It’s been five months since Leviathan Strikes, but now Batman, Incorporated is back, and in a big way. According to Grant Morrison, this will be a 12 issue series wrapping up the Batman run he began way back in 2006. Here’s the official description from DC:
• BATMAN, INCORPORATED makes its NEW 52 debut with an all-new first issue!
• The series hits the ground running as BATMAN and ROBIN face off against the assassin GOATBOY!
• LEVIATHAN’S sinister mission revealed!
Grant Morrison’s work not only rewards multiple readings, it practically requires them. Unfortunately, I have a deadline and don’t have time to read Batman, Incorporated #1 five times, and fortunately, I’m not writing a literary thesis here. This means this review is in no way intended to condense all my thoughts on Morrison’s Batman run into 400 words.
The lion’s share of this issue focuses on Batman and Damian’s pursuit of Goatboy, an assassin hoping to collect a bounty Leviathan has put on Damian’s head. It’s a circular pursuit that brings to mind the ouroboros symbol that figured so prominently in Batman, Inc. Volume 1. Additionally, we see a bit of Leviathan advancing its control over Gotham’s underworld, and a brief look at the activities of Batman, Incorporated’s other members.
Apologies to Peter Tomasi, but no one writes Damian Wayne like Grant Morrison. He does a great job of balancing the impetuous ten year old that Robin has every right to be with the homicidal boy-genius his mother raised him as. (At one point, having thwarted an attempted ambush in a meat packing plant, Damian declares himself a vegetarian and christens one bovine “Bat-Cow”.) The only problem is that a number of writers, Tomasi in particular, have made significant strides in developing Damian’s character in recent months. Morrison is forced to account for those developments (and other New 52 changes) into a story that should have appeared last November in Batman, Incorporated Vol. 1, #11.
Chris Burnham’s art has apparently improved in his time away. Few qualities of comic book art excite me more than fresh, dynamic layouts and he delivers some great ones here. His use of maps is also inspired; in fact, the whole book screams with his attempts to stretch what an artist can do with the traditional comics page.
Unfortunately, for a #1, this issue isn’t very accessible to new readers. Then again, if you haven’t been reading Morrison’s Batman before now, there’s not much hope for you. For us veteran readers, eleven issues remaining is all too little to enjoy such great work.