This makes the 7th comic in The New 52 where Batman is the lead character or a member in the main team. Plus 7 other Bat-Family titles. DC Comics: We’d be fucked without Batman.
I’ve never read any previous versions of Batman Incorporated, so this whole shebang will be new to me. I first heard of Batman, Incorporated from the pages of Batwing or Batwoman. Is it Bruce Wayne’s attempt to run the world through vigilantism? Is his ego so big that he truly believes his brand of justice should be the only Brand? Or am I already jumping to conclusions? Maybe Batman just funds vigilantes in other countries and then lets them do what they want under his name? No, no way that would happen! Bruce probably has a pretty serious franchise contract that other vigilantes need to sign to make sure they keep the Batman Brand’s ethos.
DC Comics: “NO! No way you’re fucking us in the face, Bruce! Batman can’t quit! You’re all we’ve got! You’re our Spiderman! I mean, sure, we’ve got Superman but he’s so fucking preachy! And Wonder Woman, but, you know, she’s a fucking chick and you know how we feel about chicks here at DC!”
Batman Incorporated (can I just call this comic Batman Inc?) begins with the panels above. Bruce is visiting the graves of his parents and giving it all up. And then in the next panel, he’s surrounded by half a dozen Gotham City Policemen, Detective Harvey, and Commissioner Gordon calling for his arrest. And then turning the page, it’s One Month Previously. So Grant Morrison gets to open with a nice dramatic moment before getting to the actual story. Another “In Media Res” fakey! It’s totally a comic cliche cheat to build immediate tension before the story even begins. Now am I supposed to keep wondering if Batman is going to accidentally kill someone? What would get Bruce Wayne to give up Batman? Even the death of Jason Todd didn’t cause him to throw in the towel (which, you know, really pissed off Jason Todd. That and Batman not killing The Joker).
So, one month previously, Batman and Robin are leaping out of the Batmobile and into an alley full of trash. So at least we know they’re still in Gotham!
Gotham has a fast food place based on the best board game ever!
That last caption was also a test. If you found yourself thinking, “Actually, it’s a parody of White Castle,” you win the Customer of the Year Award! And by Customer, I mean Gamer Nerd. And if you are a Gamer Nerd, then you’ll agree with me that Dark Tower was the best game ever.
When I turned the page from the two page splash of Batman and Robin in the alley with the Dark Tower garbage, the first words out of my mouth (yes, I talk to myself while reading comic books) were “OH MY GOD!” Because, well, Grant Morrison has just created the best Batman Villain ever! Unless this guy was already created and I just didn’t know about him.
I wonder if his name is Escape Goat. Or maybe Billy the Kid. Perhaps goat.se?
Billy the Kid leads Batman and Robin into a slaughterhouse where his henchmen apparently work.
So far, I really like the art style of this comic book. At first I thought the artist really fucked up Billy the Kid’s left arm here. And then I realized it’s distorted because this whole panel is seen through the fish eye lens of, possibly, a security camera.
It’s not Robin’s fault that Billy led them into a slaughterhouse but why is it that any comic book Robin stars in is completely filled with blood and gore?
“Go for their heads,” says Batman! Has he forgotten who he’s talking to? He’s lucky Robin just decides to cripple the bad guys by slicing their Achilles tendons.
Billy the Kid actually just ends up being some guy named Sam Lucas. And he isn’t even the main antagonist in this drama! I know this because he doesn’t last very long.
I less than three Robin’s reaction here.
And then Grant Morrison reveals something I can’t believe I didn’t realize all these fucking years I’ve been reading comic books.
For most of you not following along and reading every single commentary, the reason I find all of this fascinating is because I love goats. And raccoons. And kittens.
This comic book is rated Teen even though it’s already been a gigantic bloody mess. Now I don’t care about ratings myself. This is an adult world for adults and things shouldn’t be changed or censored to protect children. Fuck that whole village bullshit. You bring it into the world, you fucking keep an eye on it. But I am interested in how DC Comics applies their own ratings. It seems the Teen Plus label gets placed on anything too sexual while the amount of blood and gore and killing that happens doesn’t matter. I only mention this because we’re so far into the computer age that DC should realize that every kid reading this comic is going to Google Bill Hicks and watch the Goatboy sketch on Youtube. I just, you know, find that funny.
Back to Goatboy, this guy with the rocket powered bullet rifle is trying to collect a 500 million dollar contract on Robin put up by a guy named Leviathan. As you can see from a previous panel, he fucked up. But since his rifle uses rocket bullets, he’s currently on the other side of Gotham and apparently safe from Batman. Ha ha! That’s a pretty funny sentence! “Safe from Batman!”
Back at the slaughterhouse, the manager is flipping the fuck out because of the crazy mask wearing thugs having suddenly infiltrated his business. He’s ready to get back to killing cows when Robin steps in and tells him he and Batman need the next cow in line for testing.
Emotional, reactionary vegetarian. Welcome to the club, Brother!
Awesome. I haven’t laughed that loudly reading a comic in a long time. Fucking Robin and Bat-cow spattered with blood and standing in a bloody bat symbol. And the Bat Mask on the cow. Beautiful.
Meanwhile, Leviathan (who seems to be a lich) is hosting a dinner party for Gotham’s West Side Crime Lords to let them know that the West Side of Gotham now belongs to him.
While Batman and Robin search for the man who fired the Rocket Bullet, they have a conversation that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for The New 52. Damian apparently killed another guy after Nobody but this was in the Batman Incorporated one-shot that featured Stephanie Brown as Batgirl and Babs as Oracle. So it’s clearly not part of The New 52. And yet it was released during The New 52’s run around Issue #4 of the starting comics. So this is definitely in a new continuity. But in the story, Robin kills this Otto Netz guy after having promised not to kill after killing Nobody! So this Batman Incorporated story, “Leviathan Strikes”, must have taken place after the Nobody storyline in Batman and Robin but in a different version for the New 52 continuity. It’s all just so confusing!
Robin and Batman also discuss Batman’s death and return from the dead. A lot of DC History has now been packed into five years of continuity. And I think the writers are free to pick and choose which parts they want to jettison and which parts they want to keep. Well, maybe it’s not totally up to the writers. I’m sure they have big editorial meetings about every minute detail of the universe that can be accepted as canon and what can be thrown out.
The Demon Star brand on the cows leads Batman and Robin to the realization that Talia Al Ghul, Robin’s mother, is fucking with everyone all over again. They deduce this because the Demon Star is another name for the star Algol in the constellation of Perseus and Algol is Al Ghul in Arabic. And then one of the crime lords (Grimm, whom Leviathan just tricked into eating his brother) smashes to the pavement after being flown over the city and dropped by Leviathan’s Bat-men Henchbats.
Meanwhile, in the basement of a sex-shop in San Francisco, a meeting is being held.
Is that the backside of The New 52 Halo? Please?
A bunch of what’s going on here relies on some past Batman Incorporated knowledge. I think. At least some of it probably relies on a variant version of the Leviathan Strikes One-shot. Maybe I should read that? Or will it just confuse me? Anyway, Leviathan apparently thinks all of these heroes are dead and they’ll be helping put a stop to Leviathan. And with the mention of The Outsiders, I guess they were a team in the previous five years. Which version, I can’t say! But I’m still hoping that’s Halo’s ass in the dress with the colored halos on it! And what’s up with the giant penny that says “In Stagg We Trust”? Mention of Stagg and “The Element Man” seems to indicate Metamorpho is about somewhere in The New 52. Unless he’s already dead! That would be a shame.
The appearance of Pandora in all first issues continues.
Goatboy heads out to take out Robin again later that night. Robin is put out in the open and when Goatboy gets a shot, Batman is there to stop him. Except he supposedly shoots Batman in the face. And then shoots Robin in the head. Now, the shooting Batman and Robin are told in flashback and video on his phone. And he’s telling this story to Leviathan because Leviathan now owes him half a billion dollars and Goatboy would also like Leviathan’s protection against Batman.
But we all know this is a big Batman set-up. In Goatboy’s story, he shoots Batman and Robin before anything else happens. But as he’s telling this story, he has a broken arm and busted head. Because, you know, Batman kicked his ass to make sure he didn’t shoot Robin. And then Batman threatened his ass to go through with this set-up so they could find Leviathan. Right? Of course that’s what will be shown to happen next issue. Otherwise Robin is dead! And, you know, he’s got his own title to take care of so that didn’t happen at all.
Batman Incorporated #1 Rating: Debuting at #6. This book was a lot of fun and I love the art style. Another winner to the New 52. I won’t be sad if they can do this with the next batch of cancelled series as well. Throw out six horrible comics and come back with six new comics that contain a few real winners. Out of the Second Wave, Worlds’ Finest and Batman Incorporated are just terrific (at least the first issues were!). Dial H was really well done. And Earth 2 seems very interesting. So that’s 4 out of the 6 that are much, much better than the cancelled comics. I would have liked to have seen Mister Terrific stay over G.I. Combat. And I have no hope at all for The Ravagers when they can’t even label the characters on the cover correctly. And Static Shock was beginning to get good, so that could have remained as well. But all in all, the cancellations and the Second Wave have improved The New 52.