DC Comics celebrates its 75th Anniversary this year, and with all the festivities going around to commemorate such an occasion, we mustn't forget about the most important medium we need to keep tabs on - the comics themselves. A whole lot of them are reaching landmark issue numberings that serve as milestones and jump-in points to remind fans of the legacy that has passed down for almost a century now, and while DC has an encyclopedia's worth of books and tales to share, the anniversary issues to watch out for are those of the Trinity itself - Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. The first to be released, naturally, is Batman #700, and as a big fan of the character, I wasn't going to miss this Giant-Sized collector's item for the world! What does it contain? Well, read on and find out!
Written By: Grant Morrison
Cover Illustrated By: David Finch
Illustrated By: Tony Daniels, Frank Quitely & Scott Kolins, Andy Kubert, David Finch
Batman Gallery By: Shane Davis, Juan Doe, Guillem March, Dustin Nguyen, Tim Sale, Bill Sienkiewicz, Philip Tan
Secrets Of The Batcave Illustrated By: Freddie Williams II
As far as the story goes for this 700th issue of the Dark Knight, it's called "Time And The Batman", and it's divided into four chapters, namely "Yesterday", "Today", "Tomorrow", and "And Tomorrow" - each chronicling a unique adventure in life and history of the Batman legacy. All of them are written by Grant Morrison, the man literally responsible for turning Batman's world upside down and inducting Dick Grayson into the mantle for the present day. Each story, however, is drawn by a special guest artist, with some of the best lending their talents to celebrate this milestone issue's coming. Batman comic regulars Tony Daniel, Frank Quitely, and Andy Kubert are back, while Scott Kolins and newly acquired and now exclusive artist to DC David Finch join in to pencil some great material depicting Bats and his many allies and villains. I won't delve into the story that much because, quite frankly, it's a little mind-boggling and every one of them reads in a different pace. I will say that it explores each and everyone of the men who have taken and assumed the mantle of the Batman, from Bruce Wayne to "the now incorporated into regular DC Continuity character of Terry McGinnis, and as the legacy passes down from mentor to successor, one thing remains constant - Batman will always be there to fight crime, and as the last few lines at the end can attest, he'll do it "No matter when. No matter where. No matter how dark". That's Batman for you, and that's why he kicks ass in my book.
I'll be honest though, this book is more of a visual eye candy piece than a groundbreaking, must-read title. The story is a bit confusing to read at first, and not until I whittle down and read through "The Past" chapter do I start to make sense of things. Since this is Grant Morrison we're talking about, it's like all of his writing methods are crammed to this book, from the convoluted storytelling witnessed in Batman R.I.P to the nice and straightforward narrative he carved out for Batman and Robin. It's really the best of both worlds the reader will get here, so if you plan to dive into Batman #700, be sure to get your head into the game and adjust yourself to each story accordingly. Also, as of this issue, we have the current writer of Batman and Robin going back to the original flagship Batman title, so that makes it two Bat books Morrison will be working on from this point forward, apart from telling the tale of how Bruce Wayne makes it back to the present day.
Anyone looking for a taste of beautiful Batman artwork will be pleased to know that Batman #700 has great talents on board to commemorate this milestone of an issue. Some of the best to have drawn the Dark Knight are here, and that includes Tony Daniels and Frank Quitely, who have done their fair share of spectacular work, drawing several issues of Batman and Batman and Robin, respectively. Probably the highlight artist of them all is the former Marvel artist David Finch, who's known for his stunning pencils in the now classic Avengers: Disassembled storyline. Finch draws the cover to this issue, as well as the last chapter "And Tomorrow", and I must say, his work is excellent in Batman. I've always wanted to see the guy draw the Caped Crusader since I learned and saw his stint in Moon Knight, and now that the dream has come true, I'm very pleased with the results I see.Finch's pencils are well suited to dark and brooding characters, and in some ways, his art style is a bit similar to Jim Lee's, whose work in Hush remains iconic to this day. Sadly, Lee's art doesn't make it into this issue, not even as a contribution in the Batman Gallery alongside other artists. Can't have 'em all, I guess, but there is a detailed Batcave section by Freddie Williams II here, so anyone who likes schematics will be impressed by this one.
In terms of nostalgic, anniversary, and milestone occasions, Batman #700 has a fair amount of hype to carry itself over and present a product worthy of picking up and purchasing at your local comic shop. There could have been several other ways to concoct a giant-sized issue like this, but what we got is fine enough as it is, and it features Tony Daniel, Frank Quitely, and David Finch's pencils, so that should be more than enough reason to be curious to look at this issue already. With Batman's reputation at an all time high now thanks to the contributions of several other mediums in the entertainment industry, Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight in particular, The Caped Crusader's legacy is and will still carry over to fans all over the globe. Like I said, this issue is a milestone for the avid collector and a great jump-in point for the oblivious reader, so feel free to choose and decide whether this one's worth picking up to know more about the Dark Knight.
Rating - 8/10