This one was a doozy. This book is basically about an insane mastermind who knows everything about Batman using elements from very old and obscure Bat-cases as weapons against the Caped Crusader. This book, the first time I read it, made the littlest amount of sense, and during a majority of the time I was reading the book, I felt about as confused as Batman himself during this story. In short, I had no idea what was going on, and felt very defeated and befuddled, like Grant Morrison was telling me "It's not supposed to make sense". The second time I read it, in order, and after having researched what in Siddhartha Gautama's name "Thogal" was, I found it to be still a scary, disorienting, psychedelic trip, but one that made more sense.
For instance, when I read it the first time, I thought the main "Big Bad" Dr. Hurt's name was "The Black Glove", but learned this time around, that that was the name of his organization. I also, having read "The Black Glove" finally realized what the purpose of those Bat-impostors were, and what in the world the "International Club of Villains" was. This time around, though, I had oriented myself enough to understand what I liked and didn't like. I really liked the way the Club of Villains was used, each member having their own goofy gimmick that made their sections entertaining. The way the Joker was used was excellent as well. Morrison made him so unpredictable that he actually turned coat on both the Black Glove, and Batman.
Talia, Damian, Bat-mite and Alfred's cameos were memorable, and the plot actually moved faster than I thought it did the first time I read it. And no one can deny how awesome "the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh" was, and how amazingly daring Batman's defeat of Dr. Hurt was. Some issues I still have with it, though, is that the character of Dr. Hurt is so bombastically evil, that he seems like a smarmy game show host spitting out corny one liners like "He's in the GRIP of the Black GLOVE now" (get it?). I also have an issue with the conclusion of the story. This was called "Batman R.I.P." and was marketed for months as "the death of Batman", but at the end, Batman survives. I find this a bit of an cop out, but maybe that's just me.
Also, the fact that I had to keep summarizing the plot to myself to keep track of the story kind of lessened the experience, but other than that I much enjoyed this. Batman R.I.P. had excellent art by Tony Daniel, filled with lots of shadows and darkness, which added a spooky, fog covered air to the story, and the covers are excellent as always portraying Batman as heroic, but not invulnerable.Overall, if you want to put in a little extra work reading the other volumes (because their threads all come to a head in R.I.P.), and like your Batman with a heavy dose of mystery, darkness, and the weird, read Batman R.I.P. If you take the time, you won't regret it.