A Bird in the Hand
Batman Incorporated has forgotten the epic battle it had staged at the end of the last issue and is now trying to make us believe a story of Mr. Unknown, the Batman of Japan, can be just as exciting. Like most people, I was annoyed when I realized I would have to wait another month to see how a crazed Bruce Wayne man-bat wearing a new prototype exoskeleton and the Suit of Sorrows would fair against Talia's army, but I soon found my anger abating as I realized that this was exactly what I've been asking of Batman, Incorporated this entire time. Don't get me wrong, Bruce's fight against Leviathan has been entertaining, high quality fun, but I always thought Batman, Incorporated should be less about Bruce and more about the international team of Batmen. It looks like we will finally get a taste of what this series would look like with a new Batman each week; it may be too late to see rotating Batmen become a monthly reality, but if I get to see a hint of this before the series is gone, I'm not going to complain. Besides, I suspect we might learn some important information relevant to the Leviathan plotline before this issue is finished.
Is Batman, Incorporated #12 a fun and necessary break before the epic finale or is this just an unnecessary and unappreciated filler issue?
In this issue, Mr. Unknown and Shy Crazy Lolita Canary track down some nanobot infused bikers.
How Goes the Great Experiment?
I was wondering how Batman, Incorporated would work as a series that focused on a rotating cast of Batmen. As far as this issue is concerned, I have to say it was not overly pretty.
This issue has some problems though it also has some strong points.
The preview made it clear that this issue had a different tone somewhat parodying anime television shows, so you should keep that in mind if you read this. Personally, I've never been a big fan of anime, but I do think that an issue or even a series exploring a Japanese take on the superhero with all Japan's many cultural idiosyncrasies could be a lot of fun. Sadly, it only partially works here.
On the positive front, I liked all the crazy visuals designs. The head villain of this issue has a really ridiculous yet fun design, and the look and function of Hiro's version of the Bat Cave has lots of echoes of the original Bat Cave even including variations of the giant penny and tyrannosaurus rex. There was also use of the all but forgotten Internet 3.0 concept in this issue. Lots of little things like this made me feel like I was truly seeing a Batman of a different culture.
The main problem is that this Batman and his story did not feel real to me for several reasons. The biker villains' motivation is ridiculous, and their visual design varies from generic to gross. There is a good bit of technobabble thrown in to cover convenient plot devices. Hiro is ridiculously nice as a hero to the point of being unconvincing as a combatant.
I wish the story was a tad more serious and had taken a little more time to develop the story because as is everything seems a bit half baked.
1. The issue starts off with an image of a cat looking at a grave
before the bikers rush past. What's the point of this? If things were
not set in Japan, I might think this was Damian's grave and Alfred
the cat, but as is, it seems completely random. Edit: Burnham sent me a message and let me know that this was in fact Alfred the cat over Damian's grave, but then, the story was interrupted. Perhaps this will be the opening panel to Batman, Inc. #12, or was this in a past issue and I just forgot this scene?
2. The whole virtual reality scenario was cool as was the transmutation scene.
3. Jorge Lucas (former artist of Invincible Iron Man and current artist for Batman, Incorporated) does the art for this issue, and it was not overly good. At the same time, it was not particularly bad, but it was definitely a step down from Chris Burnham. (former artist of Batman, Incorporated and Batman and Robin and current writer for Batman, Incorporated) My only solid complaint on Lucas is that he drops backgrounds out of the image too often, but other than that, I saw no major problems. I just was not impressed.
(Spoilers until Conclusion)
4. I did love the visual design of Lady Tiger Fist. When she stood up to reveal Tiger robots with laser heads, I was in a pleasant state of shock. This was a very cute trick.
5. The line, “Wow! That was violent. I'm glad we rendered it in silhouette!” was also cute.
6. More than anything else, the final panel bugged me as we were told we were going, “Back to our regularly scheduled programing. Why did we leave it in the first place? I was willing to have a break from th main story, but I thought this would have some relevance. Nope, not really. The bad guys have thin ties to Leviathan, but other than that, there is no connection.
I really wanted this issue to be good because I like the idea of Batman, Incorporated being s a series about a group of Batmen, but this issue does not deliver very well on the concept. If you are a big Batman, Incorporated fan, you will probably want this issue, but if you are just interested in the main story or are watching your budget, I would recommend letting this one pass. You will not be missing anything important.