Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Tony Daniel and Sandu Florea
I was really impressed with this penultimate chapter in the Batman RIP storyline. The storyline is still far from my favourite story ever, but this month's offering manages to take most of the negatives the previous chapters had and fixes those problems to tell another insane, yet focused, story.
The story follows two points of view - one from Batman and one from the Joker - and shows us how the Black Glove reacts to Batman's arrival, mostly with disbelief that the brightly coloured, raving lunatic is actually him.
Along the way, we see Joker set loose and he promptly kills off most of the badguys set up to stop Batman in the first place. I'm not sure what the point of having these villains introduced was if the only plan was to have Joker kill them all - off panel at that - but it lead to an entertaining confrontation between Batman and Joker, one where the Joker was the more sane of the two, and that made the issue for me. In fact, the entire issue, with the exception of one short cameo of Commissioner Gordon being saved by Talia and Damian, was designed to lead up to the showdown with Batman and Joker.
After a short non-fight between them and lots of talking heads, we get to Jezebel Jet and her damsel in distress routine. Batman actually takes off his mask during his attempt to save her and she calls him Bruce the whole time, which makes me wonder if Joker now knows he's Bruce Wayne or not, but I'm sure that will be retconned away along with the "new" Joker featured here.
The issue ends with Batman trying to save Jet from the toxic flower pettles only to, from what I can tell, succomb to poison himself. Meanwhile, Jet rises from her restraints and it's revealed she's been a plant from the start, which explains a lot, to be honest. It was pretty much a given she was based on how easily she became the love of Bruce's life and the whole trigger word thing from a few issues ago. I think Morrison did a horrible job building her up to this point and it was one of my main complaints about many of the plot points throughout his run. This doesn't make it all better, but it's at least comforting to know she'll be gone when this is all over.
Verdict - Check It. In the end, not much happened until the last few pages, but it was still a much better outing than previous issues. Where the others seemed to be lacking any kind of editorial restraint or focus, this issue managed to combine the insanity of previous issues with a tempered direction and story progression that really worked in comparison.