Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Reviews
Morrison, Daniel, Finch, Kubert & Quitely
The first of DC’s big anniversary issues this month turns in an outstanding effort by the all-star creative team. The who’s who of big name artists teams with a terrific Grant Morrison story that spans three generations of Batman stories. However, the comic book simply doesn’t feel like an anniversary issue. Using the benchmarks set by Marvel Comic’s Amazing Spider-Man #600 and Captain America #600 where we are provided a significant page count of original material, this comic book falls into the realm of Incredible Hulk #600 where it’s a low page count padded with material no one really wants. Because of DC editorial, this issue is one to avoid if you are a casual passerby. Who would want to spend $5 on roughly thirty pages of story with a bunch of pinups and a Batcave guide?
The comic book is essentially divided into three, eight page stories. Each of the three stories takes a look at Batman in different time periods. However, the theme across all three involves a common character, a Professor Nichols. The other commonality is that all three stories involve the Joker’s joke book. The story doesn’t just simply tell a continued straightforward story across three generations. Instead, Morrison uses some time travel to move Nichols and the joke book through the time periods to mix up the order of the appearances. It’s an effective way to keep a reader guessing and keep the mystery high.
The first story may very well be the best. This one has Bruce Wayne as Batman and Dick Grayson as Robin. They are set in the Silver Age and act the part very well. Short of saying Holy Joke Book, both Batman and Robin act as corny and dated as re-reading those old stories. It’s brilliant. Tony Daniel handles the art chores in this story and plays with the dated story very well. There are tons of details and he captures the essence of Bruce and Dick at that age.
The second story is set in the present, relatively speaking. Dick Grayson is Batman and Damian is Robin. The story provides by far the best sequence as the duo take on a group of thugs. The art is unfortunately split. Quietly only completes five pages, one of which is the amazing fight sequence, before Scot Kolins finishes it off. While Kolins does some fine work it destroys the flow of the comic to have Quietly drop out mid-story. This was disappointing.
The final story harkens back to Batman #666 where Damian is Batman. This story ties all the threads of the previous two stories. It’s a nice revisit of the character that Morrison created for an alternate future. Andy Kubert blows everyone away in this story. His panels may be the most dense I’ve ever seen. He clearly took this assignment and ran with it as he brought to life the future world.
The comic is rounded out with a six page look at each Batman, such as Batman Beyond or Frank Miller’s Batman in a series of pinups wrapped loosely into a story. Finch doesn’t disappoint as he brings a fresh look at some familiar characters.
Finally the issue is filled with some pinups and a look inside the Batcave.
DC could have made this issue really special with more story or even short stories. Even if guest writers were telling short stories that were out of continuity it would have made the issue feel more special. Instead, this issue felt like an excellent annual. I would imagine a lot of folks will pick this issue up for the sake of the number. I wonder how many will disappointed when they find the material quantity lacking compared to Spider-man or Captain America. I know I was.
3 out of 5 Geek Goggles