After a very extended hiatus, we’re back with more! While Final Crisis was underway, Grant Morrison was also in the middle of his epic, character-defining run on Batman. Inevitably, there’d be some crossover as the Caped Crusader would play a major role in the closing act of Final Crisis.
While Final Crisis was underway, Grant Morrison was also in the middle of his epic, character-defining run on Batman. Inevitably, there’d be some crossover as the Caped Crusader would play a major role in the closing act of Final Crisis.
BATMAN #682-683 – “Last Rites”
(w) Grant Morrison (a) Lee Garbett (i) Trevor Scott (c) Guy Major
Jason Jeffords Jr (JJr): So, I’ll start my part with a quick story! The issue before Batman #682 (Last Rites) was the first Morrison Batman comic I read. Yes, Batman #681 was the conclusion to Morrison’s Batman: RIP, yet I loved the issue immensely. I had gone to the local Video Rental (don’t remember the name) spot behind my house and they had a big comic spinner rack. Something you don’t see much in shops besides your LCS.
On this rack was Batman #681, which had an amazing cover. Opening it up young me was treated to Batman breaking out of a coffin. Something I couldn’t stop talking about for weeks. Granted I had no idea what was happening, that moment has always stuck with me. Yet I never carried on in single issues, I later picked up all Morrison’s run in Trades. But, as Dan said in the previous write-up, Last Rites was omitted from Final Crisis’ early trade editions. So, some of Batman’s inclusion made absolutely no sense to me.
Dan Gehen (DG): For a long time, I’ve read the older printings of the Final Crisis trade, so I’ve never really considered this to be essential reading. People often point to this as the explanation as to how Batman goes from being captured back in Final Crisis #2 or #3 (the exact issue escapes be and I’m too lazy to look it up) to where he is in Final Crisis #6. In this age where people are so concerned about continuity or getting explanations for everything, I can see how these issues would be considered essential. Personally, “because he’s Batman” is all the explanation I needed. Moreover, this is Morrison’s Batman. He’s Bat-God.
JJR: “ Personally, because he’s Batman’ is all the explanation I needed. Moreover, this is Morrison’s Batman. He’s Bat-God.” I feel the same way for a lot of Batman related stories. Eh, “because he’s Batman” is a theme I’ve always loved. I mean hell, it’s a comic. Not everything needs to make absolute sense! I also love the Bat-God aspect and have had quite a few people argue about that with me. Plus that may be why I didn’t like Scott Snyder’s Batman. Compared to Morrison’s run, he made him seem pretty stupid. Nonetheless, that’s an argument for another day.
DG: I like Snyder’s Batman a lot because he’s fallible. That itself is kind of funny because at the beginning of his Bat-run, Morrison was tonally inspired by the 1970s stories by Dennis O’Neill, which saw a very fallible Batman. But that’s the beauty of the character – you can have so many different versions and they all feel true.
But to get back on topic, this was during the period when I was getting back into comics. For the most part, I was going back and reading classic stories like Year One and The Long Halloween in preparation for the upcoming release of The Dark Knight. I remember at the same time hearing about this “Batman R.I.P.” arc, and there was a lot of online discussion about how stupid it was to kill Batman when there is a big movie coming out. Of course, we all know that really wasn’t what happened. But I was intrigued and picked up a couple non-consecutive issues of this run (including Batman #682), was thoroughly confused, and didn’t look at it again for years. Now I consider Morrison’s run to be the definitive Batman, but that’s my origin story when it comes to this.
Speaking of origin stories, this pair of issues begins by revisiting Batman: Year One with alternate, what-if outcomes of the famed bat-through-window moment. Personally, I don’t think the world will ever be ready for a moth-themed superhero, and thankfully Morrison agrees.
JJR: I mean, there is already a real-life “Mothman”, but it’s not the same. Or as awesome.
I did really enjoy the back-and-forth Bruce/Batman and Alfred have while he is plucking the bullets from Bruce’s back. I always felt that to write a great Batman story you need to be able to write a great Alfred, which Morrison did. Plus the ideas that Alfred envisions of what Bruce could’ve become is hilarious, ending on them agreeing how becoming a bat was the best choice. Another aspect that I loved from Morrison’s run is another that many debates about. His inclusion of Batman’s complete publication history. Honestly, if anyone had the knowledge, skill, and craziness to do it, it’d be him.
DG: I think these tangents go to prove that at the end of the day, these “Last Rites” issues really aren’t essential reads for Final Crisis. Unlike Submit or Superman Beyond, these truly break up the momentum of the story. As a part of Morrison’s Batman run, I will argue that these are absolutely essential reads, as they deal more with his overarching deconstruction and reconstruction of the character. But if someone were to ask how to read Final Crisis, I’d personally skip these.
Previously on “The Full Run: Final Crisis”