In the mid 2000s (Starting in 2004 with Captain America and 2006 with Batman) Marvel and DC gave control of two of their more iconic characters (Batman being super iconic and Captain America being more popular as an idea than as a character in the universe) to two of my favorite writers. Grant Morrison is an all around crazy person and shares my love for silver age (and somewhat bronze age) super hero comics. Giving him creative freedom on Batman turned out to be a better decision than even I could have imagined. Ed Brubaker is partly responsible for writing my favorite book at that period of time Gotham Central.
These books are entirely unrelated save for the fact that looking back at things now I’m pretty sure that these are two of the best comic book stories of the past decade and possibly two of the best stories for each respective character. Neither of these is a perfect thing, but it is proof that when you get the right fit for a situation and don’t go around trying to muck it up you can get magic.
While Brubaker was able to tell his Captain America story all in the Captain America book (with, I think, one exception being some stuff in the Civil War Event) Grant Morrison’s work hopped from Batman to Final Crisis to Batman and Robin with a side of Return of Bruce Wayne thrown in. I don’t believe we’ll ever see a “Grant Morrison’s Batman” Omnibus the same way we have the Captain America Omnibus for Brubaker, which is sad. That said, thanks to my local library (I do own every issue of Morrison’s Batman run, I’m just too lazy to pull them out of the long box) I can follow the progression almost as easily as I can with cap.
Over the next few months I plan on exploring both of these books again and finding out why they worked so well. I’m doing them both at the same time because there are definite elements that match up. Both of them explore past concepts delightfully well, both of them involve dead sidekicks to differing degrees, both of them include a torch passing at some point, and both include the death of the main character. Also, they’re both really good and I want to read them and talk about them. Which, really, is the reason to do something like that.