Sunday, December 7, 2014

[New 52] Batman Incorporated by Grant Morrison issue #1

The first thing you need to understand about Grant Morrison's Batman Incorporated is that it had a very oddball premise. After Bruce Wayne was presumed dead during the old continuity (Final Crisis), he comes back from another dimension where he witnessed a future that he wanted to avoid from happening. He also realized that that his war on crime has been a narrow-minded pursuit all this time, so he decided to branch out of Gotham City. As the billionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne, he began to fund Batman's crusade, and then he franchised a global vigilante corporation, recruiting masked heroes from Japan, France, England, Australia, Argentina, etc. This was how Batman Incorporated was founded.

Before New 52 rolled around, this series had been ongoing and was able to amass nine issues plus a special story concerning the global terrorist threat of the Leviathan. It has been an engaging, though at times confusing, series that had enough punches despite of its convoluted style and execution in a few issues. Nevertheless, it earned a second life for New 52 and Leviathan Part One: Demon Star is its sensational debut.

Artistically realized by Chris Burnham, Demon Star was invigorating in its action sequences; everything was naught with detail, amazing pacing and confrontations rife with plot significance. There was not a dull moment or misleading event in place, visually speaking which for me elevated Morrison's writing to a tee. What was also excellently juxtaposed for this issue is that it ties up Morrison's previous plots from when he wrote Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne as Batman and Robin of the same titular series (I was glad I finished the first twelve issues of that run before I jumped into this). There are also a few callbacks and references from the old continuity for long-time fans who know their Batman content best. This time around, Bruce Wayne is wearing the cowl again and he and his estranged son Damian are making due adjustments to make their new partnership work which still feels strained and awkward in a lot of distinct places.

I have loved this relationship development in Peter J. Tomasi's own B&R run so seeing this again with Morrison handling the writing is very nostalgic for me. In spite of their personal issues, Bruce and Damian function well enough as the dynamic duo. This issue puts them in enough tension-filled and remarkably action-packed situations that showcase their instinctive understanding of one another's combat style. I've always observed that Morrison's overall tonality for his Batman stories is often non-traditional. But it works because it's different from the way usual writers interpret Batman. I'll always love Snyder and Tomasi's writing for Batman the most, but Morrison's own distinct voice is so much more entertaining because it can be bizarre and amusing one moment, and grim and poignant the next, often in the span of two pages! And it makes Morrison's stories all the more interesting.

So far, so good. Batman Incorporated feels fresh and exciting in a way its predecessor has been lacking. I can keep up with the elements it had offered for this installment so far, and Burnham's art style just blend so well with Morrison's narrative so I'm really appreciating the product these two have offered so far. I like the briskness of all the scenes; it kept me turning the pages until that very last shocking page. I feel that the series is only warming up, building up to something that will include yet another ensemble team-up and global trekking in the later parts. In that case, I'll be ready! I think I'm more equipped to handle it than the last time!


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