Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Book of the Week Batman #676

Written by Grant Morrison
Pencils by Tony Daniel
Inks by Sandu Florea
Colors by Guy Major

This probably isn't all that surprising but it was just too damn exciting not to pick. This week kicks off the Batman RIP story with typical Morrison zaniness all over the place. I've been back and forth over Morrisons run on the book so far, thinking that it was good but very odd in places. However recently the various links between the stories have started to tie together, even going as far back to 52. Something I enjoyed within this issue is that we see something that rarely ever happens, Batman appears happy. I know that substantial effort has been made to calm Bruce down over the last few years and we see that how the inclusion of Jezebel Jett in his life, and the fact that she now knows his secrets, has really helped him find a balance which works between Bruce Wayne and Batman. I really like this dynamic and wish we could see a little more of it but as things normally go for Bruce, I imagine we're seeing this now knowing full well that it will all come crashing down soon.

While we get alot of great Batman moments, we also get hints as to what the Black Glove society is. It's obvious that they are orchestrating the events that will be playing out in the book. I'd wish we'd spent more time in previous issues setting this group up since they evidently will be a big influence in the book but for now they seem to be a collection of circus freaks. The wild card of the story, as always, is the Joker. I'm not sure if there's anyone who can write the Joker in a more terrifying manner than Morrison, and that goes all the way back to Arkham Asylum. I wasn't expecting him in this issue since it's been alluded the whoever takes down Bruce will be new but with just a few pages, Joker proves why he is Batmans greatest foe. Those few pages are the stuff of nightmares.

I've said it before but Tony Daniel is the man! His style which is somewhere between Neal Adams and Jim Lee is incredible. Along with Guy Major's colors, Gotham, it's protectors, and its devils, all come alive with a feel that makes me remember what drew me to these books when I was a kid. The previously mentioned Joker scene in particular, all black and white with only red coloring for the blood splashed across the scene, was haunting and terrifying...which is exactly what this book should be. What excites me most about this story is that it feels like the stakes are high and the danger is real. Unlike the Gotham Underground miniseries (which is a exercise in wasting my time) this is an event which appears like it will leave a lasting impact on our Dark Knight.