Batman and Robin: Black Mass (#16) – Grant Morrison

5 out of 5

Hahaha… okay.  Everything that felt kind of underwhelming, or sidelined, in the preceding arc is sort of redone here in prime Grant Morrison format, compressed down to its punchiest and most satisfying moments.  Would this have worked without the lead-in?  I can’t say.  Structurally, issues 12 – 15 were a necessary parallel to R.I.P., and I guess if I cared more about Simon Hurt they would’ve maybe held more impact.  But this issue makes clear that which was murky – Barbatos!  Darkseid’s trap!  Joker’s banana peel! – and just continually one-ups itself, smartly using three very different, very fantastic artists (Cameron Stewart, Frazier Irving, and soon-to-be superstar Chris Burnham) to capture the jumble of plotlines in a seamless fashion by having each tackle a particular thread or two.  It’s ridiculous how on Grant is here; how in control of his Batman world, his Tim Drake and Damian and Alfred, he is, and how he stuffs in blink-and-you-miss it gags like Gordon in a dress, a fist-pumping bad guy knockout, and then yet another conclusion that makes you eager as heck to see what’s next.  (Which would be Batman, Inc…)

Bruce is back.  He’s smiling; taking a shave.  Every enemy gets their comeuppance.  Batman is forever, and Batman is worldwide.