”What We Said Then” is an ongoing feature at Comics Bulletin, displaying past reviews from Comics Bulletin and how they relate to the prevalent comics of the present.
With the return of Robin, Batman’s son Damien Wayne, let’s look at a review of the character’s first appearance in Batman #655. Read what we had to say about the comic way back when…
Grant Morrison & Andy Kubert on Batman. Instant gold. The end.
Um, hold on a sec there, buckaroo… It’s not quite that simple. While Morrison & Kubert doing Batman is most definitely going to make DC lots of gold, er, money, that doesn’t mean it’s automatically the greatest comic of all time. On the contrary, I found the story to be extremely average and confusing in some spots. The only saving grace is the artwork by Kubert.
I’m really not quite sure how to take this story. The opening sequence is confusing as hell and reeks of “imaginary tale” or dream. This whole story feels a little… off. Plus I really don’t see DC killing off one of its main villains in such a throwaway moment. Literally. It just makes no sense whatsoever. Though I suspect the key to it all is said by Commissioner Gordon: Everybody needs to lighten up.
While there are some nice bits, especially concerning Alfred, Morrison just seemed to go to the extreme in making Bruce Wayne unlike Batman, except for the voice. Making Wayne appear to be addle minded at times and just not aware of his surroundings. Again, something is just off there. Including the continuity where Talia is concerned.
Talia, as currently represented in the DCU, is a smart, savvy businesswoman who is one of the leaders of the Secret Society of Super-Villains. Never was there a mention of her having a son. Least of all a son conceived by Batman. (Before anyone mentions it, yes I know of the great graphic novel Son of the Demon by Mike W. Barr and Jerry Bingham. It’s always been strictly out of continuity. Until now apparently?) The confusion just increases.
Quite possibly the best part of the book, and the one that makes the most sense in terms of how the characters are acting/reacting, is when Bruce Wayne crosses paths with Kirk Langstrom in London. Those few pages got me back into the story and have me curious as to what’s to come. I especially like Wayne’s reaction and comment to Langstrom rushing off.
One thing I have zero complaints about is the artwork by Andy Kubert. He just draws a damn good book. His Batman is physically imposing, while not looking absurd. While his Bruce Wayne is not like Batman at all, trim and yet not there’s a “softness” to him. His Batman is also always shrouded in darkness, even in the sunlight. His Alfred looks sufficiently proper, while maintaining that knowing twinkle in his eye. And his Joker looks maniacal and downright scary, while paying a slight homage to Marshall Rogers’ rendition. Every page by Kubert has something incredible to offer, from the back alleys of Gotham City to the Batcave to a hotel lobby London; they’re filled with lots of detail and depth.
Overall, I really have no idea where this story is going. If I didn’t know Morrison was writing it, I’d wonder who hacked it out. The thing is, Morrison always has a plan and I’m willing to play along with the “wait and see” attitude, plus there are numerous “Easter eggs” for the fans to figure out along the way (i.e. the graffiti in the alley). For now, I’ll just enjoy the high quality artwork and hope the story catches up soon.