Friday, December 12, 2014

[New 52] Batman Incorporated by Grant Morrison issue #6

"Whichever, you choose, the other dies! Decide, your city, or your son!" ~Talia al Ghul

This wasn't exactly a clean follow-up to the awesomeness bang-bang that was issue #5 but at least some of the delightful insanity that made the previous issue, as I have eloquently termed it, "Holy Loki Fuck Jesus Messiah", has stabilized once we reached this in the line-up of Grant Morrison's consistently endearing oddball of a series, Batman Incorporated. I consider this issue polarizing; there are good stuff in it that never seizes to amuse me and there are other stuff that just made me draw a blank for a few moments which was why I opted to browse through it for a second reading before I was able to post this review.

The GOOD STUFF: The entire conversation between Talia al Ghul and her beloved detective Batman was pretty much the face-off that Morrison needed to establish at this point, considering that in spite of the overreaching yet intriguing premise of a vigilante franchise headed by Batman fighting the global threat known as the Leviathan is the reason why this series exist in the first place, the very heart of it all lies on the family dysfunction among Bruce, Talia, Ra's and Damian. These are not normal people so it's not surprising that their own personal conflicts with each other could even affect nations across countries because such conflicts not only breed resentment in an intimate level but also in a grander scale where ideals and methods clash against one another.

We should never forget that Batman and Talia were never going to be your average parents; they will always be heirs of their own respective legacies foremost. Batman is the protector and guardian of Gotham whose parents were philanthropists who want to make their city a better place. Talia is the daughter of an immortal who wishes to unite the world as one empire under his rule, and she is going to be his successor. It's no wonder they were drawn to each other which then eventually led to a romance in spite of their polar differences when it comes to their own respective life's mission. Their union yielded a son in the end--Damian. The boy was originally intended to be a spare vessel for Ra's al Ghul in case he needed a body transfer once his old one can no longer withstand yet another dip in the Lazarus pit. Talia decided that she had greater plans for Damian instead. So, from the very start, Damian had a very complicated childhood--he was trained to kill and rule the world someday but his eventual meeting with his father and the heroic dream he stood for had convinced Damian to abandon the extraordinary life his mother had planned out for him. He chose to become Robin instead and fight by his father's side.

In Batman and Robin, Talia tried to dissuade Damian from following his father's crime-fighting footsteps and when he refused, she officially declared him as an enemy of the al Ghuls, and then she basically set the dogs out on him by putting a bounty on his head. And here we are. Last issue, we saw what a possible chaotic world of Gotham will come to pass if Damian eventually becomes the new Batman and then we see Talia giving Batman an ultimatum in light of that possible future: she asked him to choose between their son or the city he loves. Talia had essentially tried to rip the world into pieces, hoping that it would guarantee her son's return with his tail tucked between his legs. She set up every conceivable destruction in Batman's way in order to make him concede to the idea that Damian is better off staying with her and becoming her puppet--AND IT LOOKS LIKE SHE'S WINNING.

THE OTHER STUFF wasn't exactly bad but did give me a hard time wrapping my head around it. I don't understand the symbolic meaning of the goatherd and the mountain top of enlightenment. I'm not familiar with that mythology and the construction of the dialogue pertaining to it was confusing. Some of the action sequences are also moving too fast and with less detail which is surprising for Chris Burnham. There are just some parts to this issue that I had to do a second-take to fully comprehend. Luckily, the tension and drama among Batman, Talia and Damian were the most compelling aspect of this issue as well.


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