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I like big books.

Batman: R.I.P.

Batman: R.I.P. - Grant Morrison This review will be for both The Black Glove and for Batman R.I.P.:

So what if there was a super-super-super criminal mastermind that has been following and manipulating Batman from the very beginning? Orchestrating his every move, his every love affair, his every nemesis to bring him to one final moment where they can break him?

Sound awesome?

Yeah, not so much. I was really disappointed by Morrison's work on this series. This event sets up major, major changes in the Batman universe. Is Batman dead? So far, the signs are pointing to yes. He's been missing from all the major Batman titles for all of 2009 so far. In fact, the entire story line in the Batman universe right now is consumed by the Battle for the Cowl, in which people are fighting over the right to take over the mantle of the Dark Knight, which is fascinating, and an awesome premise.

I think my main complaint is with execution. This is a trade paperback, which collects a series of single issues into one volume to convey the main story. But the problem with tpbs, as opposed to graphic novels, is that often there are side stories in other issues that concern side characters that are not included. When read together, without those missing pieces, the story often feels like it is rushed, and has huge holes missing in it. I think that that is the case with this series, just as it was for Marvel's Civil War tpb, in which Captain America dies. Again, awesome story, but too big to put into a 100 page trade.

The story revolves around the mysterious Black Hand and begins with several flashbacks to past events in the Batman universe in which he encounters references to this man/organization, which make no sense whatsoever put together. It turns out the Black Hand is a terrorist/gambling society that intends to make a spectacle of the demise of Batman for the sake of rich people who have nothing better to do with their money than place ridiculously high bets on high-stakes situations. The Black Hand places evidence of a sordid past in the local tabloids about Thomas and Martha Wayne, destroying their reputations with evidence of drug addiction and crazy swinger parties, even dropping the suggestion that Alfred may indeed be Bruce's father. They also manage to implant psychological triggers in Batman's mind so that they can induce a psychotic break, which they do, and shoot him up with heroine and leave him on the streets with no recollection of who he is, take over the Bat-cave and beat Alfread to a pulp, take the original Robin, now Nightwing and lock him up in Arkham and hunt down and almost kill Tim Drake, the current Robin.

So far so good. I like it.

Then the rushing stuff happens and Morrison does this weird post-modern thing where he illustrates and narrates Bruce's psychotic break by mixing in real and imagined events, past, present and future events in a jumble he believes is story-telling, but in reality is just headahce inducing garbagé (yes, it's so bad I want it to sound French). Anyway, long story short is that this story is just poorly told, but based on a solid concept: what would happen if Batman finally caved to the enormous psychological pressure he must be facing? 2 stars for the mysterious disappearance and the set-up of the next chain of events in which I'm sure, inevitably, Batman will be found alive and well and probably in charge of orchestrating the whole series of events so that he could flush out said arch-nemeses. I am disappointed. However, I read this more as a set-up of the universe-shattering events of Final Crisis, which is supposed to be the DC event of 2008 and set-up for changes in my most favorite character, Superman. :) And for the record: I really, really hope Dick Grayson (Robin #1) becomes Batman.