The Revolution enjoyed Morrison and Kubert’s debut issue on Batman last month. I dig Morrison’s approach to Bruce Wayne’s character and I think we are in store for an incredible run on Batman. I fully expect Batman #656 to be an excellent read. I’m going to try and wake up a little. Too much drink and not enough sleep have dulled my mind this morning. I have a huge mug of Café Bustelo and I think I’m ready to try and cobble together a review.
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Andy Kubert
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: This issue starts with Bruce Wayne schmoozing with Jezebel Jet, who is the sponsor of this fundraiser. Ms. Jet is now the leader of a small African nation. Her goal is to make Africa more than just a fashionable cause. Bruce makes a pass at Jet and she comments if this is her chance to become a “Wayne Girl.” Jet says Bruce has a reputation. Jet goes to talk to some more guests and tells Bruce that she knows where he lives. Suddenly, a couple of chicas saddle up to Bruce’s arms and appear quite willing to become Wayne Girls.
We then cut to Dr. Langstrom and his wife being tossed out of the back of a truck on a street corner near the charity gala event. Alfred, waiting in the limo, sees what happens and immediately recognizes Langstrom. Alfred rushes to his side and Langstrom tells Alfred that he gave “them” the man-bat serum.
Suddenly, we see an army of 6 man-bats. But, wait, they aren’t just man-bats; they are ninja man-bats! And in the words of Bruce Wayne these ninja man-bats are an “Alarming Twist.”
Alfred enters the building and gives Bruce his briefcase with his Batman outfit in it. Bruce slips into something a bit more comfortable and suddenly Batman is on the scene ready to kick some ass. Batman takes out the six man-bats one by one. And he does so quite brutally. After he takes them all out, re-enforcements begin to arrive. Batman dives straight ahead and takes them on. He eventually takes them out in a vicious fashion as well.
Then even more man-bats flood into the museum and finally overpower Batman and he blacks out. He then wakes up in some remote location near the water. An army of man-bats are around him. Talia approaches Batman. Bats is hardly surprised that Talia was behind all of this. Talia congratulates Batman for taking out at least 30 of her elite commando man-bats. Talia then proceeds to take Batman down amnesia lane. She mentions a certain night in the desert where they spent the time getting to know each other better. (They show Batman naked but still wearing his mask. That Talia is into some kinky stuff.)
Talia tells Batman that they had a sun and since birth he has been trained by the masters of the League of Assassins. However, he is growing even beyond Talia’s control. That he lacks discipline and needs the guiding hand of a great man. With that introduction, Son of Bat makes his grand appearance. Batman’s son looks at Batman and says “Father. I imagine you taller.” End of issue.
The Good: Nice. Morrison serves up another gem in Batman #656. Morrison is laying the foundation for an extremely interesting storyline. I liked the pace of this issue. It had enough Bruce Wayne in it. But, it also had plenty of kick-ass Batman action. Morrison strikes just the right balance.
I am really enjoying Morrison’s take on Bruce Wayne and Batman. I am glad that Morrison is actually taking the time to develop and flesh out Bruce Wayne’s character. So many writers have completely ignored Bruce’s character making it simply a one-dimensional facade that Batman occasionally wears. I like that Morrison realizes that Bruce is an important character and that he does have a life and a personality outside of his Batman persona. It makes Bruce such a more interesting and compelling character. Overall, it makes Batman a more well rounded and satisfying read.
Now, the fact that Morrison is taking the time to develop Bruce Wayne and being committed to giving him plenty of panel time, that is actually increasing my enjoyment of when he appears as Batman. When you don’t constantly see Bruce in the Batman outfit, it makes the Batman scenes more special and enjoyable. I also like that Morrison is injecting some dry sarcastic humor into Batman’s personality. I agree that Batman should never be the “Bwahahaha” type super hero. Batman will never be the type of hero to fire out endless amounts of funny quips when fighting villains like characters such as Robin or Spider-Man. But, I have always imagined that Batman would never be humorless. He isn’t a robot. I think the dry sarcastic humor that Morrison has injected into Batman’s personality fits him like a glove.
Now, even though Morrison is trying to give Bruce more depth by developing his character, don’t confuse that with Morrison delivering a shiny happy 1960’s style Batman. Morrison’s Batman can be just as brutal as Miller’s Batman. They way he takes on and lays waste to the ninja man-bats was sweet. Morrison’s Batman knows how to dish out a beating. I also like that Morrison has made sure to differentiate between Bruce Wayne and Batman not just in style and mood. Morrison even makes their pattern of speech different. Bruce Wayne is extremely chatty. However, Batman uses an economy of words.
The opening scene was a wonderful example of how Morrison is attempting to grow Bruce Wayne’s character. I like all of this panel time that Morrison is giving Bruce and I hope that he keeps it up in future issues. I also like that Morrison is reviving the playboy billionaire aspect of Bruce Wayne’s character. The “Wayne Girl” comment was a nice touch.
The massive fight scene between Batman and the ninja man-bats was fantastic. Morrison struts his stuff and shows that his Batman is going to know how to kick ass. And man, does Batman kick some booty in this fight scene. I also love how Morrison’s writes Batman’s dialogue. It is short and to the point. Perfect. Plus, Batman’s dry humor keeps the comic from being too dark and somber. It is a nice touch. Batman’s reaction to seeing the army of man-bats was classic! “It’s not Langstrom. Not Man-bat. Man-bats. Ninja Man-bats. Alarming twist.” That was perfect! The short sentences direct and to the point and a little dry humor at the end. I am loving this style Batman.
Morrison also injects a nice bit of humor in one panel during a rather brutal fight. Batman notices that the man-bats are six hundred pounds of meat, gristle and hide. He then asks himself what it reminds him of. We then cut to a panel shot of Bruce and Dick getting ready to eat Aunt Agatha’s Thanksgiving Day turkey. And then we cut right back to the nasty brawl. What an excellent touch.
The final scene was also well done. Batman comes face to face with Talia. He trades a few dry humorous barbs with Talia. Then Talia drops the big bomb on Batman and introduces him to his son. Wow. That was great. I cannot wait to see where Morrison goes with this storyline.
Kubert’s art was very well done. Kubert draws a nice Batman and his artwork works nicely with the mood of Morrison’s story.
The Bad: I really have no complaints. I certainly have my reservations with this Son of Bat storyline. I don’t really like the idea of Batman having a son. I am worried that this could really blow up in Morrison’s face. Plus, it feels like Morrison just stomped all over Robinson’s big revelation in his One Year Later storyline with having Bruce adopt Tim as his son. Now, Morrison overshadows that by introducing Bruce’s biological son and pretty much makes Tim being made Bruce’s son really not matter much at all. But, I have tons of faith in Morrison. I have always enjoyed his work. I’m willing to give Morrison the benefit of a doubt that he can pull this off with great success.
Overall: Batman #656 is a great read. I am having a blast reading Morrison’s Batman. This title has quickly become one of my favorite titles. I think that Morrison is just what Batman needed to rejuvenate his character and keep him fresh and interesting for this new DCU. I definitely recommend giving this title a try.