Batman Inc. #2 Review
- Published on Friday, 29 June 2012 01:00
- Written by Kevin
The first issue of Batman Inc. delivered a strong opening for the latest chapter in Grant Morrison’s Batman Saga. There were still a few problems I had with the issue but, overall, I continue to enjoy the work that Morrison has been able to do with Batman’s world, Return of Bruce Wayne notwithstanding. Now, after some shocking developments in the first issue it looks like Talia Al Ghul is going to be even more hands on with how she deals with Bruce and Damian. What this means for the Dynamic Duo is anyone’s guess. The one thing I hope for is that it means Batman Inc. #2 will turn in a strong read.
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At a heavy metal concert, Ra’s Al Ghul romances Melisande the only way Ra’s can (heavy metal concerts are the best place to pick up women). Sometime later, Melisande gives birth to Talia Al Ghul. After Talia’s birth, Ra’s climbs a large mountain and holds the baby Talia above the edge of the mountain, going all Lion King with the moment to make it special. (DC better watch out because Disney and Marvel may go after them for copyright infringement)
In the present, Talia arrives at her father’s secret base where Ra’s is quick to congratulate his daughter on her success in defeating Batman. She says that Batman underestimated her, as always. Though Ra’s is proud he says that he can’t let her continue acting on her own. Talia tells her father that he can’t stop her but Ra’s says that he can as he has controlled her whole life. (This is one of those “Oh Sh--!” Burns.)
Flashing back to her childhood, we see all the physical, intellectual and emotional training that Ra’s put the young Talia through. We see how Ra’s gave Talia everything she ever wanted. (So how can Ra’s in the present be surprised that Talia would take his kingdom when she already had everything else?)
At some point a teen, Talia visits a fortune teller who tells her about the meaning of the various stars, particularly the story of Medusa. The fortune teller says that the eye is called Algol which Talia takes as being where ‘Al Ghul’ came from. As the fortune teller continues her tale she reveals that she is in fact Talia’s mother, Melisande, and that she has grown old and ugly because Ra’s would not share the Lazarus Pit with her. Before Talia can even try to believe the story Ubu comes in to take Melisande away.
Sometime later as Talia is putting on a ballet performance for her father she, Ra’s and Ubu are attacked by Sensei’s assassins. The three put quick work to their supposed killers. Ra’s decides it is time to leave the island hideout they are on. Before they board the plane Talia probes Ra’s on the identity of her mother but Ra’s brushes it off.
Flashing forward to Talia’s time studying at a university, she is “kidnapped” by some rogue assassin’s that once worked for Ra’s. As they board a train, Talia reveals that she let herself be kidnapped because she knew that her kidnappers would not succeed, all the while using the crazy eyes to creep the leader out. (I have seen that look a few times, gives me the shivers each time I see.) Just as she says this Batman arrives on the scene to rescue her. After a long struggle Batman saves Talia and the two fall in love.
Moving forward, once again Ra’s challenges Batman to the death in order for the Dark Knight to prove worthy of his daughter’s hand. Batman ends up losing but Talia is able to save her beloved. Thinking that Batman is dead Ra’s for the first time is stricken complete fear at the sight of Batman return from the dead. (There is no stopping the fear a shirtless Batman presents!)
After his victory, Bruce and Talia sleep together where Talia reveals that she wants to have Bruce’s child. This makes Bruce wonder if Talia put something in his drink. (So Bruce is upset he got to sleep with a superhot crazy chick? Man I know the feeling……wait, no I don’t. I just made myself a bit sad there.)
Fast forwarding again we see Talia growing Damian in a womb, training Damian in the art of assassination and inserting a mole in the Black Glove’s organization.
Back in the present, Talia that she ordered the death of Damian and that it is all part of her game, a game she will finish herself because Bruce choose war over her promise of love. She then tells her father not to underestimate her and show him this by ordering one of her assassin’s to kill Ra’s two elite guards. Talia puts on her Gorgon mask (which looks like the mask Black Mask wears) and puts her father on house arrest while she walks off to end the war between her and Batman. End of issue
The Good: Batman Inc. #2 is an interesting second issue to this new series by Grant Morrison. For as many times as we have seen character origins being told and retold this is the first time I can think of that Talia Al Ghul gets an issue that tells her full origin story. Sure we have seen her origin being told in short burst here and there during different storylines but this is the first time Talia gets the full spotlight on her character and what has made her become who she is in the present.
When I first opened up Batman Inc. #2 I was surprised to see that we did not start with where the first issue left off. With an ending that had a splash page of Batman holding a seemingly dead Robin, as a reader I expected to see Batman trying his hardest to rescue his protégé. Instead, what I am treated to is an origin story that expands on who the villain of the story is, in this case Talia.
This is a move that at first left me scratching my head but with each page I turned I found myself more and more engrossed in the information that Morrison throws at us. Up until this point, Morrison had not dedicated a lot of screen time to Talia during his run, especially when you consider how she is just as important to the grand story that Morrison is telling as Bruce and Damian are. To finally have an issue dedicated to Talia is rather refreshing.
Taking as much care as he has with Bruce and Damian, Morrison is able to show us the depth that Talia’s character has through the countless flashbacks that retell important points in her life. What makes origin stand out from the typical comic book origin story is the fluidity that exists from one scene to the next. Morrison is able pace the issue so that each flashback sequence builds on what we see when there is a time jump during the origin.
No scene that we were shown felt as it was thrown in the issue for the sake of being a cool action shot. There is a sense of purpose to each flashback. They are all one part of what has created the Talia that is presently going after both Bruce, the love of her life, and Damian, the son she love(d). With each scene that we are shown the build-up to the ending felt even more inevitable as Ra’s is responsible for creating an even greater monster than himself.
As great as all these scenes are what makes this issue have that connection with me as reader is the underlying story of family. The flashbacks all show in some way Bruce, Damian, Talia and Ra’s have created this dysfunctional family with one another. And it is because of the secrets and rejections that Talia has had to deal from her father, lover and son that has created this whole situation. With each man in her life brushing her to side she has become a villain that they did n’t know would be created.
And I like the fact that Talia has created her own organization to deal with both Bruce and Damian instead of just taking over Ra’s League of Assassins. Having her own organization and a new look with the mask she wears makes the story much more unique because it adds to how Talia wants to break away from the family that rejected her. She wants to make sure now that Bruce and Damian are the new Dynamic Duo that she makes them pay under her own power and mind.
Seeing Talia actually put her own father on house arrest was a fantastic scene to end the issue. It shows the reader how far gone Talia is from the previous anti-hero role she has played. And with Ra’s actually showing respect to what his daughter has done so far it will be interesting to see what role he will play as the story moves forward.
The Bad: Wit all that said, the downside of Batman Inc. #2 is that because this was an issue that was completely focused on Talia we are left still wondering what happened to the first issue's cliffhanger. As well written as this issue it shows that Morrison sometimes does not have complete control of how he structures his stories. With the first issue having such a big cliffhanger Morrison should finish up that dangling plotline instead of already moving on to the next plotline.
In many ways, this issue does feel like an intermission story between arcs. This is the type of story that I expect after the first arc of a comic is done but Morrison has barely started the arc. But having the issue right after the first issue feels like an odd position for this story be told in, almost as if we are reading the story out of order.
The other weakness of this issue is the artwork. Though Chris Burnham is able to provide us a few good panels where he draws a wicked Talia those panels are few and far between. Throughout the issue, it seems as though Burnham is trying so hard to channel his inner Frank Quietly that he fails to breathe life to the artwork. The majority of the time the artwork looks rushed and it is not helped by the coloring, which only furthers how weak the art is.
Overall: Batman Inc. #2 delivers a strong origin story for the villain of Grant Morrison’s latest Batman epic, Talia Al Ghul. Morrison is able to get us inside of Talia’s head and shows us how Talia has become the most dangerous villain that Batman has faced. Between all the great flashback sequences and the conversation that occurs with Talia and Ra’s there is a pleasant flow to the story that has me even more excited to find out where Morrison takes his story next. It is just too bad that the artwork does not match the quality of that exist in the writing. With that said, if you have been following Morrison’s Batman epic than Batman Inc. #2 will be an comic that is a can’t miss.
Kevin started reading comics as a kid when he watched the first episodes of Batman: The Animated Series and Spider-Man: The Animated Series. After that his parents bought him a few random Spider-Man and Batman comics and he has been hooked ever since. When he is not reading and writing about comics you can find Kevin as the destroyer of worlds, champion of fighting tournaments and ace Madden player on the PS3. You can catch up with Kevin and all his thoughts at the following links:
Twitter: KevinL007Formspring: KevinL007