Comic Discussion: RIP and Requiem
A Batman “event” commentary
It seems like every week there is a new event popping out of the New 52. The majority of these events have been rather disappointing. The worst of the crossover disappointments are the Batman crossovers. Night of the Owls begins with promise, but falls apart with weak tie-in books and a very stupid ending featuring an Owl who believes he is Bruce Wayne’s long lost brother. Not too long after we got the big Death of the Family event that brought Joker back. Again we began with promise, but it fell apart with really bad tie-in stories and an ending where no one died. Finally, we get our newest event occurring immediately after Death of the Family, the aptly named RIP and Requiem follow up.
The story begins with Damien Wayne, the current Robin, being killed off by an adult clone of himself called The Heretic, who feels like a generic Leviathan lackey rather than a true threat to the world. The battle does not feel like an epic duel that would lead to a character’s death it just feels like a regular battle. The death really is lackluster and it is not helped by beginning in the terrible Batman, Inc series. A series that feels like it does not have an actual script and tends to jump around without providing key information. It is not a well written opening to an event and while it may have had good sales it is unlikely that people will stick with this book after the event (then again Red Hood and Teen titans do well and they also suffer from abysmal writing). However, this is only the begging of the problems with RIP and Requiem.
This event occurs just as a previous event ended. While, this has happened before with mixed results it does feel rushed and not organic to the world. While, not may people liked Damien at first, he has grown on those who did not like him. He has become a very well accepted part of the Bat-family and seemed to have an interesting arc developing. Beyond killing a character that was growing on people we also have the fact that this character is the son of Talia al Ghul whose connections to advanced technology and the Lazarus Pits make Damien’s return not a question of if, but when, which kills any suspense. This just feels like an excuse to sell more comics rather than trying to tell a good story. This is rather pointless when Bat themed books tend to be the best sellers of the New 52.
Like most of these events the tie-ins come from all aspects of the Bat-family, other than Batwoman because no one cares about her. Thus, some of the more poorly written Bat-books find their way into the event with little to no impact. Nightwing has the death as a framing device for a different story and has nothing to do with Dick’s decision to leave Gotham. In addition, Red Hood barely ties into the story at all, as is the case with Batgirl and World’s Finest. What is the point of having a tie-in story if it has no impact on the events of that book? If I can skip an event side story and still understand the event and the consequences of the event then it wasn’t worth making story tie-ins and the event should stand by itself. The pointless tie-in books are just a cash-in that does not expand anything and sometimes disrupts an ongoing story for no good reason.
This is not to say that there are not stories that were well done. In the case of Requiem we have Batman and Robin #18, a silent comic that is one of the most well done stories I have seen in a long time. It shows how Bruce, Alfred, and Titus the dog are dealing with the death of Damien in a very somber and heart wrenching way. Batman #18 also attempts this by showing Bruce becoming sloppy as Batman and how it affects his life. While not as emotionally strong as B&R 18 it is still a good take on the mourning period. These titles show that this event and the tie-in stories are not without some merit.
However, if you compare any of the Batman events to the current Green Lantern crossover events (Rise of the Third Army and Wrath of the First Lantern) we can really see where Batman is failing in making a strong event story. In Rise of the Third Army we see so much change in the Lantern-verse. We get a new Green Lantern of Earth (Simon Baz), Kyle Rayner becomes a White Lantern, and the Manhunters return. While it was not necessary to read every Lantern book to understand the story the reader gets much more out of the event by doing so. With Wrath of the First Lantern the story progresses from issue to issue showing each of the Lanterns dealing with the consequences from the Third Army story. Everything flows together and the stories of the different characters have been altered by these events.
While, I personally do not agree with the decision to kill Damien that is in no way influencing how I feel about the quality of Batman events. The first two of the New 52 felt like such let downs and there is so much that could be done with those concepts. There should be more cohesion in the story and bigger consequences than characters seeming moderately annoyed. The sheer amount of action and drama that can come from so many characters makes the recent events even more disappointing. It really feels like a waste when such potential is thrown away because of lazy writing. I have been a Batman fan since before I could read and all I want are Batman events that can hold up with some of the older events and major stories that I have read over the years. Batman deserves better and with the talent behind many of the Bat-books a strong cohesive event storyline can be made that can hold up with past events.
With upcoming shifts to the talent pool of the Bat-titles my hopes are much higher for upcoming events. As Batman is perhaps the most popular DC character it would be great to see his comic live up to that status. Until then I will keep on reading Green Lantern and look forward to the inevitable Return of Damien story.
jared @ scarlet-rhapsody.com