at such a time, I’m now moving on to the point of the ritual being mentioned here. What happens is that you’re isolated in a cave for thirteen days “designed to simulate death and after-death […] and rebirth too”.

Enter Robin Dies At Dawn in which Batman took part in an experiment of Doctor Hurt’s in which he was put in isolation and underwent various hallucinations – the one in that story, of course, being of an alien planet on which Robin was killed, possibly Batman’s biggest fear – simply to understand “psychotic states”. Which as Tim (if this flashback is also real) points out, is actually kind of stupid, moreso now in light of Dr. Hurt being the big villain of this run. We’ll talk about Hurt a bit more in the next post, however. Just know for now that he most definitely did a few things to Batman’s head in that old story we saw him in. This chapter ends with Batman waking up from this hallucination to find his third ghost preparing to torture him.

But we’re not done yet. There’s a few more things to talk about in this issue, most of which I’ll just list as bullet points. First of all, though, I referred to Joe Chill’s story as the “plot part” of the dream that this chapter essentially is. That’s because Morrison fucks around with structure a lot in this story. Pages 118 and 119 are probably the best examples of this. On page 117 before we randomly cut from Batman stalking Chill’s men to a young Bruce dropping a rock down a well. When we turn over the page we’re still here but Bat Mite suddenly makes an appearance to talk to Bruce for three panels. But this is randomly intercut with a panel of Dr. Hurt repeating some lines from Robin Dies At Dawn, which is then followed with a shot of young Bruce actually standing alone, another of Hurt; and then we’re suddenly with Batman in the Batcave, who acts as if he’s talking to Hurt about his fear of losing Robin. Then this page, 119 if you’re following along, ends with a shot of the assassins from the 52 story attacking Bruce. It’s kind of weird and would batter your brain if you hadn’t read any of these stories prior to the run like I have. In fact, although it’s obviously fine with me, I am beginning to understand where the seething hatred some people have for this run is coming in. It’s certainly not friendly to your every-now-and-again fan, I suppose. But, then again, I don’t really think it has to be.

So, with that out the way, I’ll leave you with some bullet points – in chronological order of events, if you’re wondering – of other random thoughts I had.

  • The idea of the Thogal ritual causing “rebirth” should of course remind us of the Joker’s recent escapades in The Clown At Midnight. The only reason I bother to mention it is that I forgot to mention something about that. In the very first issue of this run I suggested that the flaming Joker card we saw when Batman was carrying his limp body was possibly meant to represent the idea of a phoenix, never dying but being reborn. Of course, this actually turned out to be the case, which is pretty cool. But perhaps it is happening, or has happened already, to Batman too. Hell, if it’s not too far-fetched, perhaps that’s what the purpose of the three ghosts are: to protect Gotham when the real Batman is dead. Could certainly make sense if my theory of them is correct. Only trouble is, of course: they’re a bit psychotic, perhaps suggesting they’ve been fiddled around with, or that, y’know, I’m completely wrong.
  • On the sixth page we find Bruce writing in his black casebook. There’s two things to note about this scene, I think. First, there’s this line about how he writes his entries: “I practice that self-conscious, hard-boiled style Alfred loves to read”. The reason I find that interesting is actually if we again go back to The Clown at Midnight. In my review of that I suggested that there might be a particular narrator of that tale, one who matches the weird style used in writing in it. Yes, reading this line, Alfred suddenly sprung to mind, only I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing if the case, especially after my noting at the end of Batman and Son how he weirdly had been looking at this mysterious casebook recently and importing its files to a portable device. Certainly suspicious. But it’s hard to tell because the other notable thing about this scene is that Alfred is apparently the one to insist that Bruce keep it up to date with entries, suggestive of good intent, I think, in the sense that he’s looking out for Bruce, making sure that if anything happens in the future, the answer lies in the book. But then again, in that Batman and Son story he also dismissed the book’s weird going-ons. It’s a tricky one, this, I tell ye.
  • Joe Chill talks about a number of interesting things in this issue, most “Aha!”-ish of which I believe was his idea of “class warfare” justifying all of his actions. This, of course, connects to the question I’ve mentioned in this post about what rich people do when they get bored. On the contrary to men like Bruce, Chill worked his way up from being poor instead, yet now it’s being taken away from him. This eventually culminates in the second interesting thing he says, and that’s him addressing one of his men who question what he’s rambling about. Note that they’re probably already unconscious from the Batman’s attack when he says this, meaning only Batman can hear him, which I think is quite significant: “You’re just a kid, Frosty…what do kids like you know?” This is quite a clever line because, really, Bruce Wayne still is the child Chill spared – what, with the dressing up as a bat, the gadgets, the childish playboy personality, etc. It’s almost like another of Morrison’s jokes about comics…
  • …and incidentally, the next time we see the “real” boy, Bruce Wayne, he says this: “Eyes. I can feel eyes watching me. Eyes with human intelligence. Always watching”. Although this is most certainly referring to his hallucinatory state, probably caused by Hurt, we readers are also here. It’s very much Morrison with his tongue in his cheek, and I’m loving such little things like it.
  • On this same page is another point of interest, this line here: “I must be around five years old when I first sense the presence of a gaping, toppling void in the centre of existence”. Well, although this might not be significant, he’s referring to the realisation that his parents, and everyone, including himself, are all going to die, and I just think that it’s a really nice line. You see, just as I’ve quoted, “void” is the word emphasised and it’s a really clever choice because he could well be referring to the emptiness of a void, in which case he’s saying that he realises, much like the Joker suggests in The Clown at Midnight, all life is pointless. Which is terribly sad, especially for a young child to have been thinking.
  • Finally, Tim, in apparent flashback, tells Batman, after he’s explained his silly reason for taking part in Hurt’s experiment, specifically in order to understand the way the Joker thinks: “if you ask me, you think way too much about the Joker!” Once again, this ties into The Clown at Midnight in my review of which I suggested the Joker was calling Batman’s inspiration from Year One – the bat crashing through the window – made up, implying he sees too much into things. And perhaps there’s a point there.

Well, that’s us. Hopefully I’ll have my review of the last two issues up as well tonight, which means I can start R.I.P. tomorrow. But perhaps not because this is a good 3000+ words and my next post could well end up as long, and I might just get too tired to continue. Until whenever then.

“The Black Glove”, Chapters 2 & 3: Now We Are Dead (Batman #668) and The Dark Knight Must Die (Batman #669)

Well, as I suggested I might do, I’ve merged these last two chapters of the first story arc of the book together as there isn’t that much to add to what I’ve already said.

In fact, I have very little to say about Now We Are Dead (Batman #668). We find out a little about the Club’s past, specifically a little fight that we get the full context of next issue, and then everyone’s attacked – the knight’s poisoned; a bunch of the heroes are shot at by robotic suits of armour; and Wingman turns up dead. But there’s nothing to really gather and talk about from the dialogue. There’s the artwork again, though nothing as significant as what I talked about in my last post. The story opens with a flashback and Williams’ artwork is made to look like some of the older comics that we read in The Black Casebook. What’s really cool, though, is that he makes the panels look like they’re actually set against the pages of a worn old comic – not just mimicking older artwork – by which I mean the pages are yellow and designed to look stained from use. Hell, the contents of the panels themselves even “leak” outside of their borders, I suppose emphasising how far comics have come in terms of production value. But the only other thing to point out in this issue, which I could’ve done last time, is that we see black and white tiles in use again, representing a chessboard of course. To be honest, I should have pointed this out sooner as there have been quite a lot of examples of this, even prior to The Clown At Midnight, but better late than never. It’s all a big game to Morrison, isn’t it?

With all that said in the one paragraph, I suppose we might as well get The Dark Knight Must Die (Batman #669) out the way too. Got a bit more to talk about this time at least. The story is wrapped up rather abruptly. Yes, it turns out their was a traitor – the Wingman we saw killed last issue turned out to actually be Dark Ranger, Wingman having stolen his disguise – and, yes, John Mayhew was involved. Both men’s motives are a little unusual, perhaps even quite cheap. The former makes a short speech about how no attention as a hero – which is Morrison’s way of pointing out these Club members were only in a few stories, and then completely forgotten – led him to become a villain instead, and the latter is just your typically bored rich man, which is a funny thing he points out to Batman of all people because he does understand the life of a rich man.  Anyway, it turns out that, a Jack of all trades after all, he made the clubhouse for the heroes for the sole purpose of creating a crime fighting team. Of course, like Wingman, this was forgotten, so he thought, “Fuck it”, and turned to villainy as well. But, boy, did he ever. There’s a brilliant scene where Robin and Meryl must keep pulling a rope, as letting their strength falter means Red Raven will fall into a tank of piranha fish. As Mayhew points out, this is a classic elaborate scheme of the old school bad guy, or even a James Bond villain that we’ve seen Morrison reference in this run. It certainly feels like he’s stating that he misses this kind of simple fun when Mayhew angrily says, “[…] now it’s all cocaine and a bullet to the head”. So I guess this means that we may well be seeing some of these goofy set-ups in the future, and that’s fine with me if it’s the case.

Anyway, both men of course work for the Black Glove. Yet, as I said, the story ends suddenly, leaving us with no explanation towards there having been any spectators after all, or any clues as to who the members of the Black Glove could be. Which is fine, and unsurprising. Perhaps even less of a surprise is that the next chapter in this run doesn’t bother to follow on from this one’s ending. We’re back in Gotham and I don’t see any members of the Club in sight. We’ll see them again, I’m sure, but who knows when? We are getting closer to answers, though, or so it would seem. Although I’ll be talking about the first chapter of the next story arc in my next post, after I’ve read it, it would appear that Batman’s third “ghost” will finally be making a real appearance and my hope is that with him come some answers.

The last thing I’d like to talk about before wrapping things up for this post is J.H. William’s artwork again, though this time for good. No, I’ll no longer be doing a separate post on the guy, even though he certainly deserves one. Before I talk about the quality of his work in general for these three issues, I would point out one thing about this last chapter: the very first page, 55 of the hardcover and I presume trade paperback, is literally a window. You’ve got six panels, as I talked about in my last review, but this time they’re bordered by a wooden window frame, and bricks border that. So I was on the ball about the whole spectator thing, which I’d like to call my own intuition if it weren’t for the fact that this man is simply a genius artist. Where I’ll really be going crazy over his artwork is when I come to read Promethea but even over the course of the three issues we have here the man outshines, I suspect, everyone else on art duties on this run. What I don’t mean is that they’re terrible in comparison or anything. Quite the contrary for, at a glance, Frank Quietly, Frazer Irving and one Chris Burnham seem to do a wonderful job.

But Williams does things I don’t believe I’ve ever seen before, in any medium. Look at this, this and this to see what I mean. You know what all three of those gorgeous examples have in common? They’re all complicated images, taking advantage of panel composition and structure, yet so easy to follow. Sometimes he even throws in motifs of a certain character around a panel of whoever this, like wings bordering an image of a dead Wingman.  Judging from his artwork in Batwoman and the new Sandman, this guy must be a joy to work with. Just imagine you’ve written your script. Yeah, you’ve taken advantage of the fact that you’ve got Williams doing the art, so you make him do some fancy things. But imagine actually seeing the result of what he does and the additions he adds to your script. That must be something special. Yet, criminally, this is all we’re seeing of him in this whole run, a fact which makes me very sad indeed. So I might as well get this massive compliment out of the way, again judging by what I’ve seen from the other series’ I own in which he’s the artist: this man is very possibly the greatest artist I’ve ever come across in comics, and I love a lot of artists. Thankfully I won’t love them any less but those are favourites are over there in their own spotlight, huddled together, whereas William’s stands proudly on a pedestal. If I didn’t love all my books so much I would literally tear some of the pages out of these last three issues and use them as posters – that’s how amazing I think this guy is.

On that note, we’ll be moving on to an artist who takes up the remainder of our stories in this book and seemingly the only one on duty for R.I.P. – Tony S. Daniels. Let us hope he fares well. See you next time.

“The Black Glove”, Chapter 1: The Island of Mister Mayhew (Batman #667)

Welcome to the second part of our Grant Morrison run in which I’ll be reading The Black Glove, a book I own in hardcover. It’s actually only one of three hardcover books I have in my collection of this run, the last two books also being in that format. It’s not bad, but the pages are still glued, some are creased and I did notice that a title of one of the chapters is actually cut off slightly, which I presume means that all of the pages are slightly trimmed at the edges like that. That kind of sucks because ermahgerd J.H. Williams III, but ah well.

Anyhow, I don’t actually have a lot to say about this first chapter, as intriguing as it is. As I suspected, Morrison doesn’t pick off where we finished in Batman and Son, with the third ghost of Batman that we see in Damian’s story making his appearance to Bruce. Instead we’re off to the personal island of John Mayhew, a character whom we met in The Black Casebook in a story called The Club of Heroes (World’s Finest Comics #89). We get an explanation as to how this guy bought Batman and his impersonating heroes their own clubhouse in that story – turns out he was a bit of a Jack of all trades back then, a director of films but also an aircraft designer of all things – and why it is the guy lives alone on an island, but I don’t suppose it matters very much. That’s for two reasons: 1) he appears to have been killed by the Black Glove, and 2) his island’s a trap designed by those people for an apparent recreation of Agatha Christies’s And Then There Were None.

It’s probably best I talk about those two points before moving on. First of all, though it’s not made clear, I do believe this Black Glove is indeed a group of bad guys rather than the one person. The first page opens with someone wearing black gloves, possibly belonging to the same pair of hands who was watching Bruce and Jezebel at the end of The Black Casebook (Batman #665), talking about the service that the Black Glove provides and what the subject matter of their latest “game” is: the question of whether good is stronger than evil or vice versa. The fact that there’s a Roulette wheel here – note the black and red motif making a return from The Clown at Midnight (Batman #663), representing Order and Chaos – obviously implies that there are spectators watching this game take place and making bets between Batman and co. winning, or whoever the killer is instead. It sounds like a professional set-up and the fact that those being targeted are trained fighters leads me to believe that there’s actually more than one killer at play here to take them out. In fact, if Morrison is basing this on And Then There Were None quite strongly, then chances are that at least one of the killers, or maybe the only one if this is the case, is actually one of the good guys.

Or it could be John Mayhew. Like I said, he appears to have been murdered prior to the story when someone wearing a mask of his face (a waste of moustache if I do say so) announces the game that all our heroes are involved in, but I’m just not sure it is his face, again for two reasons. First of all, in his introduction to The Black Casebook, Morrison made it very clear that he didn’t trust Mayhew when he appeared in The Club of Heroes story, and considering that one of this guy’s films is actually called The Black Glove, I’m going to go ahead and say that he’s the guy in charge of this particular game. Beats me why this is though – motives are a thing I’m having difficulty understanding in this run so far when it comes to my Bad Guy List candidates (namely the possible motives of Alfred and Jezebel, though I’m not certain what Hurt has done to Batman and why, or even what Talia’s real plan is). The second reason is that, based on this introduction of Morrison’s, it just seems highly unlikely that he’d bring this guy back, only to immediately kill him off.

But then again, this isn’t a problem he seems to face with the actual Club of Heroes themselves, all participants in this strange game. As Morrison promised, they all make a return and, as I hoped, have been developed from the long gap between readers first seeing them. Most notably, their costumes are more sophisticated and less silly, the latter being a joke a few of them make; but Morrison has also applied some changes to them as characters. As some examples: the Musketeer was put in an asylum for going nuts; Man-of-Bats has turned into an alcoholic; Wingman’s a bit of a prick these days; and the Legionary, the one killed in this issue, is overweight, despite having been the most athletic when we first saw him. Also as he said he’d do, new additions have been made to the Club in the form of a guy called Dark Ranger and a girl called Beryl, the Knight of England’s “Robin” (the old one is now the Knight, his father seeming to have passed away, which is a nice touch). But I suspect that more than a few of these characters, with the exception of whichever one of them is a bad guy (come on, there must be!), will be meeting the same fate as the Legionary, in which case they have a nasty death ahead of them. That guy got stabbed to death the same way as Caesar did which I would call pointlessly gratuitous if it weren’t for the fact that such a death goes quite a way to emphasise that there are spectators to this game.

And, although I’ll reserve my love-letter-like talk of J.H. Williams’ artwork for a separate post, it is worth mentioning that there are spectators quite cleverly hinted at within the pages themselves, something I suddenly noticed when I saw this cover to our next issue. As you can see, Batman’s pounding against some windows of the house, but note that he’s doing so against one with six panes. It’s surely not a coincidence that a lot of the pages in this first issue, and I’m sure the remainders that finish this particular arc on which Williams worked, are of the six panel variety, laid out in the exact same way as one of these windows. You could argue that it is little more than chance, but good luck: on page 17, El Gaucho is looking out one of these windows, on a page laid out in six panels to represent one, at us, the readers. We are spectators just as much as the fictional ones that we may not even meet. And, if we presume that this story is going to be strongly based on And Then There Were None, then we even share something in common with our fictional counterparts: that we both know that one of our heroes is actually a bad guy. It’s the kind of dramatic irony that I talked about in my Jeph Loeb reviews, and it makes a great deal of sense here too as something deliberate.

If we were to guess that the spectators in the story also don’t know exactly who the inside man is, then we can also speculate that that’s where the betting enters, part of it at least. And if you think about that and then the fact that this kind of stuff I’m talking about was no doubt speculated itself on various forums and podcasts and the like, then I’m sure you can see that there’s intention behind the panel composition making us additional spectators of this tale, or role players of the ficitonal ones should they remain anonymous, the latter of which would be even more awesome. We’re here to gauge our Club’s reactions, their movements; guess who’s the odd one out, and there’s perhaps no better proof of this than on page 18. We see Batman arrive, a character we know can’t be the villain alongside Robin (and very possibly the Knight and Beryl, the former who first greets Batman and the latter a child), and he imposes his power upon this page, so much so that he takes it all up. But against his dark figure we see the other heroes, their reactions to him having actually shown up. And what are they arranged in but six panels, a window through which we observe them and wonder who is the traitor.

On what I think is that rather clever note – aren’t comics cool?!? – I think we’re done here. To be honest, the rest of this particular story arc may well be a rather straightforward murder mystery, therefore not warranting a separate post for each issue. If that’s the case I may just make a large one about them all, a follow up focusing on William’s art, and then move on to Tony S. Daniel’s illustrated half of the book. Until whatever-I-do, see ya.

Going Forward: Some Final Thoughts on “Batman and Son”

A short post to finish things off seemed quite suitable before we move on to The Black Glove.

It’s been an interesting run so far but, fuck, do I have a lot of questions about where this is all going. It’s a testament to Morrison’s writing that I’m not really sure what he’ll do next. Seriously, all I expect is that the Satan worshipping Batman, his third ghost, will be rearing his head at some point soon, but I don’t know when. In fact, in The Black Glove I already know, from Morrison’s introduction in The Black Casebook, that one of the stories collected there is called The Island of Mr. Mayhew, that man being from an old story involving the Club of Heroes, which is a pretty unexpected direction to take Batman after Batman and Son‘s story arcs. Of course, my theory is that this Doctor Hurt, who Morrison again mentioned in his introduction to The Black Casebook’s collection of stories, is behind a lot of this, but it isn’t exactly easy at this point to understand exatly how far his involvement goes, and what exactly he’s done or is going to do to Bruce. Likewise, Talia’s a bit of a conundrum. Although she explained her plan in Absent Fathers, it’s hard to believe that that’s all she has up her sleeve. There’s surely something else going on there. How Damian will come to be the new Robin is another mystery I don’t care to think about this point after he’s beaten up Alfred and nearly killed Tim Drake. And, hell, Alfred himself seems shady in my book, though I hope this isn’t the case. He’s just Alfred, you know? Ah, but too many questions that we’ll simply have to wait to find out the answers to.

Let’s quickly talk about something else then. With the exception of The Clown at Midnight, which had some strange digital art going on, all the artwork was courtesy of Andy Kubert in Batman and Son. To be honest, skimming through the book, I’m not completely impressed by his work here, although I do wonder if I’d feel differently had he the same inker on hand as he did in Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader? It’s good, excellent in fact during the art exhibition story and Bethlehem, but not amazing. However, first on art duties in The Black Glove is J.H. Williams III. This excites me. In some post somewhere on this blog I mentioned buying Alan Moore’s Promethea series solely for his art and, believe me, it’s worth it. The same could be said of Batwoman: Elegy, which also looks amazing and I probably wouldn’t have been as interested in if he wasn’t on art duties. Hell, I’ve even recently bought the first issue and special edition of Sandman: Overture, despite not having even read Neil Gaiman’s original series (which I’ve also bought, god help me), simply because he’s the artist. That comic has a fold out page and everything, such is its glory. So, yes, this chap’s getting a separate post of his own in which I praise his artwork to no end if you haven’t guessed.

The other artist joining him in The Black Glove and who would appear to be the only artist on R.I.P. is Tony S. Daniel. At a glance this guy’s artwork doesn’t seem too bad at all – it just sucks for him that he’s sharing a book with Williams, who I’m afraid outshines him. But after R.I.P. we just get more and more artists, and it’s actually something that worries me about this run. Although I see a few familiar faces, such as Frank Quietly (who I bought my first Absolute-sized book, All Star Superman, for just to see his artwork in greater detail) and Frazer Irving, an artist from 2000AD, there’s other folk that look like they’ll be kind of generic unfortunately, so my concern is that I’m going to be bashing a lot of this stuff further on in this run. Hopefully none of it will be that bad though.

Naturally, and as I plan to avoid, Morrison could become a bore if he begins to retread over the same ground in later volumes of this run. In the future I’ll make a post detailing some likely candidates that we can use as a break from his run, though these may not necessarily be other comics. For some reason all I’ve used this blog for so far is reviews of my comics when I’ve been meaning to fill it with general thoughts on other things I’m quite passionate about, such as novels, video games and TV shows. Can’t say I’ve been reading any novels lately or playing any video games, but I have been watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer on Netflix for the first time in quite a long while, so I may make a post or two about how amazing that show is at some point in the future. Incidentally, I’ve even bought Season 8 of that series. Yes, the television show did end on Season 7 but the almighty Joss Whedon has actually, as I’ve only recently found out, made a Season 8 and 9 in the form of…comics! Naturally I bought the library editions, the same kind of oversized ones as Hellboy, as soon as I heard this, though they’re currently only available for Season 8. Either way, they’re nice new books to add to my collection and I was actually thinking of posting reviews, with plenty of images, of some of my favourite books in my collection to pass some time between all this Grant Morrison stuff, particularly since I got my hands on the slipcase edition of Alan Moore’s Lost Girls which is quite incredible itself.

So expect any of that, or possibly even none of it. We’ll just have to wait and see where I go with all this. Anyway, coming up soon is my chapter by chapter review of The Black Glove, with a separate one at some point gushing over my love for J.H. Williams III. Until then.

“Batman and Son”, Chapter 7: Bethlehem (Batman #666)

You know how some people can’t really think of anything that sums up how they felt about something they read, watched or played, and simply say something like “it’s just awesome”? Well, this final chapter of Batman and Son is, um, just that, though I can actually explain what makes it special. Before I get into that, however, I should probably clarify one thing. At the end of my last review I said that Bethlehem (Batman #666) is set in the future with Damian as Batman. That’s true, but I should perhaps have been more specific about the future part. You see, although it could be the far future, set beyond when Morrison’s run finishes, it seems highly unlikely that it’s a story that exists at all. Indeed, I believe that it’s a story not actually part of Morrison’s continuity – a “What if…?” story that will never happen. But that’s fine because it’s actually pretty amazing and, on the contrary of what I said in my review of The Clown at Midnight, probably my favourite of the book. Of course, you might ask what the point of the story is if it’s not something that actually happens. Well, I’d look at as a supplement to Morrison’s run, an addition that answers some questions in an unusual manner but also presents another perspective on some things.

As far as the latter goes, Damian is the highlight, of course. The idea of the story is that Bruce has died some time prior to it and an adult Damian has taken over his role. There’s Barbara Gordon as well, now Commissioner after her father’s died as well, but Damian’s the real highlight because his approach to being the Dark Knight is…aggressive, shall we say. We’ll get to that in a minute though. The other “character” that’s changed is the city itself, presented on the cover of this issue as one in the middle of an apocalyptic-like hell of chaos with its very own Satan in the form of the third ghost of Batman. Yep, although this story doesn’t really exist, that guy’s here and what’s interesting is that we, as I said, get some answers or hints to possible ones. Sure, I can’t really be certain that the big hint is really true, but I’m presuming that it’s Morrison’s weird approach to killing two birds with one stone. If he weren’t trying to drop hints, I’m sure he would have replaced this Satan-Batman with some other villain instead. Anyway, the big hint is a suggestion I made in my last post: that Bruce’s DNA was used to create these three “ghosts”. This is made apparent as Damian and this guy fight, when the latter says that they’re both “sons of the same father”. Of course, this could also be a reference to Son of the Demon, a story I reviewed a while ago, since Devil-Batman goes on shout about his other father, Satan, but I kind of doubt it. But you don’t really muster much else of what could happen during Bruce’s story when this guy appears, except that he could well cause absolute mayhem, so I’ll quickly wrap up some other thoughts.

First of all, the story begins with a double page spread of “The Legend of Batman: Who he is and how he came to be”, which I last saw in Jeph Loeb’s Hush. Having doubted that this was what Morrison was paying homage to, I did a search online and found that the line was first used in a title of the first name in the very first issue of Batman after he got his own comic, separate from Detective Comics. That’s pretty awesome. But it’s done quite funnily here. There’s six panels that explain how this Damian has come to be Batman but they’re written in a way reminiscent of those “golden voice” trailers you see for films all the time – in other words, it’s purposefully dramatic – overly so, in fact – but in the context of what’s to come, fucking amazing.

You see, Damian is a badass. Although he reminded me a great deal of Frank Miller’s Batman in The Dark Knight Returns, even down to the art (page 193 has a shot of this Batman breaking face, but in a style that’s surely drawn like Miller’s) because he’s even more violent than that guy, he really is his own entity and just a complete badass. Even his costume, that loses the cape for a trenchcoat look, just enhances how much this Batman’s like something out of some over-the-top action film where the good guy can never be defeated and makes witty lines whenever he’s being awesome. Perhaps as proof of that, Damian takes a bunch of bullets courtesy of Barbra at the end, but once back on his feet says this to end the issue: “The apocalypse is cancelled. Until I say so.” What’s not to love about this guy?! Did I mention he has a cat named Alfred?!? He’s just a badass!

Okay, okay, I’ll get serious again. Kind of like The Dark Knight Returns‘ constant allusions to the news media, we get a little of that here with a glimpse at this world in utter chaos. It certainly feels like Morrison’s trying to be realistic about it too, with small mentions of anti-Islamic terrorists, some kind of epidemic in China, flights being grounded here in Britain, etc. – things that instantly sound familiar. The final note I’ll make is that there’s some kind of weird villain here in the shape of a doll-like girl who attacks Damian at the beginning of the story, apparently a normal human changed by one Professor Pyg. And if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, then you want some more of these kind of non-canon stories just to see the likes of Professor Pyg. But, better yet would be these kind of enemies actually appearing during Bruce’s “real” story arc. They seem wacky enough to fit in to this already surreal series, that’s for sure.

But this is just the icing on the cake of the run so far. In hindsight, reading over what I’ve written to get to this point, I don’t think I have explained myself very well at all, funnily enough. What can I say? This issue got me all excited because, well, it’s just fucking awesome, okay?

 

“Batman and Son”, Chapters 5 & 6: Three Ghosts of Batman (Batman #664) and The Black Casebook (Batman #665)

Our first combined post. The reason I’ve decided to do this for these two is that I have very little to say about both, despite how good they are, so I figured I could kill two birds with one stone, especially since the second story picks off exactly where the last one ended instead of playing around with structure by focusing on events elsewhere. So then, let’s get to it.

Three Ghosts of Batman (Batman #664) begins shortly after the submarine explosion of Absent Fathers with Bruce, having dealt with all the man-bats in Gribaltar, receiving a call from Jezebel Jet. Their little date is…weird, to say the least. First of all, and I kid you not, Bruce arrives in a very James Bond style, which Jet even points out. That’s not the weird part. What is utterly bizarre is that Bruce responds to this comparison with a coy smile and the words, “Oh, I’m much cooler than he is” before later throwing his ski poles at a paparazzi watching them in a small helicopter. And if that isn’t odd enough, during a dinner in which Jet proves herself to surely be a bad guy by bringing up Bruce’s parent’s deaths for some reason, Bruce rather darkly responds to the memory of their deaths with, “I got over it”. Of course, we then skip back to Gotham with him as Batman, but still: what the fuck. How very, um, un-Batman-ly.

Anyway, back in Gotham things seem normal for all of seven pages. Batman beats up some pimps and cops after eavesdropping in on their conversation where a “monster cop” is mentioned as having killed some prostitutes. Then he investigates and things get strange again, starting with the return of his inner monologue boxes, this time presented in a typing format that actually makes it look like part of a report he’s writing, oddly enough. This probably isn’t the case though because this Batman’s thoughts are still weirdly poetic. You gotta give the guy points for being so wonderfully thoughtful, I suppose. Anyway, he runs into this mysterious cop who turns out to be a Bane-like character in physical appearance, only with the plot twist that he’s dressed similarly to Batman himself. Thus I shall dub him: Bat-Bane! This rather large chap beats the shit out of Batman, incidentally ending with a large KRAKT in the same way that the real Bane broke Batman’s spine in Knightfall, and there ends this issue.

So, we have things to talk about, although not a lot. First of all, there’s the comparison to James Bond which is quite funny. This is something I already missed a reference to back in Man-Bats of London where Jet asks if their future date is her chance to become a “Wayne girl”, an obvious play on the Bond girls of the countless films. But what’s funny about this joke of Morrison’s is that it’s true, I guess. 007 may have his nifty laser pens, but we’ve seen that Batman has a motherfucking rocket! On the other hand, Morrison has been poking fun at comics in this run, so he’s perhaps being sarcastic too, letting his Bruce believe that he’s cooler than James Bond when he maybe actually doesn’t think that himself. Still, I’ll be on the lookout for other little things like that, and see if they’re more relevant than mere jokes.

The more important revelation of this issue is the title itself. When I read that I wasn’t actually sure what to expect but it’s of course referencing the fake Batman we saw shoot the Joker in the first issue, and now this Bat-Bane fellow. The third I’ll talk about in my next post if he appears in the last issue, as we only get a glimpse of him in this one. Anyway, the reason this is quite curious is that it doesn’t appear to be coincidence that a pretend Batman decided to take matters into his own hand by shooting the Joker, but that these guys are actually related to Batman in some way. Reason being, during his fight with Bat-Bane, Batman suddenly thinks of “the files in the black casebook” after a “series of locks open in [his] head” at the thought of these two impersonators. It’s surely no coincidence either that, in the alleyway below the rooftop we saw the first fake Batman on, and now here in an alley where he finds out about this Bat-Bane, the words Zur-En-Arrh are spray painted all over both places. All the more mysterious is that this thought of the black casebook, which we know to be of Batman’s old adventures, means “everyone’s in danger”.

Thankfully, in The Black Casebook (Batman #665) itself we find ourselves with some additional answers, or possible ones at least. First of all, after a dream of these three “ghosts”, Bruce makes the very curious, yet specific, suggestion that it were as if this Bat-Bane were “designed to trigger [his] worst fears”. Enter my not-too-wild theory that the mysterious Dr. Hurt we encountered in The Black Casebook collection of old stories before this run has indeed done something to Batman’s mind. Or, better yet, is it possible that these three “impersonators” are actually based on DNA samples of him? Quite like the thought of that one, though I’m not sure what the point of it all could be if Hurt really is involved. Still, it makes sense because the story we encountered that guy in was called Robin Dies At Dawn. That indeed would appear to be his biggest fear, perhaps theoretically planted in his mind during that story by Hurt. That would be pretty mind blowing if it turns out to be true because it would be like Morrison making a connection between that story and A Death In The Family years later, in which the Joker kills Jason Todd and Batman goes out of his way to stop him, no matter what. Even here, Bruce immediately goes out on the hunt for Bat-Bane, despite his serious injuries, when he’s told that Tim’s gone after him already.

Whatever’s truly going on, Batman remembers an old case where he did encounter three variations of himself – one with a gun, who has shot the Joker; a bestial one that he’s dealing with her; and the yet-to-be encountered one (though I’m certain we’ll see this one next issue, going by its religious title) that “sold his soul to the Devil and destroyed Gotham”. It sounds like another story that Morrison’s brought into continuity but it’s not one I recognise unfortunately. In another twist, though, Alfred suggests that this memory is probably due to all the Scarecrow gas and Joker toxin that Bruce and Dick Grayson have been exposed to over the years. Yep, Alfred knows of this black casebook and, in fact, has “coincidentally” (yeah, right) been looking at it recently when he’s transferred the cases to a memory disk. This actually worries me. Like the way Bruce doesn’t appear bothered by this, I’m sure many readers probably skimmed over what Alfred says without a second thought, perhaps even taking his side that Batman’s exposure to various chemicals is his cause for believing these things happened. However, that is some scary timing from Alfred to be looking at the cases and, furthermore, I must ask: why a memory disk? Surely Bruce Wayne, billionaire, isn’t running out of room on the memory drive of whichever computer these cases are on? Which begs another question, the most worrying: is Alfred an accomplice of Hurt, if he really is behind what’s going on? Well, I certainly hope not. Time shall have to tell, sadly.

One small detail I noticed, perhaps emphasising my theory of Bruce’s DNA being used in the “design” of the likes of this Bat-Bane is that we see, several times, that Bat-Bane’s speech bubbles are surrounded by a red background. It’s perhaps not a coincidence that, when Bruce appears to save Tim, his speech bubbles as he shouts on him are also surrounded by the same red background for a page. Curious, eh?

The rest of the issue’s straightforward enough though. After saving Tim, Batman fights Bat-Bane for a bit before being interrupted by the same corrupt cops he beat up in the last chapter, before reporting to Jim Gordon who also notices that strange things have been going on lately. Funnily enough, the prostitute who rescues Batman at the beginning of this chapter tells him that “there’s some fights you just can’t win“, and Gordon says something similar in this scene, asking Batman why he had to “choose an enemy that’s as old as time and bigger than all of us”, seemingly referring to the forces of evil, or going from my review of The Clown at Midnight in my last post, Chaos. After that we catch up with Talia and Damian. The former’s fine, but the latter, well, uh, he needs organ replacement and the last we see of him is hooked up to a machine with fresh stitches. It wouldn’t be worth mentioning if it weren’t for the fact that Talia didn’t seem concerned for him, in fact seeming more annoyed at Bruce’s two dates with Jezebel Jet. Indeed, we catch up with them on their second one in Venice, at which quite a lot of paparazzi capture them kissing…including someone mysterious wearing a black pair of gloves. The first appearance of Black Glove, or one of them if they’re a group or something.

But we won’t be following up on that ending immediately in our last issue of this trade paperback. The next story’s called Bethlehem and, though I can still hardly believe it after reading it, we’re going to the future…with Damian…as Batman. Yeah. That’ll be up tomorrow as I’m too tired now, so, until then, cheery bye.