Overview

Batman #701

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Batman #701

Credits

  • Words: Grant Morrison
  • Art: Tony Daniel
  • Colors: Ian Hannin
  • Story Title: "R.I.P. The Missing Chapter Part One: The Hole in Things"
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Jul 14, 2010

Grant Morrison's Batman #701 signals not only his return to the premier Batman title, but Bruce Wayne's first appearance as Batman in almost two years.  After his successful endeavors with Batman and Robin and Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, Batman #701 may not be up to par for some readers with Morrison's recent stories in these related books, but he still delivers an intriguing backstory on the days and hours preceding Wayne's encounter with Darkseid.

It is unclear exactly why, at this moment, when Wayne's resurrection is the main topic of Morrison's other two Batman books that he would take this opportunity to revisit the Batman R.I.P. events explored in both Batman and Final Crisis.  Although there is certainly a connection to Doctor Hurt's recent appearance in Batman and Robin #13 and the scribbling of "Thomas" and "Barbatos" on the wall of the Wayne Manor sanctuary room that confirms that Batman #701 is not simply a story Morrison could not tell at the time due to pressures and deadlines for Final Crisis, its relevance is not immediately apparent.  While Dick Grayson has definitely illustrated his rights to assume the Batman mantle as an heir to Wayne, it is comforting to see Bruce Wayne in the cape and cowl again in these pages.  Furthermore, because #701 is a "missing chapter," it reads as a special feature reserved for either hardcover deluxe editions published by DC Comics or a gem included on a DVD because it provides an interesting, insightful, and different perspective on events readers are already largely familiar with from past stories. 

Morrison opens the story with Batman's near-death escape from his final encounter with Dr. Hurt.  Playing up the human aspects of Batman, Morrison spends a considerable and welcome amount of time exploring Wayne's humorous side along with his self-admitted fear and weakness in the face of Hurt's attempts to kill him.  Ever the detective, ever searching for clues and deciphering puzzles crafted by psychotic maniacs, Batman cannot be content with Alfred's dismissal of Hurt's disappearance as a consequence of the ocean currents.  Unraveling Hurt's location alongside the revelations of the Wayne family history occurs simultaneously with the murder of Orion and Darkseid's fall to Earth.  Coupled with the sense of urgency and awareness of fate that Bruce has as he ponders Hurt's final words and races off to investigate the assassination of a god, Morrison has discovered a way to not only pique audience curiosity, but also to increase the drama for an event everyone already knows is coming.

If there is one flaw in Batman #701, it is in the artwork, which is surprising considering the power and strength artist Tony Daniel displayed during Morrison's previous run on the title.  Although the issue opens strong and is reinforced by a two-page title sequence akin to J.H. Williams' work on Detective Comics, the following pages are inconsistent and inaccurate in places due to the coloring of Wayne's face, his facial structure, and the extremely awkward physiology and muscle tone attributed to Batman.  Yes, Batman is strong and agile, but he shouldn't look like Superman or a pre-roid rage Bane in terms of physique.  Whether Daniel or colorist Ian Hannin were trying to capture a Frank Quitely atmosphere for Batman is unclear, but certain panels appear to suggest a Quitely-esque vibe for Batman that unfortunately does not succeed. 

Although disconnected from the stories in Batman #700, Batman #701 is a strong addition to Morrison's ever-expanding repertoire of Batman narratives that should not be missed.

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Comments

  • comicbookman1973

    comicbookman1973 Jul 16, 2010 at 5:42pm

    Agreed. The artwork was horrible. The story was late coming. should have been included in r.I.P.

  • Nathan Wilson

    Nathan Wilson Jul 16, 2010 at 9:20pm

    I don't know if it could have been included in R.I.P. because of the plot hints tied directly into the Return of Bruce Wayne. I actually like the fact that it's going back and filling in aspects of the past. I guess Morrison could have included it and given hints about "thomas" or "barbatos," but it might have changed RoBW too.

  • comicbookman1973

    comicbookman1973 Jul 16, 2010 at 10:03pm

    Wow a site where the staff actually writes you back!? Impressive. Well I'm all confused about the reference of 'barbatos'. I figure the 'Thomas' scrawling is referenced to Thomas Wayne writing it as a child, maybe? I haven't read the 'RoBW' books so maybe I'm missing pieces of the puzzle. Hurt being alive still is a disappointment. Also the constant references to a supernatural element or even a Devil reveal is getting on my last nerve and my patience for Morrison's storytelling is dwindling. It's a pretty lame attempt at writing a compelling piece of fiction to incorporate a satanic element to a Batman story. Either he is The Devil or he isn't. Either way it is stupid to refer to Hurt as The Devil if in reality he isn't. It's tiresome to say the least. And sad to say a boring plot to try and hang a 'decent' Batman story on, let alone the biggest story arc of a Batman comic in years.

  • Nathan Wilson

    Nathan Wilson Jul 16, 2010 at 10:16pm

    And that might be a problem that neither DC or Morrison envisioned--someone who doesn't read RoBW reading Batman #701 because from the cover or interiors, there's nothing that says "you must read x before reading further." That's problematic. RoBW is a great series thus far and I highly recommend it as it ties directly into the end of R.I.P. and Final Crisis. Then again, so is Batman & Robin by Morrison. Too many books!! I don't think Morrison will "cop out" and have Hurt be the devil or a supernatural force though. The Barbatos reference is directly tied into the RoBW and Batman & Robin as Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne begin a search for Bruce's body.

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