Friday, December 3, 2010 08:30 AM
(Last updated on Friday, December 3, 2010 08:53 AM)
Notes on Grant Morrison
 by Fëanor

I haven't had time lately to write The Take, my "weekly" (!) comic book review post, but rest assured, I have still been reading comics. And now that I have a few moments, I wanted to scribble down here quickly my thoughts on some of Grant Morrison's recent work.

With the release of Batman and Robin #16 and The Return of Bruce Wayne #6, Grant Morrison has come to the end of a grand Batman saga that began way back during Batman R.I.P. and Final Crisis. During this story, Bruce Wayne was attacked by multiple, extremely dangerous enemies, and they attacked him not just physically, but also philosophically, striking at the heart of what made Batman what he was. They tarnished the image of his parents, making it seem as if the Waynes were corrupt and evil people and that, furthermore, Thomas Wayne, Bruce's father, was still alive and had returned to claim what was his. It's a highly unsettling story. If the saintly parents who had died, and in whose memory Bruce became the avenging demon that was the Batman, were not only not saintly, but were actually still alive, then what was Batman, and who was Bruce Wayne?

In the end we learn that the thing claiming to be Thomas Wayne is actually a man who made himself a monster ages ago, and that in fact he's wrapped up in Darkseid's time-looping plot to destroy Batman. The whole gigantic story is a ring, turning back on itself, and at its end is its beginning, not to mention a new beginning for Batman. Because although Morrison eventually reassures us that the Waynes are who we thought they were, and Bruce became Batman the way we thought he did, he still continues to ask the questions, "What is Batman? Who is Bruce Wayne?" And he comes up with some interesting answers. Morrison uses this epic tale, not only to further define and reimagine the character of the Joker, but also to destroy a very old myth about what Batman is, a myth that perhaps even Bruce himself had bought into. Namely, the myth that Batman is a lone avenger - that he works by himself. Morrison goes back to the origin of Batman - the night Bruce sat in his study bleeding and was visited by a bat - and reminds us that once inspiration struck Bruce, the very first thing he did was ring a bell to call Alfred to help him. Even in the moment of his birth, Batman was never alone. He always had help - he always had friends. Later came Robin, then the Justice League. This revelation helps Bruce save himself. And when he comes home to find that a new Batman has arisen in his place, he sees what he has to do next. There's no reason anymore for there to be only one Batman. There should be many Batmen (and Batwomen), all over the world, because the fight against crime isn't one he can win on his own.

It's both a huge transformation of what Batman is, and a realization of what he has always been. It's a fantastic story. In many ways, with this story, Grant Morrison has done for Batman what he did for Superman in All-Star Superman and Final Crisis: Superman Beyond 3D - he's gathered up the essential elements of the character (in Batman's case, quite literally, in that scene at the end of everything when the elemental pieces of Batman's story - a gun, pearls, a bat, a bell - are tossed into the pit, finally filling up the hole in things), and by gathering those things together and examining them carefully, he's showed us why that character is so great and why his story is so important to us. It's a fantastic piece of work, and I'm really looking forward to seeing where Morrison takes Batman next.
Tagged (?): Batman (Not), Comic books (Not), Grant Morrison (Not), Superman (Not)

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Welcome to the blog of Jim Genzano, writer, web developer, husband, father, and enjoyer of things like the internet, movies, music, games, and books. For a more detailed run-down of who I am and what goes on here, read this.

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