The return of Batman’s oldest enemy! The return of Batman’s son! And much more!
Note: This multi-issue story spanned several comics, many of which were not written by Grant Morrison. Although they’re not essential to understanding Grant Morrison’s overall purpose and legend, they’re worth talking about briefly. For one, they show that DC really did put Morrison in charge of Batman for a while—even if they cut the rug out from under him before he could finish his story. For another, it’s interesting to see how other writers and artists played in Morrison’s Bat-playground.
But overall, this is an entirely “skippable” chapter in Grant Morrison’s Bat-story. (It’s also not a great tale, really.)
It starts with Batman #670, titled a “Prelude,” in which we see not only that Damian is still alive (no shocker there, though) but he now clearly identifies with his father—in opposition to Grandpa Ghul. We also see Ghul being referred to as “The Demon.” Remember back in Batman #666—already two years ago in “real life” time—Morrison showed Damian in the future, talking about how he had killed “The Demon.” Also, remember that Damian first appeared in an elseworlds story written by Mike Barr called “Son of the Demon.” Ghul is ageless, and his mark on Damian feels paternal, even if the character genetically is Damian’s grandfather.
This new relationship is exemplified by one exchange, in which Ghul says that Damian was “grown in a tank.” Ghul demands Damian’s loyalty…
After that, the story spins into high gear, telling of how Ra’s gets a new body. The side stories, in the pages of Robin, Nightwing and Detective, mostly deal with Damian Wayne, Jason Todd and Dick Grayson all fighting each other and teaming up at the same time, for the first time. I have to say, the writing isn’t very strong and there are some major gaps between the books. The most glaring: Grant Morrison breaks Batman’s arm in Batman #671, but in the very next issue of the saga, Robin #169, we see Batman fighting with both arms and both fists, as if it never happened. There’s quite a few examples of this kind of thing—and many distortions of Damian’s character into a much less interesting, oversimplified “boy wants daddy” archetype. It was simply too early for Morrison to let go of the character, and the pat “we’re all family now” ending comes too quickly to be believable.
Reading this story with all the tie-ins just accentuates how much better a writer Grant Morrison is than most other writers of the The Bat.
And that’s why I say this one is skippable.