The Great Morrison Bat Study #0: Reading List

Batman 666

It begins in the middle. The world is beset by a dark god who’s within moments of eradicating all free-thinking life on Earth. Little does he know that Batman’s waiting in the shadows clutching possibly the only weapon that can bring him down. With a flick of the wrist and a cocky “Gotcha” Batman deals Darkseid’s body an incurable blow. The rest of the Justice League manages to bring him down, but not without a price–Batman has been killed, or so it seems. In actuality he’s been cast to the sands of time, plagued by some great evil that will insure that, if he ever does find his way home, the results won’t be pretty.

It may seem strange to start Grant Morrison‘s Batman saga with the events of Final Crisis #6. But if you believe the interpretation (I think) I’m about to lay down over the next few weeks, it actually makes perfect sense. It’s Batman’s crippling of Darkseid that sets in motion the events of the last five years of Morrison Bat-books, if not indeed the entirety of Batman comics to this point. I realize this may not have been entirely clear from Return of Bruce Wayne #6, and I’m not convinced I understand it correctly myself, but it’s my best guess and it’s what I’m going with.

Once the last few installments of Morrison’s Bat-story began to see release, I started to think long and hard about an appropriate re-reading order. There’s no way anyone can catch everything this story has to offer in one reading (let alone two, I’m sure!) but I wanted to approach the books a second time in such a way that they’d produce the most satisfying reading experience possible. Simple chronological order won’t do, only because it’s nearly impossible to suss that out. With so much of the story involving our hero leaping through time, who’s to say definitively where each falls in the timeline? Beyond that, Morrison’s story literally spans the entirety of human history. Elements of the story occur at the dawn of man and the end of time and sometimes these are literally in the same issue. No, clearly a chronological re-read will not work.

Even considering story development over chronology, it’s really tough to figure out just how one should undertake this massive task. Below is my best guess. I’ve perhaps made some controversial placements, inclusions and exclusions and you’re welcome to challenge me on them in the comments. In addition, it’s entirely possible, and maybe even desirable, that after I read this story through in a concentrated form I’ll change the reading order to correct for things I missed or forgot the first time around.

So as I read back through Morrison’s Batman opus, expect regular posts on story arcs with notes, oddities, possible hints, etc. Primarily I’m doing this for my own understanding, but I’m posting it on the internet so other folks can maybe get something out of it (or help me catch something I’ve missed; I’m sure that will happen a lot). I can’t wait to see what revelations lie in store for me by taking on this monster saga within the span of a few weeks. I hope I don’t go insane!

All that said, here’s my reading order, with notes after the list as appropriate:

Final Crisis #6
52 #30*
Batman #655-658 (Batman & Son)
Batman #663 (The Clown at Midnight)
Batman #664-665 (The Ghosts of Batman)
Batman #667-669 (The Club of Heroes)
Batman #672-675 (The Three Batmen saga)**
Batman #676-681 (RIP)
Batman #666***
Batman #701, 682-683, 702 (Final Crisis)
Batman & Robin #1-9****
Return of Bruce Wayne #1
Batman & Robin #10
Return of Bruce Wayne #2-3
Batman & Robin #11-12
Return of Bruce Wayne #4-5
Batman & Robin #13-15
Return of Bruce Wayne #6
Batman & Robin #16
Batman #700*****

*RoBW #6 makes clear that Bruce’s Thogul experience in 52 is an integral part of Morrison’s story.
**I have chosen to omit the Ra’s Al Ghul crossover that occupied #670-671 as it really has no bearing on Morrison’s overarching story, or anything else for that matter.
***This book was placed here for thematic reasons… I felt it would fit nicely at a time when things looked darkest for Batman.
****At this point, I start mixing in Return of Bruce Wayne with Batman & Robin. This way, Dick & Damian uncover things in the present as they happen to Bruce in the past, and I’ve tried to shuffle them in in a way that makes that process most compelling.
*****Again, placed thusly for thematic reasons. I feel the conclusion of B&R #16 connects nicely with the message of #700.

More GMBS here:
GMBS #9
GMBS #8
GMBS #7
GMBS #6
GMBS #5
GMBS #4
GMBS #3
GMBS #2
GMBS #1
GMBS #0

tags: batman, gmbs, grant morrison

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