First off, I’m going to have to eat my own pride which is a painful thing to do so I will keep this review as short and simple as possible. Batman #702 had me fooled, in fact, I think it would be better to say that Grant Morrison had me for the most part fooled. Starting this lost story arc with issue #701, I must shamefully admit that I pre-judged this story with nothing but negative connotations alluding to both it’s existence and it’s purpose both with issue #701 and even before that. Thinking that this was going to be just another one of those heady, mind bending, frustratingly unnecessary flaunt of Mr. Morrison’s “look how smart I am” attitude I almost immediately prepared myself for a big letdown and readied my brain for a giant mind-numbing experience. And sure, I thought I was right in my assumptions and #701 could only further these feelings with it’s brevity and (in my mind at the time) meaninglessness. So, with that being said my expectations (if I really had any at that point) for #702 where pretty drab. Much to my surprise though, with #702 Grant Morrison pretty much punched me in the face and kicked me while I was on the ground and in a daze all the while reminding me that yes, I really need to get my act together and focus all my attention on the damn story, because he will deliver said story.
Beginning with the cliched “diary” approach, Morrison breaks all boundaries as the dialogue rips through the pages and into your inner ear, whereas Morrison’s past attempts to present a suitable voice for Bruce which have almost always has felt disconnected, Morrison really writes Bruce in Bruce’s voice, delivering the solid, endearing, and foreboding that entails the whole of both Bruce’s and Batman’s voice which seem to blend together as it should be, into a single man. The story builds as it unfolds like we expect it to, but to hear it from Bruce’s point of view not only makes it even more momentous and tragic as our hero knowingly or unknowingly sacrifices himself, it brings such a great and big event with an even bigger evil to a human level that remains untouched by any other superhero. These elements combined with the events of “Final Crisis” achieve not only what Morrison intended, but vastly surpasses it’s intended mark.
But what really strikes a chord of genius here is Morrison’s use of the mythical archetype and the ideology of certain elements along with his philosophy on time. Sure, Bruce uses a gun, but as Morrison explains, that’s not the point. These New Gods reside in a singular ideal within a Platonic archetypal world, thus the only thing that can kill these Gods is the essence of a Platonic measure, hence the essence of a bullet, a magic bullet. Which in turn brings things back to a basic, understandable basis that coalesces into good versus evil, Batman versus Darkseid, again like Morrison explains how many times has a story been told where there is a man with a monster standing in his way? These stories/myths have been told, retold, and revamped countless times. But Bruce creates his own myth with the magic bullet containing within it’s “shell” a new kind of myth where a certain ultimate evil stares humanity down, and in turn humanity has an unseen trick up its sleeve creating a balance within itself as well as a shift of purpose. Darkseid representing what Morrison calls a “Hole” is taken at face value while Bruce’s actions aren’t. This Hole is inevitable even in the best laid out plans there exists a Hole. Bruce takes that ideology and turns it on it’s side which in turn sends him back in time, and this “time” is Bruce’s ultimate trial because time still moves no matter where he is and he needs to figure out where he is and what he is before he forgets everything.
This issue entails great storytelling that engages the reader but what can also be commended is Tony Daniel's art. I think Daniel has broken out into a symbol of his own. Sure it may not be the cleanest but it get’s it’s point across with it’s striking poses and distinctive wear and tear paired with several off angle but serene views to which we interpret the languish and residual resurgence of the darkest of woes that is done in a style that does not force feed but resists you and pulls away and forces you to grab hold of it. Truly the vision of an artistic genius who is at the top of his game and coupled with Morrison’s storytelling and Ian Hannin’s colors we are consistently reminded what a great comic book should be.
Overall great great story telling and art I cannot praise it enough without sounding repetitive so I will end this review by saying that if you love the comic book genre you will absolutely adore this issue.
Reviewed by Dane