I know there are a lot of comics out there out there in the WWW, but somehow, reading comics on the Web never did it for me.
Maybe it was the resolution. Maybe it was the scrolling. Maybe it was just me. I did continue to read Internet comics, but I wasn’t a happy customer. And so, it was with a mixture of trepidation and anticipation that I bought the first issue of Batman R.I.P. to read on the DC iPad app. The purchase ($1.99, or around R90) and the download took me less time than the billing would have taken even in a nearempty book store (full disclosure: I have a fairly fast broadband wireless connection at home). And it was a delight to read the comic on the iPad. I do not think the comic was modified for viewing on the iPad’s screen, but each page, with all panels intact, fit neatly on the screen, and the resolution was great (for the visually challenged, the simple act of placing two fingers on screen, and moving them apart, magnifies the panels; I did this a couple of times to view details that would have been difficult to catch even on cellulose).
I turned pages by simply touching the right bottom corner of the screen (the left bottom corner will take you to the previous page). I know that I could have flipped the page too, but why waste energy? I bought the remaining five issues (again $1.99 each) and read them and then I went on to the Marvel universe and burned some money on two Wolverine series, including a 1982 one set in Japan and illustrated by the venerable Frank Miller. The Marvel and DC apps themselves are easy to download (as is the Boom! Studios one).
And all purchases are routed through iTunes, so one doesn’t have to worry about dealing with multiple vendors. The one problem I have with the apps has actually not got anything to do with them but everything to do with how publishers think—their weekly releases aren’t immediately available in the store for download on the iPad. Since, like most comic book readers here, I depend on trade paperbacks (which collect several weekly issues which are, any way not released in India), I was hoping that the apps would help me stay abreast with current comics. Still, I am sure that will eventually happen.
And now, on to Batman R.I.P. itself, a 2008 series that was released as a trade paperback in 2009, and on the iPad in 2010.
Written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Tony Daniel, Batman R.I.P. tells the story of the Black Glove organization’s effort to destroy Batman—physically and psychologically.
Batman falls for a honeytrap; Bruce Wayne is left a nervous drug-addled wreck on the street; and the enigmatic Dr Hurt (Simon Hurt), the head of the Black Glove tries to convince the world and Batman that he is Thomas Wayne (Batman’s father), and didn’t actually die at the hands of Joe Chill, whom he had actually hired to fake his murder.
With a little help from a ghost and his own subconscious mind, Wayne re-emerges as the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh and, again, with a little help from Nightwing, Robin and Tania and the League of Assassins, he takes on Hurt.
Batman himself is convinced Hurt is not his father but an actor, Mangrove Pierce, whom his father used as a double occasionally.
While some elements of the plot of Batman R.I.P. aren’t entirely new, there are others—like the backstory Hurt wanted to propagate—that are interesting. The storyline is a trifle convoluted (even for a comic book) but I still enjoyed the comic. Morrison is one of the real talents in the comics business, although this columnist would really like to see him doing more of the non-superhero stuff. And, after all, this was the first comic I read on my iPad—surely that has to count for something.
Batman R.I.P. ends intriguingly with the helicopter carrying Dr Hurt and Batman crashing. I know from subsequent Batman comics I read before I did Batman R.I.P. that he survives the crash.
Then, I would have never doubted his ability to.
As regular readers of CF know, I believe in Batman.
R. Sukumar is editor, Mint.
Write to Sukumar at firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Batman R.I.P.’ and RIP paper comics