I really can’t offer any type of fair evaluation for this issue, both because A. I loved it unconditionally and B. I have to see what happens in the next issue before I can judge this one. But really, the only thing that would have made this better is if Batman lit up a cigar and said, “I love it when a plan comes together.” Frazer Irving has made himself the definitive artist on this series, even better than both Quietly and Stewart. If Morrison’s run on Batman has proven one thing, it’s that his story-arc wrap-ups contain more “F*** YEAH!” moments per page than any other book in the last 20 years. Can’t wait for number 16.
Frazer Irving’s deliciously decadent art gives Morrison’s uncharacteristically thin story a density that I would have loved to see accompanied with Morrison’s more elaborate stories like Batman: RIP or the more recent return to RIP in Batman #701 and 702. “Batman and Robin Must Die” has been a more streamlined story when compared to Morrison’s more expansive plot and idea heavy tales but Frazer, particularly through his thick and lush coloring, visually creates a world as deep and intriguing as the Gotham City that Morrison has been writing about. Morrison’s last temptation of Damien Wayne in this latest issue has really transformed Damien from an annoying joke into a fascinating character who has to make some real decisions between good and evil.
There have been ups and downs over the course of this series, but I’m so very hooked. Everything is coming together, and I can’t wait to read the finale to this story. I want to know the details, I want to know the unseen story that must be behind the reversal near the end of this issue, and I really, REALLY can’t wait to see what happens next right after the final panel. Oh boy.
I’m not going to claim I don’t love the density of issues like this; I just constantly wish I had a better memory and grasp of this entire run so that I could more fully enjoy all the payoffs. As it stands, this is another of Morrison’s issues that requires at least two readings, maybe three, in order to consume all the plot details…and reading up on some online annotations between readings doesn’t hurt. Frazer Irving knocks it out of the park with art that adds a ghostly power to the proceedings; there’s at least two full-page panels that are worthy additions to the gallery of iconic Batman images. I love Grant Morrison, I love this run, but I’ll be glad when I have time to read the whole thing in something close to a single sitting so I can understand it.
It’s going to be weird when Grant Morrison finally leaves Batman and we get an issue where someone is not dressed in that Thomas Wayne Halloween costume. In an issue where the biggest thing to happen isn’t Richard Grayson getting shot point blank in the back of the head (spoiler it doesn’t even phase him) it’s hard to know where to start. Given that I’ve got such a short amount of space I’ll start with the Frazer Irving art which either disturbed or annoyed me (I’m not sure which) through the whole issue. From there this probably reads better in trade, since it was hard to remember what was going on and in a Morrison story that can be murder. Also can someone tell me, the thing that happens at the end of this issue, is that the thing that I think it is?