At first the end of Batman 681, the much-anticipated end of the six-part "Batman R.I.P.," felt too much like a cop out to me. Ever since the title of this story was revealed a year or two ago, the unanswered question has been whether Batman really will die. This issue leaves that question frustratingly unanswered.
The more I've thought about it, though, I've realized it was probably the best way to end the story, by process of elimination. Here are the other ways it could have ended:
- Batman is either physically or mentally incapacitated by Dr. Hurt and his Club of Villains, to be replaced by another man in the cowl, which would be lame because it was already done in 1992's "Knightfall."
- Batman decides he needs to take a break after all this craziness and asks someone (probably Nightwing) to take over for him for a while, which would be lame because it was already done in 1995's "Prodigal."
- Batman is killed in such a way that we see the body only to be inevitably brought back from the dead in some nonsensical sort of way because really, DC can't permanently kill Bruce Wayne, which would be super lame because it's already been done with Jason Todd in 1988's "Death in the Family" and 2004's "Under the Hood" (and with every other comics character that has ever "died").
What "Batman R.I.P." comes down to is Grant Morrison's version of "Knightfall." In "Knightfall" a previously unknown villain put together a master plan to break Batman and succeeded. Grant Morrison's Batman, though, never loses. Grant Morrison's Batman thinks of everything. You may think your master plan has broken him, but that's only because he wanted you to think so. Grant Morrison's Batman may not be so blatantly cocky as Frank Miller's Batman, who walks around proclaiming "I'm the goddam Batman" to anyone who'll listen, but you know he's at least thinking it.
You think you can break me? I'm the goddam Batman.