Batman battles drugs
On the eve of one of the most anticipated movie releases ever, The Dark Knight, DC Comics is running a controversial storyline in Batman R.I.P., a comic book written by Grant Morrison, with art by Tony Daniel.
Grant Morrison brings his unique vision to this ongoing storyline that will last until the end of August, but the subsequent ramifications are expected to be carried out until at least 2010. Morrison claimed at last year’s Comic Con that "This is the end of Bruce Wayne as Batman" and it will be "… possibly the most shocking Batman revelation of the past 70 years."
Is DC Comics planning to kill off Batman like Marvel comics did to Captain America? Superman was once killed by Doomsday, but everyone knows he came back. Batman suffered a broken back during the Knightfall series, and in his absence there was another Batman in a former prodigy, Azreal. OK, been there, done that. So, where is Morrison going with this?
Commissioner Gordon discovers a report revealing possible new facts about the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne. These reports speculate Thomas Wayne is an alcoholic and orgy film participant who had his heroin-addict wife killed and eventually faked his own death.
A new villain is introduced in the mysterious Black Glove, who along with his minions, invaded and took over the Bat-cave. Black Glove also successfully drugged Bruce Wayne with "Zur-En-Arrh" to which he was exposed at a previous treatment center.
This brings us to Batman No. 678, which features Wayne, now homeless, in a drug-induced state wandering the streets of Gotham City feeling the effects of "Zur-En-Arrh." Still in another state of mind, Wayne begins to believe he is from another planet and recalls his days as Batman. By the comics’ end, he re-emerges as Batman with a purple and red costume, only he is still in a drug-induced stupor.
Is this what Morrison had in mind? Fry Wayne’s brains and leave him as a vagrant? Or does he have something else in store for the caped crusader?
In the upcoming volumes of Batman R.I.P, Wayne will have to face his enemies, mind-fried and all. Will the results of these battles spell the end for Wayne? What exactly does Morrison have planned for this franchise? Would the rumors about Wayne’s father have anything to do with Wayne no longer donning the cape and cowl? If this is the case, his damaged psyche may not be able to handle the fact that Batman’s entire existence could be a sham.
The whole notion of rendering Wayne useless and having another Batman is pointless and has been done before. Factor in the timing, as early reviews of the Warner Bros. film, The Dark Knight suggest that it’s a potential Oscar contender. A successful movie franchise occurring at the same time with a comic book storyline which alters the history of the character makes no sense.
Is there really a need to put Wayne on the shelf again and have someone else take the reins? The idea of exploring the origins of the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne, and possible new revelations are intriguing and can be the saving grace of this series.
Morrison should just leave Bruce Wayne as Batman. In the meantime The Dark Knight opens everywhere tomorrow.