As you may recall, I was quite disappointed in Batman #701, as I felt it basically just re-hashed scenes that we had already seen from the Last Rites tie-in issue to Final Crisis. While that issue did have some really good parts of it where we see Batman's thoughts about the world of superheroing (where writer Grant Morrison reveals what Batman is REALLY thinking when he does all of his "Bat-God" feats - and it's really quite revealing and illuminating), for the most part it seemed like a waste of a Grant Morrison story, and for a writer who tends not to waste ANY of his comics, it was a disappointment.
So I approached #702 with a mix of apprehension and hope, and luckily for me, it landed a good deal more on the good side than the bad, as in this issue, while again we are mostly "just" seeing Final Crisis from a different perspective (seeing Batman's thoughts BEHIND his actual dialogue in Final Crisis) Morrison also adds in a whole lot of extra information, including stuff that is directly relevant to the current Return of Bruce Wayne storyline.
The key aspect, of course, is, for the first time, actually showing WHAT Darkseid did to Batman when he was zapped back in time by the Omega Sanction. That was important information. In addition, Morrison drops some interesting ideas about the "time bullet" that Darkseid killed Orion with, and here, the idea that the bullet is the "archetypal bullet" is a clever one (and it plays into the notion explored recently by Morrison in Batman #700 and the end of Batman RIP that Batman IS more than a man, he, himself, is a myth and therefore, Batman will never die, as WELL as a previous bit Morrison did with the idea that the New Gods only come to us AS "ideas," so it makes sense that their weapon would also basically be the IDEA of a bullet). It was good to see Morrison exploring these themes so cogently.
It's too bad that the preview pages for the book only show the first few pages, as Tony Daniel (who is inking himself this issue) gets a lot better as the issue goes on...
But even these pages are an improvement on his RIP work. That's what I love about Tony Daniel. He CONSTANTLY strives to get better each and every issue he works on, and you can really see it. Look at Daniel's X-Force run then look at his much more recent Teen Titans run then look at his Batman run then look at this issue - he's clearly made major improvements every step of the way.
Throughout the issue, Morrison uses Batman's thought balloons to show how out of place Batman is in this world of super-powered beings (like when he tries to attack the possessed Alpha Lantern with an attack that would fell a large human but his useless against her), but also, at the same time, he clearly shows why Batman DOES belong in the same room as those people, as Batman is dictating the story in the past as his brain is falling victim to amnesia imposed on it by the Omega Sanction and yet he is calm, cool, collected and, perhaps (just as we saw in Batman RIP) even PREPARED for what is coming next. It makes me want to go back and re-read earlier issues of Final Crisis and Batman to see if earlier scenes read differently with what we learned here - I love how Morrison does that, like the scene in Batman RIP where Batman tells Jezebel Jet that he is coming for her, but after learning that he knew she was a bad guy all along, if you look back, his "I'm coming for you" is not an exclamation of concern but rather a forceful statement of fact. So awesome.
There is clearly some sort of connection between Darkseid's plan and Dr. Hurt, and I can't wait until we discover what it is. "The Hole in Things" is obviously going to play some part in that.
But anyways, after an issue that I felt added not a lot to the story, Morrison came back with an issue that added a LOT to the story, continued to give us an interesting look at the events of Final Crisis from Batman's thoughts and also gave us effectively an ode to the awesomeness of Batman. I'd still have preferred an original story, but this was really good for what it was.