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Monday, August 5, 2013

A Farewell to Grant Morrison's Batman


You should know that Grant Morrison is the reason you're here, he's the reason I'm here, he's the reason you're reading this or anything else on this website. Morrison's recently completed run on the Batman franchise is responsible for all of this. If it wasn't for Morrison's run on Batman, I'd be hard pressed to say that I'd be reading comics today. While always a fan of the Batman franchise, I had never had any interest in picking up books monthly until Morrison's run. So, with that in mind, if I wasn't reading monthly, I wouldn't have created Gotham Spoilers as a little side project of sorts one summer to keep my mind off being miserable. Sadly, as you're all probably well aware, Grant Morrison's time on Batman has come to a close. This is my farewell to the run that was responsible for me being a comic fan.


"Bruce Wayne's father has come back to the grave to kill his son." That's what piqued my interest. I wasn't sure what the fuck I was hearing, but ultimately, that was the beginning of the end for me. There was no going back after that google search to figure out what the hell was going on in Batman. You see, growing up, I had always liked Batman, be it in the movies, the animated series, toys, and maybe a trade paperback here and there. Being that I was a kid, I didn't really have a whole lot of money to spend on monthly comics, that and comics were for nerds (yes, I was in denial). Flash forward a couple of years, I was in my college dorm, somehow watching G4, a channel I didn't have, and I think it was Blair Butler or someone doing a comic segment on Attack of the Show (maybe?) where they said something along the lines of the Bruce Wayne's dad trying to kill him variety. I'm pretty sure my initial reaction was "What? No… that… no!" Because, comic fan or not, I know you don't bring the Waynes back from the dead, just as Uncle Ben and Superman's parents are ultimately "untouchable" in a way. Because I'm an asshole who hardly knows what I'm talking about, I jokingly asked my new roommate, who I didn't know all that well at the time, but I knew he was more invested in comics than I was, what he thought about this turn of events. I believe his response was, and I quote: "Fuck Grant Morrison!" and that's it, but that was the first I heard of this insane man who set Thomas Wayne off to kill his son.

Later that night, I did some research into it (because it was college, what was I going to do, study?) and ultimately found the soon to be released trade of Batman RIP was responsible for what I had heard. The next break I had from school, I went to Borders, picked up the deluxe hardcover, and quickly discovered I was doing it all wrong. Jumping straight into Batman RIP was not an ideal situation for any new reader looking to see what the deal was with Grant Morrison's Batman. I then figured out that I had to read Batman and Son followed by The Black Glove in order for RIP to make sense, so that happened, and luckily, RIP started to make way more sense… but keep in mind, I was still in a bubble so to speak, so I when I look online to make sense of those final two issues in the trade, I find out fucking Batman is dead, killed off in a completely different story by the same writer… But he's not really dead, and Nightwing is Batman, and Damian is Robin, and I don't fucking know what's going on, so I need to keep up somehow. With all this crazy nonsense, DC's atrociously slow trade release schedule and my lack of patience, I had no other option than to start reading monthly with the release of Batman and Robin #1. Then I thought "why not get all the Batman related books?! Might as well do this one right." But wait! There were all these old stories to catch up on! Good thing I decided to buy as many trades as I could! Do you see how this became a slippery slope for me? Now I'm sitting here in 2013, reading more books than I can count, and running a comic website thousands of people go to every week, and it's all thanks to this one particular run on Batman.

Morrison's run on the Batman franchise isn't just a good Batman story, there are plenty of those, this run was truly an epic in a literary sense, which there aren't many of. You can draw a clear and consistent line all the way through Batman #655 to the very last page of Batman Incorporated #13. Personally I find that astounding, especially given the constant creative turnover in many of today's comics. Not only is it a shining example of long form storytelling in comics, it's an advanced level history lesson as well. Because of this run, I know all sorts of things about Batman of Zur en Arrh, I recognize characters like Chief Man of Bats, and I don't consider a character like Kathy Kane as a long lost figment of continuity. Half of the joy I found myself experiencing during this run was going online after every new issue and reading up on all the obscure references to old Batman stories Morrison had planted. Morrison's love for the entire Batman mythos and comics in general was present on nearly every page, and if you invested yourself in it, like I did, that love was nothing but infectious. I feel safe in saying that if it weren't for Morrison, I wouldn't have exposed myself to decades of Batman stories, just because I would have thought their too old and goofy. But, with Morrison's love for all things Batman, I was exposed to this material, and have a greater appreciation for Batman as a whole.

There's just going to be something missing in the Batman universe from here on out. Nothing is going to feel as grand as this story that Morrison crafted over the better part of a decade. Sure, Scott Snyder is great, and there are and will be plenty of great Batman stories in the years to come, but none of them will be anywhere near as daring, insane or involved as Morrison's. Let's all take a step back and remember that there was a time where Morrison had Bruce Wayne swinging clubs with a bunch of cavemen, and somehow made it feel completely natural… That's exactly the kind of stuff that I'm telling you we'll probably never get again, or at least never get it told so well.

I'm going to miss this run on Batman so much, that much should be clear at this point. Morrison's run was more than just a grand epic of a book, it is what got me into monthly comics, it's why I'm such a huge nerd, it's why I'm so invested in the news of the industry, it's why I've discovered so many great comics outside of superheroes, it's the reason for everything here. So, I send a huge thank you to Grant Morrison, and all the artists, Kubert to Burnham, who brought this story to us, it was truly one of a kind, and quite the accomplishment.

7 comments :

  1. Oh man.

    Yes, Morrison's run was amazing, intense, breathtaking. I will never forget waiting for rikdad's analysis, spoilers from your blog and that thrill from reading "Batman and Robin" and "Return of Bruce Wayne".

    My favourite moment was when we learnt Oberon Sexton's true identity. I was waiting whole freaking night for that issue (yay timezones).

    And I would agree with you, we probably won't get something like that in Batman comic books again.

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  2. It was beautiful. Grant Morrison really took it to the next level.

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  3. Wow I had a really similar experience by entering the comic book world of Batman, I also loved the character and with the Nolan movie franchise in the shelfs I wanted to know more strories about batman and I remeber that when I was Googling to find out what was going with the bat I read two sentences that pulled me out a big WTF!! "Bruce Wayne Died...and Dick Grayson took up on the mantle of the bat".
    That was also the reason why I now don't miss the montly batman related titles on the comics shop, with no doubt about it Morrison revitalized the world of the caped crusader and even when I don't love the "Quantum Leap" Return of Bruce Wayne I thank Grant Morrison for introducing me to this other Batman I didn't knew.

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  4. Great write-up! I responded with something term-paper length, but it got deleted somehow, so here's the short version. I've been a lifelong comic book reader, but before Morrison's Batman run, I was teetering on the brink of giving up the medium all together. And Morrison's work was the direct reason I not only stayed on, but the direct reason I really started to love comics again. Morrison is also the sole reason that I started my own website as well (www.therealbatmanchronologyproject.com).

    That being said, it is really nice to see such a heartfelt response to Morrison's work. He's gotten a lot of unwarranted flak from the "Fuck Grant Morrison" people for years. I wish more people would realize not only how amazing of a creator Morrison is, but how influential he has been in regard to READERSHIP in the past decade. While others have spent the last decade trashing mainstream superhero comics yet never getting any flak whatsoever—(Alan Moore comes to mind)—Morrison has kept the industry afloat. He's not just an great writer. Morrison is a great inspirational force for positivity in a highly beleaguered industry.

    Thanks for your hard work on Gotham Spoilers.

    —C.C.

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  5. Almost mirrors my return to comics, which came only slightly earlier due to the release of The Dark Knight in summer 2008. In advance of the movie, I read classic stories I had neglected as a kid (Knightfall through No Man's Land was the Batman I grew up with) such as Year One and The Dark Knight Returns. By the time I saw The Dark Knight, it made official what I already suspected was happening: I had returned to comics. Right after The Dark Knight, I picked up the Batman and Son trade, then Black Glove, then collected all the R.I.P. issues from various local comic shops. I finally went into pull mode when Batman & Robin #1 came out. I got just as nerdy about delving into Morrison's work (Batman as well as New X-Men and then JLA/Animal Man), then, like you, expanded my horizons into a pull that today includes over a dozen Image and other indy/creator-owned titles. So, I agree: Thank you, Grant Morrison!

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  6. I remember saying "Fuck Grant Morrison." I've thoroughly enjoyed eating my words over the years as I've read everything he's written that I could get my hands on. He -- and you too, really -- are my reasons for being the comic nerd I am today. Can't wait to catch up and finish reading his run. Morrison ('s Batman) RIP.

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  7. I just wish the end of Grant Morrison's Batman storyline could have coincided with the end of the old DCU, for the sake of tidiness, it's presence in the new 52 has been jarring at times. If the New 52 had started around now, just after Grant Morrison's conclusion, the new timeline could have 'resurrected' Damian and all of Morrison's old timeline references (of which there were many) would have stood up to scrutiny. However this isn't a criticism of the story, and that's the important thing, merely a criticism of the scheduling, lots of comics suffered a premature end in August 2011 which would have being better served by a more gradual conclusion.

    Batman 655 was, completely by accident, my first proper Batman comic, I've always regarded that as being extremely good fortune, and I'm now looking forward to Grant Morrison's next DC work.

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