The Missing Chapter, Part Two: Batman’s Last Case
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Tony Daniel
Colors: Ian Hannin
You’ve got to give Grant Morrison credit.
It’s pretty unanimous that Morrison’s run is more hit than miss. His numerous comments have made it apparent that he’s not terribly concerned for the continuity established in the books, and he seems hellbent less on telling a strong, modern story and more on stringing together everything from Kirby and the Silver Age into one long running gag of nonsense. But still, despite the almost universally reviled Batman R.I.P and Final Crisis, we keep coming back for more.
The latest example of this is the two part story Batman RIP: The Missing Chapter. As was established after the fact, there was a whole slew of events between Batman RIP and the beginning of Final Crisis, namely that Batman didn’t really die, just fell off a helicopter. In the time in between, he was captured by an Alpha Lantern, experimented on and cloned, and finally sent through time via the Omega Sanction by Darkseid, where his very existence is sent hurtling through time while the heroes of today are tricked with the corpse of a cloned Batman.
The entire concept of how Batman has been sent through time and how he got there is so very needlessly complicated. The implication we’re meant to buy is that Batman, while hurtling through time, has left himself a series of clues that will guarantee he returns to the present by directly creating the circumstances that made him become Batman in the first place. For those keeping tracks, that’s two stories in which Morrison threw Bruce Wayne into an impossible situation, then outed him with “He’s Batman and he’s always hyper prepared”.
The issue takes place during current events, as the heroes listen to a final recording Batman made after being hit with the Omega Sanction, recounting his experiences and his revelation of what the Omega Sanction actually is. And for all intents and purposes, it’s not a terrible issue. But it’s more of the same we’ve got from Grant Morrison: confusing, somewhat muddy, and requires a rather large suspension of disbelief.
Timing is also an issue here. While the issue does solve all the mysteries as to what happened to Batman at the end of Final Crisis, it’s about a year too late; many stories have already revealed what happened here, and what hadn’t been revealed had already been guessed by fans. Both issues, meant to serve as the missing key to the events of Batman’s final days, instead feel like rehashed recap issues.
Tony Daniel, who is the up and coming sole writer/artist for the Batman series, handles the art chores yet again. I’ve never really had that much of a problem with Daniel’s art; he does draw a lot of characters fairly identical, but he still does good work. While the issue of identical characters isn’t as prevalent in this issue, there is a very strange, rough style to it, likely a result of the inker and/or colorist, that doesn’t resemble Daniel at all.
Ultimately, the issue serves only one good purpose: finally putting a cap on the long running debacle that is Batman R.I.P., a story which showed leagues of promise but only served to confound readers all the more. With this story ending and Bruce Wayne slated to return in a few months, one can only hope that the upcoming changes being introduced to the Batman franchise are worth the while.