Digging Deeper in Bruce's Past #0
Like how Inception blew our minds away by planting an idea, Grant Morrison is the master of metaphysics in comics and planted ideas in our heads. Not everyone will get what Morrison is doing, since a lot of it is dependent on other books and knowledge. Morrison's story is also currently incomplete, but so much from this book makes more sense after the fact R.I.P was defined. Morrison's rules of engagement are being defined by many Morrison fans like me, so we all can enjoy the ride. Feel free to click ( here) on my List to Required reading, as I constantly add to it when I think of something to help decipher Morrison's Batman.
This casebook is not his stories, but selected stories from him. With the mobius strip concept I explained in my Batman: The Return review, Morrison is treating all of Batman's life as canon. Some are mental attacks that scared his mind and have made him vulnerable to guys like Black Glove and Doctor Hurt. Some are stories that were smoothed out and added Canon, such as Batmen. Morrison was not the first to do it, he is just the first to make an earnest attempt to make one mans life true, by validating even the most outrageous stories.
Part of the reason I believe I am finding Morrison's work so great right now is because I understand the Magick he uses. The Magick he uses is the same as Alan Moore's, it is the concept to change will. I constantly talk about The Invisibles with Morrison, partly because The Invisibles is his rules of engagement. If you can understand concepts like Barbelith then you can understand the synchronicity of the situation. What I mean by this is that Morrison is having his way with the Batman books, because it is like the universe wants him to do it. Reading the Black Casebook actually freaked me out with some of the magick that ties into his current work. I would like to point out Batman #156 ( Robin Dies at Dawn), there is a pinkish sun in the background of the cover and it appears as a red sphere high in the sky a few times in this issue. I wanted to point it out because that Sun could easily be seen by an Invisible (a Morrison fan who sees the conspiracy) as Barbelith. I don't know if Morrison ever read that issue before writing the Invisibles, I don't even know if its true or not that Aliens wrote the Invisibles, but one thing is for sure is that there are scary depths of layers in Morrison's books if you dig deep enough. These layers are that synchronicity I speak of. Stories from the 50's and 60's that were once throwaway ideas are now seamless threads to what might be Morrison's greatest work to date.
Many things that have happened in Morrison's stories have first appeared as a similar idea in this trade. There is that constant looping and adding Morrison is doing. The Black Casebook is more the Black Code-Book, since many of Morrison's ideas came from these stories and are at times not much different. Morrison's Batman run is a great detective series and its up to use reader if we want to play along. Remember The issue issue mini: The Return of Bruce Wayne? That series was a trip because it was part of that mobius strip. I can swear that the black book that was seen in the comics symbolically is this book. Meaning, Morrison wants us to read this. He is telling us what we need to do to understand, we just have to look for the clues.
I was originally going to go step by step and spoil the connection between these stories and what Morrison has been doing so far, but changed my mind, since this really is a book you should read if you really want to understand the events of R.I.P. and Final Crisis. I will have to warn you, these stories are dated. The art is nowhere near the worst artist Morrison used during his run (I say worst, since some of the art was not for everyone, so you pick accordingly). The language and the culture are a different time, such as the Native American Batman story, if I didn't accept that those stories were from the 50's or 60's that would be offensive to me.
One more think I would like to point out is something for those who read Morrison's X-Men. This book contains an issue called Batman: Superman of Planet X. Planet X is an important concept to Morrison and those who read X-Men may get why, since he named one of his arcs Planet X. Just think "Phoenix Egg". There is a connection to rebirth with Morrison. Some times it is symbolic, meaning that we must discard the hologram world we see and see the universe for what it really is. The Planet X in this Batman comic is the the first time we see The Batman of Zur-En-Arrh. I once saw Batman of Zur-En-Arrh as the Id/Ego conflict, but now I see it more as Bruce's rebirth. His mind was changing at that moment. The damage from all the Joker Toxins and venom and other drugs he was exposed to must of affected him and now his reality is breaking.
The Black Casebook on its own is a decent read, but it is a brilliant book of wonders if Morrison can plant that idea in your head that it is really part of his epic story. To truly see the Tour De Force that Morrison's Batman is, I do highly recommend this read.
Cheers, happy reading.