This hardcover collects Batman #655-658 & #663-666 and is written by Grant Morrison.
Overall- Since I actually read this hardcover about 8 months ago, I'm not going to do a flat out review of this entire hardcover. I can't really type up my initial feelings to the story, since I already know(for the most part)what happens. But Kello, whose blog is a great read by the way, recommended that I take another look at this hardcover in order to better understand the Batman R.I.P. storyline, as well as some insights into what Grant Morrison may have planned for the upcoming Battle for the Cowl storyline. So, without further ado, here are some of my thoughts about the Batman & Son hardcover. In bullet point format!!!
-One of the main things I gleaned from this story was that I really didn't like Damian Wayne. He is such an obnoxious little jerk. But, I think(hope)that was what Grant was aiming for when he created the character(I'll add that I am currently reading through the "Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul" hardcover, and don't dislike Damian nearly as much in that).
-Robin(Tim Drake)sure looked bad in this hardcover. I'm guessing that Grant doesn't like Tim that much, since a 12 year old basically hospitalizes Tim in the Batcave.
-Batman was kind of out of character in these comics to me. Would he really take Damian and bring him into the Batcave just on Talia Al Ghul's say so? Isn't that really irresponsible? On top of that, not only does Bats bring Damian to the Cave/Wayne Manor, he leaves the kid alone with only Alfred watching him. I know Alfred can take care of himself, but it was established that Damian was raised by the League of Assassins, and is one hell of a fighter... What if Talia was lying and Damian was only sent to Bats to disrupt his life by killing Alfred and Robin? The Batman I know is a VERY paranoid individual who I just can't see leaving this potential threat(Damian)alone with two of the few people he actually cares about.
-Talia was kind of weirdly written here as well. She gives Damian over to Bats so Damian can learn from/about his father, and then seems kind of pissed that Damian wants to stay with Bats. What did she think was going to happen? I also thought it was kind of puzzling that Talia seemed willing to almost allow Damian to perish in order to make her getaway. Wouldn't letting Damian die go counter to all of her meticulous planning in regards to creating the genetically perfect child?
-The important issue in this hardcover though was Batman #666. #666 is a self contained story which shows us Gotham City a few years in the future. Bruce Wayne is dead, and there is a new Batman in town. It is revealed that the new Batman is none other than a now grown up Damian Wayne. It also appears that there is an evil impostor Batman running around. The evil Batman seems to worship the devil and is pretty evil. As a matter of fact, the evil Batman kind of resembles the Batman crouching on the Wayne Enterprises box shown in this picture over at Yedna's great blog(wow, I'm linking to all of my favorite blogs in this post!). Now, I guess(and that's exactly what it is, a guess)the evil Batman could be Jason Todd, Azrael or possibly Tim Drake, since the evil Batman mentions that he too was a "son" of Batman(Jason and Tim are Bruce's adopted children). With a nudge, I could see either Azrael or Jason dressing as Bats and going crazy(Jason has already dressed as Nightwing and gone on a rampage, so it wouldn't be out of character). The Damian Batman ultimately kills the evil Batman, while thinking about how disappointed Bruce would have been that he took a life. Some important things I took from this issue were, #1, Tim Drake is never mentioned, so unless he is the evil Batman, he has no impact on Grant's vision of the future of Batman. #2, Damian(or the impostor Batman)apparently killed Jim Gordon, which leads to his daughter, Barbara, becoming the Gotham Police Commissioner.
However, the most important thing I got out of this comic were Damian's thoughts. At one point, Damian thinks to himself that he'll never be able to live up to the legacies of Bruce Wayne AND Dick Grayson. To me, that seems to say that Dick is deceased, but more importantly that Dick is the next in line to become Batman if Bruce Wayne were to die in Final Crisis. If this comic is an actual look into the future and not a random alternate dimension, then Dick Grayson becomes Batman after Bruce dies, and after his own death, Dick is replaced by Damian. The fact that Damian replaces Dick would lead one to think that Dick takes Damian under his wing as the new Robin.
Now, knowing Grant Morrison's style of writing, there is a good chance all of my theories are wrong, and something completely different will happen. One thing Grant is great at is misdirection. During his run on "New X-Men", Grant actually created a character whose mutant power WAS misdirection! I STILL don't know what exactly that means! The bottom line here is that after reading this hardcover, I am pretty sure that the death of Bruce Wayne will usher in Dick Grayson as the new Batman and Damian Wayne as the new Robin. One Batman during the Battle for the Cowl storyline will go completely evil and apparently make some kind of deal with the devil(or an old man or a dragon. Damn, this is confusing...). Most likely, the evil Batman is Azrael or Jason Todd, with an outside chance it is Tim Drake(my money is on Jason though). Oh, and when he is 14, Damian also sells his soul to this devil/old man/dragon... I think... For a score, I would give this entire hardcover a 7 out of 10. It was a fun, but confusing read. If anyone else has read Batman #666, I'd love to hear what exactly you were able to make of it. Tomorrow, I'll probably post the "Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul" hardcover review.