The Revolution was happy to see the return of Morrison and Kubert with last month’s issue of Batman. I’m definitely curious to learn more about the Black Casebook and just what is going on with all of these nightmare versions of Batman running around Gotham. I’m sure that Batman #665 will be another enjoyable read. Let’s do this review.
Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciler: Andy Kubert
Inker: Jesse Delperdang
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with a beaten and bloodied Batman lying in his own blood and vomit. One of the hookers, Roxy, loads Batman into her car. Batman tells her to take him to Finger and Fourth to one of his escape tunnels. Roxy drops Batman off and thanks him for standing up for her and the rest of the hookers.
Batman then makes his way to an elevator in the tunnel that takes him to his penthouse suite atop the building over the tunnel. Batman calls Alfred and tells him he needs help immediately.
Bruce has a dream where Damian is standing at his bed with the Bane/Batman costumed guy and the Batman with the gun who shot Joker and a third figure all standing behind him. Damian says that the third ghost is the worst.
Bruce wakes up to Tim and Alfred by his bedside. Bruce says that guy who attacked him was in a costume similar to Bane’s outfit in order to try and trigger Bruce’s worst fear. And it worked for a moment and the other guy smelling it. Alfred tells Bruce that the spinal brace in his costume was shattered, but it saved Bruce’s back.
Bruce tells Tim not to go out and look for the villain. That he has dosed himself with Hugo Strange’s monster serum and daily Venom shots. Bruce then passes out from all the morphine. Tim then leaves to find out what is going on.
We cut to Bruce waking up again. Bruce asks Alfred if he remembers the Black Casebook. Alfred answers that he has been transferring its lurid contents to a memory stick. That the Black Casebook is full of stories about vampires, flying saucers, time travel and all the thinks they had seen that they could not explain. They were all entered into the Black Casebook. Alfred retorts that he thinks it is more of a result of Bruce and Dick often the victim of one too many exposures to Scarecrow Gas or Joker Toxin.
Bruce snaps that one night he met three version of himself. A killer Batman with a gun, a bestial Batman on strength-enhancing drugs and a third who sold his soul to the devil and destroyed Gotham. Bruce says that he thought they were cautionary tales of what he might have become in other lives. But, this is real.
Bruce begins rubbing himself with a dress shirt from his dirty laundry bin. Alfred tells Bruce that Tim has already left looking for the Bane styled Batman. That Tim feels that he has a lot to prove since Damian came on the scene.
Alfred asks Bruce why he is toweling himself with one of his shirts. Bruce says that he worse this shirt yesterday when he chewed out the shareholders in the Waynetech Boardroom. That Bruce comes from old money. That he has beaten up Superman. That there is one thing an Alpha Male is programmed to respect: an Alpha Male Plus.
We shift to the Bane Batman killing another hooker. He storms out of the warehouse to get another girl. Robin arrives on the scene and rams his motorcycle into the Bane Batman. Robin begins brawling with the Bane Batman. The Bane Batman gets the upper hand when Batman appears and rams the Bane Batman with the Batmobile. Batman grabs Robin and hits the ejector seat.
Bane Batman picks up the Batmobile and Batman activates the car’s defenses which electrocutes the Bane Batman. Batman tells Robin that he has nothing to prove to Batman. Batman tells Robin to go make sure the hookers are okay and that Batman is going to take on Bane Batman.
Batman proceeds to beat the not out of Bane Batman. Batman stands on Bane Batman’s neck and demands to know who he is and who the third man is. Suddenly, Gotham police show up on the scene and tell Batman to back off. Batman retorts that the police are covering for a rapist and a murderer and something more. That cop or no cop they are on his list. Batman pushes the self-destruct button on the Batmobile. Batman uses the massive explosion next to the cops to make his escape.
We cut to Batman meeting with Commissioner Gordon. Gordon comments that something stinks in Gotham since he came back as Commissioner. That Gordon is up against a wall of silence. That the mayor is leaning on Gordon to leave this alone. Gordon says that Batman has cleaned the super-criminals off the streets, but the rot in Gotham runs all the way through to the top. And that some crime Batman can’t smack around and threaten. Batman tells Gordon that this isn’t over. That they both know that they can take this on and win.
We shift to Talia and her ninjas carrying a gravely wounded Damian back to Talia’s secret headquarters. Talia says that Damian was magnificent in battle. Talia then orders a full organ harvest and replacement for Damian. Talia’s assistant informs Talia that Bruce Wayne has been seen with Jezebel Jet the super-model. Talia orders them to leave her so she can think.
We hop over to Venice where Bruce is spending a romantic evening with Jezebel Jet. We see them smooching each other. We see a mysterious person watching from them through a pair of binoculars. End of issue.
The Good: Batman #665 was a solid read. It wasn’t as good as the rest of Morrison’s run on this title, but it was still better than average. Morrison delivers a well paced issue. He moves the story along nicely without it seeming too rushed.
Batman #665 was also well plotted. Morrison is doing a great job inserting the fake Batmen storyline into center stage while still slowly moving along the Talia/Damian storyline that will eventually be moved back into center stage.
Morrison supplied plenty of well crafted dialogue. Every character from Batman to Robin to Alfred to Gordon has their own proper external voice. The dialogue has a pleasant and natural flow that makes this issue easy to read.
Morrison continues his commitment to spending time of fleshing out Bruce Wayne’s character. I love how much attention Morrison is giving Bruce Wayne. Usually, most writers completely ignore Wayne’s character and focus solely on Batman and treat Wayne’s character as nothing more than a disguise.
Morrison has been true to his word in developing Wayne’s character independently from Batman’s character. I’m thrilled that a writer is actually looking at Batman being Bruce Wayne first and then working outward from that point.
Morrison continues to impress me with his excellent handling of Batman’s character. I know that DC wanted to tone down the Bat-dickness of Batman. And Robinson on his One Year Later storyline really played up this new shiny happy Batman. It made me nauseas.
I like my Batman to have an ego, an attitude and to be somewhat of a prick. Morrison manages to give Batman enough ego and an aggressive cocky attitude with a bit of dickish-ness to it without Batman being way too over the top like Frank Miller’s Batman. Morrison’s Batman is actually a nice compromise for people who want the 1960’s friendly Batman and the people who like Miller’s Darknight.
I loved the scene where Bruce plays up the fact that he is an Alpha Male Plus. And that all Alpha Males respond to that. What a cool way to get Bruce pumped up and ready to kick ass on the Bane Batman. Plus, it shows how Batman enjoys playing psychological games. That Batman knows how powerful the mind can be and if he can intimidate his foe from the outset then his odds of winning greatly increase. Batman is truly the case of “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.”
I also liked how as Bruce is talking about him being the Alpha Male Plus that he mentions how he beat Superman. This was a great touch. It was a nice subtle way of Bruce getting himself psyched up, but it also shows Bruce’s ego. Without a doubt, Bruce views himself as an Alpha Male Plus. And that his being a rich and powerful businessman plays into that belief as well as his accomplishments as Batman.
And what more of an accomplishment is there than having beaten Superman? It shows that even though Bruce is friends with Superman, he is still proud of his achievement of beating Superman. Plus, it shows that Bruce is still a bit of a dick in that him being proud to have beaten Superman shows that there is still some form of resentment or distrust inside of Bruce when it comes to Superman.
I also enjoyed Batman calling out the crooked cops at the end of this issue. Batman informing the crooked cops that they are now on his list was pretty sweet. Morrison manages to go back to Batman’s roots where he couldn’t and didn’t trust the corrupt Gotham Police Department. And that Batman could care less if they are police. To Batman you are either a criminal or not a criminal. Period.
Morrison also captured the essence of Batman’s role in Gotham and his relationship with Commissioner Gordon. We have harkened back to the old days when Gotham was massively corrupt and Jim Gordon was pretty much the only clean cop in the Gotham Police Department. I love it. I like Gotham as a dirty and corrupt city. I like it when all the politicians and the police are corrupt. It further accentuates the fact that the normal person cannot rely on politicians and police. It makes Batman’s role as the protector of the good and the innocent in Gotham even more important and necessary.
It also gives Batman an enemy that is extremely difficult for him to beat. It is always important that the hero go up against a villain even more powerful than the hero. That the hero face almost impossible and insurmountable odds. Since DC has elevated Batman to god-like status with his fighting prowess and detective mind, corruption within the city’s politicians and police creates the perfect and extremely difficult dilemma for the Batman to deal with.
Morrison also does a nice job with Robin. I like that he is showing how Robin is acting even more aggressively than usual in his desire to prove himself to his new father. Competition among brothers is common. And it is only made worse when one of them is an evil psychotic bastard.
The scene with Talia and Damian was pretty interesting. I am very interested to see what Talia has planned. There is no doubt that Morrison is cooking up one incredibly wild storyline involving Talia and Damian.
I like the main storyline involving the three fake Batmen. It is made even more compelling now that we have learned that Bruce had a vision a long time ago about these three fake Batmen. Morrison has done a good job capturing my complete attention with this plotline. I am very curious to learn more about what is going on with these various Batmen.
Morrison delivers a good enough ending. I dig that Morrison is playing up Bruce’s playboy personality. And just who exactly was watching Jet and Bruce through a pair of binoculars? An agent for Talia? The Joker? Someone else? I’m interested to find out.
Andy Kubert provides plenty of solid artwork. The splash pages look great. On the other hand, some of the other smaller panels look rather ordinary.
The Bad: The entire Black Casebook doesn’t really work for me. It contains all the files that Bruce and Dick handled that involved UFO’s, time travel, Vampires and other things they couldn’t explain. Now, it is a cool concept. And it would work great in a setting outside of the DCU.
The problem is that time travel is a common occurrence in the DCU. That aliens are all over the place including various members of the JLA. Pretty much nothing that would be in the Black Casebook would be unexplainable in the DCU. Nor with all that Batman has seen and done as a member of the JLA would these events be considered unusual enough to place in a Black Casebook.
The Black Casebook concept works well in a world like that of X-Files where there aren’t people zipping through time and different realities every week, where there isn’t a well defined and established world of magic, and where there aren’t aliens are all over the place.
Overall: Batman #655 was a good issue. Morrison is delivering an enjoyable Batman and has made this title the best read it has been in a while. There are definitely plenty of excitement on the horizon for Batman. I’d certainly recommend giving Batman a try.