Without a doubt, the best Batman graphic novel since Hush. Absolutely a five star collection...
...except for the weird, abrupt ending.
This book collects the eponymous arc, The Clown at Midnight, and the related four issue, Three Ghosts of Batman. I have no problem with Batman and Son. It could have used another issue to develop fully, but Damien Wayne was absolutely killer. I laughed so so hard at his preteen temper tantrums. Talia is one of my all time favorites, so her every evil move was delightful. ManBat's one of those villains that will never make the A-squad, but manages to have more credibility than, say, Spook. In all, a good run that introduced a great new character and brought back my beloved.
The Clown at Midnight is not a graphic novel. It's an illustrated short story about the Joker returning from being shot in the face by "Batman", (this leads us into the Three Ghosts storyline, which is about people playing Batman to disastrous results,) to kill his henchmen. Like my last Morrison book, I found this to be purple, pretentious, and unnecessarily twisted. I like complex superhero stories, but it felt like a masturbatory exercise instead of good writing. I know it's considered a classic and rumored to be the inspiration for Leger's joker, but I really didn't enjoy it all. Fortunately, it's not long and it didn't detract from the main book.
As I said at the start, I like the first three of the four stories in the Three Ghosts of Batman arc. In issue 655, the first in the entire collection, the Joker is shot by a man in a Batman costume. The case resumes in 663, when Batman finds a pimp selling women to another yahoo in a Batman costume, this one strung out on Venom and monster serum and wearing a Bane mask. The ensuing battle leaves Bats pretty badly wounded and hopped up on a lot of pain meds, reliving the time realBane broke his back. It's at this point he hallucinates/dreams Damien standing in front of the titular "ghosts, saying, "Father...the third ghost is the worst of them all." Creepy.
Unfortunately, that leads into issue 666, (yes, really,) which is where the entire collection fell down around its own ears. The last Bat is apparently the ghost of future present, because we flash forward to an AU where Batman is dead, Damien has taken up the cowl, and Devil-Bat runs around straight killing people. It's confusing because there's not enough contrast between the two batsuits for me and Devil-Bat and Damien-Bat get into an argument about what "father" would have wanted. Is Devil-Bat supposed to be one of the Robins? That would fit with the interactions TIm and Damien have had in the real timeline, but the other fake-Bats were cops. Worse, it ends the collection. I'm given to understand that in the Black Casebook this issue is revealed to have been a dream, but because that was never stated in this graphic novel, I was left confused and let down.
If I ignore the two issues that don't work for me at all, this is a phenomenal collection. I just wish that it had ended on something, anything else.