Today's Graphic Novel is Batman: Prodigal. The issues this graphic novel collects are chronologically between Knights End (Where Bruce takes the Mantle of the Bat back from Jean Paul Valley) and Doug Moench and Kelly Jone's landmark run of Batman in the 90s. In fact, the last panel in this book is the last panel of this era of Batman.
I really, really enjoyed revisiting this material since I can't honestly remember the last time I read it.
This story deals quite well with the relationship between Bruce and Dick which, up until this time, was fractured because Bruce named Jean Paul as his succesor as Batman while he healed instead of Dick. That's not exactly true either, as Nightwing, Dick's life was falling apart all around him and there was plenty more unsaid between he and Bruce. But this was Bruce's way of healing those gaps in their relationship. And, unless I'm wrong, this book is the first time Bruce refers to Dick as his son. It makes any robot Bat-fan a little misty eyed in his optic-receptors.
This book also deals quite a bit with Dick's relationship to Tim. Dick never really interacted with Tim and it was interesting to see how the dynamic between the two of them worked. Neither were completley sure of themselves or each other and it works really, really well. It also illustrates the point that I make every now and again (and I'm sure others do, too) that Tim is a much finer detective than Dick.
The art is standard for the era, but it's colored really well and really consistent (unlike some of the collected editions I've read, specifically Officer Down in this series.) But the real crowning acheivement in this collection is how fucking good the writing is. Doug Moench, Chuck Dixon (and one issue by Alan Grant) are all written was such a cohesive flow and of a consistent quality of story and character that I want to bust out all of my single issues after this and keep reading. Seriously, they don't write them this well anymore. And it's not me being a fanboy yearning for the style of books I read when I was younger, did any of you suffer through that Judd Winick run? Jesus Christ. And this Morrison run better start going somewhere fast. It's really getting kind of boring.
Interesting side note about this collection: It's completely out of print. Copies go for between $60-$200 on Amazon AND Ebay. I asked DC's Publicity Coordinator Austin Trunick if there were any plans to reprint this collection any time soon since the comic was good and the prices were terrible and they very politely declined comment.
On the plus side, it's only a few more days until The Dark Knight is going to blow our minds.