Batman #701 reunites writer Grant Morrison and artist Tony Daniel for the first of a two-part arc called ‘Batman RIP – The Missing Chapter’. Written in the first person (presumably as a journal entry into Batman’s legendary Black Casebook) Batman #701 acts as both an epilogue to RIP – explaining what happened immediately after the helicopter crash – and a prologue to Batman’s involvement in Final Crisis.

Let me start by saying I was a huge fan of Batman RIP but I am aware of just how divisive Morrison’s death of Batman story was. I have friends who have been reading Batman for many years – decades in fact – who consider it to be amongst the worst bat-tales ever told. However I didn’t really ‘get’ Final Crisis and was less than impressed with what appeared to be an editorial fudge by DC that saw Bruce Wayne ‘die’ twice (at the climax of each story). The fan reaction to the double-death was largely negative and in many ways, Batman #701 feels like the opening of an old wound that is probably best left alone.

The book attempts to clear-up some of the ambiguities left hanging at the end of RIP. How much Bruce knew (or suspected) about Jezebel Jet, the “truth” about Thomas and Martha Wayne and the involvement of Alfred in any scandal are all explored. Depending on your opinion of Morrison’s tenure on Batman, this may come as a relief if – as many readers do – you find his obtuseness frustrating. Personally I enjoyed the uneasiness that Morrison created in RIP and sharing Batman’s discomfort as the truths he’d based his whole life on were seemingly unravelled was a real thrill. Seeing these loose threads largely resolved over a brief conversation with Alfred, I felt a little cheated.

That said, Morrison has a knack for pulling the rug from under his readers and as this is just the first issue of a two-parter, I am hopeful that things are not as straight forward as they seem. And there’s a smart commentary from Bruce on the difference between himself and the super-powered heroes of the DCU summed up with the great line “In Superman’s world, everything is mythology”.

– Justin Hobday

Batman #701

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