Batman and Son - Grant Morrison
I have mixed feelings about Grant Morrison's Batman. I want to like his work, I really do. There are parts of this book that I absolutely loved, and parts of it that I absolutely hated. Let's start with the things that I didn't like. If you decide those things don't bother you all that much, then its a safe bet you will like this book. Firstly, the plot is largely left unresolved. Unlike many other Batman graphic novels, this is part of a much larger story. Most of the time when you pick up a collection of this kind, you get a nice, condensed, one shot story. Morrison does not write that way, at least not when it comes to Batman. This is part of a much larger tale that involves past events in Bruce Wayne's life, which are revealed to the reader over several other books. When read in succession, the plot is fairly engaging, and is certainly worth flipping through.
That however, brings me to my next point; without reading these books in succession, the story can be outright confusing. Smack dab in the middle of the book, it stops being written in graphic novel form, and turns to prose (with some creepy 3D generated pictures just to keep you from skipping it entirely). Overall, it does move the story along, but only slightly. There are certainly parts of this section that make you wonder what it in the world Morrison is on about, and having read more than one of the next few books, i am still asking myself that question. Some of it was flat out pointless as near as i can tell. Maybe there it's a reference to something that I've just never heard of, but i consider myself to be a fairly well read Batman fan. If it is an allusion to some other work in the Batman series, it was completely lost in translation. The end of the book has the same issue. Without giving away too much information, it doesn't seem to have much relevance in the continuing story. It's not entirely a bad thing, we get to see a future Batman fighting the good fight, and to be honest, its pretty cool. I've seen worse plot twists in M. Night Shyamalan movies, and without reading onward, the ending DOES seem to have relevance. It just seems strange if you continue the series.
Now that I am done complaining, lets get down to the good stuff. The beginning of this book throws you immediately into the action. Commissioner Gordon has been hit with Joker toxin, and within a few pages, the Joker himself gets shot in the face. This is a pretty bold move for anyone writing a Batman story. The writing of all the characters is spot on. Batman acts like Batman, Commissioner Gordon acts like Commissioner Gordon, and Alfred acts like...well you get the picture. The point is, you won't be disappointed by poorly written dialogue. By all means, it has the classic Batman vibe, and Morrison knows each persona like the back of his hand. There are also a TON of references to other stories in the Batman universe. If you are a fan of the animated series, or have read other Batman graphic novels, you will have a pretty good handle on what is happening throughout this novel, hectic as it may be.
Did I mention this book is beautiful? The art is fantastic with full color illustrations on every page, and the backgrounds are as equally detailed as the foregrounds. Visually the book is stunning, including the 3D generated images section (which aren't great looking, but are VERY creepy). If you are a sucker for nicely drawn comic books, I would highly recommend checking this one out.
Overall, Batman and Son is hit or miss. You almost need to read further into Morrison's work to grasp what he is getting at. His writing is very reminiscent of Frank Miller's Batman in the way that the plots are a bit more zany. It is certainly not a bad thing, but it is different. Morrison's books are not in the typical mystery fashion that many other Batman graphic novels are, so if that's what normally draws you into Batman comics, you may want to skip this one. However if you want some serious action, coupled with beautiful illustrations, definitely pick this one up. If you like it, I would highly recommend moving on to Batman: The Black Glove, which will answer many of the questions raised in this installment.