Now this is the most fun I've had with a Grant Morrison Batman story since the caped crusader opened his 'sci-fi closet' back in Justice League Classified. 'The Butler Did it' runs through Batman's history from his earliest days, dating Julie Madison and solving 'The Case of the Chemical Syndicate'; through the era of adventures on other worlds; the New Look; debut of Nightwing and beyond.
Along the way there are nods to the just-finished RIP storyline, and the knitting together of continuity threads. For example, we learn that the Silver Age Batwoman whom Batman loved is indeed the same Katy (she lost her H, and niece Betty her Bat-Girl hyphen!) Kane who later dated Renee Montoya and is the new Batwoman - not so new after all, then. Circus boy Dick knew she liked girls, but didn't know how to tell Bruce, it seems. And we see the moment Bruce decides that sex is OK, commitment less so, and acknowledgement of the Joker's changing levels of viciousness.
As for what's going on, why the flashbacks, it's linked to Final Crisis, but I'll leave you to discover that for yourself. Safe to say this is an immensely satisfying issue for lovers of the Batman legend. Morrison provides some wonderfully appropriate dialogue for the ever-delightful Alfred - his musings on other identities Bruce might have adopted are priceless. The conclusion to this tale next month - advertised in the comic as Morrison's final issue, despite Dan Didio's recent reluctance to confirm the writer's exit from the title - can't come soon enough.
Not least because it means we'll get to see more from artist Lee Garbett, a new name to me, though he's worked for Wildstorm and is, I'm delighted to learn, a fellow Brit. With inker Trevor Scott, Garbett produces some beautiful Batman artwork - nicely composed pages filled with handsome heroes and filthy villains. His original Robin is spot on, while modern-looking; Batman gets to show some human expressions; and Alfred looks like the rock he is. I hope we see this team again soon - they're made for the upcoming Batman and Robin title, surely?
Alex Ross, on cover duty, provides a striking psychedelic scenario, though he's given us a montage linked to the Adam West TV series rather than represented this issue. It does, I suppose, jibe with the idea of shifting Batman memories, so let's assume that was the intent.