Article I read and enjoyed, probably posted on here before. Would love to hear opinions.
Grant Morrison is one of those writers that I simply do not understand. His works are constantly praised and labeled as “genius” by his fans while criticisms are brushed away with excuses like “you just don’t get it.”. The problem I have with Morrison isn’t that I don’t understand what’s going on in his “genius” stories, it’s that I don’t understand why he feels the need to do what he does in the first place. He takes everything to the extreme, no matter the cost. He wants to make his stories the biggest and most important stories in that character’s history because he sees himself as the most important writer in the history of the written word. His stories usually require some amount of additional reading to fully comprehend what you just read and many people confuse that with genius. I think he spends so much of his time trying to interweave his story within itself that he forgets to actually, you know, write a good story. In 2007, Grant Morrison was granted creative control over one of the most iconic characters in comic book history: Batman. Four years later, the entire DC universe would come to an end.
Way back in 1987 in a story called “Son of the Demon” it is revealed that Talia al Ghul and Batman did the Bat-dance and are now expecting a Batbaby. To make a long story short, she told Batman that she lost Bat Jr. to a miscarriage but we are later shown that he is actually alive and Talia just dropped him off on somebody’s door step. That child was never mentioned again until he was brought back into the picture in the form of 10 year old Damian Wayne. In “Batman and Son”, Morrison’s first Batman story arc, Damian spends most of his time being an arrogant prick to Bruce while simultaneously trying to take the Robin title from Tim Drake, and he kills people (which is kind of a no-no in the Batman family). Morrison originally planned on killing Damian at the end of the story (there’s an idea!) but the stupid fans ended up changing his mind.
Damian would eventually succeed and become the new Robin, but first Morrison had another gimmicky publicity stunt to drop on Batman fans: Batman R.I.P. Killing off a major character in a comic book is about as lame as you can get. Everybody knows it’s not permanent so it ends up being a big waste of time while everyone waits for that character to inevitably return. And this isn’t just any old character, this is Bruce Wayne we’re talking about. Let me sum it up for you as quickly as I can. Bruce Wayne dies (not really) and Dick Grayson takes over as Batman. Sound familiar? If you are a longtime Batman reader it should. Dick Grayson temporarily took over as Batman following the events of “Knightfall” in a story called “Prodigal”. Dick goes on to appoint Damian as the new Robin. Why? I have no idea. Tim Drake took the time and did the work to earn the title of Robin, and here Dick just says “too bad” and gives it to Damian, who is a prick. Anyway, they patrol Gotham and fight crime in Bruce’s absence and eventually they become friends. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne is not dead (surprise!) but is stuck in the past for some reason. Now he must travel through time to get back to the present day. He proceeds to do this in the most ridiculous way imaginable. First he is a caveman, then a pirate, and then a cowboy pilgrim guy before finally returning to modern day and reclaiming his place as Batman. Read that sentence again and tell me it’s a good idea.
So all’s well that ends well, right? Bruce Wayne is back to being Batman and Gotham is safe once again. I wish it were that simple. But nothing with Grant Morrison is ever that simple. All of a sudden, Bruce has a realization that he can’t do this alone, so naturally his only option is to form a global corporation called Batman Inc. and his plan is to travel the world training various Batmen to be… Batmen. This idea is just ludicrous on premise alone. What’s worse is that now we have Bruce Wayne publicly stating that he is funding Batman Inc. and has been bankrolling Batman the whole time. The whole idea of Bruce Wayne doing this is absolutely balls to the wall crazy. It would immediately make him the primary target of every semi-competent villain in Gotham. How do you stop the Batman? Cut off his funding. Kill Bruce Wayne. And as far as the whole global Batman initiative for problems that are too big for one Batman… isn’t that what the Justice League is for?
As a side note, I also want to mention that Grant Morrison brought back Bat-Mite. Seriously.
So now we have Dick Grayson as Batman in Gotham with Damian Wayne as his Robin and Bruce Wayne traveling around the world training people in random countries to be Batmen. There’s no rhyme or reason to any of the countries he picks either. It’s a mess. How do we fix this? Reboot.
The New 52 reboot was, in my opinion, a genius move by DC Comics. It made it very appealing and easy for new readers to jump into the DC Universe and sales dramatically increased. Not only that, but they put the right talent in the right places and it paid off with some surprisingly good titles. Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Animal Man all come to mind as surprise hits. And of course, Scott Snyder took over the writing for Batman. What followed was some of the best work we’ve seen on Batman in the last two decades. Prior to the reboot Snyder had a great run on Detective Comics in which he wrote “The Black Mirror”. This story takes place while Dick Grayson is still Batman but it stands out as one of the best Batman stories in recent memory, so it was only natural that Snyder take the reins of Batman in the New 52.
While many characters were given clean slates in this New 52 DC Universe, much of Batman’s continuity remained intact. Batman Inc. was eliminated (and later brought back. Why? I have no clue.) and Bruce Wayne was reinstated as the only Batman in Gotham while Dick Grayson returned to his former alias, Nightwing. Damian is still Robin but is really only seen in the Batman & Robin title, not so much in Snyder’s Batman. The first story arc of the new Batman title is “The Court of Owls”. Basically the Court of Owls has been pulling the strings in Gotham for hundreds of years. Slowly but surely they wear down Batman until finally launching an all out assault on various important figures throughout Gotham City. I don’t want to spoil much because this story is truly that good. It doesn’t erase all the damage done by Grant Morrison, but we are back on the right track.
What Morrison failed to do was what Snyder does extremely well: he understands the character. Scott Snyder doesn’t need gimmicks or tricks to write a great story. He uses his understanding of the characters at his disposal to create something fresh, yet familiar at the same time. These are the characters that we have been fans of since childhood. Morrison, on the other hand, tried to bend the character to his will. He didn’t try to write a great Batman story, he wrote a Grant Morrison story that featured Batman, and that’s a big difference. I mean, this is a guy who once said that Batman is “really, really gay” in an interview. Is that really the guy we want to give complete creative freedom to?