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Batman #673

Posted: Monday, February 18, 2008
By: Nicholas Slayton

Grant Morrison
Tony Daniel (p), Jonathan Glapion & Sandu Florea (I)
DC Comics
"Joe Chill in Hell"

Really, I do not know what makes less sense: this issue, or the fact that I feel compelled to keep reading Batman despite my distaste for Morrison's destruction of all things cool about Batman.

Picking up on the last issue, Batman is near death from a heart attack, which kicks off memories of his final encounter with Joe Chill and two experiences with isolation. Part of the problem with this story is that Morrison is basically adapting two previous tales instead of penning a new one. In "Joe Chill in Hell" Morrison takes Batman #47 ("The Origin of Batman") and #156 ("Robin Dies at Dawn"). The former dealt with Batman confronting Joe Chill, who finds out Batman's identity and is killed by his henchmen who hate that Batman exists (they never found out who Batman was). The latter has Batman volunteering to undergo a psychological experiment to see what astronauts would experience in isolation from space travel. "The Origin of Batman" was a taut, dark story, while "Robin Dies at Dawn" was a Silver Age romp full of aliens, colorful planets and a misdirecting title.

Sadly, Morrison's rewrite is far from entertaining. For one thing, he brings in the Thogul, a 49-day isolation from Batman's time in the 52 series. I never liked how Batman was portrayed in 52, as it felt like a deus ex machina fix of all his emotional problems. Bruce Wayne had already confronted his issues and was moving on at the end of Infinite Crisis. Thogul felt like nothing more than a fix that was not needed and in fact hurt Infinite Crisis' effects.

In fact, Morrison makes Batman downright insane. His inner monologue reveals that Batman is back to his loony man state that Alan Moore introduced in The Killing Joke. Call me a traditionalist, but Batman is not crazy. Dark? Yes. Completely nuts? No. Whether it's laughing like the Joker, or his obsessive compulsive need to experience hallucinations, this is not the real Batman.

Yet the Thogul issues are nothing compared to Morrison's violation of Batman's #1 rule: never kill. Now Batman did not pull the trigger, but he put the gun in Chill's hands and forced him to commit suicide. There is just something downright wrong with that.

Tony Daniel's art on the title has improved. His Batman is still a little too muscle-bound for my taste, but his use of shadows, weather, and atmosphere has become more complex and well handled. It is just a shame that he does not have better scripts to work with.

Once again, Morrison's Batman disappoints. It's a real shame. I really want to read a good Batman story, but I cannot find one on this title.



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