Famously (or infamously), the Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes special burned off the remaining Inc. issues from before the “New 52.” It’s less a cohesive big issue than just two issues packaged as one, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Actually, the big reveal in the second story–Leviathan’s identity–isn’t a bad reveal. Morrison even jokes at the obviousness of it all; he just did a good job distracting with all his busy work. He keeps up that busy work for the second story and, though Burnham’s art is excellent, the payoff’s lackluster.
The first story, with Cameron Stewart art, which involves Stephanie Brown going undercover at a girl’s school of assassins is a lot of fun. Stewart’s art is slick and Morrison’s script is fun. He writes Stephanie better than anyone else in Inc., except maybe Selina.
Instead of writing the best story, Morrison’s too concentrated on seeming smart.
Chapter 1: The School of Night; writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Cameron Stewart. Chapter 2: Leviathan Strikes!; writer, Morrison; artist, Chris Burnham. Colorist, Nathan Fairbairn; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Katie Kubert, Rickey Purdin and Mike Marts; publisher, DC Comics.
Who knew Morrison was a fan of Batman: Digital Justice? Or is he just a fan of Tron?
Batman and Oracle team up to play a really cool VR game where they have to defeat a bad guy in the grid. Artist Scott Clark contributes the digital art, which at times sounds like it’s supposed to look cheap and retro, but Clark never changes up his style.
The result would be a disaster if it mattered. Morrison plays a lot with Batman, Inc. This time, the play leads to a crappy comic. The writing isn’t terrible–just dumb when it comes to technology–but Clark can’t integrate the text into the art. It’s ugly and confusing.
Morrison’s idea of the future of technology is a lot like the mid-nineties, only he drops modern tech buzzwords. Those moments particularly distract.
I’m failing to think of anything I liked.
Nightmares in Numberland; writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Scott Clark colorist, Dave Beaty; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editors, Katie Kubert, Janelle Siegel and Mike Marts; publisher, DC Comics.
This issue might be Morrison’s best Inc. so far. He doesn’t try anything special, just tells a good story about a Batman and Robin pair on an American Indian reservation. When Batman shows up, he admires how the Batman–or Man-of-Bats–has done it low budget. The Man-of-Bats is a doctor too (and his identity’s public knowledge). It’s the most realistic Morrison’s been on the series and it’s to the comic’s benefit.
All of the global conspiracies and shadow organizations have made Inc. distinctive but, combined with Morrison’s literary influences, they’ve also made it distant. This issue features real people with actual problems. Morrison usually deals in icons. It’s nice to see him expand.
Morrison’s pacing is particularly effective. He introduces a cast, a ground situation and has time to refocus the narrative on Man-of-Bats’s sidekick, his son.
It’s a fantastic comic all around.
Medicine Soldiers; writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Chris Burnham; colorist, Nathan Fairbairn; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Katie Kubert, Janelle Siegel and Mike Marts; publisher, DC Comics.
Had I just slammed my head against a wall three times, I would have produced about as much confusion as this issue of Batman, Inc. Admittedly, I would have missed out on some funny dialogue and nice art from Chris Burnham. Not a fan of Burnham’s Bruce Wayne however. He draws him like a big, dumb oaf.
This issue is worldwide setup. Setup for what? Something mysterious and bad. It’s like Morrison wrote a bunch of single-page “countdown to Crisis on Infinite Earths” he’d usually put in regular monthlies and threw them all together.
The only time this comic has any actual personality is when Damian makes wisecracks or Jim Gordon pops up. Otherwise, it’s a mess.
It’s a funny, beautifully drawn mess, but a mess.
Morrison’s rattling the sabers–announcing how cool Inc. will eventually get to be. So what? It’s not there yet; he’s burning through goodwill.
Nyktomorph; writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Chris Burnham; colorist, Nathan Fairbairn; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Katie Kubert, Janelle Siegel and Mike Marts; publisher, DC Comics.
Saying it’s all red herrings might be a little harsh, but it is accurate. Morrison went through a lot of creative trouble to introduce a new villain–and a new Batman, Incorporated franchise (while never exactly explaining what happens in Argentina). But the whole thing with Batwoman? Both Batwomen? Unresolved. The modern Batwoman is a very nice cameo though. Morrison writes her better than Batman here; Batman hasn’t had a personality in Inc. since Catwoman left.
Paquette is back on the art and he has the same problem he had last time. Everything is great except Batman. Paquette’s Batman is just wrong.
Morrison’s lack of ambition is frustrating. He’s a tease… All those labyrinths he promised? They’re not even real in a labyrinth sense. He doesn’t just fail to realize the comic’s potential, Morrison eschews the idea of it having any potential.
Still, it’s a breath of fresh bat-air.
Masterspy; writer, Grant Morrison; penciller, Yanick Paquette; inker, Michel Lacombe; colorist, Nathan Fairbairn; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Katie Kubert, Janelle Siegel and Mike Marts; publisher, DC Comics.
Morrison should have titled the story, “Pay Attention.”
He juxtaposes Batman and El Gaucho dueling against Batwoman, but not just one Batwoman. He also goes into the history of the first Batwoman–the first Kathy Kane–and her relationship with Batman. Seeing Morrison try to marry the Golden Age Batman to the modern one is always a lot of fun and this issue is no different. But it remains to be seen if he’s going to pull off a deft narrative or just provide some amusement.
It helps he’s got Chris Burnham on the art. Burnham does a fantastic job with the modern Batwoman and also the flashback stuff. His Batman pages are questionable, but only because they’re barely present in the issue. He doesn’t have time to define himself.
Batman, Inc. remains a lot of fun and rather well-written, but it’s hard to say if it’s truly successful.
The Kane Affair; writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Chris Burnham; colorist, Nathan Fairbairn; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editor, Janelle Siegel and Mike Marts; publisher, DC Comics.
Sometimes being too ambitious–especially if well-read–can get a writer in trouble. In this case, Morrison tries marrying a Batman comic to a Borges labyrinth. It’s an interesting comic, but the pacing is all off and that pacing ruins the reading experience.
There’s just too much “regular” comic here. Morrison opens with a prologue set in World War II, he then has a Bond-like intro with Batman and an Argentinian crime fighter, then he finally gets the actual story going. Wait, I forgot… he has Bruce tango with a female assassin. Very Bond this issue.
He gets to the Borges part and it’s intriguing, but then it turns into a regular Batman comic again for the finish.
On one hand, maybe Morrison is introducing Borges to a new audience. On the other, he should be concentrating on producing the best comic, not doing a literacy campaign.
Scorpion Tango; writer, Grant Morrison; pencillers, Yanick Paquette and Pere Perez; inkers, Michel Lacombe and Perez; colorist, Nathan Fairbairn; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editor, Katie Kubert, Janelle Siegel and Mike Marts; publisher, DC Comics.
All in all, Morrison’s resolution to the first Batman, Inc. outing is conventional. Batman and Catwoman take down the bad guy. Sure, he’s an interesting bad guy–Morrison mixes an absurd character with some creepy powers–but he’s nothing special. Morrison amps up the violence (though it’s all action-oriented or off-panel) in an attempt to make the reader take him seriously.
Paquette still draws a strange Batman (and Bruce Wayne), but otherwise the art is good. He brings an element of fun to Selina, both obvious and implied.
The most peculiar element of the issue is Morrison’s handling of Bruce’s ethics. Killing a heinous villain is out, but a fate worse than death? Well, it’s okay. And Selina being a high profile jewel thief? Just as long as Bruce can foil her, it’s okay with him too. His condescension could even be considered sexist.
Nevertheless, it’s great stuff.
Resurrector!; writer, Grant Morrison; penciller, Yanick Paquette; inker, Michel Lacombe; colorist, Nathan Fairbairn; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Janelle Siegel and Mike Marts; publisher, DC Comics.
Yanick Paquette is a fine artist for Batman, Inc. but he’s not a good artist for Batman. He draws him very large than life and Inc. has enough Tom Strong similarities, it doesn’t need one more.
Obviously, Morrison is having a lot of fun–he ends it with the “Batman” TV teaser for goodness sake, but his most impressive thing is Bruce and Selina. He writes a sexual Bruce Wayne, which is sort of strange to actually read, but it works just great. The banter between Bruce and Selina alone would make the book.
The humor all pays off too, which is nice, and Morrison creates a likable side character who the heroes end up saving. Sort of. They get there a little late, which lets Morrison reveal a hilarious cliffhanger.
His storytelling is abbreviated, letting him make an impression without spending too much time on exposition.
It’s excellent Batman.
Mr. Unknown is Dead; writer, Grant Morrison; penciller, Yanick Paquette; inker, Michel Lacombe; colorist, Nathan Fairbairn; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Janelle Siegel and Mike Marts; publisher, DC Comics.
Almost nothing happens this issue. Clark has a nightmare of Krypton (where we learn of some new menace who can follow him to Earth), he argues with the cops and then Lois. He’s got a “Deep Throat” source too. It’s kind of hilarious how Morrison writes a thirties crusading reporter in the modern newspaper age.
It’s less realistic than the flying alien.
And then the bad guys show up at the end and Lex wants to get busy with them.
Get busy in the supervillain team-up sense.
Somehow, it’s Morrison’s best issue of Action even without the action. He’s finally establishing the setting with nuance, instead of neon. Too bad it’s not Morales’s best issue. While Gene Ha does some nice work, Morales just draws Clark Kent as a nerdier Harry Potter. It’s sort of ludicrous… his body shouldn’t change shape between identities.
But the comic’s finally getting compelling.
Oh, good grief.
Really, all Grant Morrison can come up with is Lex Luthor unknowingly working with Brainiac? Did he even come up with it, or did he just watch the pilot to “Superman: The Animated Series?”
I’m trying to be open minded about Action, especially with Brent Anderson coming onboard as Morales falls behind, but really….
I already read Geoff Johns’s Superman origin story. I don’t need to read it again. I also find it a little hard to believe Lois Lane’s all right with her father being a monster. I mean, she’s generally okay with him torturing people?
There’s also no action in Action. There’s a jail break, but it’s not a lot of action, and the talking heads stuff is boring. I don’t read Morrison on Superman to get a reference to Steel before he’s Steel.
The art—Morales and Anderson—does generally hold up throughout though.
Well, this one is certainly disappointing.
Morrison’s fresh take on Superman—a young Superman, so young he’s practically just Superboy without Krypto—is problematic. But it’s the first issue and one would usually give Morrison time to get things sorted.
But Action doesn’t remind of All-Star or anything good Morrison’s written. In fact, it doesn’t remind of Morrison at all.
It reads like a politically minded Geoff Johns comic book, down to Morrison regurgitating Johns’s Superman: Secret Origin with General Lane stepping in for Thunderbolt Ross. I think Lane’s in the new movie as a bad guy… one can feel the corporate synergy at work. Especially since Morrison rips off the ending of Batman Begins for this issue’s action finale.
And what’s up with Rags Morales? He’s lazy when it comes to detail. There’s the pretense of it, but not the substance.
Action’s off to a bad start.
Wow… it ends even worse than I could have possibly imagined. I like how in Morrison’s reality, a gang of roaming thugs (who bring a vicious dog with them to attack kids) are scared off by a woman in a crappy old car. I guess he needed that one to work for the ending to be as lame as possible.
Beautiful, beautiful art. Murphy maybe outdoes himself with this issue. It’s just fabulous.
Morrison has three or four endings to the comic, which is oversize, but he could have gotten away with one of them. The first one requires not only Joe, the kid, to be a complete inobservance moron but his mom too. And one has to believe his dead father is a trickster jerk who likes stringing people along.
I’m glad I read it for two reasons.
Second, I like having examples of awful Morrison writing.
Tomb of the Iron Knight; writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Pornsak Pichetshote and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.
So, it’s been a little unclear—until now—how the present action unfolds in Joe the Barbarian. Since the kid is having a fit, it really shouldn’t matter if Morrison doesn’t make a big deal out of it.
But he finally does—the comic, running eight issues and costing about twenty bucks—takes place over about… eight minutes. Apparently, Morrison saw Inception and liked the way they figured dream-time so much, he adapted it for this one.
It’s hard to be serious about Joe the Barbarian because Morrison opens himself up for some many glib statements. It’s like The NeverEnding Story, if The NeverEnding Story sucked. I’m sure one can think of similar examples.
What’s most amusing about the issue—most of which is a battle scene—is how incapable Morrison is at writing war comics. He should have read some Ennis before attempting this one.
Still, great artwork.
Labyrinth of the Lost; writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Pornsak Pichetshote and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.