DC Comics Throwback Thursdays: Batman #666 and Batman Inc. (Vol. 2) #5

Welcome to Comic Booked’s DC Comics Throwback Thursdays! For our inaugural #DCComicsTBT showcase today we will be revisiting two of Grant Morrison’s most iconic Batman issues: the apocalyptic Batman #666 by Morrison and Andy Kubert, and its fiery companion issue Batman Incorporated (Vol. 2) #5 by Morrison and Chris Burnham!

Much like our new Marvel Must-Read Mondays feature, every Thursday we will be showcasing a DC Comic or graphic novel that you MUST READ! We will feature both older issues and collections, as well as newer ones – after all, there’s no rule that says we can’t throwback to the previous New Comic Book Day (aka Wednesday) to cover a new release!

If you’ve seen the incredible Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (I’m actually starting to believe I may be the only person on Earth who seriously, 100% for-real thought that movie was a masterpiece, but I digress…) or have at least scene snapshots on the Interwebs or from the movie’s trailers, chances are there are a couple images in particular involving a certain Dark Knight that caught your eye…

Behold! The KnightmareKnightmare Batman

Man, I freaking LOVED the Knightmare sequence, and Knightmare Batman was a BOSS! What resonated with me most about the sequence is how closely it matched the iconic imagery of the two Grant Morrison Batman issues we’re exploring today.

Batman #666 by Grant Morrison and Andy KubertIn the aptly numbered Batman #666, the mind-blowing team of writer Grant Morrison and artist Andy Kubert fling us into the far-future of Gotham and the Dark Knight. Like, far-future as in Mad Max far-future: Gotham is pretty much a apocalyptic wasteland.

We learn that upon Batman’s death, Damian Wayne made a deal with the Devil to make himself immortal and thus ensure Gotham’s protection for all time. Donning his father’s alter ego, this new hellfire Batman – dressed much like Zack Snyder’s Knightmare Batman above (an obvious nod to these Morrison issues) – struggles with keeping the body count low (he promised Bruce he would never kill again) as he continues his father’s neverending battle for Gotham’s soul.  "The apocalypse is cancelled..."

He ends up taking on the actual Anti-Christ (himself dressed in Batman attire) in one of the craziest comic showdowns ever. Oh, and did I mention Damian coverts Gotham into one gigantic booby-trap in order to curb crime? No? Oh…well, he does that. And its AWESOME. The issue ends with this gem of a panel:

As with many of Morrison’s comics, the reader is left wondering, exactly, any or all of this actually means. Is this just a nightmare Bruce is experiencing, perhaps fueled by his fear of being a father? Is it an actual glimpse into Gotham’s future, and if so, can it be stopped? Or is that just a crazy Elseworlds-style tale Morrison weaved just to take advantage of the apocalyptic Biblical number of the issue?

This is where Batman Inc. (Vol. 2) #5 comes in.

Cover by Chris BurnhamReleased over six years after Batman #666, this issue of Incorporated finds Talia al’Ghul – daughter of Ra’s and mother of Damian Wayne – wanting her son to return to her side and join her in her war against Batman. Instead of demanding Damian stay by his side, Bruce actually seems to think it may be the best idea for his son to return to Talia.

Damian is crushed at his father’s seeming disregard. And that is when Bruce opens up to his son, and reveals the dark vision he experienced in Batman #666 was actually a vision of the future, and that in order for Gotham to survive, for Bruce to survive – and most importantly, for Damian to keep his soul – Damian must NEVER become Batman.

“If you become Batman,” Bruce explains to Damian, “everything falls apart.”

Leave it to Grant Morrison to turn an awesome romp through an apocalyptic future Gotham into a"How it ends..." vision that carries so much weight for Bruce Wayne that in another issue six years later Morrison is able to use it to create one of the most emotional moments I’ve ever read in a comic, let alone a Batman comic.

Just from these two issues, Morrison gives us glimpse into his entire Batman run: it’s not just about Bruce Wayne the Batman, Bruce Wayne the hero, or even Bruce Wayne the man: it’s about Bruce Wayne the father – both literally, as is the case with Damian, and figuratively as the watchful father of Gotham City.

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That’s it for today, folks. Be sure to tag us on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtags #ComicBooked #DCComicsTBT to let us know what you think about the comics we discussed today. Keep your eyes out for new Marvel Must-Read Mondays and DC Comics Throwback Thursdays every week on Monday and Thursday!

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