Now this is how you do an anniversary book!

For Batman’s 700th issue DC has produced a stellar one-and-done comic that – by virtue of Grant Morrison’s a clever epoch-spanning tale – makes great use of five superstar artists without ever distracting from the story. Structurally this is a past, present and future tale linked by a time-traveling plot device that is typically Morrison and allows Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne to each have their moment in the spotlight.

Without giving too much away, #700 is a mystery story that starts with Bruce Wayne in the past, is solved by Dick Grayson in the present and comes back to haunt Damian Wayne in the future with an epilogue set in the Batman’s far-future(s). Each era is drawn by a different artist; current Batman artist and writer Tony Daniel draws with the past, Frank Quitely and Scott Kolins handle the present with Andy Kubert and David Finch dealing with the future and far-future respectively.

With the tale set in four different periods, the change between artists feels natural and doesn’t jar as so often happens on this type of ‘jam’ book. Whilst each section looks stunning in its own right and pays fitting tribute to Batman’s notable milestone, its Quitely’s scratchy-but-flowing pencils that really catch the eye (if only he was still the regular artist on Batman and Robin). Plot-wise, the differing eras allow Morrison to celebrate not only Bruce Wayne’s Batman but also Dick Grayson – the current Batman – and his own creation Damian Wayne as the Batman of the future.

Also pleasing is that the detective element of the Batman legend is brought to the fore here but not at the expense of the action. Like Paul Dini’s blistering run on Detective Comics couple of years ago, Morrison allows the reader to solve the mystery with Batman (Batmen?) in a short, tightly-plotted self-contained story. The Batman art gallery at the end of the book (which features contributions from the likes of Philip Tan and Bill Sienkiewicz) is a nice if not completely essential addition.

In the brief epilogue Morrison suggests that – regardless of who is under the cowl – there always will be a Batman and if the comics are as good as this, lets hope he’s right.

Note: DC has released multiple variant covers for Batman #700, my copy had a stunning David Finch cover (see below) that is almost worth the cover-price alone.

– Justin

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