I have been less and less impressed with Batman and Robin with each consecutive issue. After an entertaining debut issue, Morrison has gone downhill on this title. The last story arc by Morrison and Philip Tan was simply a poor read. The last issue, Batman and Robin #7, was a pedestrian and choppy start to this new story arc. I can only hope that Morrison regains his stride and begins to get this title back on track as we head toward the return of Bruce Wayne. Let’s hit this review for Batman and Robin #8.
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Cameron Stewart
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Batwoman telling Dick about how she ended up being trapped in the coffin. Batwoman says that she was in London tracking down the Bible of Crime. She explains that there are criminals who worship Gods of Evil and are trying to fulfill the prophecy of the rise of a Black Messiah who will usher in the dawn of the Age of Crime. We see Batwoman battling some of the criminals associated with the Bible of Crime. The criminals take down Batwoman with the use of a gas. The criminals then put her in the coffin.
We cut to the present. Dick said that Batwoman is alive so the criminals’ prophecy failed. Dick says that the only person arising out of the Lazarus pit is the Batman. The real Batman. We see Batman step out of the Lazarus Pit. Dick knuckles up and we see electric charged brass knuckled on his hands. Dick asks if Batman recognizes him. Batman’s eyes glow yellow. Batman says nothing. Then Batman screams and attacks Dick.
Dick hits Batman with his electrified brass knuckles. Batman shakes off the charge and grabs Dick’s wrists. Batman smiles. Dick asks “Who are you?”
We flashback to Mokkari in the Factory of Evil during Final Crisis. Mokkari tells Darkseid that the clone Batmen were too unstable and that Bruce Wayne’s memories drove all the clones insane. Mokkari says that they were forced to euthanize the clone Batmen. (See the events of Final Crisis and Batman #682 and Batman #683.)
Darkseid tells Mokkari to dispose of all the clones except for one. Darkseid says that a perfect copy of a dead Batman is something that Darkseid can use.
We cut back to the reincarnated Batman clone kicking ass on Dick, Batwoman, Knight and Squire. We cut to outside of the mine and see the London crime boss being informed that both Batman and Batwoman are down in the mine. The crime boss says that they get to kill two bats with one stone. The crime boss then pushes a button on a remote that sets off the bombs planted in the mine.
We cut back to our heroes still battling the clone Batman. The bombs go off and Batwoman gets buried in the rubble. The rubble also cuts off clone Batman from our heroes. Clone Batman sees a door to an elevator leading out of the mine.
We shift to Alfred arriving at the vault where they were storing Batman’s “corpse.” Alfred sees that it is empty and whispers to himself that he wonders what Dick has done now.
We hop back to England where we see the clone Batman flying away from the mine in a bat-whirlybird. (What? Where did that come from?) Clone Batman pushes a button on the navigation screen in order to locate the transport site. Clone Batman arrives at the transport site where an old man greets him and says that he has Batman’s get ready that will fly up to Mach 3 and get Batman home immediately. (I have no idea what is going on.)
We cut back to the mine where Dick has dug Batwoman out of the rubble. Batwoman is all broken to pieces. Batwoman says that she is not going to live. (Oh, don’t tease me!)
We slide back to Wayne Tower in Gotham. We see Alfred at the helipad greeting Damian as he arrives in his mother’s helicopter. Alfred is informed by Damien’s doctor that Damien must not engage in any physical activity for two weeks in order to make sure the new spine has fully bonded. That any activity in the next two weeks could leave Damien paralyzed. Damien brushes off the doctor and calls the doctor and his mother paranoid.
Damien and Alfred enter the building. Damien comments that his new spine is superior to every way in comparison to his original. Damien then says that Alfred looks worried about something. Alfred replies that he thinks Dick may have done something rash.
We zip back to the mine where Batwoman tells Dick that she has to die. (On this point we are in absolute agreement.) Dick tells Batwoman to stop talking like that. Batwoman replies that she is serious. That she has to die and she has a plan. (Gee, would it possibly involve the Lazarus Pit that is conveniently located next to you guys?)
Squire and Knight dig through the rubble and arrive to rescue Dick and Batwoman. Dick holds Batwoman’s corpse and says that she is dead. (Oh, if only that was true.) We cut to the crime boss on his phone with someone. The crime boss says that the deed has been done. That the beast is loose. That the Age of Crime has begun.
We cut to Wayne Manor where we see Clone Batman landing his jet. Alfred rushes out to the plane. Alfred is shocked by what he sees and asks if it truly is Bruce. We zip to Damien looking at a computer screen. Damien yells for Alfred to come over. Damien says that Dick intends to use a Lazarus Pit to resurrect Bruce Wayne. The door opens and an unconscious Alfred is thrown into the room. Clone Batman towers over Damien. Damien inquires “Father?” End of issue.
The Good: Batman and Robin #8 was an average read. Without a doubt, Morrison served up gobs of action in this issue. This was not a slow issue at all. Morrison unleashes a dynamic fight scene between the clone Batman and our heroes. Action fans should be entertained by this rather wicked brawl.
During his entire run on Batman, Morrison has always done a good job making sure that Batman has employed plenty of cool gadgets. This issue is no exception as Dick breaks out some sweet electrified brass knuckles. In terms of just mindless entertainment, Morrison delivers with this large fight scene that dominates this issue.
Personally, I liked the way that Morrison wove Final Crisis back into the story on this title. This was an absolute must since we are heading into the Return of Bruce Wayne in a matter of months. The obviously large dangling plotline of Batman’s “death” that we got in Final Crisis had to be re-examined before we kick off the return of Bruce Wayne and his journey through time.
I thought that Morrison’s use of the clone Batman was absolute genius. Talk about hiding something in plain sight. Morrison threw a curve ball at the reader with the end of Final Crisis by showing Batman alive in the past despite the fact that Superman was holding Batman’s corpse at the end of Final Crisis #6. Since then, speculation has run rampant concerning the identity of the corpse.
The revelation that it was one of the dead clone Batmen was well done. This was a sneaky plan by Darkseid designed to convince the heroes that Batman was truly dead so as to prevent them from trying to go back through time in an effort to rescue Batman. This was certainly a plan that fits Darkseid’s personality and style.
Morrison’s reveal concerning the identity of Bruce Wayne’s “corpse” also sheds new light on how Black Lantern Batman acted in Blackest Night #5. In that issue, Black Lantern Batman was nothing more than a snarling madman. That is consistent with the fact that the clone Batmen were all insane.
Between the explanation of the clone Batmen in Final Crisis and the way that Johns wrote Black Lantern Batman in Blackest Night, the reader had more than enough clues to figure out the true identity of Batman’s corpse. I appreciate it when writers are able to pull off a long term pot twist in such a logical fashion.
I absolutely loved the clone Batman. This is my type of villain. I almost always enjoy evil doppelgangers. I mean, there really is nothing scarier than an evil Batman. What else would Batman fear fighting the most but himself? Plus, it is fun to see an evil Batman. It makes for a seriously imposing and difficult villain to deal with.
I know that this clone Batman will probably get killed off during this story arc. But, I have to admit that I wouldn’t mind if he stuck around for a while. To be sure, the clone Batman is one serious bad-ass who makes for exciting action scenes.
Morrison’s dialogue in this issue was serviceable. Honestly, Batman and Robin #8 was all about the action and the surprise reveal of the clone Batman. Therefore, character work took a back seat in this issue out of necessity. The dialogue was nothing special, but it certainly got the job done. I do have one compliment and complaint that is rolled into one concerning the dialogue. I did appreciate Morrison giving the English crime boss an authentic voice. The only problem was that none of it made much sense to me.
The only character that I thought had much personality in this issue was Damien. Morrison continues to be the only writer who knows how to properly write Damien’s character. Of course, that is no surprise since, more often than not, nobody knows how to properly write any character that Morrison creates. I loved Damien’s attitude when he made his return to Wayne Manor. Not even getting shot several times, almost getting killed and having to receive a brand new spine can dent this kid’s confidence in his abilities.
Morrison wisely shows that in a situation where a normal person might have their confidence shattered and might question the road that they have taken in life; that Damien is simply even more emboldened than he was before the injury. Damien even manages to view a negative as a positive by pointing out that his new spine is superior to his old one. Damien truly is Bruce Wayne’s son. Damien has all the willpower, determination, confidence and no-nonsense attitude of his father.
Morrison ends Batman and Robin #8 with a nice hook ending. We have Damien, under orders of two weeks bed rest or else he will risk paralysis, having to deal with the clone Batman. Everyone’s favorite obnoxious brat is certainly placed in quite a difficult situation. Next issue should be an interesting read to see how Damien gets out of this predicament.
Cameron Stewart delivered some solid artwork. The action scenes were nicely laid out. Stewart was able to create a pleasant dynamic feel to the fighting. Of course, as much as I appreciate Stewart’s talents, I am not sure that his style of artwork is what I look for in a Batman title.
The Bad: While Batman and Robin #8 had some rather neat plot concepts and ideas, they all got completely lost in the execution of this issue. From a technical standpoint, Batman and Robin #8 was a poorly constructed issue. This issue was oddly paced. There was no rhythm or flow at all to this issue. The scene transitions were just awful. The reader crashed from scene to scene due to the clunky transitions.
The scenes were far too cut up as Morrison employed way too many scene cuts. Morrison would cut between three different scenes all in the same page. I don’t mind quick scenes, but they must be use judiciously in order to have the proper impact on the reader. When quick scene cuts are used to the point where there are five scene cuts in the span of just three pages then the impact is lost on the reader.
To further complicate matters, some scene cuts were only for a panel and there was no narration box or anything to direct the reader into what direction the story was progressing. One example of this was where we had a page full of panels with Dick and Batwoman in the mine and the final panel on the page was a close-up of the clone Batman in his plane. Then the next page continues the scene in the mine with Dick and Batwoman. This simply served to make the one panel of the close-up of the clone Batman look randomly inserted into the story almost as if it was a mistake.
And that is the biggest defect of Batman and Robin #8. The entire story was too choppy to the point where it felt disjointed. There were certain moments in this issue where I felt like I was missing a page or two of story. The way that the clone Batman suddenly got into a Bat-copter after getting out of the mine was out of the blue. I had no idea where the clone Batman went to or who he met with to get the jet that took him to Wayne Manor. That entire portion of this issue was a total mess.
Even Batwoman’s insertion in the story felt random and completely out of nowhere. I also continued to have no idea who these English criminals were or why they were inserted into the story. Just like with the previous issue, Batman and Robin #8 gave me the impression that I was missing certain parts of this story.
All in all, Batman and Robin #8 had poor scene transitions, a poor execution of the story and odd plotting of the story where large chunks of the story seemed to be missing. The result was that this issue came across like an incoherent mess at times. I got the impression that Morrison was rushing when writing this issue and that he got sloppy in his desire to blow through this story.
Batman and Robin #8 was also a thin read. Outside of the plot reveal of the clone Batman and some brawling, there simply was not much to this issue at all. I have been expecting more from Batman and Robin than what Morrison has given us over the course of these eight issues. Instead of getting a unique and interesting story that served some meaningful purpose; I feel like I have simply gotten a bunch of issues designed to do nothing more than waste time until the inevitable return of Bruce Wayne.
I also have to mention that while I completely enjoyed how Morrison folded the events of Final Crisis neatly into this story, that many readers will be less than pleased with this move. I completely understand and acknowledge that I am in the extreme minority in that I enjoyed Final Crisis. Yes, there were many defects in the delivery of that story, but I enjoyed the actual concepts and plotlines. I had fun pouring through each panel and trying to pick up all the arcane references to DC’s continuity that Morrison delivered in Final Crisis.
However, the fact remains that Final Crisis was largely unpopular with the majority of comic book readers. And I have absolutely no problems at all with people’s complaints and criticisms of Final Crisis. Therefore, it makes sense that most readers will probably be less than enthusiastic about Morrison dredging up Final Crisis once again.
It also does not help that it feels like an eternity since Final Crisis ended. Part of that is because DC has done its best to completely ignore Final Crisis and immediately jumped right into Blackest Night. There was little to no effort to capitalize on any plotlines generated by Final Crisis except the pathetic, half-hearted and far too late Final Crisis Aftermath mini-series that we got.
At any rate, the point is that Morrison bringing back up the events of Final Crisis is sure to turn off many readers. Those readers will, therefore, probably find clone Batman not that compelling or interesting of a character at all.
I have no interest at all in the plotline involving Batwoman. I do not find her character interesting. Nor did I find her “death” that compelling. This was simply false tension and drama since we all know that Batwoman will be brought back to life by the Lazarus Pit in the next issue.
Overall: Batman and Robin #8 had the potential to be quite an enjoyable story. Unfortunately, the technical aspects of this issue were so poor that it made it difficult to enjoy the story to its fullest potential. Despite the parts of this issue that I greatly enjoyed, I simply cannot recommend Batman and Robin #8. Some action fans might get a kick out of the excellent brawl scene in this issue. However, there are plenty of other comic books that have a story that is much more new reader friendly and are easier to follow that offer up the same type of high octane action scenes.
I would only recommend Batman and Robin #8 to loyal Grant Morrison fans as well as to any readers who liked Final Crisis and were interested in the “what happened to Batman” plotline.