Review: Batman, Incorporated #5

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Asylum

Batman Incorporated has been a good series that seems to become better with every new twist, but at times, it seems to get a little lost in its own mythology. Morrison does not slow the pace of his story to brief the uninformed reader. Despite this arguable failing, Batman Inc.’s last issue delivered an amazingly action packed issue which both stalwart Morrison fans and relative noobs could appreciate. Unveiling several surprises, last issue showed us that Jason Todd had been working as a spy among Leviathan, and it was revealed that Damian plays an even bigger role in Talia’s plans than he or fans ever expected. Does this issue answer readers’ burning questions, or are fans left scratching their heads?

In this issue, Batman reveals that Damian will doom the world. After this, we get an extended look at the future of Gotham where future Batman, Damian, manages to escape a hoard of Joker zombies. It turns out that future Gotham is overrun by these Joker monstrosities, and Barbara Gordon, Damian, and the few uninfected citizens of Gotham are holed up in the remnants of Arkham Asylum as they search for a cure to the plague.

Bigger and Better

With every review, I do a brief summary of the first half of the issue, but as you can see above, I cannot even manage to do keep it short on this issue. Batman Inc. #6 is very dense and draws on years of Morrison’s previously established work along with other Batman lore. I consider myself fairly well versed in Batman comics, but Morrison left me scratching my heads on some things.

That being said, this issue is amazing. The post-apocalyptic theme seems to be in vogue these days, and Morrison paints as terrifying a vision of the future as the best of today’s’ doomsayer prophets. Morrison’s vision of the future is clearly not something he just threw together; he manages to connect lots of little details that speak to a much larger world. Little tidbits such as the name of Damian’s cats, Barbara Gordon’s altered physique and personality, Batman’s future enemies, and the occupancy of the oval office answer many questions that fans did not even know they should be asking, and yet the story still manages to sow plenty of seeds for future speculation.

I would not have believed it possible for Morrison to make this series even grander in scale, but that is exactly what he has accomplished.

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Damian the Heretic

I have floated this theory a few times, but I have never made a big issue about it, and I think it time to discuss if further. I wonder if The Heretic might be Damian from the future. We know that Damian is the central character of this story already, and we know Batman fears that Damian will grow up to be a somewhat corrupt Batman and a tool of Talia. Perhaps that is because Bruce has already encountered future Damian in the present.

I have no idea how the time travel element would occur, and I could be completely off base, but there are aspects of the story which support this. The Heretic is wearing a version of the Bat costume. The Heretic refers to himself as Talia’s son at the beginning of Batman Inc. #4. Future Damian seems to be speaking to Talia at the end of his arc in this issue. Could it be that this is Talia from the past come to reap the seeds she sowed in the past? Perhaps she took him to the past with her and convinced him that the only way he could prevent the apocalyptic future was to work against Batman?

It is all speculation, but I think it bears consideration.

Squinchy Face

I have often complained that artist Chris Burnham makes characters’ faces look odd. This issue is no exception. Adult Damian looks a little strange but not too bad. Barbara looks like she has been ran over by a truck, but that can be explained as years of rough living. However, I cannot explain away young Damian’s face. His facial features are all squished together as if somebody photoshopped his face and shrunk it by twenty percent while keeping the size of his head the same. It looks bad.

Other than that, the issue is quite the visual treat, but the face thing is beginning to become annoying.

I Admit My Ignorance

I am a tad embarrassed to admit my ignorance on some issues, and I am looking for feedback. I know there are previous issues that featured glimpses into this possible future, and I have read summaries of them, but I am still left with some questions.

1.       Why are two Batmen, Bruce and Dick by appearances, featured on page three?

2.       Is the boy Damian rescues supposed to be Terry McGinnis?

3.       Is the image of Damian standing over Batman’s body featured in one of the previous issues, and if so, what is the story that goes with it?

4.       If Bruce only dreamed of this future, how does he know it is real?

Conclusion 9/10

Despite my confusion and the awkward looking faces, Batman Inc. #5 still manages to be tremendously satisfying. Up until this point, I have actually been a little skeptical of Morrison’s greatness, but this issue has made a great case for the quality of his work.