Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Reviews
Morrison, Daniel & Florea
The review I didn’t want to write. It’s the penultimate chapter of RIP and with this issue brings two things that you should be warned about before reading further. If you don’t like criticism of Grant Morrison’s storytelling then stop reading. If you don’t like spoilers then stop reading.
Now this review is going to explain why this issue was not satisfying to me and I felt it didn’t make sense or advance the story much. If you, as the reader, connected to it, I’m glad. It didn’t work for me and that doesn’t mean I don’t “get it”. I got it and I found myself not caring, which is a bad thing to say about a story.
The issue opens with Dr Hurt gathering up rich people to bet on the struggle that Batman is about to embark on. This plot piece is revisited a couple of times and yields some humorous dialogue, such as the man stating that Batman wears black and is cool and therefore the guy in the red and gold is a fraud. This idea is a good one. It makes for a cool concept to have Dr Hurt invite people to wager on the struggle between Batman and his foes and demons.
Then we watch the transformation of one of the Arkham doctors into Le Bossu, the hunched-back villain. It appears Le Bossu is hanging out with Joker, who is bored at worst. Also, the pending brain surgery on Nightwing is waiting for Le Bossu’s services. This plot tie is not visited again which is odd not only because of the unknown fate of Nightwing, but also because we do see the Joker again. Did he kill Le Bossu? It appears he kills his men and then Sombrero, so why Le Bossu too?
Batman is lurking about and has a chat with Bat-Mite. Bat-Mite explains he is part of Batman’s imagination and refuses to follow him into Arkham. Batman eventually charges into Arkham with his bat and starts cracking skulls. This piece to the story is excellent. The usage of Bat-Mite and the conversation he has with Batman is brilliant.
Sombrero’s body is thrown through the window into the dinner party held by Dr Hurt. Joker walks in fairly bloody. Here we have a couple of questions. Who would ever attend a party held at Arkham anyway? When did the Joker become strong enough to chuck some dude through a window? Why would the Joker kill off Dr Hurt’s men and their henchmen but not the civilians or Dr Hurt himself?
Next up is Commissioner Gordon who is in Wayne Manor. He is confronted with a feat of strength via a booby trap. He is rescued by Damian and Talia. Another couple of questions pop up. Gordon’s officer was killed at Wayne Manor last issue, but he doesn’t call for back up? The voice directing Gordon is who exactly? Gordon sees the Bat phone – does Gordon know Wayne is Batman? Why is Talia in Wayne Manor in the first place?
Finally, the confrontation between Batman and the Joker. Getting past the idea that the Joker is NOT in his usual character because he is using irony and metaphors and all kinds of other dialogue tricks, but is his whole purpose to lure Batman into a trap? Since when is the Joker someone else’s puppet? Batman then decides to loose his Zur-En-Arrh personality and discover his Bruce Wayne one again. The issue ends with Bruce’s girlfriend turning heel and Batman revealing to world that Bruce Wayne is Batman.
This comic is frustrating. In twenty four pages we get two plot specific items that could have been summed up in four panels: Jet is a bad guy and Talia and Damian are teaming up with Gordon. The use of the Joker is wasted. His dialogue is a waste and his actions are not at all consistent with any incarnation of the Joker that you’ve ever seen. How about Batman? He beats everyone with a bat except the Joker? Yeah, that makes a ton of sense to me.
Let’s be blunt here: the comic is entertaining but it makes no sense after the first half. You can’t have an entire story told with symbolism. It makes no coherent sense. Is this story really coming together? Because at this point it looks like a really bad knockoff of what Knightfall accomplished 15 years ago, which was breaking Batman. This Dr Hurt character is lame and the idea that the Joker would work for him is absurd on every level.
Unfortunately, the artwork doesn’t save the issue. Look at the table of rich people in the beginning. Do you see Alfred there? Cause I sure do. Look at the last page – is Bruce laughing or is he in pain? Get my point? You have a story told through symbolism and subtleness and the art is confusing matters when it should be clearly illustrating the pictures to make sure the reader doesn’t miss anything.
However, I did find myself engaged in the story. That is, I do like hunting for clues and trying to piece things together. The problem is that at the end I feel exhausted and for this issue, pissed off that the comic provided little material in twenty four pages.
I understand there is a camp out there that find Morrison to be a genius. That’s just swell. I have loved this arc until this issue, but this one laid an egg. I’m of the mindset that this issue and finale should have been rolled into one comic. This issue, on its own, was very unsatisfying. I was hoping for a great build up to the end, but instead I question whether the ending will even make sense based on what the set up to the end has me feeling.
2 out of 5 geek goggles