5. MORRISON GAVE BATMAN A SON
Batman has had surrogate sons right from his earliest days via the various characters who have been Robin. But not a biological son, other than in alternate reality stories. Grant brought back an obscure character from an Elseworlds storyline Son of the Demon, 1987 by Mike W. Barr and Chuck Dixon that many fans had forgotten, or were not even aware of.
In Son of the Demon Bruce impregnates Talia Al Ghul. Talia later claims to have had a miscarriage. The book ends with the very much alive un-named baby mysteriously being given to an unknown couple.
Grant Morrison took that loose end and imagined that Damian Wayne was raised to be the heir to Ra’s Al Ghul, the next Alexander destined to rule the world. Damian was raised as part of the League of Assassin’s to be an amoral ruthless killer.
Damian Wayne was a character you loved to hate. I know I did. A spoiled ten year old brat who was more angry and cynical than Batman.
Talia Al ghul drops Damian off one day to spend time with daddy dearest, leaving Batman with no option than to begin deprogramming the kid from being a killer. When Bruce’s near fascist regime doesn’t really help the kid, eventually he realises (after some prompting from Alfred) that what Damian Wayne needs is a father, not a mentor. Bruce struggles to be a father to Damian, while Damian slowly warms to Alfred while constantly struggling with the need for his fathers approval, and his desires to return to his former life as an assassin with Talia.
Damian needed love, not just discipline. Eventually Damian evolves to become a better person, even having respect for his father, despite routinely ignoring Bruce’s instructions and putting them both needlessly in harm ways on multiple occasions. A later plot development revealed that the deceased Ra’s Al Ghul planned on using Damian Wayne as his new host body, which would effectively kill Damian. This further reinforced Damian’s allegiance to the Bat-Family, although a couple of times during Morrison’s run Damiann Wayne does go back to be with his mother Talia al Ghul, only to be rejected or betrayed by possibly the worlds worst mother.
4. MORRISON MADE OBSCURE GOLDEN AGE CHARACTERS A SIGNIFICANT PART OF BATMAN’S WORLD
Morrison brought back several Golden Age characters such as the original Batwoman, Zur-en-arhh (as a back up personality for Batman) and the bizarre and frankly silly Club of Heroes from Detective Comics 215, #1955, The Batmen of All Nations. What seemed like gimmicky crap instead became a key feature of Morrison’s Batman run.
Morrison wanted to include parts of Batman’s history that some people found shameful, that had been repressed or had been “swept under the rug”.
Grant Morrison embraced all of Batman’s contradictions, his best, worst and most bizarre elements, and put it all into some kind of strange Batman quantum soup. Morrison’s Batman embraced all of Batman’s history and every continuity, no matter how nonsensical.
The Club of Heroes from Batman #215 were ethnically diverse “Batmen” representatives around the globe. In Morrison’s version he brought back some of these characters and made them part of Batman’s modern mythos.
Zur-en-arhh first appeared in Batman #113, 1958 “The Superman of Planet X”.
In the story some dude on an alien planet who was inspired by Batman – with bad fashion sense – decides to emulate him after seeing him on Earth through a telescope. Zur-en-arhh brings the real Batman to his planet to help him.
On Planet X Batman has the powers of Superman, he fights aliens and saves the day of course, eventually returning home. Despite Batman having Superman’s powers, the most memorable part of the story to modern reader is the strange colour scheme used for Zur-en-arhh which seems to be closer to Robin’s costume colours than Batman’s.
I guess Zur-en-arhh’s telescope was defective, or maybe he was colour blind. How else do you explain his gaudy fashion faux-pas?
Purple, red and yellow were prominently featured in Zur-en-arhh’s costume. Grant Morrison took the costume and created a “back up personality” for Batman that he reverts to after being brainwashed and drugged by Dr. Hurt (who may or may not be the Devil) during the Batman R.I.P. storyline.
When Batman becomes Zur-en-arhh in the Morrison run he also sees hallucinations of Bat-Mite. Batman R.I.P. was another controversial story that divided fan opinion. Whether you loved it or hated it, it was a truly unique story.
Hell, they even made a toy with a bonus Bat-Mite thrown in. Now… where can I buy me one of those Batman pervert telescopes?
Kathy Kane (the original Batwoman) appears briefly in Batman Incorporated, mostly via flashbacks that show her as a total bad-ass, instead of the lame character who originally appeared in the classic Batman comics.
3. MORRISON MADE BATMAN A GLOBAL BRAND WITH “BATMAN INCORPORATED”
Grant followed up reintroducing the Club of Heroes by creating Batman Incorporated. The idea being to have various Batmen around the world contributing to the global war on crime and further fueling the idea that Batman is an urban myth, more than one man, or un-killable. Bruce Wayne travels the world and recruits various International Batmen in one of the more entertaining chapters of Morrison’s long run on Batman.
The whole idea of Batman Incorporate is deliciously absurd as Bruce Wayne comes out publicly and states that he backs / funds Batman. Bruce Wayne also goes online and creates all sorts of information about who Batman really is. The idea is that there are so many contradictory theories and disinformation about who Batman is that it becomes a mess – like modern day conspiracy theories that run rampant on websites, chat rooms and message boards.
Just one more crackpot conspiracy theory among a thousand others – Batman Incorporated V1, #6
All the theories are basically unprovable. I love the idea that Batman has created multiple fake user accounts and websites that basically say Batman is Bruce Wayne, and only add further confusion by being unreliable sources of information.
While some fans hated this element, Batman Incorporated is my favourite part of the Grant Morrison Batman stories.
Batman has had his issues with the JLA before, even walking out of them on to lead the Outsiders team on the cover of Batman and the Outsiders V1, #1 1983. Batman remained a leader of the Outsiders for 32 issues before going his own way once again. While Batman has been vocal in his disapproval of the JLA in various stories with Batman Incorporated he had the chance to build up a non-team – Batman Incorported – from scratch that would follow his orders.
Each Batman operated in their own country, more a loose collective than a team in the traditional sense. Grant Morrison wrote some of the most memorable issues of JLA, and with Batman Incorporated Bruce Wayne starts a bold new experiment that leaves Nightwing, Batgirl and Red Robin (not to mention the readers) shocked, wondering if Batman has truly lost his marbles this time.
2. MORRISON KILLED BATMAN AND SENT HIM BACK IN TIME TO BE A CAVEMAN
Grant Morrison killed Batman – or at least made everyone in the DC Universe and the real world world think Batman was dead, right after he broke his “gun rule” and shot Darkseid with a bullet that could potentially kill a God.
Turns our that during the events of Final Crisis the Batman that died at the hands of Darkseid’s Omega Beams was a clone. Meanwhile the real Batman was sent back in time and had become an amnesiac cave man. Then Batman became a pilgrim, pirate and Zorro like Western hero, confused yet?
As Batman journeyed through time he regained pieces of his memory. This story more than any other was a love / hate affair with fans, some fans swearing off of Morrison’s Batman altogether, others finding brilliance in how Grant broke down and rebuilt the mythology of Batman piece by piece.
Final Crisis was the storyline that divided fans more than any others. Some used the story as further evidence to call Morrison a lunatic who writes incomprehensible nonsense, while some high brow fans praised him as a creative genius.
During his run Morrison explored Batman as a man, as an icon, as a symbol, as a god, as mythology, and Batman as pure idea.
The truth is that many fans simply did not understand what the heck Morrison was doing with Batman, but in contrast there were plenty who did understand and just did not like Morrison’s Batman stories.
At the beginning of Grant Morrison’s run on Batman, the writer established that Batman is much more than Gotham City. Now that he is rebuilding Bruce Wayne, he has to take him back to Gotham City and establish him in the city throughout time. Batman and Gotham City are intrinsically linked to one another and inseparable throughout time. – Cody Walker, The Anatomy of Zur-en-arhh: Understanding Grant Morrison’s Batman
2. MORRISON MADE BATMAN AND ROBIN SWAP ROLES
With Bruce Wayne out of the picture (characters in the DC Universe thought he was dead, and so did the public after the events of Final Crisis – until it was revealed Bruce Wayne had been sent back in time) Dick Grayson (formerly Nightwing and the first Robin) reluctantly stepped up to become the new Batman, with Damian Wayne as his sidekick Robin.
Where Bruce was cold emotionless and gruff, Dick Grayson was a happier light hearted Batman who even cracked jokes. Damian Wayne continued to be Robin – a cynical angry savage Robin. With this pairing reversed – happy Batman, angry Robin, Morrison mixed up the dynamic of the dynamic duo. What could have been clumsy and irritating turned out to work surprisingly well.
1. MORRISON MADE EVERYTHING BATMAN CANON
Dark Knight Returns? Canon.
Batman ’66? Canon.
Batman with guns? Canon.
Batman Manga? Canon.
Crazy LSD inspired science fiction stories with Batman fighting aliens? Canon.
Morrison took everything cool, great, nonsensical and contradictory from Batman’s long history and made it all canon.
Yes, all of it.
It even makes sense if you listen to him on the Fatman on Batman Podcast with Kevin Smith where Morrison explains his theories. Morrison and Smith talk in depth about Morrison’s career in comics and go super in depth into his theories on Batman, Superman, superheroes in general in Fatman on Batman episodes #26 #27 and #44.
Uproxx.com has a great brief transcript and a link to a short video highlighting Morrison’s mad theory:
Grant Morrison: The best way to do Batman that’s never been done is to accept every single year as one guy’s biography. […] Batman from 1938 who’s out there with guns in his hand and he’s fighting vampires and crooks, I thought, well, imagine that’s Batman at 20, you know. And then he meets this kid when he’s 21, and the kid’s this little working class circus kid who’s totally cocky. And this introverted young Norman Bates Batman is suddenly, “Wait a minute. This is the kid that died in me. This is everything that I wanted to be.” And the two become friends, and it’s not creepy. It’s like, “He’s my best friend and my brother and everything I wish I could be.” And the kid’s looking at him like, “He’s everything I wish I could be.”
Kevin Smith: “You’re going to make me cry.”
Grant Morrison: Then it’s suddenly Adam West and Burt Ward for a few months, where it’s just really synthetic and fucked-up because they’ve been on so many mind-altering chemicals from The Scarecrow and The Joker. They don’t know what the fuck’s happening. When they punch people they’re seeing graphics in air. I thought, imagine it’s just all real. […] It fit beautifully into the personality of this insane, billionaire, unique human.”
The video (of the audio) is a little over 3 minutes and if you are true Batman fan you would be silly not to listen to it.
The full conversations of Smith and Morrison over 3 Fatman Podcast episodes go to around four hours, you can find them on Smith’s Smodcast/Fatman website, Itunes and edited together by fans on Youtube.
Morrison’s “everything is canon” Batman theory that he used for his 6 Year Batman run:
3 episodes of Fatman on Batman with Kevin Smith and Grant Morrison edited together on Youtube:
Grant Morrison took everything from Batman’s convoluted history and said “why not?”
The reboots, pre-crisis, post-crisis and made it ALL canon in a bizarre way that makes sense. He even included the Batman ’66 TV show and the screwball 50’s comics where Batman did increasingly bizarre things month after month. In Grant Morrison’s Batman everything from the original Dark Knight who killed and used guns to the smiling cop who walked around in the daylight to the 70’s James Bond adventures, 80's dark and cynical Batman and everything else before or after and made it canon (at least while he was writing the book).
He brought back Bat-Mite and the original Batwoman, the Club of Heroes, Dr. Hurt, Zur-en-ahh and any other shameful dirty laundry that fans are generally embarrassed by or want to forget. Grant brought it all back and celebrated everything that was part of Batman’s history, the good, the bad and the ugly – something only a true hardcore Batman fan could do.