After eleven issues, Grant Morrison’s “Batman and Robin” has now entered that rarified air of the can’t-wait-for-the-next-issue variety. During the end of Morrison’s run on “Batman” back in 2008, as “Batman R.I.P.” played with alien Batmen and strange mysteries and deep conspiracies, Morrison’s take on the caped crusader was one of the few things worth rushing to the comic shop to buy. It was a series unlike any other. A series that compelled discussion and reflection and reader curiosity.
This series has now become something of that caliber, but with the problematic Tony Daniel and Sandu Florea art replaced by the more-than-competent Andy Clarke and Scott Hanna, it’s even more aesthetically enjoyable.
In issue #11, we come one step closer to discovering the mystery of Oberon Sexton — the gravedigger detective with the fake accent and fancy hat. Robin must have been reading the internet speculation during his spinal recovery, because he even asks if Sexton is, in fact, Bruce Wayne. The splash page that accompanies that question shows Sexton’s head bowed down, the glare of the flying Batmobile in the background, but we receive no answer. Is Oberon Sexton the real Batman? Maybe. Maybe not. But the “Next in ‘Batman and Robin'” page at the end has an image of Sexton revealing his mask. Unless he’s wearing another mask underneath, we’ll find out who he really is. Maybe it’s a Batman mask. Then we could all rest easy, knowing little Dickie and Damian have been under the watchful eye of daddy all along.
Morrison will probably throw us a curve ball, though. Because that’s what he does.
Maybe it’s Magneto.
This issue also advances the Domino Killer subplot, and the “99 Fiends” show up ominously in the graveyard. And Batman spends some time in the underground railroad. The one beneath Wayne Manor, the one that has somehow been kept a secret for all these years, leading Dick Grayson to question how that could ever have been possible.
And with those kind of mysteries, and with the escalating conflict between Dr. Hurt/El Penitente and the good guy crew, this is a series that has become a top-o’-the-stack, must-read, can’t-wait-for-Wednesday kind of comic book. And as we learn more about what Morrison is doing in this comic, it makes the previous 10 issues all the more fraught with meaning.
Comics that make you want to go back and reread other comics to see what you missed the first time around. That’s good stuff.