Batman #700 Review
After reading and then re-reading this issue, I gotta say that it’s pretty much everything you could ask for, as far as a celebration of the mythology of Batman is concerned. Sure, “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader” by Neil Gaiman from a year ago was probably a tad bit more effective, but it had two double sized issues to tell its story, Morrison only has one. And instead of concerning himself with telling one large story about Dick as Batman or breaking it up into smaller individual stories, Morrison writes his ass off to make it three short stories (well, four actually) that include Bruce, Dick, Damian, and even a few others as the men under the cowl. And the best part? How well the stories work together.
Yesterday – Morrison begins his tale with Bruce. At first, this part of the story is a little hard to follow (in typical Morrison fashion I might add). But by reading it carefully, the central ideas of issue reveal themselves, and quite quickly it becomes apparent how the events of this issue parallel the going-ons of Morrison’s “Batman and Robin” and “Return of Bruce Wayne”. This issue acts somewhat as a microcosm of Morrison’s ideas throughout his entire run on Batman. The art by Tony Daniel is surprisingly weak however. A lot of it works, but if you look at it closely some images appear rushed and are not up to the standards of his work on R.I.P as far as I’m concerned.
Today – This is Dick and Damian’s story. And even better, Frank Quitely returns to draw them! (If even only for five pages.) It’s probably the weakest of the three main stories, but serves a necessary plot point early on. And the action scene drawn by Quitely kicks ass. Scott Kollins finishes off the story and I sort of love/hate his pages. I’m not sure why Dick has the some of the ugliest stubble I have ever seen in these pictures, but the scene with he and Damian at a Pizza Parlour is very cool. This story just proves that once Bruce returns, the loss of the Dick/Damian relationship is going to suck.
Tomorrow – And now Damian’s Batman. I loved issue 666, so getting another chance to see this horrific version of Gotham was a real treat. And this 9 page story is probably the strongest aspect of the entire issue. Morrison’s take on Damian as Batman is extremely interesting to read and his reinvention of Two-Face (Two-Face Two) is pure Morrison goodness. Of course, the biggest shocker in this story (and probably the entire issue) is Morrison’s addition of Terry McGinnis (of “Batman Beyond” fame) into DC continuity. It’s quite possible that a few years from now we’ll look back at this moment as simply an easer egg of sorts, something that went nowhere, but for now it’s a cool addition. Especially with the idea that in the DCU it’s probably Damian that mentors Terry, not Bruce. And did I mention Andy Kubert’s artwork? No? Well I should have, because it’s awesome and probably the best work in the issue. His rendering of Two-Face Two and Terry McGinnis “Joker Baby” is simply disturbing to look at.
And Tomorrow – This is the bonus story that Morrison included with artist David Finch. It rushes through pages of Batmen from the future (including Terry) and serves as a poetic end-cap to the issue. Despite not really offering much as far as content goes, it’s still a welcome addition to an anniversary issue.
All in all, a fantastic issue that deserves to be re-read before final judgment is given. Whether it be the artwork or the little details (like Dick asking a cop how his son Max is, only for the reader to put together that one of the bad guys in Damian’s story is the same boy), there’s nothing like a Grant Morrison comic. And as for the final question that the story poses, “What can we beat, but never defeat?” Well, the answer is in the title.