Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday – Reasons Why Batman Inc Is Brilliant Comics

Batman Incorporated is the new Bat-title from Bat-writer, and guano insane genius, Grant Morrison. It shows Bruce Wayne, back from the dead (or the past), and he’s going to set up a global revolution of Batmen to fight crime. It’s an interesting premise, I’ll admit, but this issue is just so much more than the simple elevator pitch. It’s chocked full with character and science and awesomeness of an elevated degree. Here are ten reasons why this issue is something you have to read. Ten reasons that include spoilers; you've been warned.

1 - Pure Fun

This issue is a stack of fun, there’s no denying it. Well, it’s kind of grizzly in parts, and murderous, but at all times still feels like you’re in on an adventure ride and all the pretty lights are singing you a Wonka lullaby of decapitated chickens and the nastiness of the world.
This issue won’t take you long to read, because you’ll absolutely zoom through it. I’m generally not one to reread many of my comics, honestly, but I read this bad boy three times within about 12 hours. It just pays off every time you read it and you’ll probably find something else to slow down and enjoy. This comic feels like a great superhero comic should, it’s bombastic, it’s break neck, and it’s good old, wholesome, quality fun. There’s no denying it.

2 - New Reader Friendly

I haven’t read a Batman comic since R.I.P. ended. I liked Morrison’s stuff but the budget called and demanded some heads, Batman’s rolled off. So now I’m back (from outer space…sorry), and after reading some good reviews I knew I needed to sample this comic. And I’m glad I did. The concept is easily spelled out, Batman is going to go around the world and recruit and train some international Batmen. It’s the sort of status quo change that makes for a good jumping on point because it doesn’t feel like you need to have read, say, Return of Bruce Wayne to really get into the story. You just need to know Bruce is back, and there's gonna be trouble (hey na, hey na...sorry) and he’s got a plan.

There isn’t a lot of heavy exposition in this issue. Morrison isn’t working to inform you of the new plan. He just throws us into Japan and we take it from there. If Mr. Unknown has been used before or is a new creation for this issue is beside the point, he’s here and he’s now and you can watch what happens next right in the first two pages (which I’ll cover further down the list). Catwoman is a big part of the story but she’s not specifically introduced or shown how she got into panel. She’s just there, she’s got some history with Batman, that’s probably all you need to know.

Apparently Catwoman’s reaction to Bruce’s return over many titles has been inconsistent. Lucky I only read this title then so it hasn’t impacted me at all. Sorry. I found this issue to be completely easy to pick up from a DC noob’s point of view because it’s just a Batman comic. That’s it.

3 - First Two Pages

I read the 5 page preview on CBR but it failed to include the actual first two pages of the comic. The first two brutal and brilliant pages. We open on Japan’s greatest hero, Mr. Unknown. And he’s not in a good way. Mighty Lord Death Man has captured him, tied him to a chair, and next to him is a bottle of rohypnol pills and some nitro-hydrochloric acid. That’s not how anyone wants to wake up.

You think it’s bad but before the first page ends we get Mr. Unknown looking at his melting hands. Within four panels, we can already see that this story is playing for keeps. It might have one tongue firmly planted in its cheek but it’s also got a hand up its own dress and is looking for anything it can use illegally in most civilised countries.

The second page only takes things further as Mighty Lord Death Man stands triumphant over Mr. Unknown. It’s the end, surely, and Mr. Unknown pleads for his life, quietly, and the moment becomes all too real. It’s sad and you feel but only for a second before Mr. Unknown’s head is eviscerated by the acid Mighty Lord Death Man hurls at him. It’s a nasty open, especially cold, and it gives a good sense that this title is going to be many things.

4 - Yanick Paquette

I fell in love with Paquette’s art on the Weapon X arc he did with Jason Aaron where Wolverine was in the insane asylum, perhaps you’ve read it? It was a great arc and Paquette brings the same great work to this title. His characters all look comic book real, not exactly photo referenced but definitely not cartoony. There’s emotion and depth to these characters. He feels like someone whose style is Frank Quitely and Sean Phillips thrown into a blender and the frothy mix topped with some Mike Deodato, or perhaps a dash of Olivier Coipel. But then again, I’ve never been good at art discussion so I’ll just say I really like Paquette’s work.

One thing that stands out is that Paquette is drawing a very square jawed Batman. I like it, as if his chin is almost a part of the entire costume. He’s the ultimate hero here and Bruce Wayne doesn’t look too bad either. Though he is hair-free which disappoints me. He’s got nothing; none on the chest, none on the arms, none on the legs. It’s just not right, I want the old school, rugged, Sean Connery style chest rug for my man of leisure.

As for Catwoman/Selina Kyle, sure she’s pretty overly sexualised here, but that’s kind of what I want. This comic feels like a zany Bond comic, let’s have Batman’s ultimate Bond girl, his Cat. I dug the Catsuit a good deal more than I did Selina’s relaxed attire. But there’s no deny Paquette draws a mean tentacle porn poster, and the real deal later on. He also makes the action look real, with people scraped up and bleeding and I liked that.

5 - Japanese Heroes & Villains

This isn’t Gotham. You get that instantly because Paquette fills the streets and the backgrounds with plenty of Japanese iconography and tone. It instantly lets you know this is a different Batman tale. But apart from the scene, it is the new players that excite. Mr. Unknown barely gets any screen time but he instantly intrigues me. He’s the local hero in Japan, and so I wonder why he looks the way he does. I wonder how he does what he does. I try to quickly fill in a whole stack of back story, which is fun, but Morrison isn’t going there. He’s moving forward, so we must as well.

We get the killer of Mr. Unknown, the spooky and kind of awesome Mighty Lord Death Man. It’s got that great Japanese way of overhyping things through extended strings of adjectives and nouns. It’s perfect and the character’s actions and look live up to the name. He’s got the black and white theme owned, his skull mask (just once) shows the human face underneath, and he’s certainly theatrical. He’s a Japanese Joker, if you will, and he’s a stack of fun for this story. The fact that Morrison took this guy from an old Bat-Manga tale and updated/repurposed him for here is indeed pleasing. I could read plenty more of this villain.

Then there’s Jiro, but I’ll get to him later.

6 - Wayne and Kyle, Sitting In A Tree

You just know Bruce and Selina are doing it. I am a big fan of their interaction in this issue. It’s casual and fun and completely on the job, to begin with. They’re just teaming up on a little gig, stealing a rare jewel from Doctor Sivana, and we cut to them in media res and it’s just right. These two would do this all the time and I don’t care about getting there, I really care about being there. So there we are.

After the job, and a resolution we don’t even see, Bruce and Selina just kick back in a Japanese hotel suite. She uses her time to sit around half naked and drink – straight from the bottle. He uses the down time pumping more weights and preparing for the next step – physically and intellectually. It’s a perfect match because they’re the original odd couple. They probably each wish to change the other to make the perfect match, but they’ll never succeed. But that doesn’t stop them having a stack of fun together.

Why has Bruce taken Selina with him on this outreach program? Who knows (who cares?)? If you could, wouldn’t you? She’s hot and fun and damn useful. You get the chance, you bring her along. She’s nearly always going to be more use than she is a liability. In the end, though, I know their paring will be fun. And I want my fiction to be fun.

7 - Giant. Robot. Mice.

What more needs to be said on this one? Bats and the Cat are in the lab of the previously mentioned Doctor Sivana and to get to what they need they have to get past the sentries; giant robot mice. It’s just one of those times where the creators are making the small part of the tale more interesting. The real stuff that matters will occur in Japan but why tread water on the pages before? Why have henchmen when you can do this?

I’ll admit, this isn’t my favourite part of the issue. It’s cool but it’s nowhere near the top of the list (top ten maybe, I guess) and yet I appreciate it. It’s just something new and comics can always utilise new.

8 - Final Two Pages

Much has already been made of the final two pages but I don’t think you can have enough discussion on something like this, to be honest. The set up is that Jiro has gone to his girlfriend to ensure her safety but he’s found her in a death trap of maniacal intent. The sequence is begun, Misaki drops through a trap door into some water, and Jiro makes a move for her. He kicks a henchman just as Batman and Catwoman enter the room to help out with the ensuing brawl. Misaki is fully submerged and so Catwoman dives for the water to help her out, a call back to a previous scene where Catwoman flippantly mentions water, and her diversion to it.

It’s three wide panels, intercut with black strips of writing that makes it sound like the end of your favourite childhood serials, and it’s certainly something you don’t see every month in the usual funny books. It seems to slow the action down, almost strobe it at you, and it’s a complete success in tone and mood. Then I turn the page and find….well, actually I found Batwoman pointing her leather breasts at me because there’s a big old ad staring me down (a tactical error of placement that really jolted me for a moment), so I tracked my eye to the right and found the final splash page.

The splash page does many things. It showcases beautiful Paquette art, just gorgeous. You can look at this splash for quite some time. It offers up an idea I have honestly never seen before. This is unique and intriguing and flat out awesome. It also provides one hell of a cliffhanger for the next issue. I absolutely must know what happens next. Due to the lead up of the previous page, it also has a bit more impact because you’re built up to something coming out at you. Morrison and Paquette deliver in spades on this one.

9 - Jiro

Jiro only gets a few pages but he’s instantly an interesting character. He appears to have been the Robin to Mr. Unknown, that’s how I see it. He’s a young guy, able to hold his own against the Mighty Lord Death Henchmen, and he will make for a cool triangle of crime fighting between Batman and Catwoman. I like this guy already and watching him get trained by Bruce is going to be fun.

10 - Global and Beautiful

The entire premise, Batman going global, is definitely sold in this issue. We get Bruce Wayne as a jet hopping playboy, with lady on the arm, and we get a seedy side to Japan. The villain is something different entirely, the new sidekick/trainee looks to be something fun. It’s Batman working with new people and taking Catwoman with him. This doesn’t feel like a generic Batman comic. This has the tone and vibe of something global. It’s not going to be what you’ll expect. It’s a new Batman comic for a person not entirely interested in all of the old Batman comics. But, if you are a die hard Bat-fan, then I think you’ll still see your man Wayne in here and you’ll love him.


This issue has sold me completely. It’s got so many things right that I’ve added it to the list of purchases, definitely. It is sleek and sexy, it pushes along like a bullet from a personalised, hand built gun. It looks absolutely stunning. But I find many creators know how to make a debut issue fantastic. They have to, that’s the catch. I want to see if issue #2 can continue the greatness. If it can, I’ll be on this title for some time because this start is absolutely masterful. If you have not read this issue then you need to go pick it up. You won’t regret it. But if you have another favourite moment from the issue then please let us know in the comments.

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Anonymous said...

Moments of the week?!??!?

Ivan said...

Can't wait for the issue where Batman comes to Brazil to train a samba and soccer loving crime fighter who fights using maracas and shouting "AY AY AY".

Boy, I hope I'm wrong.

Matt Duarte said...

@Ivan: I feel your pain. The third issue (I think) is going to be set in Argentina, and you know what the local hero going to be? EL GAUCHO!

Which, admittedly, is an older character not one that Morrison created, but boy I hope he doesn't portray the country as just endless fields of cows grazing.

Anonymous said...

Hope Batman comes to Ireland and fixed this hellhole of a country!

Give the politicians a good kick up the arse.

Batman INC #1 was awesome.

Dennis N said...

Mr. Unknown is a cool name, but Mighty Lord Death Man?

Sounds a bit like the Super Young Team: Most Excellent Superbat, Big Atomic Lantern Boy, Shiny Happy Aquazon, Well-Spoken Sonic Lightning Flash, Shy Crazy Lolita Canary. Created by.... Grant Morrison.

Which sound a bit like the Great Ten, created by.... Grant Morrison.

I'm somewhat uncomfortable with the trend in the way Grant Morrison names his Asian characters.

Anonymous said...

Post the Comic Book Moments of the Week, already!

Anonymous said...

Lord Death Man was created by another writer who wrote Batman Manga a few years back.

Morrison is just adding some bells and whistles to LDM's story.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

Hey, anonymous, I don't post the moments of the week, sorry, but if you send me an email with about 20+ awesome scans from comics this week I'll shoot it up for you ;)

Sorry, I can't be any help on this one.

I also wonder what bats will do when he comes to Australia. Something to do with a Boomerang, no doubt...but I remain faithful.

Zdenko said...

I want to see a Bosnian Batman. :P

Anonymous said...

I want to see an Italian Batman!

Someone to replace the Legionaire who was killed in Morrison's 3 part story with Jh Williams set on the Msyterious Island Of Dr Mayhew.

Midnight Monk said...

Wonder if Morrison gonna make Cassandra Cain, the Bat of Hong Kong. It would make sense and it could help get her back into the main bat family again

Anonymous said...

Hope to god he taps Frazer Irving to do an Arc on Inc next year :-)

Anonymous said...

Good Article: This issue and The Return are getting some fantastic reviews across the net so far.

Spud said...

Looks great but the art style is so clearly Nolan and Adam hughes,wih a bit of Hitch inspired it is scary. Just look at Nolan's batman.

Lucho said...

@Matt Duarte

I´m from Argentina and I doubt Morrison is gonna show the country as a cow-place.

He has after read a lot of Jorge Luis Borges and even stole from him concepts for his Doom Patrol episodes.

Comic Zone said...

This is truly remarkable. Finally there is justification for all the time travel crap. We're really glad Grant got to play with Batman but a lot of customers prefer Dick over Bruce. We're totally into this whole thing.

Patrick said...

I assume Morrison is going to use some of characters in the Club of Heroes arc?

Fenris said...

@Ivan and Matt:

You think the stereotypical Batman of your countries will be woeful?
Well, I'm from Sweden – hello, Blonde Naked Nympho-Bat (it's either that or The Depressed Knight Returns...)

Brandon Whaley said...

I was all ready to sit this one out, but I had some credit at the LCS so I grabbed it. Best DC comic I've read in months, and certainly the best Batman comic in a while. I wonder if he'll have multiples in the US; a Southern Batman would be just what my home state needs :)

Anonymous said...

An Ethiopian "Batman" would be a true innovation. The capital city alone is the African equivalent to Bangkik. Ooodles and ooodles of corruption.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe a North Korean "Batman"!!!!

Anonymous said...

I am seriously not feeling this.

There are enough Batman analouges running around the DCU - Catman, Catwoman, Wildcat, Batgirl, Batwoman, Huntress, Black Canary, Robin, Red Robin and so on,

Batman was gone for a year, now we got 2 Batmen, soon to grow exponetially as Tony Stark, uh, I mean Bruce Wayne, recruits worldwide analouges of himself.

Without foaming at the mouth or breaking your keyboards, can sum1 explain why reading about international Batmen is better than the one and only, especially since he just came back? (i dont mean the WC, u guys rawk, but ur trolls are...adamant)

I am not drinking the kool-aid, Batman Inc. doesnt interest me. I can accept 2 Batmen, Bruce & Dick, & I dont do so happily.

I cannot accept a planet full of Batmen.

And b4 anyone violently overreacts to my post, chill out, we are talking about comics, so lets talk comics.

Bruce Wayne 4ever!

Anonymous said...

At least post some previews!

Ryan K Lindsay said...

Yeah, dude, I don't do previews either, sorry. That's the other Ryan. I also don't run their schedule.

I guess you don't come here for my stuff, do you...? :)

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@Anon22 - I don't know, I'm not expecting this title to turn into a team book...I don't know what I'm expecting it to become, to be honest. He'll set up some Batmen, sure, and they'll work in the periphery, but I assume once they're established they'll be left to their own devices, maybe others can pick them up for minis - I'm reading this one because the first issue was damn fun, and from there, well, I'll let Morrison win me over.

I doubt the others will really be Batman, I guess, they'll keep their identities, but have the Bat-approval in some way...?

Anonymous said...

Reason #11 - there's a Finnish flag on the cover.

Sorry, our crippling national insecurity demands that every Finn jump up and down whenever an outside medium recognizes our country.

buddy said...

you know what this would be a better idea if they actually used this to sort out the JL and introduce justice league unlimited . seriously the story would still fit anyone agree?

Anonymous said...

agreed that will be awesome for the JL title

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I dropped this one. Just not feeling the Bruce Wayne international man of mystery thing. Why doesn't Bruce just go public with his identity as Batman as this point? He can't possibly be fooling anyone anymore, and he's already put Wayne Industries and his entire family firmly in the crosshairs of anyone gunning for Batman. Remind me, what's the point of having a secret identity if not to protect your family and your home?
Also, clearly the international community has no problem deputizing all of these dangerous "Batman" vigilantes because some American Billionaire told them to. So I can't believe with that reality in the works that Bruce could really fear the law in Gotham.
Basically this whole stinking mess is trying to be like the end of Iron Man 1 (the movie) without having Bruce actually admit to anything. They're trying to have him act as if his secret identity is public knowledge without actually making it public knowledge. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

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