The highway downtown was clear of traffic and, fortuitously, every turn I made was the right one. Knowing that the closing hour was near, I stopped directly outside the comic shop. The signpost stated “no parking” but I was just going in and out. Besides, it was nearly nine and there were virtually no cars on the street. What were the odds of being ticketed?
So confidant of my quickness, I didn’t even lock my car. I ran straight to the entrance, momentarily slipping on a patch of ice. Gathering myself, I calmly stepped toward the glass door, grabbing the handle with a firm grip.
Even before my eyes accustomed themselves to a new depth of field, the long corridor that made up the front half of the shop, a passageway that led to the back space where my copy of Batman #681 would be on display, I noticed that the lights were dimmer than usual. My breath was hot against the pane of glass, frosting it up in the spot that displayed the store’s hours of operation. The font on that sign read large.
The neighbourhood comic shop closed at eight.
Here, at the steps of my salvation, lay the washed up, beaten remains of my spirit. The tide had gone out on me and my Batman R.I.P.
From somewhere behind me, a new light caught my eye. Red and blue and flashing, a police car pulled up directly behind my momentarily parked vehicle.
There are moments in life where a show of nervousness betrays you. There are also moments where even a semblance of confidence, feigned as it may be, serves to preclude oneself from spiralling into an unwanted situation. This was one of those moments. Yes, it seemed I was doomed to a parking ticket but I was still going to make it look I had done no wrong. Dismissing the no-parking sign that stood erect beside my car, I calmly walked to the driver side of my vehicle, opened the door then closed it, buckled my belt, started the motor and looked into the review mirror.
A cyclist was talking to the officer! He was the perfect patsy, buying me time.
With a slow precision, I drove off, the officer soon starting after me, following me through turns and stoplights and intersections, our two cars a veritable motorcade of both anxiety and determination. With a cool demeanour, I got back on to the highway to head home, the officer losing interest and turning around. Defeated, I had, at the very least, just saved myself some money in the form of a parking fine.
After work the next day I headed straight to the downtown shop – on my own – and bought the issue. I read it in one quick sitting in the comfortable confines of my couch.
And if you like spoilers, here’s a big one: Batman doesn’t die. But we already knew that, didn’t we?
One of Biff Bam Pop’s contributors, ohthree, wrote a piece on the R.I.P. storyline which can be found here. While his take is a little unenthusiastic, I can’t help but feel that Morrison captivated a comic-going audience in a way that hasn’t been done before. Hell, he had me going out of my way in an attempt to read his final instalment! With the use of twenty-first century forms of communication, there was immense audience participation in this story. Comic conventions were buzzing with rumour and speculation. Websites and blogs everywhere were talking about the series. DC’s own chat board had thousands of posts dedicated to solving the mysteries inherent in the tale. People spent a lot of their time and emotion dedicated to the story of Batman R.I.P. Isn’t that a mark of a successful story?
Nobody wants Batman to die. We just want to see him beat long odds and defeat his enemies. We just want a comic with a great story and great art; something memorable; something to talk about and share with friends while we’re sipping cappuccino or walking to the neighbourhood comic shop. Batman R.I.P., in the end, can be likened to some of the best story runs a comic character has ever had – the stories that we remember because of where we were, who we were with – or what we had to go through just to buy a single, monthly issue.
In the end, no more, no less, Batman R.I.P. was always a good, fun yarn.