Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Cameron Stewart
Grant Morrison is quite an enigma in the world of comics writing – even when working on something as utterly mainstream as Batman, he can’t help but put his own unique spin on what he is writing. Love him or hate him, you have to respect him for doing new and different things with DC’s most popular character. His work with Batman may not be universally loved, but no one can say it’s boring. In this month’s issue of Batman and Robin, he gives us what appears to be the return of Bruce Wayne (not in quotes this time), but he plays around with the sequence of the story in a manner that’s a little disorienting at first, but it works in setting the chaotic mood that he’s going for here.
In the second chapter of the cheekily-titled “Blackest Knight” arc, Dick and Batwoman, with the British Dynamic Duo Knight and Squire in tow, have successfully resurrected the body of Bruce Wayne via one of Ra’s Al Ghul’s Lazarus Pits. Instead of picking up right when the previous issue left off, Morrison opens the issue with a flashback of Batwoman infiltrating a cult of Crime Bible followers that were found in the tunnel where the Lazarus Pit is located. This doesn’t make a lot of sense to the reader at first, but the reason gets clearer as the issue progresses. Meanwhile, back at the Batcave (cue the 60′s-style Bat-signal swoosh), Alfred welcomes Damien back, who had been given spinal modifcations by his mother, Talia Al’Ghul. The cuts between these scenes help to heighten the tension of the issue as Bruce goes berserk and battles Dick and company. (This shouldn’t really be a spoiler, based on the cover). Unsurprisingly, things go from bad to worse for our heroes, and the conclusion guarantees that things are going to get even worse for them.
Like most of Morrison’s work, this issue isn’t designed to be a quick, breezy read. There’s so much going on here at the same time that two or three reads may be needed to really let everything sink in. There are a few nods to past Morrison arcs that may lead some new readers scratching their heads, but otherwise it’s a thrilling chapter in what’s shaping up to be a fascinating arc. I haven’t been a huge fan of Morrison’s Batman work, but I’m sold so far on this storyline, and hopefully the story won’t crash and burn like it’s done before in his past arcs. Cameron Stewart’s gorgeously dynamic art definitely helps as well. I’ve been kind of bored with the Bat-books lately, but this issue provides a much-needed shot in the arm and gets 4.5 out of 5 Faceless Ninja Chimney Sweeps.