Batman Incorporated #2
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Yanick Paquette
The way Morrison writes Japanese people and culture in his titles always stands out to me. I mean, I’m hardly overly familiar with it myself, but there are certain ways that he has characters speak, certain actions, they just stand out to me. And then given that this issue is part two of the Batman Japan story arc, that means there are a lot of opening for him to write the Japanese. I actually think that’s one of the cooler parts about the premise of this book, that a writer like Grant Morrison, who actually has shown the ability to write international characters that stand out as international, is writing an international title. It also gives him a chance, albeit it a brief one, to write a member of his Super Young Team for what I believe to be the first time since Final Crisis. Oh, and of course, the quest to create a new Batman in Japan.
First, I can’t review this issue without putting some focus into the character of Jiro Osamu, revealed in this issue to be the body of Japanese crime fighter Mr. Unknown. The original Mr. Unknown was his employer, but as he grew into his 50’s he no longer was one for going out on patrols and stakeouts. So he would do the detective work as Jiro put on the costume and kept the presence alive. Kinda like Batman Beyond. Unfortunately, the original Mr. Unknown was murdered last issue and Jiro shot his killer right in front of Batman. This is an obvious downside as Batman was there to recruit him to Batman Inc, but the first rule of Batman Inc is no guns (or is that the second rule? Would that make the first rule of Batman Inc that you don’t talk about Batman Inc?). This piece of discouragement, however, is the right kick in the ass Jiro needs to get his head on straight and show not only Bruce, but himself just what he has in him. The end result is a stronger character than came into this issue, and a character worthy of the extended focus they receive in the issue.
Bruce spends most of the issue in Bat-Dick mode, being a giant size ass to anyone who approaches him, but his motivations do clear up by issues end. For one thing, it makes sense for Bruce to go into all business mode when murder is the case, and unfortunately, all business Bruce is….Bat-Dick! Though again, motivations. And he’s working on motivating two characters into this issue, both Jiro and Selina, and it led me to a realization about this book. It’s not just an excuse to have Bruce be Batman all over the world, or to build up a League of Batmen (alright, so it really is an excuse to have a League of Batmen), but it’s also a way for Bruce to help people better themselves. Think about it, while he’s far from perfect, Bruce’s influence can bring out the best in anyone…if properly motivated. Take Jiro in this instance, Batman going into full Bat-Dick mode is enough to get Jiro to go about doing things his own way, be his own hero and man, and not just ask Batman for orders. Look at Selina, she comes along for a heist (as one would expect from her) but she also dove in to save the girl from the giant octopus. She’s heroic despite herself, and Bruce’s influence has always brought her back to the side of angels.
Lord Death Man is a psychotically awesome idea for a villain, and I absolutely loved the way Morrison handled him. I mean, this dude is as creepy as the Joker and just as insane, the difference being the skull mask and the fact that he doesn’t seem able to die. Dude wakes up during his own autopsy and starts stabbing people. Dude reaches his hand into his own neck to pull a bullet out while making jokes about t-shirt slogans. I just….I can’t find an accurate way to describe him other than he’s ridiculously inspired and proof that Morrison made villains are awesome. I mean, scope this page out.
Yanick Paquette does a really good job here on art, and while I don’t have a wealth of things to say about what he does, I just felt that he deserved some recognition. This is a good looking book, and it just serves to make reading it that much better on the eyes. He’s not the best Bat-artist that I’ve ever seen, but he’s a very good fit for this book and brings a lot to the table. And he’s just as good with the characters in costume as he is with them out of it, which is a nice touch.
Morrison has a winner here as he continues to cement his legacy with Batman, just as he continues his run that I can’t fathom anyone following up on. We have new heroes, new villains, and next month it’s off to South America. Two to three issue story arcs could do a lot to benefit this book, as in two issues the book has already told a nice little story and moved Bruce on to another country without feeling rushed at all. Of course, I fully expect longer arcs to come along later, but opening the book on a two issue story worked out pretty well. The premise is established, the theme is out there, and with that first arc already in the books we can go right into the next one without the drawn out feeling of having your initial story arc extend past it’s shelf life. A problem a lot of books tend to have, actually, the opening six issue arc can meet delays or feel too decompressed and it can be enough to kill momentum right out of the gate. Morrison alleviated us from that sort of a fate, and for that, I thank him. This was a good issue, and I can’t wait for the next one.
Tags: Batman, Batman Inc, Catwoman, Grant Morrison, Reviews, Yanick Paquette