III. Batman R.I.P. and Last Rites
R.I.P. brings The Black Glove to the forefront and is generally a cohesive novel, more so than the others, as it tells just one story; I found Batman and Son and The Black Glove quite disjointed as they are both split in two arcs, so it is nice to have R.I.P. focus fully on just one arc. Like The Black Glove I think that reading The Black Casebook beforehand will give readers a greater understanding of the story overall as many of the ideas used have a basis in the stories collected there. I think it is easier to accept the crazy ideas coming from The Black Casebook than if you are just reading this series, though Grant Morrison has changed some stuff around and watered the weirdness down slightly.
Here we truly see Batman pushed beyond all human endurances and gone insane as the Black Glove, introduced in the last novel, make their move. The concept of The Black Glove is a formidable one; the idea of a person or persons dedicated to killing Batman by exploiting his greatest weaknesses is awesome, but I think it was poorly executed here. The last novel and the first half of this one build up the Black Glove Society as a fearsome force to be reckoned with, but their actual execution is pretty lame; the members come off as far from competent, the leader is overly arrogant and the master plan falls apart in many places. Off the top of my head I can think of four places where the plan didn't go as expected and there didn't seem to be contingencies in place to prevent the whole plan from failing because of any of these individual failures.
|Batman goes fully insane in RIP; if you thought he was in The Black Glove just wait for this.|
In my opinion The Black Glove Society fails as a group of villains; they are supposed to know Batman inside out and anticipate his every action, but they don't, and on top of that they don't properly account for Robin, Damian or Joker either. I'm not saying that R.I.P. is a bad book, I just don't think that the Black Glove Society fulfils their promise of being a group who can manipulate Batman, and all of Gotham, to such an extent that he loses control. However, this may say more about Batman and his commitment to fighting for justice and planning for every contingency as he is someone who's will can not be dominated no matter how far he is pushed. I still think that R.I.P. is a good book, but I don't think it is a great one.
The copy of R.I.P. I have contains Last Rites which bridges the gap between the events or R.I.P. and Final Crisis. Last Rites consists of two comics which were designed as a further explanation to what has happened, rather than as additional story, but I really enjoyed them. Without wanting to spoil it Batman recounts the major events leading up to the present, but also mixes in some amusing what-if like scenarios too; with-in two comics I saw A Death in the Family, KnightsEnd, The Killing Joke, Hush and Venom referenced. With these references and references to The Black Casebook throughout it shows that Grant Morrison pays great attention to detail and loves writing Batman.