Thursday, 24 May 2012

New Beginnings - Batman Incorporated

This week’s new beginning is more of a continuation. Batman Incorporated already had its first outing last year and now we have its rebirth within the New 52. Although many may argue that going back to an issue one is not the correct thing to have done as this is not strictly a reboot either.

The story continues on from where the previous bumper one-shot left off, with Leviathan - the sinister organisation out to finish Batman and Bruce Wayne - growing its membership in its own unique fashion whilst Batman and Robin are trying to get closer to them. It has dropped a timeframe in as well due to the opening page being Bruce Wayne’s arrest, before the story then moves back a month. There’s no further connections to ponder so the arc has been left wide open. But is that a weakness or a strength? It gives Grant Morrison such a large scope to take this wherever he wants from after the first issue.

This is clearly a foundation issue as the majority of it is spent with Batman and Robin chasing through the city and not the other members of the “corporation”. The other thing that I found surprising is that it is outside of the current setting considering that all of the Batman titles are tied into the Night of The Owls storyline which could have still worked very well considering. However, even with it outside of this arc, and almost this continuity as a result, there are still issues being dealt with between Bruce and Damian. A prime example of this is the difference between them over the ability to kill, which Damian has done.

There are some odd moments of humour mixed in as well such as “Bat-Cow” and the request of a “perv suit” but this doesn’t distract from the main story. I did like how it didn’t even try to come close to wrapping things up or even making obvious links. The development of Leviathan is separated out and also has enough time spent on it that it gives the depth that an aspiring criminal organisation needs to be taken seriously by Batman. Even the addition of the supposed dead members of Batman Inc. is done quickly, but in a way that means they are now on your mind.

What Morrison does do is pull the loose story that has flowed through this issue together with a completely normal person. He has no powers, no skills but has a son who he is willing to do anything for. In a strange reflection of Bruce Wayne himself - this is a lowly cabbie driven by the same paternal instincts has become an adversary. A really nice touch.

The artwork is good from Chris Burnham and fits in with more how Batman and Robin used to look than the original issues of Batman Inc, but is does have tonnes of detail. At some points it felt a little small and cramped but there’s a huge amount of information that is trying to be conveyed. There's a particularly striking page, where the first panel is akin to a splash page, but there are three subsequent panels within that image, drawn as if they are being projected onto the side of Gotham buildings.

If you were a fan of the original comics last year then you want to be picking this up as it pulls you back from the cliff hanger that it left and opens it all back up again. It also helps that Morrison is still at the helm to keep it steady.

Matt Puddy is loving the sun!

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