Batman Incorporated #6
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Chris Burnham
This issue is the closest we’ve had to a fill in issue thus far in the run; essentially a one an done story, with a guest artist, that focuses on Batman Inc as a whole. The first arc focused on Bruce’s trip to Japan, and the recruiting of a Batman from there. The second was Bruce and El Gaucho, from the ‘Batmen of all Nations’, with some Batwoman and silver age Batwoman mixed in for good measure. This issue branches and shows us more of the globe trotting aspect as Bruce hunts down a mystery that Grant Morrison first made mention of several years ago when he wrote Seven Soldiers. Does anybody else remember….Leviathan?
The framework of the story is a crime group known as Joe Average and the Average Joe’s as they talk to an underworld investigator in an attempt to figure out the best way to tackle the Batman problem. What follows is a series of short scenes showcasing the operations of Batman Inc; beginning with Bruce Wayne doing an interview while a group of Batmen show up to protect him. Batman is everywhere. Other scenes include a very nice little piece with Jim Gordon working alongside both Bruce and Dick, Red Robin being given his own team (yes, it’s who you would expect), and my personal favorite…Bruce going on the internet to troll people and make conspiracy theories and misinformation about himself. The first half of the book establishes the familiar Bat family characters in their roles in the current Batman Inc status quo, and it does a nice job with it.
The second half of the book shifts focus away from the familiar characters; like Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, and Damian Wayne. Instead we are treated to various other Batman, like the Night Runner of France, Blackbat of Hong Kong, and….the Batman of Northern Africa. This is where the mystery kicks in, as Leviathan comes into play. In France Batman and Night Runner stop a truck transporting children for slavery, and when they open it they find the children have killed their captors and can only say “Leviathan”. Batman Incorporated is an army of Batmen, one created to blow up the legend that is Batman. Think about it, with dozens, if not hundreds of Batmen across the globe. Men, women, people of all races and backgrounds, how can one prove that the original Batman is still among them? How can one prove that Bruce Wayne is Batman, when there are obviously so many others? If there are multiple now, what’s to say it hasn’t always been like that? In one fell swoop, Bruce has made his seemingly red flagged secret identity into something altogether trivial.
Chris Burnham returns to the book, having previously provided art for the Batwoman issue. The first thing I notice, and I mean, even the cover he did passes this off, but he’s channeling Frank Quitely. I mean, his art takes a lot of inspiration from the frequent Morrison collaborator, and it works well…save for some scenes of unmasked Bruce, who seems a little bit weird looking. The costumes look great across the board, and Burnham does a nice job giving displaying the various characters. Blackbat’s costume I like quite a bit, though it’s hard to tell just what exactly is her cape and what is her hair. There’s a lot of detail in this book, and like I said earlier, this book jumps around quit a bit. Burnham draws Bat characters from across the globe, and while not perfect, he does a great a job. His style fits the kind of story Morrison is telling here, and his character work makes it look that much better.
While something of a filler issue there is enough that happens in this issue to get me to lean towards not declaring it one. Namely the inclusion of Leviathan, coupled with the ominous villains speaking at the end, which leads me to believe that Morrison is going to be building this creepy creation from his Seven Soldiers into a global threat that only Batman can stop. Also, major props for the use of Bruce Wayne as an internet troll against himself….hilarious. All in all, it’s a good issue, not great, and a nice example of how far Bruce’s reach has spread. Now we just need an issue with Blackbat and I’ll be happy.