Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Comic Book Review: Batman #700

700 issues. Wow. In 1940 the first issue of Batman was released, at the small price of $0.10. Now, seventy years later, we get the 700th issue of the character we know and love. And who better to bring us this issue than the master of modern Batman, Grant Morrison himself? The issue is told in four parts: "Yesterday", "Today", "Tomorrow", and "And Tomorrow..." Each part is drawn by a different artist, the first, Tony Daniel, followed by Frank Quitely and Scott Kolins. The last two, Andy Kubert, tackling Batman of the future, and David Finch, taking us to the Batmen of the far future. The stories are separate in themselves, but they all connect, in one mysterious episode that spans across time. Spoilers:


Batman and Robin, Bruce and Dick, are surrounded by some of their most dangerous enemies. Joker, Riddler, Scarecrow, Catwoman, and Mad Hatter. Take note that the Mad Hatter is not Jervis Tetch, but the impostor Hatter with the mustache and beer belly who claimed to be Tetch. Not only are Batman and Robin surrounded, but they are strapped down to a chair, and connected to a Maybe Machine, a machine that generates visions of how things may have been in one's life.

The machine is the product of Professor Nichols, who is also present, but not as a villain, just a defenseless man who has no choice but listen to the Joker. The Joker tells the professor to to reset the machine, cause he's going to send Batman back to witness his creation, a moment that of course continues to haunt him. Batman warn that the machine takes three minutes to reset, and he only needs two to escape the restraints. Joker doesn't care though, and begins to flip though his Joke book, a collection of his greatest tricks and ideas such as Jokerfish and Jokerworld death parks.

As the machine is being primed, the doctor tries to explain that another round of the machine would kill Batman, as it does more than create illusions, it actually transports the person there, a time machine. Before the machine can be activated again, Batman has already escaped the chair, and he and Robin beats the crap out of the villains. As the rogues gallery goes down, Gordon bursts in with a SWAT team, and they begin to haul the villains away. Gordon says that he received a tipoff from Professor Nichols himself, which is interesting for a number of reasons. One is that Batman said after he escaped, he was going to use the machine to go back in time and alert the police himself. Another is that Professor Nichols, who is shaking with fear, does not acknowledge making the call, but he just tells Batman that he will clean up and "set things strait."

With Batman driving, Robin begins to rattle off a few theories that seems to be bothering him: Why can't Professor Nichols go back in time and stop the Wayne's from being murdered? If the Wayne's were saved, would the Grayson's still die? And what would happen to all the people that Batman and Robin have saved? Batman simply says that everything is as it is, and you can't change what has happened. In a small panel on the bottom, Professor Nichols in has lab on the floor, apparently clutching the Joke Book that was left there. That panel seems to tie in with Batman's last words, saying that the future will be revealed whether it's welcome or not.


Batman and Robin, Dick and Damian, are called to the scene of a crime by Gordon, The victim, Professor Carter Nichols, shot in the heart by an apparent laser, a smile on his face, a maybe machine set next to him, in a room locked from the inside. Dick notes that Professor Nichols would be in his 60's, but the victim appears to be in his 80's.

Dick and Damian head to Crime Alley, and one the way, Dick tells Damian a little about the Professor. He says that Nichols became reclusive a few years ago, and he lost contact with the outside world. Dick was hoping the Professor would be able to help them find Bruce, but now his death will of course hinder that. At Crime Alley, Damian wonders aloud why they there, and Dick starts the creation of Batman speech. Damian of course knows the story, but Dick then clears it up. Every year, Bruce would leaves a black wreath at the spot where his family was murdered, and since he's not there this year, Dick is honoring the tradition.

After Dick sets the wreath, a young couple come running from around the corner, yelling that a group of "bad guy" are headed down their way. Batman pulls out his trade mark Robin staffs, and he and Robin quickly beat down the group of large men in a visually stunning scene by Frank Quitely. After taking care of that threat, Batman and Robin approach a pimp and some of his ladies, who immediately declare a truce to become Bat's new feelers on the street. Batman agrees, and the pimp's lady, named Serena, tell Dick of an underground weapons auction that Mr. Freeze told her about. Batman says the mutants will stay off the street tonight, and it can stay that way if the pimp continues to cooperate, which was already said. But Batman says that tonight is special, and the pimp agrees to lay off his usual activities for "Bat-Night."

Scott Kolins takes over the last few pages, as Batman and Robin have fun for a few overs, helping fix all sorts of emergencies, and even stopping for pizza. But the fun is interrupted for a moment, as Batman and Robin must crash the underground auction that is being attended by Riddler, Penguin, and Mr. Freeze, who were all set to bid for the Joker's legendary Joke Book.

After crashing the auction, and now set atop a building, Robin begins to brag about his crime fighting achievements for the night. He says that as soon as he finds the "locked-door killer", he will have proved his point that he would make a much better Batman than Dick. Dick contests though, saying that Damian would be the worst ever, since there is NO locked room killer. Dick says it was suicide, but Damian replies with the fact that there was now weapon.
"How am I supposed to follow you insane leaps of login?" he asks.
"Maybe when you do you'll be goo enough to be Batman." Dick replies. "Trusts me. It'll all make sense one day."


It's New Year in Gotham, and clock is set to twenty minutes. Batman, Damian, is dragging a cyborg on the back of a four wheeler, a aggressive interrogation. He begins to explain: A madman named January is holding the city ransom. He request is the Joker's Joke Book, and if it's not giving him, he will make it rain a toxin, Joker venom, that will make everyone laugh them self to death, but not before turning into Joker zombies. In twenty minutes, the venom becomes permanent, leaving everyone to die. The cyborg that Damian has, knows the location of January, and of the baby and old man that was kidnapped by the madman as well. Damian's tactics still haven't broken the cyborg, whose name is Max, but the threat of being eaten alive by carnivorous rats makes Max want to sing. Max yells that the location is some place in Granton, so with the new info, Damian leaves the cyborg to die a painful and gruesome death.

With about ten minutes left on the clock, Damian has a nifty device analyze the Joker venom, that in turn will send to results to the lab and synthesize an antidote. He tell the computer to send the cure to Gordon, Barbara that is. Will the results processing, he personally calls Gordon, and tells her that a cure is being sent. She warns him that if she finds him, she will lock him up, but right now, he's her only help from the Joker Zombies.

Batman retreats to the sewer, where he is met by large Joker mutants. There's only a little less than six minutes on the clock, so with time to fight, Damian recruits Brother-I to use long range lasers, and take out the mutants.

Batman emerges from the sewer, in front of 2-Face-2, a Joker baby, and an old Professor Nichols. 2_Face-2 has a normal face, and a ugly mutant face that bulges from the side, and is speaking. The gag was has to do with duality and New Year's: Father time, Professor Nichols, and a baby, who supposedly has a twin. Batman offers up the Joke Book, and January attacks him with a robotic eye, an eye that belonged to the cyborg Max. Batman uses his grapple to knock 2-Face-2 unconscious, and another man appears, a young Professor Nichols. He tells Batman to rescue to baby, and he will take care of the rest. The rest involves murdering his future self, who is almost dead anyways, and the last part is going back and making a call to the police years ago, the call that happened in the yesterday story. With that, the Professor leaves, but not before leaving a note for Batman, that will supposedly explain everything.

So Batman rescues the baby, a baby revealed to be the child of Warren and Mary McGinnis. Batman leaves the book to burn in the house, a book he says that can only be read by the insane, a group that is too many. He injects the Joker/McGinnis baby with the cure, with only two seconds left on the clock, and he wishes the Commissioner a happy New Year.
"Tomorrow belongs to Batman." he declares.


Each pages is a different Batman, each of a different FUTURE era.

The first one, Batman Beyond, as Terry McGinnis fights while being instructed by an old man who watches on a computer console.

The second, a post apocalyptic world, where futuristic soldiers are chasing a young woman though a dump of some sort. But a raggedy Batman and Robin, wearing tattered suits, and brandishing heavy weaponry come to her rescue.

Third one, a Batman is a modern future, an english dialect that is hard to interpret. A Batman in a classic suit with modern revisions, walking around a "cave" that holds all the previous Bat suits. He prepares a gliding cape, and leaps out the window.

The final one, a Batman that is similar to the One Million look, fighting his way though bunch of clowns in a Japanese inspired city.

The last pages show Gordon lighting up the Bat signal on the roof. "No matter when. No matter where. No matter how dark."
Dick and Damian swinging across the page, in brilliant fashion.
TO 700 MORE!

This issue was a great tribute to the Caped Crusader, one that meshes most incarnations of the character together so seamlessly. Nows a great time to be a Batman fan, between Batman and Robin, Return of Bruce Wayne, Streets of Gotham, and all the other character tie ins. This issue is a must for any fan, a landmark, a milestone, one that won't soon be forgottenn

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