Batman Incorporated #1 is an extension of the previous series of the same name that Grant Morrison started. The basic premise is that Bruce Wayne has taken the concept of Batman and sold it as a franchise. Bat-signals across the globe inform villains that there is no escaping justice.
Initially the series had a rotating roster of art teams, but Chris Burnham stood out as the strongest of them. The look and feel of Batman Incorporated has been like the 1966 Adam West TV series on acid. All of the madcap ideas and unusual criminal masterminds are there and Gotham is an oddball city-scape that is more dream-like than real, but the violence is over the top, the one-liners are brutal and the logic is almost out the window.
If you can dig Morrison’s view of Batman and roll with it, this series is a lot of fun. Burnham’s artwork is also phenomenal and his page layouts are gorgeous. The free-flowing nature and eye-popping visuals attract me to this series, but the only real drawback for me is Morrison’s determination to out-weird the audience or at least throw in as many characters as humanly possible.
In this one issue of Batman Incorporated, Batman and Robin fight a gang of goat-mask-wearing crooks in a slaughter house. One of the gang members is a sniper waiting for the opportunity to bump off Robin. We gain insight into the life of this character, Goat Boy, that nearly takes over the narrative.
It feels very reminiscent of ‘Best Man’s Fall’ from the Invisibles. That’s a good thing, though and makes the issue stand out a lot. Morrison is a very emotive writer and can tap into the most forgettable of background characters and make them as interesting as the star.
The problem for me comes when this plot thread gets cast aside and we are suddenly in a sex shop watching a character try on an Azrael costume. He refers to it as a fetish and is taken down to a secret HQ where other people are dressed as obscure Batman-characters. Are these fans? Are they really who they appear to be? It’s very confusing because Morrison is attracted to the notion of the superhero lifestyle as a fetish and these could just be background characters acting out fantasies. But when Wingman if the International Club of Batmen appears it seems that this really is a gathering of crime fighters.
It was very distracting for me and kinda took me out of the comic.
The central premise seems to be that Robin’s mother Talia al Ghul has put out a contract on her son. Strangely, Batman welcomes it because it means that Gotham will play host to some of the most dangerous and daring killers all over the world… and he can beat them up.
Despite any negative criticisms, the issue was very entertaining and the artwork is absolutely astounding. If you are a fan of Morrison’s Batman, this is your lucky day. Even if you are not, you may want to flip through it in the shop.