When Grant Morrison first took over “Batman,” I will admit that I was a little underwhelmed. His opening storylines didn’t seem up to par with how he’d treated the character when writing “JLA”, or even on the same level as some other recent “Batman” writers. That’s all changed in the past half-dozen issues or so, though, where Morrison seems to have decided to show us how it was all planned out since day one. And now that we’re at that point, well, things are indeed a lot more interesting.
Morrison thankfully avoids the cliche that I’d feared, namely the all-hallucination issue. So while part of the comic does deal with Bruce’s off-kilter, slightly-deranged view of the world around him, he also keeps tabs on the other players in this story. Tim Drake comes across particularly well here, and the brief appearance of the Black Glove himself is suitably creepy. With each issue, “Batman: R.I.P.” has gotten a little more grim and dark, even as we see elements of each of the past storylines from Morrison feed into the present issues.
I still can’t decide how I feel about Tony Daniel as the penciller for “Batman” these days. On some pages it’s just mediocre, run-of-the-mill art, nothing really out of the ordinary. But then, just as often, Daniel and inker Sandu Florea really nail the art perfectly. On the second page, when the last two panels begin to zoom in on Tim’s face, it’s beautiful storytelling from the pair. That last panel in particular, with Tim looking out of the corner of his eyes, is perfect. You get a sense of his sudden apprehension, that he knows someone is lurking around the corner, but there’s also a real feeling of quiet confidence in those eyes. It’s a great panel and it’s the little moments like that make me feel like Daniel really was the right choice for the book.
“Batman” under Morrison has been a strange hodgepodge of old elements from the book over the years. The International Club of Heroes, the three imposter Batmen, Damian al Ghul, even the strange phrase “Zur-En-Arrh” are all call-backs to much earlier stories in “Batman”. At the same time, though, I don’t feel like I’m missing anything by having not read those earlier comics. This is what I expected a Morrison “Batman” to read like; fun, and crazy, and unpredictable. I’ve got my own theories about the Black Glove (who doesn’t?) but somehow I suspect that Morrison’s ending will have its own surprises. And that’s the way I like it.