Batman Inc. volume 1 #1 and 2: Sheer, joyous, random lunacy.


The first issue of the second volume of Batman, Inc., has a lot of set-up.  The league of heroes comes back from the dead, undercover and pretending to still be dead.  Leviathan has put a bounty on Damian Wayne’s head, and Damian gets shot and “killed.”  Of course, he’s not dead yet–but he pretends to be during this first arc.  The oddest thing about this issue, which ultimately doesn’t appear to have any significance, is Damian’s hood.  Batman tells him to take it off or it will get him in trouble.  But when Damian is shot, according to the narrative of the assassin, he’s not wearing the hood.  But then when Batman is cradling Damian at the end, he does have his hood on.

I will Morrison had played with this idea of the unclear/unreliable narrator more, but I think about this time he was starting to get pissed at DC for crapping all over his epic by rebooting their universe.  And rightly so.

Also, Talia Gul revisits her rape of Bruce, which led to Damian.

Issue #6:


Bruce Wayne paraphrases Voltaire in this turning point of Morrison’s Batman saga.

Before now, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Morrison’s best Batman work was behind him.  He killed Batman, proved that someone else could wear the cowl, and actually made the Dick Grayson Batman better than the Bruce Wayne one.  (And he did it a lot faster than Brubaker proved that Bucky could be a better Captain America.)  Batman and Robin was excellent and the Return of Bruce Wayne was fascinating, and it built to the promise of a worldwide group of Batmen.  But the first five issues of that promise, Batman, Inc. Volume 1 #1-5, felt a little scattered.  With this issue, he brings it all into focus and introduces the final conflict for his Batstory.  The first act was about Bruce letting go of all the ideas he had about himself–all the disparate pieces of his past–and becoming a person capable of loving his family.  The second act was about Batman’s role in the universe, both in present day Gotham in the guise of Dick Grayson and throughout history as Batman essentially went on a time-traveling walkabout to discover himself.  This third act will be about whether a global force for justice can overcome a global force for evil.  Or, more precisely, if justice needs a specific face or if it is a mask that can be worn by many….


He goes so far as to allow himself to be seen with Dick–both wearing the cowl.


He also creates a “club.”  Gordon gets to be in it.  And we see birds picking at the corpses of a murder victim.  Batman is becoming big, important–to important to see the death right in front of him.  Eventually, all of Gotham will betray him and make him illegal because people fear power.  In other words, he’s becoming the thing he fears the most.  (Jason Todd later comes back as a major player in Batman, Inc.–further evidence that Batman has lost touch, because during the B&R comic Jason Todd was a vicious, murdering vigilante.)


Most of these two issues is a slam-bang battle wonderfully illustrated by Chris Burnham, who by this time has surpassed Frank Quietly as the Greatest Grant Morrison Muse of all time.  (And their styles are pretty familiar, too.)

But we also start to see how demented Talia has become.


Like Batman in “Batman and Son,” Talia has become her mask.  She does not exist if she is not Leviathan.  And Leviathan has become more important than her family.  It’s actually brilliant: Batman’s character arc over these 10 years of comics has been to embrace family and to see the Batman mask as something that can be worn by many people who are pure of heart and full of justice.  Talia started the arc as the doting mother who only wanted to be with Batman, but ends the arc a murderous beast whose sole purpose is to destroy her own offspring, as well as their father and the city that represents his soul.  The Bible quotes are from the Book of Job.  I’m not a religious guy, so someone else can do that analysis.


Issue #5 takes us back to future Damian, one last time.  We see that in this future, Dr. Hurt sits at the right hand of the President of the United States, and gets him to launch a nuclear strike on Gotham.  The message is clear: If Damian is alive in the future, then evil does in fact win.  Batman knows this because he saw the future (during the Return of Bruce Wayne) and so, once again, Morrison tells us that he plans to kill Damian.

There’s an element of classic Batman here, too.  He’s planning for everything, again.


And it’s not just the multiple identities, it’s preparation for the final big bad:


Anyone who says killing Damian was a marketing ploy suddenly concocted to boost DC’s lagging sales should go back.  There’s been indications from the beginning that he would die.

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