What can be said in preparation of this issue that has not already been stated? We lost Damian which most in the Bat community feel to be a tragic loss of a beloved character. I count myself among that number, yet I'm willing to wait see where Morrison (former writer of Rebellion's 2000AD and Batman and current writer of Batman, Incorporated and Action Comics) and the other Bat writers plan to take the story before I cry foul. It's already led to some powerful stories of loss most notably from writer Peter J. Tomasi (former editor of Hitman and current writer for Batman and Robin and Green Lantern Corps) in Batman and Robin, but now we come to the architect of Batman, Incorporated and the murderer of Damian himself, Grant Morrison. What does he have planned for the rest of the series and in this issue in particular? The cover promises a solemn issue, but I have a difficult time picturing Morrison dwelling on Bruce's pain. In his own words, Morrison has promised that Batman will go after Talia like never before, and I'm curious in seeing how that will play out. Also adding to the mystery of this issue is the fact that I never saw a preview. Did I simply miss it, or is DC keeping things under wraps?
Does Batman, Incorporated #9 pay meaningful tribute to the death of Damian, or is this series more interested in the flash and bang of action than the slow burn of grief?
In this issue, Batman and Nightwing battle The Heretic, a funeral is held for Robin, and Squire becomes Knight.
Requiem for Batman, Incorporated
I would say that Batman, Incorporated probably has the best mourning for Damian apart from Batman and Robin. The highlight of the tragedy is the burial of Robin. We see Bruce, Alfred, Dick and Tim carrying the casket to the burial grounds in the rain, and the mood just strikes the right balance of tragic and somber. The way the scene is broken up by other relevant plot details is a bit chaotic, but it actually worked well to establish all the relevant consequences of Batman, Incorporated's recent battle with Leviathan. Bruce's speech over Damian's grave is a bit too stiff for my liking, but it is okay, and Tim's, “Amen,” was a nice touch. Damian's death also has some real interpersonal fallout as well which was well portrayed, and the book ends with yet another powerful scene in memoriam of Damian. If you have any interest seeing the consequences of the death of Damian, you will definitely want to buy this issue.
Usually, I like to break up my thoughts in more categorized sections when I have time, but due to the untraditional layout of this story, I would end up doing spoiler warnings at the end of every section, and that would just be awkward, so we are going to take this one Bat Droppings style.
1. Though I know I've already covered it, the first page is powerful in its simplicity.
2. I am delighted that they did indeed continue the fight from the end of the last issue. I was afraid the whole major conflict was going to be swept under the rug. It is nice to see what happened.
3. I missed it on my first read through because I was so stoked for the throwdown, but The Heretic's robes actually burn off at least partially. Was he on fire at the end of last issue, or did he specially rig an incendiary device just so he could rip off his clothes in a dramatic fashion? If it is the latter, that it is truly bizarre.
4. I've had this theory which I think I've mentioned in almost every review since issue #5 that The Heretic is Damian from the future, and though the story is clearly implying that The Heretic is Damian's cloned brother, I just cannot let my theory go. How does issue five make any sense otherwise? Also, how does The Heretic keep healing from such major wounds. I'm sticking to my theory until the end.
5. In case you missed it, Grant Morrison actually said that the sword used to kill Damian was the sword of Bruce Wayne's earliest known ancestor. I thought that was a nice touch.
6. Nice use of a blur effect at the top of page three.
7. We get some nice Nightwing action in this issue.
8. It was nice to see Squire and the death of Knight get some recognition in this issue too. This series has become so Batman centric that I had almost forgotten it is supposed to be about a team of Batmen, but Morrison has not forgotten. It's just a shame that the Batman aspects of the story take away so much time from the Batmen aspect. It was good seeing Cyril get a heroes funeral. Squire taking the mantle of Knight is not really surprising, but I guess it is cool that we finally have a female “Batman.”
9. I can't say I see the point of Beryl teaming up with Dark Ranger. (also, why is he Dark Ranger when is suit is so bright? I feel like maybe this was mentioned and I simply forgot) I mean, the entire Batman, Incorporated thing is already a team up, so this is a team in a team? Can't Knight stand on her own two feet? Also, whatever happened to that character Beryl was flirting with in zero issue? Was that Dark Ranger? It's been so long since the side characters have been the focus that I forgot all the subplots.
10. There is talk about Lazarus pits, so that is clearly leading to something, but I'm not going to bother venturing a guess at this point.
11. I liked how Bruce handled the situation with Alfred. As with the way Bruce has handled a lot of situations recently, it shows he has grown in some ways, but he still has weakness. He was basically saying, “I can't handle you being here right now, so leave before I say something I regret and can't take back.' Also, the closeup of Bruce drawn with rain is really cool.
(Spoilers until Conclusion)
12. From an interview with Grant Morrison earlier in the week, I noticed that he was portraying the conflict between Batman and Talia as a battle, on one level, between capitalism and...well, he did not really say what made up the other half of that equation other than to say that Al Ghul sounded like a name from the Middle East, so I guess based on the average Middle Eastern nation, that would be capitalism vs. totalitarianism? Anyway, Morrison mentioned that he partially agreed with Talia which threw up a red flag in my mind regarding Morrison's apparent sympathies with anti-capitalist agendas, and that seems to be further echoed in this book. A reporter in this issue asks if Talia Al Ghul's riots are, “The end of the American Empire,” and that is generally meant by anti-capitalists as an accusation that America exploits other countries by trading with them therefore by buying their resources we are making them part of our empire. Talia also makes an announcement accusing Batman, Incorporated of being, “Provocative Capitalism Imperialism,” so Morrison is clearly playing with a theme here of capitalism vs. totalitarian dictatorship which would be fine except that Morrison says he is sympathetic to Talia. Personally, I'm unapologetically for economic freedom. Here is the interview that I've been referring to.
13. We see mutants on the streets of Gotham of the types as seen in the classic The Dark Knight Returns. Have we ever seen mutants in mainstream continuity before because I do not recall ever seeing it? It kind of raises the questions of why are they rising at this time and will we continue to see them in the future?
14. The tank scene, while fun, is stupid. Are we really saying that Batman kept a loaded tank in his downtown building museum and periodically filled it up with fuel (because fuel goes bad over time) just in case he ever needed it? I don't think so. Also, shooting people with a tank gun kills them. Didn't think that was a new concept, but yeah, big giant bullets often with explosives attached are going to destroy anything near the point of impact, yet we are supposed to believe the Leviathan thugs are just fine and dandy?
15. Though it's easy to miss in the chaos of the action in this issue, the fight scene with Heretic kind of just stops. You do see the Bat clan running from the building, but then that's it. The Bat Clan appeared to be winning, so why not at least finish subduing Heretic before leaving to regroup. Also, where is the rest of Batman, Incorporated?
It's a great issue with a lot of fun to be had. As is usually the case with a Morrison story, it creates as many questions as it answers, but that's what makes his stories so fun. The action, story, and emotional aspects of the issue are all well done, so if you are thinking about picking it up, go ahead.