Review: Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes #1 By Grant Morrison

Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes #1

Written by Grant Morrison

Art by Chris Burnham, Cameron Stewart, and Nathan Fairbairn

 

The short of it:

In the first of two chapters Stephanie Brown finds herself enrolled in St. Hadrian’s, a private all girls boarding school for the insane or sanity challenged. Where classes are taught on hand grenades, and girls pick fights in the locker room with pistols. The Death Girls of Leviathan, put together by the Son of Pyg, complete with mind control wafers and all sorts of mental tampering. It’s Steph’s first Batman Inc mission, and she completes it in the black and purple! That’s right everybody, Batgirl in the house!

 

Chapter two, on the other hand, features the core of the Bat family as Batman gets lost in the psychedelic Labyrinth of Dedalus, complete with Alzheimer’s gas in the air. As he fights a battle he keeps forgetting, in a timeline that isn’t quite defined, members of Batman Inc across the globe are targeted as Leviathan lives up to the promise to kill a member every five minutes. We get looks at Batwing and The Hood, but they aren’t the only one we see. Batman’s mind is raked over the coals as everything he knows is twisted, forgotten, remembered, and altered. Is Dedalus alive? Is he dead? Is he even there? There’s a traitor in Batman Inc, and the ever growing mysteries of Spyral, and the confusing synopsis is because the book twists your mind around along with Batman’s! But when all is said and done, Leviathan stands revealed and it’s more personal than Bruce ever expected!

 

What I liked:

  • Can I say Chapter One? Because I really liked that one a whole lot. I mean, the solicits for the issue said we’d see a Batman and Spoiler team up, so I wasn’t expecting the first half of the issue to be the best issue of Batgirl I’ve read since they relaunched the line. Yes, Stephanie Brown is the star of the first half of this book, and she does it in her Batgirl gear. There’s a note saying the issue takes place before Flashpoint and the New 52, but that doesn’t say that Steph’s time as Batgirl has ceased to be.
  • Stephanie in a boarding school for girls wanting to be assassins is just…the perfect setup for this book. It’s a decidedly Morrison plot, and it goes great. Steph doesn’t even need a secret identity to go under cover, and he plays it off perfectly.
  • The teachers being designed to look like pop stars is amusing.
  • Chapter two feels like what I imagine an acid trip feels like. Morrison goes high concept and keeps looping it around and around to the point where the reader is as confused as Batman, but really, in the good way.
  • It was nice to see the pre Flashpoint Bat-Family again, from Steph as Batgirl to Dick as Batman.
  • The reveal of just who exactly is behind Leviathan is so obvious that I’m literally kicking myself over having not pieced it together before.
  • Chris Burnham and Cameron Stewart were perfect calls for art in this issue. Burnham joins the ranks of Dustin Nguyen, Lee Garbett, and Pere Perez as artists I put my faith in to draw Steph, and Stewart reminds readers that he doesn’t get nearly enough work. Fantastic looking issue.

 

What I didn’t like:

  • For as much as I loved the first chapter and the return of my Batgirl, it almost feels like a cruel and evil tease that now I won’t be seeing her again anytime soon.
  • The way the issue is put together it really does read like a season finale to everything that had happened in Batman Incorporated before the relaunch shelved it, which is awesome, but it’s been so many months sine the last issue that I found myself completely blanking on parts of the issue that were treated as if I just should have remembered.
  • So when do we get more Batman Inc?
  • The only downside to the Leviathan reveal is that all of my brainstorming about how it tied to the version he used in Seven Soldiers is moot.
  • So when do I get more Stephanie Brown?
  • While it was nice to see the entire Bat family appear, I wish Dick and Tim had done more…Damian too, come to think of it.
  • Seriously, where’s Steph?

 

Final thoughts:

 

I’ve been missing my Steph a lot thanks to the relaunch, especially after the disappointment I found in the new Batgirl title. It’s just not as much fun! Now, I wasn’t the kind of person to get worried that another writer would be handling the last appearance of Steph as Batgirl for the foreseeable future, since I’m a big fan of Bryan Q. Miller and everything he did with her, but Grant Morrison? Sorry, you’ll never see me think twice before accepting him writing one of my favorite characters. He did her a lot of justice here, and really, I want to see him do it again. Now.

 

The first chapter should have totally given away who Leviathan was when I read it. The mysterious headmistress of a school of assassins? I’ve been kicking myself since yesterday.

 

Companies don’t do enough prestige format issues, but I always love it when they do. It does a nice job of hiding the fact that the book could probably have stood to be a little bit longer. For seven bucks I’d have liked another ten to twenty pages of story, but the format choice eases the pain. Honestly, had Marvel made Point One a prestige format issue, I’d have been less offended.

 

I can’t remember the last time Grant Morrison completely twisted me up with a story the way he did here. It was like the Cassandra Nova stuff in New X-Men where he’s just going as out there as possible and succeeding just because he’s that damn good. It’s very different from how he’s handling Superman, but at the same time, if his Superman read like his Batman I’d be horribly disappointed.

 

As much as I can’t wait for Batman Inc to return full time so I can get more, I’m also lamenting the fact that Grant has confirmed that he’s bringing back the title so he can wrap up his time on Batman in the next year or so. I can live with that if it’s a long term run on Superman that’s coming next, but I’ll still be sad to see him go from Batman.

 

Overall: 9.5/10

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