November 26, 2008

So I just finished Batman RIP... (spoilers)


I'm trying to formulate a well-supported criticism of this supposedly mythos-defining storyline that surpasses the threshold of a mere "GUUUUHHHHHHHHH..."

I guess the lowest hanging fruit is the notion that in a year when Batman is the number-one franchise on the planet, and any multiple of thousands of people might have wanted to check out the source material, RIP was an epic failure of judgment in the pure positive outreach department. It's not just that Morrison leans on ultra-obscure references from 70 years of Batman history, or that the non-linear storyline was muddled further by strange art, or that characters with unexplained motivations come out of nowhere, or that the identity of nemesis Dr. Hurt isn't clearly revealed even though Morrison teased it as "shocking" (and the leading theories of the Devil, Thomas Wayne, or your garden-variety crazy are hack, convoluted and bland, respectively), or that it ended with a "ZOMG Batman fell to his death in a fireball!" that obviously did not happen.

No, the primary problem with this story was WHO ARE THE FRICKING EUROPEANS? Seriously--Tim Drake gets in a fight in the middle of the street, and some friendly folks with Continental speaking quirks pop up and are all "pip pip, let us help you monsieur, we will take care of things here while you go find Batman, jawohl!" And I think that moment is the defining microcosm of the RIP storytelling flaw. Sure, maybe I'm supposed to know who those chaps were from some story Grant Morrison wrote eight years ago, or eight months ago, and it's not his fault that I don't. But I would clearly not be alone by a long shot, particularly if new readers decided to join the party after the summer, and it throws you right out of the action to a distinct state of "WTF?" that loosens the justification for everything else.

The references I did get, to things like Nanda Parbat and the Thogal, yes, they added to my experience. I like that Morrison tied that piece of relatively recent Batman history to what was going on with Bruce's psyche now, because it's interesting and thought provoking. Bruce had subjected himself to the most intense of sensory deprivation meditations, that simulates death and drives out demons, and it turns out he'd done something similar many years prior as part of an experiment with Dr. Hurt, that the doctor was now supposedly using against him. Cool. That works. Now... take me down that road. Introduce some twists, some "wild cards" like the Joker to fuck up everyone's plans, some moments of confusion where the reader doesn't know if what they're seeing is happening to Bruce or only in his mind. But don't throw in a merry band of anonymous knights who had, for no discernible reason, "mounted their own investigations" and figured out what was going on somehow and then leave them as fast as you brought them in so I have one more reason to think I'm missing the entire point. When most probably I'm not, and the point is this: "ha ha ha ha BOO."

Anyway. According to all previews and leaked info, the upcoming Batman mini-series "Battle for the Cowl," and whatever else is going on until Bruce Wayne eventually comes back and everything is normal, will not be written by Grant Morrison. So maybe it will be good and maybe it will be bad, but at least I know that it will NOT have a bunch of random Frenchies that distract me from what I'm supposed to understand.

And as far as who will be the next Batman, it's safe to say that I'm on Team Dick. Although the distinct benefit of the Nightwing costume is that it doesn't have a fine-ass-obstructing cape. Hmm. What was I talking about? Happy Thanksgiving!


Anonymous said...

Check out Batman #667-#669, which were included in the Batman: The Black Glove TBP and led-in to Batman: R.I.P.

Evie said...

See, now I'm pretty sure I read all that. Which means either those characters did not make much of an impression, or I am lazy and knee-jerk. I'm not going to rule either or both out.

jason. said...

So Morrison's idea of a classic Batman story has Bruce dressed like an Easter basket, talking to DC's equivalent of Spider-Ham? Really? And there are people defending this? I just don't get it.

ghxdhdxt said...

I'm trying real hard to get into D.C. But R.I.P. & Final Crisis are making my head explode. I don't have a clue what is going on.