Comics Spotlight on Batman Inc. #1

Geek Culture

I confess, I gave up reading monthly Batman comics in 2004 after DC featured the bloody body of a teenage girl on the cover.

A cover to the War Games CrossoverA cover to the War Games Crossover

The cover that made me give up monthly Batman comics

Insult was added to injury when DC Direct later came out with a figure of Black Mask, Stephanie’s killer, complete with the items used to torture her.

Not the kind of thing I was interested in.

But since 2007, Grant Morrison has been in charge of the Caped Crusader and his universe and things have really changed.

Bruce Wayne was dead, now he’s back. In his absence, Dick Grayson moved up from Nightwing to Batman, Tim Drake moved from Robin to Red Robin, Damian Wayne, son of Bruce and Talia Al Ghul, became the new Robin.

And Stephanie Brown is back alive, as the new Batgirl.

Granted, Morrison didn’t write all these stories but the atmosphere of the entire Batman universe has changed from dark and almost mournful to something more hopeful and brighter.

Summary of Batman Inc. #1:

Leaving Dick and Damian to care for Gotham, Bruce Wayne is now traveling the world to train other heroes. His first stop is in Japan with Selina (Catwoman) Kyle in tow. They’re looking for Japan’s most competent hero to train because Bruce’s trip through the timestream has given him new perspective and he thinks a worldwide organization is necessary.

Catwoman and Batman steal a jewel of some sort and then take a little R&R. In the meantime, Lord Death Man has attacked and killed the very hero that Batman wishes to help, leaving it to him to track the killer.

What Parents Will Like About It:

I’m putting this category first this month because the book is far more an adult than all-ages. It’s not any sex and violence–though sex is certainly heavily implied, see image below–but because Morrison writes with an adult sensibility and he tends to make narrative choices that other writers don’t.

For example, the initial action ends when Catwoman has discovered the jewel, with a menace lurking in the background. instead of showing that particular battle, the book cuts to the next morning. I found the cut jarring at first and it might confuse younger children used to a more linear narrative flow.

What I liked most about this issue was the banter between Selina and Bruce, and the appearance of a Bruce Wayne who’s reserved but heroic instead of the angry loner that graced the pages of his books for a long while. He has a worthy foe in Lord Death Man, who seemingly can’t die.

The Comics Alliance has a fascinating article about the story that inspired the character.

Batman Incorporated #1 panelBatman Incorporated #1 panel

Bruce and Selina relax, from Batman Inc. #1, copyright DC Comics

What Kids Will Like About It:

Those who read manga might love the villain. Tweens and teens might also like Morrison’s storytelling as it’s dense, complicated and interesting for those paying very close attention.

Best Panel:

The one above. Unfortunately, it doesn’t show the high-heeled black leather lace-up boots that Selina is wearing. Your imagination can supply the rest.

About the Creator:

Grant Morrison is a writer who need no introduction to comics readers, having first become famous writing Animal Man for DC. He later went on to revitalize the Justice League of America and retooled Marvel’s X-Men.

Yanick Paquette has worked in comics since 1994 and teamed up with Morrison previously on Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #3. His work is very kinetic and he makes Lord Death Man look truly menacing.As a reader, I get the impression that Morrison’s scripts are not always easy to translate but Paquette makes everything flow nicely.

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