Thursday, November 18, 2010
I never thought this day would come, but someone needs to explain Batman to me
Grant Morrison is probably the best writer working in comics. He is, without a doubt, the smartest writer working in comics. Imagine if Stephen Hawking was a comic book writer instead of...well, I don't know what Stephen Hawking actually does, other than just be smart. But I imagine it pays well.
There is, though, perhaps something to be said for a comic book writer being too smart.
For the past couple of years, Morrison has taken Batman on an incredible journey, even by Batman standards. First, in a storyline called Batman R.I.P., he introduced some interesting new adversaries in the form of Dr. Hurt, The Black Glove, and The Club of Villains. You might think from the title, Morrison also killed Batman off. But no! That was done in Final Crisis, where Darkseid's Omega beams reduced him to a charred corpse. But wait! The corpse wasn't actually Batman! It was a clone. In actuality, as told in the pages of the sensibly-named mini-series The Return of Bruce Wayne, Batman was sent back in time to the prehistoric era, and then proceeds to bounce around the time stream on his way back to the present (becoming a puritan, a pirate, a cowboy, and a private detective, along the way). But wait! This was all a plot of Darkseid's to turn Batman into a weapon that would destroy the world upon returning to the present! Which he does, as a sort of amnesiac half-Batman, half-cyborg type thing who was at the end of time where he dicked over Superman and Green Lantern and a couple of other people, leaving them stranded by stealing their time machine and...
Fuck it, I have no idea what happened. All I know is that Batman's alive and back in the present, only now there are going to be lots of Batmen operating around the world and...I'm still not sure.
When I was kid, you know what a Batman story was? Two Face would steal two rare diamonds from a museum on Second Street at 2 o'clock, and Batman would track him down. Or someone named KGBeast would try to kill President Reagan when he was visiting Gotham City. And I'm not saying that Batman stories shouldn't aspire to be more sophisticated than that, but at the same time I'm not sure they should be quite this dense.
What makes all this especially annoying is that as tempting as it is to just dismiss all this as Morrison being weird just for the sake of being weird, that's not what's going on. There's an obvious brilliance to Morrison's writing. It's just over my head. And because it's a Batman comic and not A Brief History of Time, I'm not really wild about that.
The past couple of weeks have seen the release of four Morrison-written comics that wrapped up the previous storyline and launched a new one: Batman and Robin #16, Return of Bruce Wayne #6, Batman: The Return #1 and Batman Incorporated #1. And only that last one gave me no headaches whatsoever.
Rather than continue to get frustrated over all this, I'm just going to do what will hopefully be a cathartic release by posting the panels that especially drove me nuts.