Comics / Comic Reviews / DC Comics

Batman #681

By Geoff Hoppe
Nov 27, 2008 - 20:20

Almost a year of hype and teasing interviews, and the best they could come up with was this. Is Bruce Wayne dead? What did Grant Morrison and Dan Didio mean by the cryptic answers they gave, months ago, in interviews? It’s unclear. SO BUY MORE COMICS ALREADY


Hey, I’ve got a secret. Get real close to your screen. That’s it… closer… SSSSPPPPOOOOIIIIIILLLLLEEERRRRSSSSSS ahead.


In Batman #681, Bruce Wayne dies (maybe?), his son Damien runs over the Joker (maybe?), and apparently, the mastermind behind Batman R.I.P. has been Bruce Wayne’s father (or he might be some actor guy…). Jezebel Jet, it turns out, is evil, and gets turned into man-bat-chow.


As the issue opens, Bruce Wayne is buried alive, and the Black Glove applauds their accomplishment. Batman escapes, of course. The entire time the Black Glove thought they had him cornered, Batman had anticipated their every move. There are plenty of twists and turns on the way there, but that’s basically the simplistic essence of the plot. Underneath all the intricacies, the gist of Batman R.I.P. is “ You thought you tricked me?! A-HA!! Tis I who has fooled you all along, accursed mountebank!” This standard soap operatic tack is admittedly accomplished in a manner so circuitous one has to admit Morrison’s genius for organizing a narrative, but, at bottom, Batman R.I.P. is General Hospital in tights. Lovers suddenly become enemies, jarring information comes to light at exactly the right moment, and a mysterious explosion (maybe?) kills an important protagonist: as mastermind villain Dr. Hurt tries to escape, Batman jumps on his helicopter, which then crashes into Gotham harbor. There’s an additional scene where, six months later, the Bat-signal fires up again—but no telling if Bruce Wayne will answer it.


Tony Daniel, actually a gifted artist with a pencil, is improperly matched with inker Sandu Florea. Very little of the detail Daniel puts into his pencil work comes across. If anyone stands out in this issue, it’s colorist Guy Major. His palette is meticulously selected, and vacillates grippingly between a black/white/red scheme, and another where blues, violets and blacks predominate. The Joker is the only noticeable exception. His hair is green, his words are green, even the random guy he strangles is wearing green. Major’s shrewdly selected colors are a huge visual aid to Grant Morrison’s stated goal of making the Joker “pants-wettingly scary” again.


It’s not clear what’s happened to Bruce Wayne, and Morrison leaves plenty of loose ends. In true, depressing DC Comics fashion, we’ll have to wait longer and buy more to figure out what really happened. The preview for Batman #682 in the back of #681 uncertainly states “In the wake of R.I.P….the next era of the Dark Knight begins. Or does it?” Thanks, guys. Big help.


According to DC’s official website, coming issues of Batman pull out all the stops—Alex Ross will draw more covers, and Neil Gaiman and Denny O’Neil will contribute retrospectives and what-ifs that deal with the (still seemingly hypothetical) death of Batman. This is all to say that it doesn’t look good for Bruce Wayne—when a publisher pays this much attention to a character, something big like a death may be in the wings. Or maybe, like in the old third grade joke, they’re just treating their readers like idiots, promising they’ll tell us how they’ll keep us in suspense…in the next issue, of course.


Worth the money? Due to the contrived nature of the story, I can hardly recommDAN DIDIO SAYS TO BUY MORE COMICS!!! $$$$$ > STORYLINE PAYOFF!

Last Updated: Dec 19, 2017 - 22:52

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