Batman, Inc. #4 Review
- Published on Saturday, 26 March 2011 08:24
- Written by Rokk
Batman, Inc. has largely been a miss over the course of the first three issues. The poor shipping schedule certainly has not helped increase my tepid interest in this title. Having said that, Morrison seems to be introducing more of the themes and plot lines from his run on Batman prior to Final Crisis. This is a postive direction in my book since these are the themes that I have found so compelling and interesting during Morrison's run on Batman. Hopefully, Morrison will begin to turn the corner on Batman, Inc. and deliver an entertaining read with Batman, Inc. #4. Let's hit this review and find out.
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham
Colors: Nathan Fairbairn
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In this issue we have a present day scene in America with Batwoman tracking down a lead concerning "Oroborus" to an old carnival that used to be owned by Kathy Kane. During these scenes Batwoman tangles with a woman dressed up to look like the original Batwoman (Kathy Kane).
We also have scenes following Batman beating up Gaucho, learning that Gaucho in the past he was a spy named Agent-33 who worked with Kathy Kane on a spy mission. Gaucho fell in love with Kathy and is responsible for her death in some manner that we do not know at this point.
We also get flashback scenes to Kathy Kane deciding to become Batwoman. Her first adventure as Batwoman. Her meeting Batman and Robin. Batman and Batwoman falling in love with each other. Then we get Kathy Kane deciding to retire from being Batwoman and leaving Bruce Wayne.
The issue ends back in the present time where Batman hacks through Sombrero's hi-tech equipment, frees the kids and gets ready to beat the hell out of Sombrero.
The Good: Wow. This was hands down the best issue of Batman, Inc. Morrison returns to form in fine fashion with this issue delivering the type of read that I have been enjoying during his run on Batman. The story is another incredibly dense read full of intricate details that pull at the reader's imagination. Morrison continues his efforts of dipping deep into Batman's continuity and blending together different eras.
In this issue, Morrison pulls the original Batwoman from Batman's Golden and Silver Age history and engrains it firmly into Batman's modern day continuity. Personally, I have loved how Morrison has bravely added numerous elements of Batman's Golden Age and Silver Age into his modern day continuity. There is so much of Batman's continuity that was unceremoniously trashed after Crisis on Infinite Earths took place. I love that Morrison is reinstalling pasts of Bruce's Golden Age and Silver Age stories. And Morrison is succeeding in doing it in a seamless fashion that serves to augment Batman's current continuity and making it even more fascinating.
One thing that Morrison definitely does not lack is creativity. And we get gobs of insane creativity in Batman, Inc. #4. Morrison's deft hand in handling Kathy Kane's history and her relationship with Batman was superlative. The chemistry between Batwoman and Batman was wonderful. And it was neat to see Bruce actually exhibiting emotions and falling in love with Batwoman. This is a side that is rarely seen from Bruce anymore. Morrison nicely contrasted the younger and more emotional Bruce Wayne with the colder and harsher present day Bruce Wayne.
The manner in which Morrison carefully inserts the original Batwoman into Batman's current continuity was brilliant. I love the twist of El Gaucho having been Agent-33 who worked with Kathy and was eventually somehow involved in her death. We do not know the exact extent in which El Gaucho was involved with her death, but Batman was certainly pissed off over this revelation. I certainly look forward to Morrison finally revealing this information to us.
Morrison inserts some meta-textual dialogue into this issue in the scene in the Batcave where Robin complains to Alfred about Kathy Kane operating as Batwoman. Robin says that having other people operate using the Batman gimmick simply makes the concept of Batman and Robin look dumb instead of special. Then having Robin stumble across Batman and Batwoman making out and having Batman say that they are now going to be a Bat-Family was perfect.
Currently, DC, and Marvel, seem to endlessly crank out derivative characters of a popular super hero in an uncreative and crass cash grabbing move. If one is good then multiple versions is better. We have a Corps full of Green Lanterns. We have more Flashes than you could count. Even Captain America is about to get his own corps full of derivative characters. We have multiple Hulks. And now we have a legion of Batmen and derivative Bat-Family characters running around.
Is this Morrison simply admitting to the inevitable evolution of the comic industry? Or is this Morrison tipping his hand that he know Batman, Inc. is not special and is only going to be temporary. Or is Morrison simply saying that the comic reader who complains about the multiple Batmen and endless number of Bat-Family members is simply on the same intellectual level as a pre-teen boy?
Oh, and that scene in the Batcave earns bonus points since Morrison had Robin playing with Ace the Bat-Hound!! Bravo! Ace first appeared in Batman #92 in 1955. Ace was last scene in Morrison's Final Crisis: Superman Beyond in limbo with other forgotten characters.
Morrison's love for DC's continuity and history is part of what I respect in him as a writer. Morrison is not afraid of research. In fact, Morrison revels in researching history. And what makes it even more enjoyable is that Morrison is not simply delivering a retro story and recycling old continuity plot lines and characters. Instead, Morrison is taking the past and using it to create something new in the present. And doing so in a fashion that the reader does not need to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the DCU. Morrison gives the reader all the information that they need to know in his story. This is a great example of how to effectively use continuity while still creating something new.
Batman, Inc. #4 was masterfully paced and plotted. The story moves at a crisp pace and with a clear purpose in mind. The plotting is brilliant as Morrison gives us tons of plot progression. This issue is packed full of details and information. The story is incredibly complex with multiple plot lines that all fit together logically even if the reader is unsure how some of these plot lines are eventually going to connect with each other. This story arc is like a masterful jigsaw puzzle that Morrison is steadily assembling before the reader's eyes.
We also get plenty of action. Morrison definitely knows how to write one bad-ass Batman. And there is no one more bad-ass than Bruce Wayne. Period. Having Bruce lay waste to El Gaucho and then hack all of Sombrero's insanely high priced and hi-tech equipment with something as cheap and basic as a cell phone was classic Batman! And the final shot of a pissed off Bruce Wayne wielding taser gauntlets and towering over Sombrero definitely got me pumped for the next issue. Morrison knows that Bruce Wayne is the coolest Batman and never wastes an opportunity to demonstrate that fact to the reader.
Chris Burnham was a fine selection as the artist for this issue. Burnham has a nice old-school style to his artwork without it seeming a forced retro style.
The Bad: I had no complaints about this issue.
Overall: All in all, Batman, Inc. #4 makes for a delightfully dense and incredibly satisfying read. And all for just $3.00! Batman, Inc. #4 definitely offers the reader plenty of bang for their buck.