It was just a week and a half ago that Batman #681 came out, the last issue of Grant Morrison’s “Batman R.I.P.” storyarc, where he claimed that he was putting Batman through a “fate worse than death.” So Batman #681 comes out, where the villain that’s been tormented Bats says he’s his father, Thomas Wayne, Batman denies it, and then they both run into a helicopter which blows up.
Now, I assumed two things here: 1) that the bad guy must in fact be Batman’s real father, despite Batman’s dismissal of it, because 2) Grant Morrison would know what he was talking about when he said a “fate worse than death.” An exploding helicopter isn’t exactly a fate worse than death (unless there’s a ret-con where a helicopter shot Bruce Wayne’s parents in that alley I’m forgetting). Besides, Batman was clearly alive and kickin’ it in Final Crisis, which supposedly takes place six months after “R.I.P.” My far more intelligent buddy Sean Collins said that there was no way the bad guy was Batman’s dad, but I couldn’t believe it because then the ending didn’t make sense as it had been touted.
In a fascinating excerpt from an upcoming interview, DC’s Dan Didio tells Newsarama why I was so confused–the end wasn’t the end.
DD: Here’s the conundrum on this one. And this is reflective of the
world that we live in now – the world of collected editions. The R.I.P.
story was always meant to play through to the end of Final Crisis
– always. The thing is, we had to come up with a very complete story in
“Batman R.I.P.” as it existed in its title. The reality is that the
“Batman R.I.P.” story does not conclude until Final Crisis #6. There are also issues #682 and #683 of Batman that feed directly into Final Crisis #6, and we’ll have a big finale to the Batman storyline. That’s how it plays out.
But as I said, because we live in the world of collected editions, we needed a conclusion in the Batman series, so that we could collect it properly within Batman, without having to bring in segments of Final Crisis to complete the story.
NRAMA: So – fundamentally, “Batman R.I.P” did not end in Batman #681?
DD: Correct. We have the two parts that we’re in the middle of now, and they lead us into Final Crisis #6
which gives us a definite conclusion to the Batman story. That’s how
Grant designed the story from the start, and that’s how the story plays
out. So, the people who are looking for the big finale, the stuff that
Grant was talking about – he knows how big an ending he has, because he
wrote it in Final Crisis #6. That story has been so planned out that it reflects events from the pages of Final Crisis #1 in order to pull it all together.
Well. That’s good to know…MORE THAN A WEEK AFTER THE FINAL ISSUE OF “BATMAN R.I.P.” CAME OUT. How fucking stupid of me to assume that the final issue of “Batman R.I.P.” would be the conclusion of the story. I’m so glad that, if I were a loyal Batman reader, to be able to find out suddenly that the story I’ve been reading for the last half year makes no sense unless I also purchase the end of the Final Crisis saga, which I’m sure I wouldn’t need to buy all its previous issues to make sense. That’s real fucking swell.
And so fucking nice of you to create a bullshit lame ending for the “Batman R.I.P.” graphic novel, so that people can buy that and…have absolutely nothing, because the real fucking ending is still going to be in the Final Crisis collected edition. What a huge goddamn favor for the readers.
Is this just me? I’m not reading any Marvel or DC comics nowadays, I have pals at both companies, and this still strikes me as some of the most asinine, arrogant bullshit I’ve ever seen. Maybe if we all knew this was coming, it wouldn’t have been a big deal–people could have been reading Final Crisis from the start, or chosen to avoid “R.I.P.” altogether. But to find out “R.I.P.” is meaningless without Final Crisis–AFTER “R.I.P.” IS FUCKING OVER? Jesus, how much contempt can you have for your customers? Seriously, am I blowing this out of proportion? Let me know, because I’m genuinely angry.
Finally, my favorite part is of the interview:
NRAMA: That said, it took you a few minutes there
to explain where the story “really” went and ended, and yet, there’s
the clear perception, at least until this word gets out, that R.I.P
ended with Batman #681. What can you do, or can you
do anything when you see fans reading along, and coming to a point
where collectively, they say, “What the hell?” …
DD: Honestly, I enjoyed the ending of R.I.P. in Batman,
so I felt satisfied at the conclusion. I look at everyone following
along, and have the same reaction that anyone in my position has when
the readers get a controversial issue – that they don’t say, “Oh, yeah
– #681. Didn’t like it, so I’m going to drop Batman
and never read another issue.” I’m hoping that’s not the case because,
as those who stuck around realized, issue #682 really gets you back
into what the story is really about, and that comes across even
stronger in #683. Again, we’re trying to create long-term fiction with
Batman. In doing so, we want to make sure these things are as
compelling as they can be from stage to stage, point to point, and that
people ride along all the way with us.
I’m sure you don’t want people to stop reading Batman after #681’s lame ending, Dan. But maybe taking a few minutes to clue fans in to your plans to make them buy two series to read one at any point in 2008 might have been the better way to go, rather than hoping they happen to read one single, solitary online interview.