Tuesday, July 22, 2014

[Best of Batman] Batman Incorporated by Grant Morrison

I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I finally decided to read and review each issue for Batman Incorporated (2010-2011) series last week. I've been hearing great things about it for quite some time so I picked it up right after its New 52 relaunch which meant that I missed the first arc of the series so I happily decided to come back to it once my self-imposed Batman Comics Diet happened by May this year. And I was pleasantly intrigued (and sometimes even perplexed).

Comprised of eight issues and a bonus story, you're going to get your money's worth when you purchase the deluxe edition, and it's something you can even be proud of for having in your collection. The artwork and visual appeal for this graphic novel are well-received by a lot of fans. Paquette and Burnham alternated in illustrating the issues and each of these artists have a signature style that you will enjoy perusing through. The coloring is astounding as well. Everything is vibrant. Everything looks and feels like a visual adventure for every issue. This is certainly one of the things that really got me going while I was reading Batman Incorporated. I simply adored every setting structure and details that the artists have put into the stories. You get a great sense of atmospheric tension and danger as we travel alongside Batman to Japan, Argentina, Africa, etc.

As for the writing, Morrison also took some time to craft some authenticity when it comes to the cultural backgrounds and small nuances for each country we visit. His characterizations pertaining to the recruits of Batman Incorporated have bold brush strokes to them that may make them seem more larger than life which could potentially bother a reader such as myself who prefer to get intimate with characters especially when it's a superhero story. Nevertheless, my enjoyment was not spoiled, considering I do get that missing ingredient in the seventh issue entitled Medicine Soldiers which is probably my most favorite of them all because of it's character-driven with a poignant narrative. As for the rest of the issues, every action sequence produced is well-balanced with an even pacing and sensible build-up. The plot may seem convoluted and, at times, even outright ridiculous, but a handful of memorable badass moments can keep things going right after you turn the last page of an issue and head to the next one.

The only thing I will complain about were the two issues I had the most problem with (or the Scorpion Tango storyline in general, honestly). But it could just be a matter of taste. Personally, those were the only issues that almost made me want to stop reading. The best bunch it could offer are issues 5-8, the later ones where most of the meat and bones of the story are present. However, I will say that the bonus story, a two-parter called Leviathan Strikes is the most polarizing issue of the collection. There are genuinely amazing moments in it--but there are also some terribly confusing panels as well. Still, the climactic events led to that shocking revelation at the end which made almost everything worth the trouble. That cliffhanger was a wise decision. It gives the first arc a meaningful standstill where you realize that all that you have read is just a warm-up--and the real story is just about to begin by New 52. If I remember correctly, I'm right about this.

Batman Incorporated is insanely entertaining, massively imaginative and truly engrossing. Morrison's writing is clever, confounding and absurd in the best ways possible. The artwork is lavish with sheer clarity in color that you could just stare at all day long. There are admittedly trying moments in the reading experience where you might need to take a break or re-read again every once in a while but that would be worth it. In addition to that, the deluxe edition also provides character sketches for the heroes and villains that Morrison either originally created or were directly inspired then re-imagined from old comics. So those last pages will no doubt be your handy references to get to know the concept of the characters he utilized. 

Overall, highly recommended. It has flaws that were hopefully improved by the second arc in New 52.



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