Overview

Batman #666

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Batman #666

Credits

  • Words: Grant Morrison
  • Art: Andy Kubert
  • Inks: Jesse Delperdang
  • Colors: Guy Major
  • Story Title: Bethlehem
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Jul 25, 2007

A look into an alternate or possible (like it matters) future wherein Damian picks up the mantle of the bat, and Armageddon looms.

Jumping some odd number of years forward, one of the three false Batmen of issues past returns to usher in the destruction of Gotham City, all in the name of the Devil. But there’s a new Batman in town, the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul, and he’s stacked the deck and already has Ol’ Nick Scratch on his side. An utterly ridiculous fight ensues, lots of angry banter between Commissioner Barbara Gordon and Damian, and a final page punch line you’ll either find genius or have you scratching your head and wondering who at DC gave some fan fic writer the time of day.

Really. This book is just plain silly now. All-Star Batman and Robin is doing a better job and All-Star Batman and Robin is a wretched piece of self-indulgent tripe. A dystopian future that’ll never occur? Check. Bald Morrison-clone Batman popping pills and spouting out Invisibles-esque, unnecessary and obscure references to arcane-ish, complex-sounding concepts that have absolutely jack to do with the plot at hand? Check. The silliest roll call of villains to back up the main villain, because chortling about inside industry jokes is better than having a story that’s affecting? Check. And don’t even get me started on the bomb. That just happens to be planted (years in advance) on the exact spot the villain stands when Damian sets it off - a villain who stood stock still throughout the entire battle, meaning he was always standing on it, since the fight began.

I keep trying to reconcile Morrison’s heralded brilliance with his actual product, and damn it all if I don’t just consistently come up short. His plotting is careless, whimsical but also aimless, his thematic content dense though utterly boorish - it’s there, but why? His script for Batman #666 is filled with such densities, with moments that scream their purpose and point, and yet when the cover is closed, all it adds up to is overbearing exercises in excessiveness. Maybe I’m in a minority here, but it’s seems trite to establish a character’s complexity and cool factor with religious overtones, paper-thin occult trappings, one panel to forever advertise Morrison’s undying belief in the controlled use of mind-altering drugs, and, of course, quoting classic literature, because if someone can memorize and spit back high school taught poetry, they must be intelligent, and, you know, complex.

Andy Kubert’s art, much like Jim Lee’s over in ASB&R, is some of the best in the mainstream biz, but it’s wasted on a run like this. It’s all very pretty (neglecting the script, it’s freakin’ beautiful), but Kubert’s dynamism exacerbates Morrison’s already overstated story, and what’s left is a thing Nickolodeon would consider gauche.

Batman #666 is like the Joker’s acid-squirting flower - painful on the eyes, eventually continuing on to the brain. I have a half-suspicion that Morrison’s entire run will prove an alternate Earth, one of the 52 wherein Batman does indeed die and Damian takes his place. That would lend the horrifically overused dreadful-future trope a new bit of life, but even then, it doesn’t improve the blow-by-blow storytelling as exhibited here. Hopefully, the central Bat title will reclaim itself as something worthwhile, but until then, I hope someone out there is enjoying this more than me.

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