Monday, July 21, 2014

Batman Incorporated by Grant Morrison [Leviathan Strikes!]

In this rather tantalizing two-part issue, we finally get the cliffhanger conclusion of the first Batman Incorporated story arc. As I've mentioned when I started reading this 2010-2011 series, DC relaunched New 52 around the time this was still going on and because it was well-received by the public, they decided to pick this up for another continuing saga (otherwise known as the second arc, but back to issue #1 for its debut in the new continuity).

This is a double-issue release which should always guarantee that you're getting your money's worth when you purchase this. Divided into two parts, Leviathan Strikes starts with a slow burn which enabled its build-up to sneak up on you once you get to the second act. I personally enjoyed that Stephanie Brown was the focal point for the first part. She's always been such a delightful Batgirl even if she wasn't my favorite. For her mission as a Bat Inc. soldier, she had to infiltrate a feminazi all-girls private school that is in fact a facility to train select teenage girls to become highly-skilled and efficient killers in service and allegiance to the Leviathan. First, we have brainwashed and murderous African children in the mix; next, we get hormonal privileged teenage girls with a collective bloodlust against males. It's utterly ridiculous in theory but Morrison's delivery has an underlying creepy seriousness to all of this that makes me very uncomfortable. There's not much to say about the first part except that it's a fun-filled and action-packed showcase of girl power and aggression in both positive and critical portrayals. I'm just glad we get to see Brown one last time as Batgirl before we give that mantle back to Barbara Gordon once New 52 happens.

Now onto the second part. Boy, I don't even know where to begin with this one. I was even slightly hating on Morrison while reading this because it was convoluted, verbose and just goddamn confounding all throughout. First off, we get smacked in the middle of the story with a confused and drugged out Batman which was later revealed once we progress onto the next panels (with Dick, Damian and Tim alongside him) as he tries to figure out which of the five doors to open (he would then proceed to open each one, all leading to a dead end and a slowly deteriorating place where we don't know whose delusion we are looking at). We also have to read and sift through the irritating villain monologues from the semi-senile criminal mastermind Doctor Dedalus taunting them in the background, speaking in near gibberish yet surprisingly eloquent...bullshit about world domination and Batman's inevitable defeat. This story has become a long-winding confusing drivel of clever ploys and half-baked truths which I think is the entire point. We are supposed to be trudging along the dark pathways with Batman. We're supposed to feel the hyper surrealism and frustration bearing down on Batman as he struggles to keep his sanity intact. I don't think I even enjoyed reading this. I was so baffled and mystified the whole time that I think I may have been hypnotized by Doctor Dedalus himself--and I'm telling you right now, it's the worst feeling I have ever encountered. I felt helpless. I felt like I want to smack this asshole so he'll stop saying things about shit I don't even understand anymore. I am honestly afraid for your own comprehension, future readers of this comic. I must warn you now that this isn't going to be any fun at all.

Thankfully yet quite regrettably, Damian Wayne steps in and kills the motherfucker before he gets to eliminate Batman for good. Damian does apologize afterwards, considering the first rule Batman has taught him is to never kill the villains because that's the line that separates the heroes from the assholes. But I applaud Damian for taking the reigns. I don't want to listen to Doctor Dedalus any longer so it was such an immense relief that he stopped drowning me with his monologues. So well done, Damian. I know there's a reason you're my favorite Robin. We both don't take kindly to bullshit.

However, here comes the massive SPOILER ALERT!

The big brains of the operation known as Leviathan is someone we are already more than acquainted with, someone who has been neglected all this time and so proceeded to lick her wounds from the shadows for a long time, waiting for the opportune moment she could strike back. It's no other than Talia Al Ghul herself who orchestrated this elaborate death trap for her former lover and son. We know what they say about a woman scorned, don't we? She is not pleased that Damian chose to stand and fight with his father. She felt that this rejection speaks depths not only to her capability as a mother but also as a warrior and last living descendant of the Al Ghul dynasty. The bitch was hurt and she's about to get nasty. 

"Your move, my beloved," she declares. This is the kind of enemy that's prepared to watch an empire fall as she pulls the strings.


* What a perfect way to end the first arc! I'm excited to read the New 52 re-launch of this title.

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