And so, Grant Morrison’s epic tenure on Batman comes to a close, and it was quite an ending. Especially since the main message seems to be that, with Batman, there can be no real ending.
There’s a lot going on in this issue, we finally revisit the opening scene of Batman Inc Vol. 2 #1, with Bruce Wayne being arrested by Commissioner Gordon, there’s the final battle against Leviathan, and within that, the final confrontation between Batman and Talia. I was most impressed by the Talia and Batman stuff here, it felt truly momentous, and the fact that they found time to kiss before they began to fight was really interesting. I also found Talia’s dialogue about how she was trying to do this to raise Batman above fighting the likes of the Riddler and Man-Bat, she’s become a truly great villain under Morrison’s pen, it’s a shame that she died here.
Because yes, Talia gets shot and killed by Kathy Kane, which was pretty surprising, but made sense. So, in the end, Talia and Leviathan are defeated, and Batman is supposedly dead. But we all know he’ll be back. Gordon’s narration in this issue is truly excellent, as we see that he probably (definitely) does know that Bruce Wayne is Batman, but he won’t ever tell anyone. This makes sense, and stops Gordon from being seen as a complete idiot.
The message of this series is that Batman always come back, that ‘it never ends’ and ‘it probably never will’. This is not only Morrison talking about how tough and resilient Batman is, but also commenting on the nature of superhero comics. As long as DC are making money and he remains a viable IP, then Batman will never end. Even a legendary comics writer doing a 7 year run isn’t allowed to end Batman. But in the end, that doesn’t matter, because Morrison told his story, which was really the story of Bruce, Talia and Damian and their fucked-up family and that ended pretty satisfactorily.
But did it end? The epilogue to this story is very intriguing, as Ra’s Al Ghul makes his triumphant return, and we see that he has a whole nursery of Damian clones growing in jars. Will Morrison return to tell this story? Who knows, but the symbol at the end of this series isn’t the Batman symbol, it’s the Ourobouros, a snake eating it’s own tail. This story has come full circle.
I’m probably doing this issue a disservice, there’s a lot of complex stuff to unpack, but I think I need to do a re-read, maybe not of the whole Morrison era, but perhaps just the Inc series. But mostly, this was an exciting conclusion to a great story. Chris Burnham’s art was once again excellent, he really has grown as this story has gone on, that splash-page was amazing. Burnham is like Frank Quitely but with the layouts of JH Williams, it’s awesome, and I can’t wait to see what he does next, and man, that cover was amazing, I want a poster of it now. And what’s next for Morrison? It’s certainly going to be odd not having a Batman series from him to read, when the heck do we get Multiversity?