Gotham's Most Wanted
When thinking about Batman, Incorporated, I find myself asking, “What's the point?” All the changes to the Batman universe brought forth by Morrison (former writer of Rebellion's 2000AD and Batman and current writer of Batman, Incorporated) are being reset by the very same writer, and according to the preview for this issue, Batman, Incorporated has now been dissolved, so we are essentially reading about a ghost team at this point. The last issue made it appear as if the boys (Batman and the ex-Robins) were going to take out Tallia's forces singlehandedly, and though that is no doubt awesome, it should really just be standard operating pattern for the Bat Clan, so I can't help but wonder what will set these next four issues apart from every other Batman story.
Then, I consider all the many things this series still has going for it. Morrison is a good writer whether or not he is reversing all his previous plot developments. The fight appears to be epic, and to quote every generic action movie, “This time it's personal,” as Batman has a Robin to avenge. There are still plenty of potential reveals lurking around the corner of the story. (Is The Heretic really who he appears? Is Talia really this evil or is something amiss with her? Will there be any long term fallout from this arc?) Azrael, (Michael Lane) for instance, is making a return this issue. What else could happen?
Does this issue prove that Batman, Incorporated still has what it takes to be a great Batman story or has the once great Morrison devolved into writing clichés?
In this issue, Batman prepares for war, Talia ties up loose ends, and the city turns against Batman.
Morrison is taking his time moving the plot forward which I must admit is a little bit frustrating. I'm ready to see the crap hit the fan, but instead, we still have a slow steady build. There is little in this issue to make it feel like a complete story. It feels, instead, merely like several small pieces of various intertwining narratives. Don't get me wrong, I understand that this is indeed the case, but I do like some type of arc to occur every issue, and this issue has very little that can be considered an arc. This series is beginning to feel as if it would work much better as a novel instead of as a comic series.
There is a lot of interesting things at work in this issue, but none of them really come together for one central narrative, and other than pointing out that there is no big picture in this issue, there is nothing to say on the grand scale, so let's break it down scene by scene Bat Droppings style.
1. I found myself extremely confused by many aspects of the Michael Lane story, and my confusion probably stems from a lack of familiarity with the character. Is he out of his mind because many of his responses seem only semi-coherent. Also, why is his back scarred? Was this established previously, or has he been flogging himself for spiritual purification which is the way of some ancient Catholic traditions. Did we get a tidy ending for Lane in the old continuity? Do we know what made him decide to go into retirement? Where exactly is this exchange taking place?
2. Michael makes reference to The Dark Night of the Soul which is an old sixteenth century poem literally about the journey of the soul to God after death and figuratively about the spiritual journey all Christians take in drawing closer to God. I am not familiar with the work other than what Wikipedia told me, but it did provide a very creepy/authentic sound to Michael's prophecies. I'm sure that the poet did not reference Joker and masks, so clearly things have been altered, but it made it sound really cool. If there is any foreshadowing in these “quotes,” then it is to obscure for me to decipher. Maybe this will make sense after the arc is completed.
3. It was cool how they trough in a poster referencing the cover to Batman #666 though I do wonder what this was supposed to be in universe.
4. I must finally admit because of the conversations of Batman, Talia and The Heretic that The Heretic appears to be a Damian clone. I'm still not completely convinced though.
5. In the scene with Talia and Ra's, I couldn't help but notice the chess match. From my limited skill at chess, it appears to me as if the red had the advantage. The black knight was threatening the king but had no way of closing the deal whereas the red pieces were placing the black pieces in immediate danger. I couldn't quite get a grasp on the layout of the pieces, but it appears to me that the queen did not take the obvious move of killing the rook. Instead, red took out a black pawn which kept the knight in a position to kill the queen. This could all be irrelevant, but I thought it was worth noting.
6. The last time I recall the police turning against Batman was during War Games, but it made sense for the police to be ticked at Batman during War Games because he screwed up big time. As best as I can tell, Batman didn't do anything wrong this time, so I find it hard to believe that the police would so willingly turn on him.
7. It's pretty hypocritical of Talia to kill the thugs who targeted Damian and not The Heretic.
8. I have no idea what is going on with Jason, but it is worth noting that the women holding him prisoner are wearing masks similar to that of Talia.
(Spoilers until Conclusion)
9. Langstrom's role in this story is just a giant continuity black hole. Kirk was Man-Bat when we saw him earlier this very month. If this occurs before his transformation, then why did Bruce act as if he was just finding out about Kirk's existence in 'Tec #19? I guess it could be after Kirk transformed back to human, but if so, that was a quick save for old Kirk.
10. Talia really likes implanting things in her children's spines.
11. Batman does indeed become a half man-bat which is okay except for the whole, “What's the point?” angle. What advantage is it to be a man-bat? Batman is already awesome and becoming more feral with powers he does not really know how to use does not seem helpful. Not to mention, what happened to the team helping him out? It's interesting visually and thematically, but it makes little sense from a plot perspective.
Batman, Incorporated still has way too many cool concepts happening to give it a low score, but I can't say this issue really came together. At best, it's a transition issue between mourning to butt kicking which introduces some necessary plot points, but there is a real case to be made that Morrison has more subplots in this story then he can really handle. Regardless, this issue is still worth purchasing if you are a Morrison or Batman, Incorporated fan.