Batman #701 Review
- Published on Monday, 19 July 2010 19:12
- Written by Kevin
We are getting a triple dose of Grant Morrison Batman work now for these next two months as Morrison returns to Batman for a two-part story detailing the lost days before Bruce’s “death.” As much as I loved Batman: RIP and Last Rites I am a bit hesitant going into this two-parter. Something about this just feels like a time waster on Morrison’s part especially with the work he is doing on Batman and Robin and The Return of Bruce Wayne. Still I am keeping my mind open as I enjoyed most Morrison run on Batman, especially RIP. So let’s see if Morrison can deliver with Batman #701.
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Tony Daniel
Colorist: Ian Hannin
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: On Day 30 to Omega we see Bruce underwater waking up to realize what happened and starts swimming back to shore all the while thinking how he is a survivor (I bet Bruce jams to Destiny’s Child “Survivor” while in the Batmobile). At the same time we see Hurt escaping the helicopter.
Bruce finally makes it shore where he quickly puts on a spare mask that he had in his utility belt. At that moment a girl named Ellie walks up to Batman and thanks and wanted to see if he was okay. Batman says he is good.
Bruce finally makes it back to Wayne Manor where he is greeted by Alfred, who is still bruised up from the beating he took at the hand of the Black Glove. Alfred says he prepared Milligtawny Soup for Bruce which Bruce starts drinking while front of the Batcomputer. Bruce asks Alfred if the Bat-Sub is launch-ready.
Bruce heads out in the Bat-Sub to search through Gotham’s waters for any sign of Hurt but he finds no sign of Hurt so he heads back to the Batcave.
Alfred says he would like to think that Hurt will never appear again after Bruce escaped his elaborate traps. Bruce goes up stairs and says he wants to go thank Dick and Tim but is too tired and goes to sleep. As Bruce does so Alfred notices that the clock has stopped.
With 27 days to Omega Bruce finally wakes up and goes into the secret room in Wayne Manor were the words Barbatos are written and starts think how and why Hurt wants to destroy his family’s legacy. He then goes to the Batcave to erase all of the pictures of Jezebell Jet from his computer. Alfred walks in and says something is going on outside.
Bruce goes outside to see the sky covered in red and then gets a call from Superman who says that someone has killed a God and they need Bruce to investigate. Bruce thinks how he could have said no in order to rest but could not turn down the request and heads off to the location Superman told him about in the Batplane. Bruce as Batman arrives on the location to investigate the death with only 27 days left to Omega. End of issue
The Good: Batman #701 was a solid read. On my first read through of this issue I thought this was a great issue but upon reading it a couple more times and thinking about what happened in this issue I can only say it is solid. There is just something missing from this issue that keeps it from being great. Still it is nice to have Morrison writing Bruce as Batman again.
As was the case throughout his run on Batman Morrison does a great job writing Bruce. Morrison’s Bruce Wayne is the ultimate human and he quickly establishes this fact within the first few pages of this issue. While Dick and Tim have been able to gain all of the skills that Bruce has the one thing that separates Bruce from Dick and Tim is his survival instincts. No matter what is thrown at Bruce he will walk it off and just continue fighting. Bruce’s will to survive is second to none. And Morrison clearly shows this in this issue.
The scene with Bruce thinking how sometimes Superman and the rest of the DCU forget that Bruce is only flesh and blood also highlights that what separates Bruce from all the other super heroes in the DCU is his drive. His drive is his superpower. Even though Bruce does not have any super powers like everyone in the JLA he is still seen as one of the best because his drive allows him to do things that no one else is able to do.
Morrison does a good job showing that even though Bruce clearly has not recovered from the whole ordeal that The Black Glove organization and Joker put him through that he could not turn down Superman’s request to investigate a God’s death. Bruce loves challenges and even with his “cowl” being cursed he couldn’t resist investigating the murder. It will be interesting to see if Morrison reveals something new about what happened in Final Crisis through Bruce’s investigation that will be fleshed out more here.
It’s also interesting to see Bruce continue the investigation in what Hurt’s true motives are. It’s a loose end that Dick is dealing with in the current Batman and Robin arc and I like that it is brought up here again as Bruce still does not know who Hurt is. I still don’t see Morrison going with Hurt being Bruce’s father but it is interesting seeing that Bruce is starting to think that Hurt is the Devil with how he said that his “cowl” is curse. What I wonder if his cowl being “curse” also applies to Dick wearing the cowl right now as we had that scene of him being captured and shot in the back of the head by Hurt.
Morrison also did a nice job with the Bruce/Alfred dynamic. It was very solid work as both characters were still recovering from The Black Glove incident. And I liked that Morrison showed that Alfred wants to forget about The Black Glove as it there may still be some questions if Alfred does know something about Hurt that he is not telling Bruce or anyone in the Batfamily.
Also I liked that Morrison had Bruce say that he had to thank Dick and Tim for helping him out. It was a nice short bit of dialogue that shows that Bruce does care about his family. I was kind of hoping we would get a scene with Bruce, Dick, and Tim since Morrison hasn’t written the three of them together and just talking but still it was nice that Bruce brought them up.
Tony Daniel’s artwork was fine in this issue. I did like his art for the first third of the issue as he made Bruce swimming out of the water look cool especially when he came out and he had the flames of the crash behind him. It was a cool shot.
The Bad: As I mentioned in my opening in my review, upon reading this issue a few more times and thinking about it this issue does not hold up well compared to my initial read through. There were some things about this issue that did not seem right and really kept it from being a great read in my eyes.
The first thing was the inner monologue that Morrison wrote for Bruce. There were parts in the inner monologue that was cool and added weight to what was going on but a lot of it felt like filler and almost out of character for Bruce to say or think like the “Super-People” line. I understand that Bruce went through a lot with the Black Glove but it just felt off since I don’t consider Bruce as having a lot inner monologue in his head. I wish that Morrison would have gone with more a minimalist approach to all the inner monologue because it would have been better for this issue if we got more of brief looks inside Bruce’s head in order to highlight Bruce’s drive to figure things out quickly.
Also another problem I had with this issue, and what really makes this issue more average, is that it feels like Morrison is retreading old water. Final Crisis happened what almost feels like a decade ago with how DC, and Morrison to an extent, has chosen to act like Final Crisis never happened. It doesn’t really seem like Morrison is trying to add anything to what happened when Bruce disappeared as he cover all of that during Final Crisis and the Last Rites issues. A lot of this issue, especially the last third, just read like complete filler like Morrison is wasting time until Bruce returns.
The whole scene with Bruce going into the secret room and looking at the Barbatos carving all seemed like a late thing to see. While I don’t think that we should have seen Bruce look at Barbatos before he disappeared but seeing Bruce go into a secret room should have happened before his disappearance. Morrison showing it now almost makes it look like he just realized that he never did show Bruce knew about the secret room and just wanted to cover his tracks.
It was also disappointing seeing how rushed Daniel’s artwork looked for the last two thirds of this issue. During the scene when Bruce was searching the water for Hurt Bruce actually looked like Wolverine as he suddenly grew some mutton chops. Another thing was that as soon as Superman appeared Daniel drew Superman and Bruce to look like twins, especially with their chins. Also the Batplane spread looked rushed and did not look like Daniel added the type of detail I expect from him. Overall the art looked like Daniel was rushing to meet his deadlines instead of taking time to deliver his usual quality I have come to expect from hime.
Overall: Batman #701 was solid read but it was nothing amazing. Morrison as always did a great job writing Bruce. The problem is that this issue lacks the depth I expect from a Morrison penned issue. A lot of this issue felt like a filler issue. Still if you have been a fan of Morrison’s run on Batman you will probably enjoy reading Morrison write Bruce as Batman again. For those that have not followed Morrison’s previous run on Batman I would say that you should pass on Batman #701 as this doesn’t add anything to what is going on right now in the other Batbooks especially to Return of Bruce Wayne.