Friday, August 22, 2008

Collection Spotlight: Batman and Son

While a little late, it’s still here, Batman and Son, our first DC Collection Spotlight. As I’m sure you know, Batman and Son was the start for Grant Morrison’s current run on Batman, and sets up several key factors to what is going on right now in Batman RIP from Damian Wayne, to Jezebel Jet, all important factors. So with that said, let’s get things started.

Story comments: There is quite a lot of story here, but I’ll try to touch on as much as I can without making this too long. Now right of the bat Morrison makes one thing perfectly clear, Batman is getting to much into Batman. As the years have gone by, he’s just about lost his Bruce Wayne persona, so he starts trying to get it back, this triggers a chain of events that puts Batman up against an army of Ninja Manbat.

All right, that sounds a bit odd, but there is a nice explanation to it. Talia poisons the wife of the original Manbat (his name escapes me right now) and tells him to make more of the serum, or his wife dies. This was a quick and interesting thing that had me gripped to the story, even if it was fairly short.

Speaking of Talia, I think this is the most villainous she’s ever been. She’s been a mixture of anti-hero and villain, but here she is just downright evil. Makes me wonder if Morrison forgot how she acts. Despite this, she still has her few, and yes, there are very few, good moments.

Now the main point to Batman and Son isn’t Talia or Batman being Bruce Wayne again, it’s about Batman meeting his son for the first time. One would thing this is a huge turning point in the batman comics, but really…it doesn’t seem to shake things up much, if at all, really. Like a whisper in a hurricane maybe.

Damian is immediately cold, calculating, murderous, violent, the ultimate brat. Morrison does a good job of showing us that this is not a good child, this is, in every sense of the world, an evil little child. Though he gives Damian a moment or two to try and show he isn’t pure evil, it fails to take away the image of this cruel and hateful person.

While it is great to see Damian clamor for his father’s attention and love, at the same time, it’s so absurdly futile that it gets frustrating fast. Damian and Batman’s interactions rarely are good, if interesting, and for a story called Batman and Son, one would hope for better interaction than this. What few times they do speak they are fairly hostile towards each other.

I applaud Morrison for not going the simple route of loving father and perfect son, but this extreme is just too far to the other side of the spectrum. Cold and vicious doesn’t make for an interesting read.

Despite my complaints, the first half to the Batman and Son collection is actually an entertaining read, despite my complaints, and it has some memorable moments such as the fight in the museum where the art reflects what is going on.

After the first half, there is an interlude, “The Clown at Midnight”. Following up on the opening of the story where Joker gets shot in the face by an imposter Batman. I failed to mention that, because that short moment was so unimportant to the overall Batman and Son plot that it felt very out of place.

The clown at Midnight is…and odd mix of comic and novel, while there are images of what’s going on, at times, it reads like one long book condensed into the pages. While it makes for an interesting read, it’s hard to get over the first 3 chapters or so that just drags on and on, and don’t seem to go anywhere.

The story is about Joker, how he’s gotten even crazier, and of course Harley Quinn is somehow involved. It’s all a little odd, but enjoyable, despite the strange format. It’s a great look into Joker’s mind, what little credible things we get. While I feel it’s more throwaway compared to everything else in the book, it makes for a creepy fun read and the CG like art really adds to the effect.

After this we return to form with the opening to the Tale of the three Batmen. Well…not so much an opening, as a prequel of sorts to what happens there. Batman is helping out a bunch of prostitutes who are being used by the police to keep this one violent brute calm. It’s a perplexing story with some really weird moments, most notably being how friendly Batman is to the prostitutes, you’d think he’d have a sarcastic crack or two about them, especially with Morrison writing.

Anyway, all the while when Batman is searching for this hooker killing brute, he has an inner monologue, and I have to say…it’s probably some of the worst Bat-monologue I’ve ever read. It’s awful. It’s nothing too big to complain about, but it really is bad and adds nothing to the situation, just points out that Batman needs to shut up and stay focused, or he gets his back snapped.

So after a confrontation with the brute, who is dressing like a mixture of Batman and Bane, Batman nearly gets killed. It’s kind of nice to see a throwback to Bane breaking Batman, but not much aside from that.

Probably the best part to this story is what Robin does. He has a brief moment of trying to take down Bat-Bane and he nearly gets killed, Batman shows up and we get a quick moment where Batman tells Robin that he has nothing to prove to him, since Robin is feeling insecure thanks to Damian.

The story ends up being rather futile, as Batman has to give up near victory since the brute guy is protected by the police. Since the tale of Three Batmen isn’t collected in this book, this story feels more like a throwaway than anything, compared to where it leads to at least.

Finally, we have my favorite story in this book, the tale from Batman #666. Yes that’s right, the tale of the future Damian as Batman up against the anti-Christ. It is, by far, one of the most insane and odd Batman stories I’ve ever read, but I loved it. Damian makes for a great Batman, even if he’s more flash than substance.

The final confrontation really pieces everything together, Damian gets in some amazing moments that where sorely missed come his first story in this collection. He gets to be all kinds of badass and just unleash all hell (no pun intended) on Satan’s Spawn. With things like Barbara Gordon as Police Commissioner, the nice touches and moments help make this a great conclusion to what is, despite my complaints, a strong and enjoyable collection of stories.

Art comments: I wish I had something to say on Andy Kubert. Really, he does a good job here. While I don’t think it’s his strongest work (and that Tony Daniel is doing a better job right now on RIP) he gets the job done and turns in some impressive solid work. He isn’t without flaws and faults in his work, for instance, Damian’s face tends to look…odd at times, most notably when he smiles, his face just looks…weird, like a cookie or a ball. Despite his flaws, Kubert turns in some amazing work here that shouldn’t be missed out if you’re a big fan of his.

Final comments: Batman and Son is an enjoyable story, despite it’s flaws, and has some great moments that the Dark Knight had been missing. Such as great moments with Robin (something that’s been missing for a while, in my honest opinion.) I also appreciate Morrison trying to get out there, not going for the same old thing, and this was before his insane RIP ideas, and when he seemed a little more down to earth with how he was handling Batman. If you want to get into RIP, but are afraid of being confused or otherwise, this is a good place to start, as it’s set the tone for Batman for quite some time, and probably will be the main focus of Batman for the next few years even after RIP.

Buy It.


Greg said...

Really good review. I was reading this run and although I dropped it, it's a book I wish I continued reading. I can't wait till all the run is collected because I want to sit down and read them in a small sitting like I'm doing with his X-Men run.

Andrenn said...

Thanks Greg, I myself decided to pass when Morrison was announced as the new writer, I just had no interest at all. I just recently picked up the Hardcover of And Son (a week before the TPB comes out, of course)since I decided to read RIP.

I definitely think and "ultimate collection" would be great, it could start with Batman and Son and maybe end with his 2 parter in November, that would be pretty cool to see.