Alright, we've covered the essentials on how to navigate Grant Morrison's sprawling Batman tale currently winding up in Batman Incorporated vol. 2. Now it's time to dig in to a complete listing of his current DC work in it's entirety. Reading the Batman run alone is perfectly fine, because on its own you will experience a 70 year old corporate mascot being written as passionately and creatively as any comics maestro's most beloved privately owned characters. It redefines his importance in the DC Universe heirarchy and simultaneously validates 70+ years of continuity and adds fresh new stories of Morrison's own to the pile.
Now, all of that being the case, there's an entirely different and much, much larger story with absolutely gargantuan stakes and consequences at play on top of all of the Batman business. One could argue that all of this starts with Morrison blowing the bloody doors off when he struck our collective consciousness with JLA #1. It redefined what mainstream heroes could be. It redefined what corporate heroes could be. It told Image that DC wasn't dead and done yet. It told the rest of us that "old" characters like Superman, the Martian Manhunter, and Wonder Woman had an absolute TON of life left in them, if placed in a creative control equal parts deft, subtle, ballsy and outrageous. But, it's still separate from his bombastic Batman run by a few years shattering expectations on X-Men (which we will discuss in a future update).
I think, because of that, it's fair to treat the comprehensive guide to Morrison's DC work as two separate entities, with us focusing on, obviously, his latter work. And that means, Brohanne Sebastian Bachs, Vic Vega aka Mr. Bro-ndes, Marie Brotoinettes, Ladies of Wealth and Taste, that now we roll our shirt sleeves up, wipe the anticipatory sweat from our brows, and dive head-first into a complete guide to enjoying and understanding Grant Morrison's second stage DC sets.
Bear in mind some parts will be repeated from the Basic Version, because I'll be plugging them in to the larger picture. While most of these stories are years old, the same potential spoiler warnings apply if you've not read these yet:
1a. Seven Soldiers of Victory (Seven Soldiers #0, Manhattan Guardian #1-4, Shining Knight #1-4, Klarion the Witch-Boy #1-4, Zatanna #1-4, Mister Miracle #1-4, Bulleteer #1-4, Frankenstein #1-4, Seven Soldiers #1) - Dig it: 2005, comics are chuggin' along, we've had some decent surprises with Green Lantern: Rebirth, Infinite Crisis, and the like. But then. Oh man. Seven Soldiers #0. And then seven, SEVEN 4 issue miniseries where we are reintroduced to subterranean Puritan warlock Klarion, the Manhattan Guardian, Justinian the Shining Knight, a Milton-quoting undead Frankenstein's Monster, and Mister Miracle himself, Shiloh....Norman...? Wait, what? The Dark Side Club? Omega Sanctions? What's going on here? I can tell you: we had, under the radar, a sly reintroduction to some fantastic Jack Kirby concepts built around a team of strangers who remain strangers, fighting a common enemy across time and never meeting. It's intriguing, no? And well worth the purchase, with phenomenal artists like Frazier Irving, Doug Mahnke, Pasquale Ferry and Simone Bianchi bringing this unusual, off-beat "crossover" to life. It leaves you wondering, where's he headed with all this...
1b. (sorta) 52 (52 #1-52) - This one was running right after Infinite Crisis, itself not written by Morrison. But! Morrison's first touches on the Batman franchise were revealed here, taking Bruce, Tim Drake, and Dick Grayson globetrotting to re-evaluate their goals as crimefighters. And...something to do with the Question and Renee Montoya. Intriguing!
1c. Batman: Batman & Son (Batman #655-658, #663-666) - Well huh, this is odd. Morrison jumping solely to Batman on his own, but hitting fast and hard in 2006, telling us he was here to shake up what we thought we knew about the Caped Crusader. Batman has a son! With Talia al-Ghul! Ninja Man-Bat army!! I'm sure these two entries are related somehow!!
2. The Resurrection of Ra's al-Ghul (Batman #670-671) - These are only two parts of a larger Batman-centric crossover event. However, it's still firmly in Morrison's storyline, dealing specifically with exactly why Damien was dropped off at Batman's house: spare parts for grandad!!!
3. The Black Glove (Batman #667-669, #672-675) - Picking up the pieces after Ra's al-Ghul's return, we now get to see Batman operating on a global scale, meeting other heroes he may have inspired, either directly or indirectly, or heroes that he directly helped get set up at crime-fighters. The seeds of later stories are sewed here as well: international conspiracy, a league of Batmen, and an amorphous, invisible and international villain organization!!
4. Batman R.I.P. (Batman #676-683) - The Black Glove and Jezebel Jet make their move against Bruce and Damian! Batman and the Black Glove square off for their final showdown! The mysterious Doctor Hurt (Who is he?! Read the previous and later chapters to find out!) makes his final ploy against Batman! All is lost! Or is it?! It most likely is!!
5. Final Crisis (Final Crisis #1-7, Superman: Beyond #1-2) - In my opinion, the finest event comic ever created past, present, or future, in this and all heretofore discovered and undiscovered realities. Why do I include this on the list? Because we have a payoff of the storylines started in Seven Soldiers of Victory. We find out why Boss Dark Side has a suspiciously similar name to a certain stony God of All Evil. The multiverse is being drug down an existential drain by the carcass of a rotting deity!! A vampire who feeds on story potential has infected The Bleed between universes! Captain Carrot!!
6. Batman & Robin (Batman & Robin vol. 1 #1-18) Who has adopted the cowl of the Bat in Gotham? Why is that question even necessary? Well, then maybe you should read it to find out, smarty!!
7. Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne (Batman: the Return of Bruce Wayne #1-6) - Unlike the last list, now I can tell you these events spin absolutely directly out of Final Crisis and Batman & Robin volume 1. What is Bruce returning from? How arduous is this journey? Is this a regular Odyssey across a vast land, or possibly through time?! How many more exclamation points can I fit into this guide? (a ton)
8. Batman Inc. vol. 1 (Batman Incorporated #1-8, Batman: Leviathan Strikes! One-Shot) - Things are in the beginning stages of building to an explosive finale. Batman's journey has brought him to a startling, and public, conclusion about how he has been fighting crime in the past, and where he should be taking it in the future.
9. Batman Inc. vol. 2 (Batman Incorporated #1-12) - The actual conclusion! Which hasn't concluded yet! The organization known as Leviathan has arisen. The international cadre of monstrous proportions has Batman Incorporated in its sights. We're six issues in, and six issues remaining. This list has far more material on it than the Basic Roadmap, but with six months and some determination, you yourself can be there with the rest of us when this magnificent saga concludes and rocks us all to our cores!