Batman: R.I.P. The Missing Chapter (#701 – 702) – Grant Morrison

4 out of 5

For as out there and abstract as Grant Morrison’s Batman run seemed to be at points, I find it amusing that his ‘final’ outing on the title – before resurrecting Bruce Wayne for Batman, Incorporated – was three somewhat straight-forward issues.  Not that you shouldn’t read the whole shebang, but issue #700 – without directly tying in to the run – was a pretty good high-level summary of what Grant did with it, and not that you shouldn’t wade through R.I.P., but the ‘missing chapter’ of issues 701 and 702 sort of similarly cover the main beats you need to know, including those of Final Crisis, which is an effing mess by my take, so that’s kind of nice.

For those that did make the journey, though, there’s a lot of satisfying connective tissue here, some of which really strengthens some moments in FC that fell flat amongst its noise, as well as legitimate ‘missing’ bits which puzzle-piece right in to scenes we did see in Batman, and reward your brain for making the right assumptions about how Bruce got from point A to point C.  The narrative is structured as a letter or message – we find out to whom at the end, but you can read it like a diary entry – speaking about life traps and holes in things that topically tie in to Bats’ whole adventuring against Doctor Hurt, Darkseid, and time, and, again, sharpen some of the abstractness of these concepts’ previous appearances.  And as this is Bruce’s narrative voice, heavy with purpose, Tony Daniel’s bulky artwork feels appropriately suited, perhaps moreso than it ever was along the way.

A couple of shots toward the end still feel a bit conflicting (and it will be forever unclear if that’s an art limitation or Grant being Grant), and as pages are structured as a ‘countdown to omega’ – Bruce’s return – the sudden jump from a month out to suddenly seconds until omega in the final few pages reminds, rather disappointingly, of the fast-forward writing style of Final Crisis – but the issues still communicate a heckuva a lot more of the story and themes of that series and its lead-ins a heckuva lot more clearly (and thus, perhaps, enjoyably) than the original issues themselves did.