It seems like forever since we got a Morrison and Kubert issue of Batman. Last issue of Batman didn’t count since it was an odd book style issue with no Kubert. So I am pretty psyched to read Batman #664. I enjoyed Morrison and Kubert’s first story arc on this title and expect more of the same. Anything will be more enjoyable than that dreadfully boring Grotesk story arc. I’m confident that Batman #664 is going to be a good read. Let’s hit this review.
Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciler: Andy Kubert
Inker: Jesse Delperdang
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin in Gibraltar with a ton of beaten up Man-Bat ninjas all over the place. Bruce, in his suit, gets a cell phone call from a woman telling him to meet her at La Flegere at 10:30 am tomorrow.
We cut to a hot black chick and her two big bodyguards on the top of a beautiful snow covered mountain ready to do some skiing. Right at 10:30, we see Bruce in his ski gear parachuting his way down onto the mountain top. The girl is named Jet.
Bruce gives Jet a “Blue Pennyworth” which is the rarest rose his butler grows. Jet then comments that Bruce is cool like James Bond. Bruce responds that he is much cooler than James Bond. Bruce then says he will race Jet back to the lodge.
Bruce and Jet start skiing down the mountain. We then see a man with a video camera in a small one man helicopter following them. Bruce takes one of his ski poles and throws it at the helicopter’s rotors and crashed the small flying machine. They ski over to the man to make sure he is ok. Jet comments that the guy was paparazzi.
We shift to Bruce and Jet at dinner that night. Bruce comments that his stunt earlier is going to further his bad boy imitation. Bruce jokes that the headline will be “Mad, bad and reckless—Gotham Playboy strikes again!”
Jet asks Bruce if he is okay. That Bruce looks sad. Bruce said he is fine. He just had a hell of a weekend. Jet says that her own father was assassinated because of what he believed in. That she understands Bruce’s loss of his own parents. Bruce replies that it was a long time again and that he got over it. But, his angry eyes suggest otherwise.
We hop over to Gotham City. We see Batman watching a couple of crooked cops talking to a pimp named DeShawn and his hookers. DeShawn says his hookers don’t want to service the cops. That one of them is totally out of control and keeps killing the girls. The cops respond if DeShawn wants to be responsible if the guy gets loose. That they need to pacify him.
Batman swoops in and takes out the crooked cops and pins DeShawn to the wall of a building. One of the hookers tells Batman that the cops have been having them service a monster on smack. Batman asks DeShawn how long he has been supplying hookers for the Gotham Police. One of the hookers says that the cops won’t talk. That the monster inside is one of their own. He is a cop.
Batman enters the building and finds a bunch of hookers tied up and killed. The smell of human blood and dead flesh is thick in the air. Batman finds steroid-type drugs. Batman then comes face to face with a huge guy who is wearing a costume similar to Bane’s costume. The two men begin brawling.
Batman thinks how this reminds him over the other cop who dressed like Batman and shot the Joker. Batman then begins thinking about the files in “the black casebook.” Batman realizes that this cop dressed like Bane is steroid enhanced. The cop gets the upper hand on Batman. Batman thinks that he has to stay conscious. Batman thinks about the black casebook. That everyone is in danger.
We then see the cop posing as Bane stomping on Batman’s back. Batman loses consciousness and the Bane imposter walk away.
The Good: Batman #664 was a good read. It is great to have Morrison and Kubert back on this title. After that pathetic Grotesk story arc, it was nice to get a quality read once again on Batman.
Morrison delivers a well paced issue. Batman #644 was a nice balance between drama and action. The story moves along briskly and did a good job capturing the reader’s attention from start to finish.
Morrison also serves up some quality dialogue. I have been impressed with Morrison’s take on Bruce Wayne and Batman. I separate the two because Morrison is one of the few writers to actually treat Bruce Wayne and Batman as two separate and well developed characters. Morrison gives Bruce Wayne plenty of spot on cocky playboy billionaire style dialogue. Bruce Wayne is a suave fellow who is always ready with a smooth line to deliver to the ladies.
On the other hand, Morrison gives Batman drastically different dialogue. Batman talks with an economy of words and is blunt and to the point. Morrison gives Batman a hint of anger as a constant undercurrent to his dialogue. I dig how drastically different Morrison crafts the dialogue from Bruce and for Batman.
Morrison has done an excellent job showing the schizophrenic world that Batman lives in. Most writers who have written Batman almost completely ignore the character of Bruce Wayne. Many previous writers barely even had Batman out of his costume and out and about as Bruce Wayne.
And on the rare occasions that previous writers had Bruce Wayne get any panel time, his character was often shown as this non-descript and very vanilla persona. Usually it was shown that Batman hated being Bruce Wayne and never felt comfortable as Bruce Wayne.
Morrison wisely junked that style of writing Batman. Bruce Wayne is a great character with plenty of potential and deserves panel time. A more intriguing and appealing Bruce Wayne only serves to make Batman a more complex character.
I love that Morrison shows Batman enjoying being Bruce Wayne. And why shouldn’t he? He is good looking and insanely rich. A man that works as hard as Batman does should absolutely be the same kind of man that also plays hard like Bruce Wayne should.
And Morrison certainly gives Bruce Wayne some quality panel time in Batman #664. I always enjoy Morrison’s Bruce Wayne scenes. I have to give major props to Morrison for pulling off a nice Lord Byron reference when Bruce joked that about the headline of the Gotham newspaper would read “Mad, bad and reckless—Gotham Playboy strikes again!”
Lord Byron was a total stud and my personal favorite poet of all time. Lady Caroline Lamb once wrote after meeting Lord Byron that he was “Bad, mad and dangerous to know.” I wonder how many readers spotted this Lord Byron homage.
And this was a subtle way of getting the reader to view Bruce Wayne’s character in a different light. Lord Byron was the bad boy of London’s high society. He was a wild man who lived life to its fullest. He was physically fit, boxed and was a strong swimmer. He also drank to excess and had sex to excess. This was a neat way to cast Bruce into the role of a modern day Lord Byron.
Of course, Morrison also took the obvious way of getting the reader to change their view of Bruce Wayne by having Jet compare Bruce with James Bond only to have Bruce comment that he is even cooler than James Bond. Plus, the skiing scene in the beginning of this issue reminded me of the skiing scene from “The Spy Who Loved Me.” That was an overt way for Morrison to get across this new image of Bruce Wayne as the ultimate thrill seeking, woman conquering billionaire playboy.
Of course, Morrison isn’t only about character development. We also got plenty of kick ass action. I love that Morrison has brought back the nasty side of Batman that disappeared under Robinson’s run on this title. Morrison’s Batman certainly doesn’t mind inflicting pain on those that he fights. I dig how efficient, quick and brutal Batman is in these fights.
Morrison unveils his new story arc which continues the plot that he touched on briefly at the beginning of his first story arc with the cop that impersonated Batman and shot the Joker. I’m glad that Morrison is exploring this plotline further. The idea of cops running around all hopped up on steroids and drugs and impersonating Batman and Bane is certainly different.
And what exactly is this black casebook that Batman keeps referencing in the final fight scene? Batman seems quite concerned over the files from the black casebook and what may be about to happen.
This issue was all about the setup. Morrison used this issue to transition from his last story arc and to get all the various players into place for this new story arc. Morrison has certainly piqued my interest in this new story arc.
Morrison needed this issue with a nice hook ending. We get this faux Bane “breaking” Batman’s back in a nod to the actions of the original Bane. The ending was certainly enough to get the reader excited about the next issue.
Andy Kubert did a solid job with the artwork. I have never been a huge Andy Kubert fan, but I certainly respect his talent. I still find Kubert’s art to be a bit inconsistent. Some of the small panels look a little weak and a bit sloppy. However, the one page splash shots are just fantastic looking.
The Bad: No complaints with this issue.
Overall: Batman #664 was a solid read. This issue had an enjoyable blend of quality writing and good artwork. Morrison and Kubert are a great team and it is great to have them back on this title. Morrison does a nice job kicking off this new story arc that has plenty of potential. I’d certainly recommend giving Batman a try.