I got on board Grant Morrison’s run on Batman just a month or two before the “Batman R.I.P.” storyline began. I was so fascinated (and sometimes frustrated) with what I read that I went back and bought every issue he’d written since #655.
After a brief interval taken up by the bombastic and exceedingly anticlimactic “Battle for the Cowl,” Morrison is back to writing the Caped Crusader. But this time, it’s Dick Grayson as the Dark Knight, and Morrison’s own controversial creation, Damian Wayne–the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia Al Ghul–as Robin.
I’ll admit I’m one of those people who think you really can’t replace Bruce Wayne. That particular superhero/secret identity dyad is too iconic, like Clark Kent and Superman. At one time, fans might have pointed to Wally West’s Flash or Kyle Rayner’s Green Lantern as evidence that this “legacy” idea can work, but–aside from the fact that Barry Allen and Hal Jordan are back anyway–both of those heroes had their own predecessors in the Golden Age. Unlike them, Bruce Wayne has been Batman since before the very first Flash or Green Lantern appeared in comics. The time to replace Batman was the early Silver Age, before the 1960s TV show cemented Batman and stately Wayne Manor as American cultural icons.
What’s more, it’s largely Morrison’s own fault it’s hard to accept anyone else as Batman now. It was Morrison who created the “Bat-god” in the pages of JLA, and this characterization was carried into the Justice League Unlimited cartoon. As Morrison has suggested in interviews, “Batman R.I.P.” was essentially a mediation on that idea.
The upshot of all this is: enjoy the ride while it lasts, because chances are Bruce will be back in the cowl within a year or two. With that in mind, Batman and Robin is shaping up to be a fun–and profoundly weird–ride.