A few months ago I said too many Batmen could spoil the cowl , but where do things stand now that Bruce is finally back in town? Last week I picked up four Batman comics: Batman: The Return, Batman Incorporated, Batman: Streets of Gotham and Batman. Let’s see what conclusions I can jump to about the state of affairs already.
Batman: The Return was a one-shot by the mastermind of this whole Batmen extravaganza, Grant Morrison, and illustrated by David Finch. At $4.99 it was a good chunk of change but worth every penny. If you didn’t pick this one up you’re missing a big piece of the Batman Incorporated puzzle. Bruce wastes no time jumping right back into the saddle. He’s on a rooftop in a Middle Eastern country trying to get a young boy out of a hostage situation. And how does he accomplish that? By diving off the roof with both the boy and the attacker. Oh, and did I mention he disarms a bomb the attacker had strapped to his chest on the way down? For all his far-out ideas, I still love Morrison for his imagination.
Back in Gotham, Bruce calls a meeting of the Bat-family to discuss his plans for the future. Besides creating a new internet just for Oracle to play with (How cool is that?), he wants Batgirl to enroll in finishing school in England (Ha!) and has Lucious Fox creating jet-suits for Batman and Robin. He takes Robin on a test drive to Yemen where they run into some bio-experiments gone wrong and find a mysterious character who just happens to also have a bat-like look. After only one mission he concludes he can’t possibly work with Damian and insists Dick stay on as the boy’s partner. He also starts making plans with Alfred for setting up shop abroad. We’re introduced to Leviathan, a nefarious group that includes the bat-like man and another mystery villain. Some fantastic script to art comparisons added to the book really made this an excellent addition to the pile last week.
The first issue of Batman Incorporated, by Morrison and Yanick Paquette, was even more enjoyable to my surprise. Now, putting aside the fact that I hear the Kids Incorporated theme song every time I see or hear about this one, it really had a feel all of it’s own. Though it was up that slightly odd Morrison alley. I don’t know if it will stay that way but it had a certain sense of humor that really made it stand out. Lord Death Man, who I believe was actually wearing a skeleton t-shirt to go along with his skeleton head, kills a Japanese superhero named Mr. Unknown just before Batman can get there to recruit him for the cause. He does, however, recruit Selina to help him procure something dangerous from one of Doctor Sivana’s labs. He lets her tag along to find Mr. Unknown and they wind up running into Lord Death Man’s useless henchmen instead. Luckily that gives them the lead they need to find Mr. Unknown’s protégé who’s also got the henchman on his back. Best part of the issue besides the giant octopus? The old-school Batman teaser, “Can Batman solve the Reaper’s riddles? Or with curiosity kill the cat?”
Streets of Gotham by Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen also featured Catwoman. Timeline-wise this book comes before Batman Incorporated because we see Selina surprised Bruce is Batman again but after her The Road Home one-shot where Bruce was disguised as the Insider. (I’m still waiting for an explanation of that suit he used in those books by the way. There was some serious technology in it.) Anyway, something strange comes over Harley Quinn that makes her, for all intents and purposes, sleepwalk. Albeit very violently sleepwalk. A villain I could certainly do without called the Bedbug is responsible.
Oddly enough, just before I read this issue I wondered what they were going to do with the Bruce Wayne impersonating Hush now that the real Bruce was back. He’s escaped his many babysitters and Zatanna can’t even find him (Though she should easily be able to, he’s not being protected by magic as far as we know.). Tommy’s got his own problems, he’s been kidnapped by gangster Judsen Pierce who is out for revenge on “Bruce Wayne.” He quickly turns the tables on his attackers though and reveals himself as a fake and ally to their cause. There was a Ragman second feature in this issue, which surprised me since I thought DC was phasing them out. To start a new one now seems kind of silly. Regardless, it didn’t have anything to do with the overall Batman Inc. plot anyway.
In Tony Daniel’s Batman, it’s Dick Grayson who has center stage but that doesn’t mean Bruce won’t be stepping in from time to time. Batman and Robin are on the hunt for Reaper before he can kill Kitrina Falcone, a.k.a. Catgirl. They catch him but not her and she’s gone before Bruce arrives to lecture Dick about letting her roam free as it is. He eventually confronts her about her “kitten” but has little luck convincing her encouraging Kitrina is the wrong move. Meanwhile, on the Wayne business front, Sasha Lo from the Tang Lo Foundation insists they want to revitalize particular neighborhoods in Gotham. They’re specifically interested in Crime Alley and while their outward intentions seem good, no one throws that much money at an area like that without a reason. Turns out Miss Lo has a secret identity of her own that plays a part in her aggressive philanthropy. She eventually comes up against Batman as Peacock and both are attacked by a reemerged Sensei. Overall, I’m glad not all of the Bat titles are going to be so heavily involved in the Batman Inc. storyline. Dick has a good thing going here.
Technically, “resurrected” Batman made another cameo last week in Brightest Day but I’m officially saying it didn’t count because it was one big tease. I was very interested to see what Geoff Johns would have Batman do as a White Lantern and even though I knew it wouldn’t be for long I didn’t think it would be for all of four pages. Basically, he did nothing, but he managed to mention Maxwell Lord so at least that’s something.
So obviously one issue in we still can’t say too much about the new era but it’s looking far more positive than I previously expected. Though, considering I was initially against the idea of multiple Batmans that probably means three months from now I’ll be hating it again. I love being a fickle fan. I honestly can’t wait to see how all these stories unfold though. What do you think so far?What did you think of the opening salvo of Batman, Inc?