Monday, November 24, 2014

Batman and Robin by Grant Morrison issue #7

I have a week to go before I start on the December list for my Batman comics diet which will be composed of New 52 Batman Incorporated, two volumes of The Dark Knight, Batman-Superman issues and  Knightfall volume 2. For now, I'm getting back on the old continuity era, particularly with Grant Morrison's Batman and Robin run whose first volume Batman Reborn instantly became a favorite of mine. Now I'm going to try and finish at least issues #7-16 this week although, realistically speaking, I may only able to manage to reach until #12. I can't believe I only have a whole month to go before my Bat-diet ends. I plan to pick up on my third wave by April 2015 instead because I have a list of fiction novels I need to get back to since I've pushed them aside for Batman, and I miss reading science fiction and books from other genre. Anyway, enough about this sideline announcement and let's jump right ahead with the three-issued story arc entitled Blackest Night.

The thing about me reading comics from DC's previous continuity while essentially more attuned with New 52 is that it often takes me awhile to calibrate my state of mind and I often only gain the momentum by the second or third installment of a certain story. That's a natural thing, isn't it? Reading issues 7-9 was exactly that for me, and I didn't mind the slight confusion because Morrison writes well enough to get me excited for the events unfolding in the pages. Final Crisis pronounced Bruce Wayne dead, and Dick Grayson won the cowl and is now operating as the new Batman with Bruce's son Damian Wayne as his sidekick Robin. In the last volume, on the story arc Revenge of the Red Hood, Jason Todd challenges the authenticity of Bruce Wayne's demise, asserting that the corpse they found before may not be his.

So this issue opens with Dick seriously considering that possibility so he contacts the English vigilantes Knight and Squire. But we don't find out about this until the later pages near the end because Morrison immediately throws us into an action sequence between Batman and the posh villain the Pearly Prince. Aided by Squire, Batman apprehends the Pearly Prince and questions him about the location of a Lazarus Pit. At this point, I knew what Dick is planning to do, and I almost can't read what happens next. As someone who is reading more New 52 material than the old, I should be less excited of what I'm reading because I know for a fact already that Bruce Wayne is not really dead and that he eventually does come back and Dick goes back to being Nightwing again. However, I still believe that the journey leading towards that destination is more important, and that I should enjoy the ride which I presently am.

Artist Cameron Stewart's illustrations are pulpy, conveying the tension for the more action-oriented scenes using impressive panel choices that help readers get a cinematic feel while the heroes go about their heightened chase and confrontation with the baddie. Dick talking about bringing back Bruce Wayne was insightful to his psyche at that moment. As much as I think Dick has embraced his role as the new Batman, I know that there is a part of him that hopes his former mentor and long-time friend can come back. I don't think he's resurrecting Bruce because he doesn't want the responsibilities of being the Dark Knight anymore; I think it has more to do with the fact that he believes Gotham City deserves Bruce Wayne as Batman more than him. It's not to say he's belittling himself, let alone his dedication and contribution to the crusade against crime; it's just that he knows he is not fighting for the same things as Bruce, and often the things Bruce fights for is what helps save the city.

This has been a great opener for Blackest Night. I was also quite pleased to see Batwoman at the end. I remember that I decided to get back to reading this series last week because I claimed that I was now ready to accept Damian Wayne back into my life and reading about him here in Morrison's work definitely doesn't hurt as much as I thought it would. I think that's a good sign to continue with this series then. Let's go, Batman and Robin!


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