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Batman Returns? Batman Never Left!
on 27 July 2011
Finally, Grant Morrison completes his Bruce-Wayne-is-dead-oh-wait-he's-not-storyline that's been going on for aaaaaaaaaages with this book "Batman and Robin Must Die!" (which by the by doesn't complete Morrison's run on the character as you'll see by the end).
With "Thomas Wayne" seemingly returning from the grave to smear the good Wayne name in Gotham, we see the gradual take-down of the Wayne empire as Dick Grayson as Batman battles Dr Pyg, his drug addicted, blank faced fiends, while Damian Al-Ghul as Robin takes on Joker.
The first and only real gripe I have to make is the decision to have Frazier Irving as main artist for this book. I hate his art. You know those programs where you take a photo and then select to have it look like a painting? That's what Irving's artwork looks like. It's mostly drab as most of his colour palettes are blacks and greys. However I will say that the final panel in his illustration run of the series results in a gorgeous full page spread of Bruce Wayne as Batman - returned!
Pyg, while in previous books chilling and formidable, is in this book unlike any other B-list Batman villain and seems to be a poor man's Penguin. It's a shame because I expected more of a showdown than what's given in the book. That said, "Thomas Wayne" makes up for it and the final fight between him and Batman ends in a satisfyingly interesting way by an unexpected character.
To be honest I found the conclusion to the main story of Batman returning a bit anti-climactic. It wasn't nearly as good as the previous volume and there seemed to be too much crammed into this book to really develop a strong enough plot (at one point there's a nuke on a train?). The best part was the revelation at the end and the subsequent one-shot story that sets up the next book - Batman Incorporated. The premise for that and the new villain should (hopefully) make for a more interesting next book and some amazing possibilities for spin-off series.
A good read but a disappointingly weak ending to a fascinating storyline, if you've been following the series then you'll have to read this for closure but it's not the best of the bunch. But maybe the best is yet to come?