“Down to the last stone, down to my last breath”: Damian’s future is written in Morrison’s amazing BATMAN INC 5

Batman Inc-Zone-021It’s interesting watching the Batman line lose it’s way. In a veritable mess of non-stop crossovers, DC has made sure that readers are bound to lose track of the characters under the cowls. Why care about the risks if every thing’s just a series of mounting tensions with inevitable climaxes that come far too late?

That’s only one of the many, many reasons why Grant Morrsion’s Batman Incorporated has been the premier Bat-title DC has been releasing, if not the best title DC has produced in 3 years.

Part of that’s because of the relentless focus on tension. Morrison began with the end in mind. The finale of Batman Incorporated will be the end of Morrison’s collaboration with DC, exception of course for the upcoming Multiversity. As such, he’s decided to play with any of the toys he wants to, not caring what anyone else is waiting to use them for. Barbara Gordon’s in a wheel-chair! Jason Todd’s (maybe) wearing a more heroic costume! The Joker will end Gotham!

batman-inc-221Batman Inc. 5 reveals one answer that Morrison’s been holding out on for years, the future Bruce saw was of what happens when Damian takes over the Cowl. It’s a sinister world, with zombified-Joker ghouls burning Gotham to ashes, a cannibal Gorilla Grodd-esque super villain preaching the end of days, and Babs Gordon shooting Damian in the spine.

It’s an exhilarating issue. From Bruce, Dick and Jason surrounding a breaking down Damain, the new Batman’s dedication to the cause, the nuke or Leviathan’s second wave, it’s an action packed issue in a series that’s become one of the best for it.

Batman-and-Robin-0-Damian-first-Robin-CostumeDamian will remain Morrison’s finest contribution to the Bat-mythos for years to come and this is clearly him building to a new status queue for the character. The question that has loomed over the series since issue 3 has been whether Damian was ever suited to being Robin. He’s violent, self-centered and wants little more than to prove himself.

Damian’s a character that has consciously been designed to recall Jason Todd. Morrison (like me, although that sounds often pretentious of me) has long recognized that Jason has gotten a bad rap as Robin. He was a strong, interesting character, one that clearly wanted to do what was best for Gotham and for the Family. Jason’s death was one of the legitimately tragic moments of the Batman mythology, read separately from the phone line incident, and the character’s parallels to Damian are clear. Both are less focused on saving the city than proving themselves to the Knight in black armor.

tumblr_mcjdvoOplu1qhxx6do2_1280With seven issues left, and some preview images avaliable of issues to come, it’s pretty clear Batman Incorporated will be defined by Damian’s decisions. Can he control his own impulses and prove himself to Bruce? Will Talia push her beloved too far? Will Gotham be proven to be the Hell it was promised to be? Will Barbara end up back in a wheel chair? That one is probably less important.

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“Its only just begun” – The Joker to return to Gotham City

Gotham City has had it pretty easy since the launch of the New 52. A span of newly created bad guys shook things up but all in all, it has barely had to deal with the villains that have made Gotham one of the most dangerous places in the DC Multiverse.

That’s been a bit of a problem, really. The relaunch of all of DC’s titles was a huge step in courting new writers but people looking to see the machinations of Two Face, Mr. Freeze, The Riddler, Mr. Zsaz and The Joker have been vastly missing out.

According to a newly posted teaser on the DC comics blog, that’s not going to be the case much longer, as The Joker makes his first major appearance in the new continuity since Detective Comics 1.

The good news of all of this is that Tony Daniel, the writer who had the first issue with the Joker in the new continuity, won’t be heading the Clown Prince of Crime’s return and is blessedly leaving the Batman brand. He’s been involved with Batman for a long time and really has never been able to handle the character that well, usually reducing the dark knight to little more than a bruiser and padding out stories with cheap shocks.

Instead, Joker is getting his first plot arc in the pages of Batman, written by Scott Snyder with art by Greg Capullo. I couldn’t be happier with this, as I’ve been consistently happy with Snyder’s work and he’s the perfect person to mix the terror and mystery that a good Joker story deserves.

The new arc, titled “Death in the Family,” a clear homage to the classic arc which left second Robin and current Red Hood Jason Todd dead, Snyder teased that the appearance of the Joker would lead to big shakeups as the villain attempted to do as much damage to the Bat-Family as possible. That being said, he’s sure to encounter some problems in attempting to do so. DC has announced that both Alan Moore’s “The Killing Joke” as well as the original “A Death in the Family” arc both remain in continuity, meaning Barbara Gordon and Jason Todd will both have plenty of motivation for hunting the villain down. Jason already had a shot at Joker right after “Wargames” but I wouldn’t expect time has eased his thirst for venegance and the recent Batgirl arc has shown that she is still looking for closure after she was shot in “The Killing Joke.”

I fully expect Snyder has big plans for the character and the Joker’s small appearance in “The Black Mirror” proves that he knows how to write the character. I like many others, will be eagerly awaiting what Snyder has planned for the Bat-Family as Joker returns to the city.