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Old February 13 2009, 11:01 PM   #1
The Great Meech
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Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (Spoilers)

I was a little surprised to not see a thread on this--the first part of Neil Gaiman's Batman story came out Wednesday (it's Batman #686, for those who may want to pick it up.)

I finally read it last night, and it's what you'd expect. It's weird. Anyone who recognizes the name "Neil Gaiman" should know to expect something brain bending. One review I read described this as being like a Grant Morrison comic that is actually comprehensible. Not having read most of Morrison's Batman run (though having read some of his other work), I can't evaluate that claim very well.

I'll tell you what it reminds me of, though. This reminds me of an issue of Sandman.

The issue shows Batman's funeral, set in a bar in a bizarre time- and afterlife-bending version of Crime Alley. Attendees include a 1930s era Selina Kyle, the modern Jim and Barbara Gordon, Dick Grayson, Harley Quinn, the Joker, an Alfred Pennyworth, among many others, with the supposedly dead Joe Chill tending bar out front.

Oh! And Bruce Wayne is there, watching. And talking to someone we don't seem to know.

It sounds odd, I know, and maybe even terrible, but Gaiman pulls it together by letting some of the attendees tell stories about the deceased and his death. We get two in this issue--a story of Catwoman going straight and letting Batman die when he needs help, and a story of Alfred turning himself into the Joker to provide a challenge for Master Bruce. Both are wildly outside of continuity, and both are intended to evoke different eras of Batman--the first being 30s and 40s Batman daring-do and the second 50s-verging-on-60s-TV kitsch.

The set-up reminds me of World's End from Sandman--the telling of stories that don't mesh with one another, that must take place in different worlds but are being told by people in the exact same place. World's End even concluded with a funeral, if I recall.

Gaiman may be pulling old tricks out of his bag, but they're good ones, and Gaiman's writing shows that kind of strangeness that never gets familiar. If you haven't read it, pick it up. I can't tell you what it means for the Batman universe as a whole--if anything at all--but it makes for a fascinating read all on its own.
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Old February 14 2009, 05:04 AM   #2
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Re: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (Spoilers)

I rather liked it, actually. It's hard to say where he's going with it... guess we'll have to wait for the next issue.
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Old February 14 2009, 04:17 PM   #3
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Re: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (Spoilers)

So it's a dream-like what-if? type thing? I'm glad I didn't spend 8 bucks on it now. Of course this week I finally quit my comic shop subscription. I'm going trade-exclusive.
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Old February 14 2009, 04:49 PM   #4
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Re: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (Spoilers)

It should be out in trade but not sure what collection it will be part of. I flipped through it at the comic shop and was confused by the story telling technique but kind of ended up enjoying it. Part II should be interesting. I've been trade exclusive for the past two or three years...
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Old February 14 2009, 05:30 PM   #5
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Re: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (Spoilers)

It will evidently be published in its own hardcover collection come July--->http://www.amazon.com/Batman-Whateve.../dp/1401223036

At 128 pages, I suppose it will have to be collected with something else, but I'm not sure what.
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Old February 14 2009, 10:12 PM   #6
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Re: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (Spoilers)

At a guess, the two parter in the Bat comic that tied into Final Crisis somehow. Or other surrounding issues.
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Old February 15 2009, 12:46 AM   #7
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Re: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (Spoilers)

Well the hardcover does have the two parter...maybe with Andy Kubert's art work and some special features? Also maybe the stories that inspired Caped Crusader?
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Old February 15 2009, 06:13 AM   #8
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Re: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (Spoilers)

The sad thing is...I enjoyed this issue more than I did most of Grant Morrison's run on batman.....
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Old February 15 2009, 09:03 AM   #9
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Re: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (Spoilers)

Unfortunately and this is from a Morrison fan that I have to agree...R.I.P. wasn't what I expected.
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Old February 15 2009, 12:02 PM   #10
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Re: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (Spoilers)

Admiral_Young wrote: View Post
Unfortunately and this is from a Morrison fan that I have to agree...R.I.P. wasn't what I expected.
Final Crisis was a piece of shit. I mean seriously. I couldn't keep up with it. I have no idea how the hell Morrison gets a job.

While Secret Invasion was a little hard to deal with, Final Crisis had about 30 different tie in and then a million after that.
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Old February 15 2009, 02:50 PM   #11
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Re: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (Spoilers)

^ I will agree with you on Final Crisis...couldn't really follow what was going on at all and then you have all the other mini-series and one shots that are supposed to tie in with the main story. Secret Invasion was much easier to focus on and understand what was going on.
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Old February 15 2009, 03:17 PM   #12
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Re: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (Spoilers)

The mini-series have been better than Fnal Crisis.
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Old February 15 2009, 08:28 PM   #13
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Re: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (Spoilers)

The problem is not Grant Morrison. The problem is Grant Morrison having been given a blank cheque. He has created some positively compelling comics over the years--the Coyote Gospel from Animal Man, much of All-Star Superman, and parts of his run on New X-Men were astonishing. The problem is that most of his past work has been much more tightly focused (if sprawling within those bounds). He just gets Superman to play with, he just gets a small team of X-Men. Final Crisis gave him an entire universe to play with, and, from the sounds of it, he wanted to fit every toy he had or knew of into one story, and his considerable energy went to naught.
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Old February 15 2009, 11:41 PM   #14
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Re: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (Spoilers)

Admiral_Young wrote: View Post
Unfortunately and this is from a Morrison fan that I have to agree...R.I.P. wasn't what I expected.
It's exactly what I expected actually. I have to laugh at all the people who actually expected him to respect the character and his mythology. Sometimes being ahead of the curve is a curse. And this is coming from someone who HATED Judd Winnick. I haven't seen fanboys this torn and confused about what to feel since Episode 1. But us old schooler X-heads? Yeah, we knew exactly what was coming.

Anyway, this is typical Gaiman. Weird, jittery, and gothy. It's pretty standard stuff for him. I still don't know if he can handle the realism of Batman, being as his fantasy background is so vast. But from what I've read, it's an improvement. I'm not expecting the second coming Denny O'Neil here. I'd prefer they just bring back Chuck Dixon or let Dini handle it. But Morrisons name alone sells a cajillion copies(to this day I still don't know why), so they needed a big name to clean up his mess and keep sales high. Kind of like when Marvel brought in Whedon. Except not nearly as annoying.
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Old February 16 2009, 01:02 AM   #15
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Re: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (Spoilers)

I don't know that Gaiman is here to clean up anything (Morrison's back in June, after all); he's just using the "death of Batman" to tell a metafictional story about the Bat-mythos (which is one of his two primary story setups; the other is "people find a secret magical world").

Final Crisis was kind of a manifestation of Morrison's worse tendencies: on an allegorical level, which is his primary concern, you can see how it all fits together if you puzzle over it. It's successful as metafiction, but not as fiction, in part because Morrison is intentionally obstructing the frame in the service of his metafictional end. Final Crisis is basically doing two things: there's the Fifth World stuff (which is an absolutely fantastic concept; Morrison isn't short on those), which is a fairly straightforward genre story, and then there's the Mandrakk/metafictional stuff about the ur-hero, which is mainly in Superman Beyond and then arrives in the last half of the last issue, and is rather less successful.

Also, I think fan expectations of RIP got mixed up by Final Crisis' marketing, since it was basically just supposed to be Morrison's treatise on Batman as the Ultimate Human, which was then followed by the death stunt, otherwise unrelated to RIP itself.
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