Batman Incorporated #1 - 'Demon Star' - Morrison and Burnham
Story - When it comes to Grant Morrison's years-in-the-making Batman opus, I run rather hot and cold, there some parts of it I love, such as his run on Batman And Robin and the first few issues of the last volume of Batman Incorporated. But there are also parts I really don't like, such as the RIP story, or the meandering, confusing Return Of Bruce Wayne. It's a run that features Morrison trying lots of different things and shoving lots of different ideas in, and some of them work, some of them don't.
This debut issue of Batman Incorporated Volume 2 is, for me, made up of all of the things that work about what Morrison is trying to do with Batman and as such, I enjoyed this like I've enjoyed few Batman stories over the years, this issue was just great. There's quite a lot going on here and at times it was difficult to follow what precisely was happening, but the whole story was told in such an exciting way, with such panache, that any misgivings you may have about the non-linear nature of the story is forgotten.
In many ways, this issue was a bit of a repeat of Batman And Robin #1, where the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder (although of course it's a different Batman here) chase a weird new animal-based villain across Gotham. In B&R it was Mister Toad, here we have Goatboy (and yes, it is a Bill Hicks reference). The action sequences in this issue were really excellent, Burnham pulls out so many cool tricks and techniques which really make everything pop. More on him later.
But there's more here than just Batman and Robin chasing Goatboy around, Morrison picks up many of the threads he left in the Leviathan Strikes! one-shot and continues to build up the threat of Leviathan. The dinner scene with the creepy Leviathan mummy and his Man-Bats was very well-done. I continue to be impressed with how well Morrison is introducing new villains for Batman, most writers are content to cycle through the old favourites, but it's telling that the best Batman runs of recent times, Morrison's and Snyder's, have used new guys.
And of course, Morrison has not forgotten the 'Incorporated' aspect of this title, as we see what a bunch of the 'Other Batmen' are doing, which is faking their deaths and hiding in a sex-shop. Yes, a sex-shop.
But in the end, this issue all came down to the relationship between Batman and Robin, the father and the son. It was interesting to see that Damian Wayne believes that things were better when Bruce was dead and Dick was Batman, I can't help but feel that's Morrison expressing what a lot of readers, and maybe he himself, feel, I personally much prefer the dichotomy you got when Dick was Batman, where for once, Robin was the darker character and Batman the lighter. With Bruce and Damian, it's all dark, and while it works here, it's not as fun.
However, maybe there'll be no dichotomy at all soon, because by the looks of this issue, Damian is dead. Now I'm pretty sure we all know that he isn't really dead, but it was a ballsy cliffhanger, and I can't wait to see how Morrison will write himself out of this corner.
Overall, this was a great issue, it felt fresh, like any #1 should, but it also continued on Morrison's mega-story really well. It was full of great, stylish moments, and I hope that Morrison and Burnham can keep this up.
Art - Wow, where did that come from? Chris Burnham really stepped up a gear here. I knew from the previous run of Batman Inc that he was a good artist, but here he really changed into the second coming of Frank Quitely, and as such, the perfect companion for Grant Morrison. There were so many cool little artistic bits here, from the panel that looked like an FPS game, or the use of maps, or the brilliant splash-page where he used the walls of buildings as panels, or the panel where Robin took out all those Mutants in one spin. It was great to see an artist really do the unexpected and it really made the issue work. Morrison's Batman work has risen and fallen based on the strengths of the artist, and I think the presence of a career-best Burnham bodes well.
Best Line - 'And this is Bat-Cow'