Sunday, June 13, 2010

Comic Book Review: Batman #700

Batman created by Bob Kane

Literary and Artistic Credits
Author: Grant Morrison
Pencillers: Tony Daniel, Frank Quietly, Andy Kubert, David Finch
Colorists: Ian Hannin, Alex Sinclair, Tony Avina, Brad Anderson, Richard Friend, Peter Steogerwald
Letterers: Jared K. Fletcher, Janelle Siegel, Mike Marts
Cover: David Finch
Variant Cover: Mike Mignola

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
It has happened, Batman turns 700 years old! (Or at least that’s what I heard a little kid scream in the comic book shop when I picked this issue up, very cute.) And what better way to celebrate this glorious occasion by hiking the price tag up to the $4.99 mark, spewing almost 25% of the book as unnecessary documentative (is that a word?) Batcave information, and putting the story in the hands of my least favorite writer.  #700 finds itself wandering around the time vortex in the same manner as Hansel and Gretel, aimlessly combing the forest without a real purpose or goal.  Maybe I’m just a simple minded peasant, but when it comes to stories dealing in time travel or some time paradox, you have to be extra careful so nothing becomes confusing or silly, and I’m not sure Morrison was able to accomplish this.

The issue starts off with Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson and works its way through all the way to Terry McGinnis and a robot-like boy wonder.  Professor Nichols is at the center of this mystery which spans in all three timelines.  We of course discover that it is Nichols himself who goes back in time to murders himself, causing this incredible and vicious cycle to continually rotate throughout time.

I wasn’t sure I understood why Professor Nichols needed to go back in time to kill himself.  So the Joker took away his dignity and embarrassed him as a man of science, ok I get the motivation, some men can’t take a joke right?  But Batman stopped the Joker and the rest of his cohorts, I would have assumed from that event Nichols need for revenge would be quenched.  Along with this tirade of mine, for the life of me I can’t figure out how the three timelines mesh together to help this mystery make sense.  I won’t go into the details, you should pick up the issue to find out, but I felt there were some major problems with tying all three periods together.  There really was no explanation as to why Nichols was 20 years older than he should have been, nor was there any reason about his future self being younger.  The paradox of time in this story is all very confusing to me, and I’m a guy who loves Star Trek, it shouldn’t matter so much!  It’s a very creative idea, and points should be awarded to Morrison for that very fact, but he tried WAY TOO HARD.

There’s no need for me to say it, but I’m going to anyway…the art drove me NUTS!  For those of you who read my blog regularly, I’m sure you know by now that artist toggling aspect of many comics recently is not my favorite thing in the world.  I’ve been known to mark the art down for that, even if every artist is good.  I am faced with this problem in #700, every artist in this book is fantastic.  Who can complain about Andy Kubert right?  But I prefer to have one artist complete an entire book rather than DC divvying up the artistic duties, but everyone did so well.  I understand the reasoning for doing this, but it becomes way too much of a distraction for me within the story.  SO!  Instead marking down the art for making my head explode, I decided to grade each artist by themselves rather than as one cohesive unit.  And it’s #700 right?  It should be held to a higher standard.

My Majestically Climactic Conclusion
I could have done without the whole Batcave section at the end, but I’m sure fans will eat it up. This book is creative in its approach, but it came off more as random incoherent jargon than a well rounded story.  And what’s worse, Morrison will be returning for #701 and on.  I certainly hope the end line “To 700 More” doesn’t speak to Morison’s immortality, because that would just kill me!

Writing: 4
Themes: 6
Art: Tony Daniel – 10
        Frank Quietly – 10
       Andy Kubert – 10
       David Finch – 8
Overall: 8 out of 10

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