Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Reviews
Morrison, Daniel & Florea
Oh I am well aware that this story and this particular comic have people baffled. I’ve seen many of the arguments on the net already about how it references too much of the previous obscure parts of older issues and how it kills momentum issue to issue and on and on. However, I only read Batman during Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul and this arc during the last ten years or so and yet I still liked this issue. Shockingly enough I thought it made sense.
The issue begins with one of the bat clan reading through a diary. I didn’t realize until later on the issue that is Tim Drake, Robin, reading Batman’s diary from years ago when Dick was still Robin. The Batman that wrote this sounded frustrated, confused and a little tired. Robin gets attacked. He escapes. While it seems straightforward enough one of the thugs does come in contact with him using a ligature. You may recall (referencing a previous issue) that Batman was cut by a knife, which contained poison, making him vulnerable later on. So this contact Robin has may be important, but then again it may have been nothing. Don’t know. One question nags me, which is why is Robin hanging out in a shack stuffing his face while reading the Batman Chronicles? Though, I found this whole sequence to be excellent.
The next few pages are spent with a drug induced Bruce Wayne wandering the streets with a homeless guy. He doesn’t know who he is and he is seemingly hooked on some hardcore drugs. The homeless guy takes him under his wing.
Speaking of wing, Nightwing has some contact with Robin. Robin, still eating, tells him that Bruce is missing and that he is being tailed. Nightwing eventually ends up in an asylum, also hooked on some drugs. I have to say that I was lost keeping track of these people without their masks on. At first, I thought this was Bruce in the asylum. This leaves Robin on his own. This is because Alfred is being held captive in the cave, beaten to a bloody pulp.
The final pages where Bruce puts on an odd looking Batman costume pretty much go over my head, but it intrigues me enough to pick up the next issue, which means I would think it did what it was supposed to do.
Okay, so obviously I don’t know the villains, motives or other points in the issue as someone who has read all along knows them. However, is it essential that I know what Zur-En-Arrh really is? I hope to find out and that’s the beauty of the serial form I guess.
The story is good. I like Batman stories that have him hallucinating, such as when he battles the Scarecrow, so I am on board with him being a junkie. I also like the angle of the villains taking out the rest of his support system. Do I wonder where the Joker is? Yes. Do I wonder what happened to his girlfriend? Yes, but I happen to think she is a bad guy too. I trust they will reappear and wondering about them now didn’t make this issue any less enjoyable.
The artwork is obviously over the top outstanding. The scene that I actually like the best is the opening one. I like the throwback pictures from when Robin is reading about the past Batman adventures. I also think the motorcycle chase is excellently depicted.
The only downer for me was the difficulty in following along with the characters when not in disguise. I wasn’t sure if the Tim was Jason Todd or Dick was Bruce, etc. I cant blame the art for this, but I do think the creative team as a whole could have been clearer about this. Obviously a Batman veteran would have known them anyway.
So you could certainly say that I missing something big or connected into all of this, but for someone who doesn’t read Batman too much I found this story to be interesting and enjoyable. Sure, if I get to the end I might still be scratching my head about some things, but that might not be a bad thing.
4 out of 5 geek goggles
Batman #678 (Variant Cover Edition)