The story also produced a lot of confusion on some fundamental levels. For one thing, the RIP logo was placed on four other titles and pitched as a crossover, but for the most part, those titles had almost nothing to do with the main plot. For those fans who assumed, understandably, that the other titles were essential to the story, the reading order was unclear, because they were not linked chronologically, in terms of the publication dates, with the six RIP issues in Batman or with one another. Another form of crossover confusion involved Final Crisis, which takes place chronologically after RIP, but was published at more or less the same time, debuting when RIP had hardly begun. Meanwhile, there truly was essential reading for RIP in the form of the preceding 19 issues of Morrison's run on Batman. These issues had fundamental clues to what was going on in RIP, ranging from the very basic to the very subtle. It can truly be said that you would miss things in Batman #681 (the last issue of RIP) if you were not familiar with Batman #655. It would have been more accurate to label every single issue in Morrison's run "RIP" instead of putting that label on issues of Detective and Nightwing that came out in 2008.
RIP was heavily marketed as a mystery, with Morrison using conventions, interviews, and his own site to exhort readers to figure out the identity of the villain of RIP. Ultimately, this left confusion as well, with many readers reaching the end of RIP with earnest uncertainty over who the villain had been. Moreover, I think every reader had to be uncertain, when RIP ended, what exactly the status was of Batman's health and fitness, with some key details available only as the two-part Last Rites (Batman #682 and #683) and Final Crisis were concluded.
And having noted all of that confusion, I haven't even addressed the psychedelic swirl of events inside the story itself, which further confused some readers and left others disdainful of the kind of menace Batman was facing (more like a bad acid trip than like the fare of costumed villains he'd fought over the years). And to top it off, a key coloring error added blood to a scene where there shouldn't have been blood!
Ultimately, I think RIP was brilliant in flashes, and that the final two issues (Batman #680 and #681) contained some of the best Batman scenes ever penned. I would argue that the sheer length of the extended story enriches the medium. Just the idea that anomalies published in July 2006 were actually clues that would not be explained until November 2008 calls upon readers to look at future stories with a heightened level of observation. (Coincidentally, this is the exact duration of the 1960s Batman mystery concerning a villain called The Outsider, but that plot was totally absent from most stories printed in that time, instead resurfacing occasionally in issues of Detective.)
I think that RIP (that is, Morrison's entire run in Batman) was a tremendously rich work that rewards great scrutiny, and I will devote several upcoming posts to exploring it thoroughly.