By Grant Morrison (writer), Tony Daniel (pencils), Sandu Florea (inks), Guy Major (colors)

This issue’s probably as straight forward as we’ll get with Morrison’s RIP story arc. It’s made apparent from the beginning that the Batman of Zur-En Arrh is only a temporary persona and not built to last this long (or for showdowns of this magnitude). Nevertheless, Batman (along with Bat-Mite) push on toward their confrontation with the Black Glove. Batman and Joker finally have their showdown and it’s finally conceded that no matter how much Bats prepares for a scenario sometimes there’s nothing he can do to relate to a maniac of The Joker’s caliber.

This time, the joke’s on Batman and Grant Morrison’s wildly nightmarish Joker is the scariest incarnation I’ve ever seen in a comic. He not only goads Batman as he connects the dots of the “Dead Man’s Hand” (that we saw back in DC Universe #0), but he also forces the issue when he reveals his role in the plot by mutilating his own tongue with a blade! Definitely not for the squeemish.

The Black Glove is finally revealed and it’s outright blatant. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with the outcome, too. After connecting the dots it’s very self evident who the person is but the manner of the final confirmation left me rolling my eyes. I wanted someone more mysterious not something we’ve seen a million times before. It’s just too obvious (almost too easy), and nearly deflates this entire enigma of a storyline.

Next issue promises a big showdown and we know it won’t end well. The reemergence of Damien into the storyline only confirms what we’ve all been speculating on for months. Grant Morrison has one issue left to end this on a strong note. If he pulls it off without bewildering his audience, this will have been worth the effort. And by effort, I mean the research and annotation digging 99% of us had to do. (Grade: C+)

– J. Montes