“Gotham’s ready to commit suicide” – Grant Morrison sets the stage for a finale in Batman Incorporated #12

UZW8v4jFor the last few years, Damian Wayne has been the face of the Batman franchise, a child destined to the be the savior of a twisted future, the son of humanity’s greatest greatest savior, a child of two twisted worlds. His life from conception, to training, to redemption, to heroism is one of the greatest modern stories DC has produced and Grant Morrison’s attention and care for Damian made the character’s death such an emotional gut punch which echoed through the Batman franchise.

It’s been time for Bruce to have his revenge. One of the most interesting things about the death of Damian has been the way Bruce has had to really take the role of a father, one dealing with death. For his entire life, he’s been the child mourning a father and now, he’s finally had to grow up, to stop being a vengeful and wounded son playing at being a man. He’s still struggling, still impulsive but deep down, Batman has another child who needs his protection more than ever. Gotham needs saving and as Bruce says, “she needs Batman Incorporated.”

batman-inc-10-021While many of Morrison’s scripts have been labyrinthine essays exploring the psyches of his characters, this week’s Batman Incorporated #12 is basically a straight fight comic. The showdown between Batman and The Heretic has been a long time coming and Morrison and Chris Burnham devote most of the book’s pages to the knock-down, drag-out brawl between the characters.  It still works, namely with Morrison’s love of all eras of Bat-history and a creative visual language. I mean, Batman is strapped into the most ’90s armor ever, falling onto blimps, yelling about jet-packs and and waiting for Talia in the animated Bat-cave. It’s that attention to all era detail and visual storytelling which elevates the dark, violent subject.

Burnham deserves plenty of attention as well. One of the things he’s not been praised enough for is his unconventional panel work. He’s great at using sized panels with decreasing heights to emphasize the verticality and brutal height of The Heretic and Batman’s battle and each shattered diagonal fight sequence gives a greater sense of impact and force to every blow.

BatmanInc12panel2There are few comic book stories which have maintained such a prolonged sense of tension, menace and intrigue as Grant Morrison’s expansion of Batman beyond Gotham City. While his early work on the character was great, it wasn’t until Batman’s return from the past, the beginning of Dick and Damian’s team up and the formation of Bruce’s world wide war on crime that the series turned from a franchise into a bold, innovative and creator defined must-read comic. I can only hope the final issue offers a suitable end to Morrison’s greatest work to date.

Stray Observationsku-xlarge

  • I’m not the biggest Nick Spencer fan by any stretch of the imagination. Even after a much better issue #5, Secret Avengers is still probably the worst book of Marvel Now. That being said, I didn’t have a bigger laugh this week than the one I found when Shocker and Speed Demon hold up a pet store in Superior Foes of Spider-Man #1. I can’t wait for the next issue.
  • Speaking of series creeping up on their finale, Dial H #14 has continued to expand the horizons of the series’ premise as the team reaches The Operator. I do have some concerns that China Mielville will be able to tie the series together in a satisfying ending.
  • Daredevil has had a creative renaissance in the last few years and the “Dark Nights” miniseries is a suitable companion piece to “End of Days” and “The Man Without Fear.” This week’s #2 explored everything that makes the very human Matt Murdock one of New York City’s greatest heroes.
  • If Superior Foes of Spider-Man offered this week’s biggest laugh, What If…AvX #1 offered the biggest gasp. Even if Magneto’s decision to become the face of mutants doesn’t make much sense, that final splash page packs a punch I wouldn’t have expected in a What If… story.
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