This issue definitely seemed to suffer a bit from Formatitis, in that the issue was hurt by the time spent on the opening number. I enjoyed the opening number (seriously, who can find issue with, “I finally killed Batman! In front of of a bunch of vulnerable, disabled kids!”? Not I!), but, really, it was not worth taking up a full THIRD of the issue with.
So, after a fairly diversionary 1/3 of the comic, how well did the other 2/3 hold up? I think they held up quite well. Writer Grant Morrison creates an interesting situation filled with enough charasmatic character potrayals so as to get the reader interested in seeing what will happen next.
Morrison’s approach to Batman’s personality seems similar to Adam Beechen’s take on Bruce in the pages of Robin, so it appears as though this is a concerted effort to getting Bruce Wayne to act more like he did back in the pre-“Dark Knight” days, in so much as the comic is concerned with “bringing back Bruce Wayne.” This is interesting, because it sorta glosses over the time in the mid-90s when Chuck Dixon and Doug Moench (especially Moench) frequently wrote about Bruce Wayne. However, that is neither here nor there as, for the most part, it really HAS been about a decade since we’ve seen Bruce Wayne take a central role in the comic, and I’m glad to see Morrison address it, and address it with panache.
There are plenty of wacky dialogue (like Gordon and Batman’s conversation about the severed head and the feeding the bat stuff), and Alfred and Bruce’s back and forth have a very nice air of familiarity without becoming cliched. I think sometimes the Alfred/Bruce relationship comes off as too simplistic – I think it was more nuanced in this comic. I enjoyed it.
Meanwhile, there’s an over-the-top plot involving Kirk Langstrom in London for a benefit for Africa at the same time Bruce is attending the same function (trying to re-establish his “Bruce Wayne as playboy” persona), and it seems to involve Talia as well, and a young boy. It looks like we’ll have a really rollicking good time in future issues.
Andy Kubert’s art was…well….it wasn’t awful or anything. I don’t think it helped the book any, but at the same time, I do not think it distracted from Morrison’s story much, so I will have to give Kubert that much credit. He allowed Morrison’s story to be told without being covered up. That’s the best I can hope for, I think, and he did so.
So, a really enjoyable and engaging 2/3rds of a comic plus an interesting, if over-long 1/3rd of a comic….put it together, and I would recommend this comic book.