By: Grant Morrison (writer), Tony Daniel (artist), Ian Hannin (colors)
The Story: R.I.P. The Missing Chapter, Part One: Bruce Wayne survives a helicopter crash. On shore, he waits for Hurt to emerge from the depths of the river, but Hurt doesn’t. When Bruce later checks out the helicopter wreckage in the Bat-sub, he finds it empty. Hurt is gone. So where does this leave Bruce?
What’s Good and What’s Not So Good: I’ve never seen Daniel draw Bruce Wayne in costume. It is very different from Dick Grayson under the cowl. Bruce’s stance is more imposing, more ominous, and dark. This is a good thing, but I also found his physique overdone, sometimes grossly so. Bruce walking into Wayne manor is a figure that in no way could be mistaken for Dick Grayson, or anyone else who hasn’t juiced up on steroids all his life. This is a bad thing. Bruce’s facial structure was also craggier and more hawk-like, which is probably a lot closer to the art style of the early 1940s and Kane’s original conception of Batman. This is good. However, the same effect taken head-on (not in profile or on an angle) was done with Superman’s face, which made him look a bit ridiculous. So, on draftsmanship, I think Daniel has the required skill, but it seemed like his discipline slipped once in a while, taking him from effective exaggeration in some panels, into disproportion and ugliness in others. On a side note, Hannin rocked the colors and Daniel did pick effective and dynamic camera angles, within relatively traditional layouts.
I had equally mixed feelings about the writing. This is certainly a psychological story, and perhaps even a character story, but I’m not sure it hit the target. While Bruce did prowl around the crime scenes, I didn’t get the sense that he had any great motivation, nor any internal obstacle to face. His moments after the helicopter crash are reactive. His later musings about Hurt were inconclusive. And his decision in the end was unsurprising. At the bottom of things, Morrison, in this first book of a new arc, established neither drama, nor momentum, so everything felt flat. On the plus side, some of Bruce’s internal monologue was fun to read, although without a story to hang it on, the insight lost its punch. Some might argue that Bruce’s real test was whether to put on the mask back on or not, despite Hurt’s threat. Morrison suggested as much near the end, but given the facts that (a) he already put on an emergency mask earlier in the book, (b) we know that Bruce will have a mask on when he faces Darkseid, and (c) Bruce not putting on the mask is difficult to belief, I didn’t really take this as a serious attempt at a central struggle.
Conclusion: Since nothing really happened, this is, unfortunately, an eminently forgettable and skippable issue.