I’ve had a difficult time getting a solid read on Batman, Inc. Six issues in, the series occasionally feels like it’s at cross-purposes with itself, or at least with how it was promoted. Leading up to the release of Batman, Inc. #1 last fall, readers were told that all the heaviness surrounding Bruce Wayne’s travel through time and battle against a wicked ancestor would be left in the past. In its place: a swashbuckling global adventure which showed us a much healthier Bruce Wayne assembling a global team of Batmen.
While the global, corporate aspect of Batman, Inc. has remained consistent, a lot of that other stuff is questionable. Has Bruce really changed that much since his fight against Dr. Hurt? Sure, the first couple issues of the series saw him having fun and getting down with Catwoman, but here he’s back to his old tricks, spouting zealous dialog like “I owe it to my parents, to the mission, to take it all the way while I can” (emphasis his). Additionally, there’s been a fairly sinister thread running through the background of this book. It’s focused mostly on the mysterious enemy Leviathan, which has some wicked plan for global domination. The specifics aren’t clear, but one might be forgiven for thinking they’re cribbing a bit of their style from Darkseid, Bruce’s primary antagonist for the last few years under author Grant Morrison. One thing’s for certain: Bruce is preparing for all-out war against Leviathan, and he knows it.
Now, all that said: Batman, Inc. #6 reads a lot like a first issue, bringing the audience up to speed with all of that stuff above, especially the global team part. It also addresses a couple common-sense questions that readers probably had floating around in their heads since Batman & Robin #16, like “now that Batman, Inc. is connected to Wayne Enterprises, how does nobody suspect that Bruce Wayne is actually Batman?” The bulk of the issue involves a vignette which shows Bruce’s team tactics in action. A group of criminals known as Joe Average and the Average Joes (made up of appropriately-dressed Electrician, Mechanic and more) attempt to set up shop in Gotham, but Bruce won’t let them in without a fight.
Perhaps more than the story, Batman, Inc. #6 is significant for the introduction of new series regular penciller Chris Burnham. Burnham’s worked on Morrison’s Batman before (he had a few pages in Batman & Robin #16 and also some work in Inc.) but now he’s officially taken the title’s reigns. While I liked former artist Yanick Paquette, I’m happy to welcome Burnham to the book. He’s got a very detailed style reminiscent of Frank Quitely, which should please lots of Morrison’s fans. I really like the work he does with body language, as well; check out any panel featuring both Bruce and Dick Grayson in Batman costumes and you can see his attention to subtleties. The only thing I’m not totally sold on yet is how he draws Bruce Wayne’s face, but I’m sure that’s something that will grow on me — when it comes to Wayne I always have Bruce Timm’s design in my head, and few comic artists draw a Bruce that really matches up with my perception of the character.
Batman, Inc. #6 is all about what it means for Bruce Wayne to take the Batman franchise global. In that respect, it succeeds wonderfully, addressing major plot points that have heretofore gone unexplored and really showing the impressive reach of Wayne’s operations. Though this issue’s part in the whole of Batman, Inc. remains to be seen — as does Batman, Inc.‘s role in the larger Batman mythos — I enjoyed it immensely, and I look forward to many more issues with Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham at the helm.
My Best of 2012 Playlist by Eric Garneau
After being inspired by some friends, for the past few years I’ve been really into documenting my musical exploration with year-end mixes. I realize this is not a particularly novel thing to do, but hey, who has original ideas any more? Anyway, this has gotten even easier to do thanks to new technology like Spotify. read more