Although published as a fancy “deluxe” hardcover graphic novel, this collection of eight Batman comics is rather dependent on plot elements developed by writer Morrison in earlier numbers. (Notably: Batman’s son Damian, a love interest Jezebel Jet, the Black Hand crime sodality, and Dr. Hurt.) Even within this sequence, the developments can be very difficult to follow: the story is concerned with attempts to destroy Batman through psychological manipulation, and there are few cues to help the reader distinguish between fantasy sequences, false memories, alternate histories, and the “objective plot.” Both actuality and temporality are often displaced, giving the reader perhaps a slightly greater share of Batman’s own confusion than would best facilitate the story.
Still, there’s a lot of worthwhile inventiveness here, as I would expect from Morrison. The third and fourth issues of the sequence were my favorites, with the “hazardous personal odyssey” of Honor Jackson, and the unveiling of the “Batman of Zur-en-arrh.” (“Bat-mite?” I thought, “Are you kidding me?” But Morrison pulls it off.)
Tony Daniels gets the lead art credit, and the illustration seems competent on the whole, with panels and pages that communicate the action effectively, and certainly exhibit the dark and gritty mood required. Still, I can’t help suspecting that some artistic invention could have helped to solve the basic comprehensibility problems in this book.