The final chapter of Batman RIP hits stores today, bringing with it an end to the plot to destroy Batman by undermining Bruce Wayne's sanity - But while we now know who isn't behind the nefarious Black Glove, the final chapter "Hearts In Darkness" leaves behind at least as many mysteries as it solves. Chief amongst them being "Wait, what actually happened?" Spoilers ahead.One thing that you have to hand to writer Grant Morrison is that he doesn't write a boring story. The close of the long-running RIP is filled with last-minute escapes, revelations, fights and even flashbacks to Batman escaping death in earlier, more simple times. The problem is that it not only doesn't really hang together in and of itself, it's also completely unsatisfying as a conclusion to all of the issues raised during the story's run so far. For example, while we've essentially been shown, over and over again, that Bruce Wayne is clearly insane - this is a man who doesn't just dress up to fight crime at night, but someone who also created a back-up personality who happened to believe that he was from another planet, just in case someone tried to drive his primary personality insane, remember - the final chapter of the story does an about-face and starts lauding Batman as someone who's so sane that they knew everything that was about to happen and had planned for all eventualities ("But that's the thing about Batman. Batman thinks of everything" are the first words in the issue); a last page flashback where Bruce Wayne's father tells Bruce as a child that the authorities would lock up a vigilante like Zorro just adds to the frustration that Morrison, or DC Comics editorial, or someone clearly didn't want to just come out and say that Wayne is insane.
And about Bruce Wayne's father - Is he the mysterious head of the Black Glove? The revelation of the bad guy's identity is frustratingly vague:
Simon Hurt: I'm your father, Bruce. Doctor Thomas Wayne. You were supposed to die that night, too, along with your mother... But Chill lost his nerve. A pathologist friend faked my death certificate. Wayne became Hurt. Batman: You're not Thomas Wayne. Hurt: And still, the cloak fits. And if not Dad, have you dared to consider the only alternative? Batman: Mangrove Pierce, star of [movie mentioned earlier in the series] "The Black Glove". My father's double, and mine. You had an affair with [earlier villain] John Mayhew's wife and he had you framed for her murder... Hurt: No, I skinned Mangrove Pierce alive and wore him to Mayhew's party. I am the hole in things, Bruce, the enemy, the piece that can never fit, there since the beginning.
So... Is it Thomas Wayne, who skinned Mangrove Pierce? Is it Pierce, and the skinning is metaphorical? Is it someone else who never gets named, wearing Pierce's skin? We get no further attempt at an answer; Hurt and Batman are both in a crashing helicopter three pages later, and disappear. They'll both be back, of course; if nothing else, Morrison has a two-part epilogue to write, and a Batman shows up in his Final Crisis series, which apparently takes place after this story - but more than the lack of Batman "dying" in any sense of the word (Because, really, like anyone really expected that seriously), it's the lack of resolution to anything and everything that Batman RIP was about that leaves the story as such a disappointment, and the reader with such a bitter taste in their mouth.