Johnny Bullet
DC Comics
Batman #676
By Geoff Hoppe

May 15, 2008 - 15:24

Publisher(s): DC Comics
Writer(s): Grant Morrison
Penciller(s): Tony Daniel
Inker(s): Sandu Florea
Colourist(s): Guy Major
Letterer(s): Randy Gentile
Cover Artist(s): Alex Ross
3.05 Can; 2.99 US

Cloak and Dagger, minus Dagger.
In Batman #676, the first installment of the purportedly groundbreaking Batman R.I.P. saga, Quasimodo kills somebody, Robin finds out that Talia Al Ghul's son Damien may actually be his half-brother, and the Joker does his best Sweeney Todd impression.

The D.C. Comics publicity machine has been trumpeting Batman R.I.P. for months now, proclaiming that it will push Batman forward into a new era. This first part of the story arc doesn't reveal how or when that push will occur. All it does is introduce a new rogues gallery called "the Black Glove." The BG is led by a guy in a sensible turtleneck, and appears to consist of an Akibahara tea-shop hostess, one of the knights who say NI!, a Mexican wrestler, the hunchback of Notre Dame, Marcel Marceau, Koko the Clown, and a nineteenth-century scuba diver. And, oh yeah, the Joker's (apparently) invited to join their club in the issue's closing pages.

Since he took over Batman in 2006, Grant Morrison has created a sense of overwhelming confusion-- is Damien really Bruce Wayne's son? Has the Joker gone truly, finally insane? What's with the three imposter Bat-men? Now, with R.I.P., we're promised all the answers. Issue #676 doesn't provide any, so far, but at least we get to see the new villains Morrison has referred to in interviews. This issue also doesn't answer the most important question: is Bruce Wayne going to die?  The overwhelming confusion continues...

Tony Daniel's art continues to be satisfactory but unimpressive. His performance is solid, but if DC Comics really intends R.I.P. to be a groundbreaking storyline, one thinks they'd have brought back Andy Kubert, or found someone with a more distinct style. Some of the problem may lie with the combination of Daniel and inker Sandu Florea. The rare instances of Daniel's un-inked pencil sketches I've seen look better than the finished product in the book.

Worth the money? It's interesting, but skim it on the stands and leave it in the store. Nothing's really happened yet...

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