"Ninja Man-Bats. Alarming twist."
Batman and Son marks the beginning of Grant Morrison's (JLA, The Invisibles) run on the Caped Crusader, though it's not the first time he's written about him. Arkham Asylum is still considered one of the best Batman stories ever written, and his portrayal of Batman in his JLA run (sometimes affectionately known as the “Bat-god”) certainly had a huge influence on Batman’s portrayal in a lot of recent writings.
Batman and Son offers a somewhat different, though no less Morrison-esque take on the Bat-mythos. As the title suggests, the bulk of the plot revolves around the revelation of the existence of Damian Wayne, Bruce’s son by Talia al Ghul, daughter of the villain Ra's al Ghul. Damian is about as much of a brat as you’d expect from a wunderkind raised by the daughter of a psychotic criminal mastermind and trained to be a perfect ninja assassin. In other words, he’s a complete snot, but understandably so. Not surprisingly, his relationship with Bruce is a bit tenuous at best, and isn’t helped by his constant disobedience, and his apparent desire to kill anyone and everything he doesn’t like (including Alfred and Tim Drake).
This collection also introduces the “Three Ghosts of Batman” (not their actual name), a group of Gotham Police Offices trained to replace Batman in the event hat something happened to him. Of course, something went horribly wrong, and they’re all crazy. Let’s face it, Batman himself isn’t the most stable guy in the world, and trying to make someone into him probably isn’t going to work out to well.
The collection also includes one very odd story about the Joker, in much the same style of Arkham Asylum. This is one of those stories you either love or hate…it’s hard to find a middle ground on it. And one story about the future of Damian, where he’s taken on the mantle of Batman, made a deal with the devil, and is still fighting to save Gotham from the apocalypse.
This is a fun collection, but it’s really just a prologue to the Black Glove and Batman: RIP stories that follow it. There’s a ton of things that are introduced here that really don’t get resolved at all. You cannot read this as a stand alone collection. Well, I guess you can, but it won’t be very satisfying.
On the flip side, if you haven’t read much Batman before, this is a decent place to start. Morrison pretty much tells you most of what you need to know in the first few pages, and other relevant details come along as they must. Sure, there are probably some obscure references you won’t understand without Wikipedia and a whole lot of time on the Internet, but it’s perfectly enjoyable without that.
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