3 out of 5
The issues after this one were an R.I.P. followup; this issue is what it says on the front: a giant-sized anniversary issue. That is, it’s relatively standalone. It’s written by Grant, but it’s not so much related to his preceding Batman run and whatever else he was doing with Batman and Robin and the Return of Bruce Wayne. On the one hand, this makes it pretty light and accessible; on the other hand, time travel and mystery murders and Damien Waynes and silver / modern age mock-ups were part of Grant’s run, and they’re part of this issue, so it’s a weird feeling – like the book is half summary, half one-shot.
The concept is fun: a locked room mystery, told across three “ages” of Batmen with three different artists – Tony Daniel taking Silver Age hijinks with a room full of cackling villains; Frank Quitely on modern era; Andy Kubert doing the ‘future,’ glimpsed in Batman #666, with Damien all sulky and killy in the Batman garb. Tony Daniels has the Neal Adams vibe, but he’s still too grim and gritty to pull off the campy tone of the opening bit, which gets the book off to an odd start. Quitely has the best written portion of the issue, with great banter and great action, and then it segues into a weird, kind of surreal portion with Batman shaving on a rooftop as illustrated by Scott Kollins. Kubert gives the future world a lot of snazz, but Grant sort of just dumps the mystery’s conclusion on us in the last page without much bravado, leaving the last punch of the issue to David Finch, who does several slices of different worlds and eras and Batmans, reunderlining the Batman Is Forever concept that was also part of Grant’s run’s DNA.
It’s an enjoyable issue, just torn between being an anniversary celebration, or a standalone mystery, or something that’s meant to complement Morrison’s efforts that came before it.
Also includes some Batcave diagrams.