First batchat. Then annotations


The Beast Must Die: by the way, this issue…?

Best comic of 2011?

Fuck off. I don’t even want to debate the motherfucker.

Botswana Beast: I will say, not only is Burnham post-Quitely, he’s also post-Stewart.

Illogical Volume: That lad Burnham… he’ll go far!

I could not be down on the Batminge. It’s my best £2.50, any week it comes out in.

Gary Lactus: There was something bugging me about how Burnham draws Bruce. I then realised, he looks like he’s had a facelift. I kina like the idea that Bruce has had a facelift.

Zom: Agreemence re facelift.

Even if you do think Batman Inc is inferior product, the most you’re entitled to say is that Morrison’s in a rut.


Botswana Beast: the point is basically: we should all wish for such ruts, then.

Bobsy: maybe I am over-loving, but it doesn’t seem clear to me that say: invisibles, filth, 7Soldiers are ‘better’ pieces than what we’re currently seeing, more dense, original, thematically compound etc. I guess the problem is an extra layer of metaphor – in the filth say, there is only one level of interpretation between reader and text, but here you have the extra bat-level, which is itself a whole huge web of allusion and geek-history etc., before you get to the ‘real stuff, which is I would maintain more politically charged, socially charged and interpersonally aware than anything he’s written since the end of the nineties.

Illogical Volume: I’d need convincing that MozBats is as good at The Filth, but Brother Bobsy, I want to be convinced!

Bobsy: Well, any not-as-goodness is in the content rather than the form. The ‘minge are technically dazzling comics, beautifully paced and structured. They are not about the self-disgust of too much wanking and therefore so easy to get into (by get into of course I mean ‘enjoy’ rather than ‘relate to the sorriness of the readers existence’), they are a little more opaque and less universal than that, but I would not say that the filth operates on a level of complexity or maturity that towers above the current minge run. It maybe says something more easily profound about people, because there are no batmans in it, but i wouldn’t say it’s a substantially finer work, really.

Of course, I might tomorrow.

Illogical Volume: Yeah, I’d agree with all that, but… well, it’s the eternal question, isn’t it?

WHAT’S BEST: Batman or Wanking?

The correct answer is Batwanking, of course, though it also occurs to me that The Filth benefits from getting its icky business over and done with in an orderly fashion, while MozBats is neverending. A strength and a weakness, that.

Botswana Beast: Yeah, I’ve fairly long thought it’s a pretty large critical malaise, how to treat – well, particularly, how to treat big* superhero comics (viz. the howling reception an even boot gets, albeit mostly deserved). It’s not massively important, but I think there is a lot of noise on the signal, the more people are paying attention to a book.

*i.e. the Miller Daredevil, Swamp Thing, Animal Man, etc. are viewed (and written, created) quite differently.

…hah, good spot.

Zom: Great call.

I bloody knew I remembered that African Batman from somewhere

for some reason that superfly Batman made a massive impression on me.

Botswana Beast: finite runs like the 12 issues of ASS or the 13 of The Filth or the 6 of Marvel Boy are generally far more lauded because of their very finitude, single artistic vision etc. and the non-allowance of more fallow periods thereby.

Bobsy: favoured moments: Damien failing to match Dick’s manly taste in coffee. Burnham’s witty blocking – there’s a shot where we look over Bruce’s shoulder to see the troops ranked in front of him, only we can’t see Damien because he’s just too wee (we still see Stephanie and other shorties).

but mainly this issue is all about us, isn’t it? not just Chris Sims’ corpse, but this whole issue is in no small part a nod to the blog army who re-read and re-write these comics for him, no? without but loving to blow our collective trumpet, the words Bruce types onto the message boards are almost word-for-word what I wrote in my Batwoman 0 review; similarly Bruce’s big ‘you’re the best Tim, well done’ speech felt like a deliberate rebuttal to the review I did of the ROBW Tim bit (I am a narky narcissist).

Zom: Whether it was a response to you or not, Bob, I love the bones Morrison keeps throwing Tim Drake. It’s so Morrison to be warm and caring about his superheroes, to make sure they all have something to do and a nice little subplot. The fanboy haterz have never understood that about Moz – that he loves all his lil guys.

Botswana Beast: for me, Tim’s expression – dyspeptic? afraid? – when surrounded by a bevy of busty beauties was very much an acknowledgement of your groundbreaking exegesis of his pure virginity, b.

Bobsy: Goodth: Bruce’s loud and wacky tie-shirt-handkerchief combo, giving out all the right ‘what me guv?’ signals. Grateful that he’s still rocking the whistle at all, it would be awful if the new him was some wannabe dotcom Jobs-worth business-casual casualty. His vibe’s more maverick politico than exploitation in the morning/charity in the afternoon Gates/Buffett cuddly-capitalist.

Regretth: Missing Beryl and Cyril – it feels like they should have popped up by now. Have they been properly ruined for ever? Was Knight & Squire the worst comic of All Time?

Quethtion: There are still Metaleks around, no? So we have killer kids potentially teaming up with killer toys?

The whole Tim/Bruce scene works slashtastically well if the important conversation, which they’ve just had and we missed, was Bruce declaring his undying love for Tim.

I really love the panel where the Outsiders are introduced – you all know that the pure meat of superhero comics for me is just a matter of folk in weird costumes just standing there unannounced, easy as you like. This issue is a veritable feast for the likes of me.


Illogical Volume: Haha, yeah, I’m weirdly bitter about Knight and Squire – <PATHETIC>possibly because I fancied writing it myself.</PATHETIC>

Also: because it was dogshit.

I’m missing Beryl and Cyril too, but I’m hopeful that we’ll see them before this is through.

Botswana Beast: I like the red Hulk character; apparently he’s a terrible Dan Didio creation, youse goise, called Freight Train (I actually know the names of the other Outsiders, as I own The Outsiders #1 from one of these terrible comics packs – “Featuring one #1!!” Outsiders vs. the Nuclear Family. It’s maybe a Mike Barr, like the conception of Damien Wayne*? Anyway-yay – no Geo-Force, which is always massively good news)

*oh duh, how could the Son of the Demon be named else? I just got that.

It’d be entirely understandable if Tim was in love with Bruce; I couldn’t see Batman exploiting him like that, but you have to think: well, he’s been a massive influence, how could any girl live up to that?

The structure of the issue – and I think what gives further credence to Teatime Brutality’s theorem as to “Who is Wingman?”, the only concrete mystery out of about 5(?) introduced – is much akin to two comics starring his suspect, these one-page-a-story confluences; one by Morrison, one by Millar, when he was exemplifying his best phase of his career by doing Morrison off-cuts*.


All-Star 10 and that issue of Superman Adventures, whatever # it was


The thing of, yeah, these hateful, rebellious kids – it unnerves me a little as broad allegory because, hey, it’s almost as if Batman is like a gigantic conservative fantasy? Working men, children denied their futures – these are the enemies of Batman and also neoliberalism. But I think there’s another layer, which is Dedalus and this Hooded Figure (who is also called Leviathan(?))

Bobsy: So is Cassandra Cain the one who takes over the helicopter and dumps the heroin? And she’s the batgirl who used to be mute from No Mans Land? And the other Batgirl in this ish, in the cave, is Stephanie Spoiler, right?

And who’s the chesty outsider who’s standing next to Metamorpho? her and Fr8 Trayn were the only ones I didn’t recognise.

Illogical Volume: The Teatime Brutality guy said that in a sensible world, and with a sensible writer, Batminge #6 would have been Batminge #1. I definitely get what he’s saying (thought, you know Batman: The Return), but I like it better here. It’s – and I know Bottie Beast got to this point before me, the fucker – bit it’s almost a reverse polarity ‘Neverending’, aka All Star Superman #10, aka The Best Superhero Comic Ever.

“Reverse polarity” because instead of being about one guy, on the verge of death, trying to do everything, it’s about another guy coming back from death and trying to do the same.

Good thoughts on Leviathan and aww that Botswana Beast – I think a lot of this depends on how it’s played, and… from the end of issue #5, I’ve taken it that Leviathan is all about exploiting and absorbing these “children with no future”, which could lead to the question of whether Batman Inc can do any better for them, maybe?

This could all be very “It’s okay, we fought the problem – WITH SUPERMONEY!”, but then Brucey is a supercapitalist, like a good rich man from a Dickens novel but with a better fighting style and an army of machines to get rid of the smog, so.

Botswana Beast: There’s two chesty Outsiders, but I think that’s Looker, the one by
Rex ‘Metamorpho’ Mason: Halo is the other one unnerving young Timothy, with her shit-eating grin later. The girls just feel comfy with him, like they can be themselves.

ALSO ON THAT PAGE: I really (not really) want to know how Batman resolved his differences with Huntress, after kicking her the fuck out the JLA.




Paquette is amazing, don’t get me wrong, perhaps perfect for the opener with his action movie tough guys, bootylicious babes and million dollar set pieces – he, like Finch in Return, framed the event in a way that was easy for the post-Nolan generation to understand, any concerns about camp lost in a sea of face shredding motorbike tyres and superstealth jet fighters, like storm clouds spraying electric rain – but now that most of us are sold on the Inc concept, it might be time for it to drop the tough guy act a bit and bare its toyetic roots. And so Burnham, whose art nudges Quitely just that little bit more towards Quentin Blake than it does Moebius, and represents a softening and fuzzifying of the macho certainty present in the hard line of most superhero comic art. It’s not just that drawing Squire hanging on Knight’s shoulders as he swings into action represents a creative decision on Burnham’s part, although it does speak to the an understanding of who they are, but that his art style almost demands they arrange themselves the way they do. There’s an inbuilt lightness, humour and playfulness to Burnham’s – and I use the word in its precise sense here – Illustrations, just as there’s always been an inbuilt lightness, humour and playfulness to the Inc concept, based as it is in computer games and the Brave and the Bold cartoon, and the two marry very well indeed.


If Superman embodies the futurist spirit of Metropolis and Batman Gotham’s brooding alleyways and skyline, then obviously Joe Average and the Average Joes are concentrated essence of hardworking Pennsylvania. They’re good bad guys, evil but honest, conquering the world through hard graft, one $1000,000 ransom cheque at a time.

Good old boys, with pregnant wives at home and bills to pay.

Poor bastards. This is Gotham, and they never stood a chance.

I like the inclusion of the distracting detail, the stuff about Nykto not feeling the heat. It’s cool that Morrison understands that Batman, like a good magician, would understand the psychology of how little lies like this sell the big lie, both to the reader and the baddies.

The black bionic goggles are neat too, the way they occlude rather than enhance vision. Black vision. For an Underworld detective who needs to see (in) the dark. I always enjoy the way Morrison plays poetically with superpowers. Nothing beats ‘slow vision’ though.


Okay, so the rhythm of this book is great. We go straight in with a breakneck four issues of recruiting and threat establishing and just about the time I’m catching my breath and wondering what’s up with the man behind the mask and Wayne Industries generally, we get these questions tackled head on. This is the right time for this beat. Before I read any other reviews I knew people would be arguing that six should’ve been the first issue…. and they’re all wrong. Morrison’s playing this thing like a musician, or a film director, only his fast paced intro sequence has lasted five issues.

I don’t think this issue would’ve worked at the beginning of the run. Or at least I think it would have had a lot less dramatic impact if it did. We needed to get to the point where the ad pitch was necessary, where we were all bursting to see the thing in operation, for this to fire off the page.

Anyway, here’s some thoughts I posted elsewhere about Batman, Bruce and Inc.

‘Now we’re getting all Christopher Nolan-y it makes sense that real world conditions are foregrounded. I mean, it would be very, very hard to finance Batman’s operation in secret and Bruce coming clean about it probably smooths out most of the wrinkles. It also means he can do away with all that play acting, aligning both his personas in a more convenient and psychologically healthy way. The guy’s spent the last ten years pretending to be a berk and that can’t have been good for him or the city he feels such a profound responsibility for – indeed, the city he is profoundly responsible for. One way of looking at it is that far from endangering Gotham’s citizenry, he’s actually ensuring their safety. Suddenly this wayward city, which has historically been riddled with crime and corruption, has a leader, a figurehead, a reason to believe in itself, and isn’t it wonderful that the reason is Bruce Wayne, a man who at long last is publicly making good on his Father’s legacy? One also needs to remember that the revelation in question followed hot on the heels of one of Gotham’s darkest hours, when the city was co-opted by Batman’s greatest enemies and effectively broken, when, more than at any time, it needed a beacon it could rally around, a hero it could see. ‘

Bruce Wayne has become Nolan’s Harvey Dent. Clever solution, Morrison.

Morrison outhinks the chatrooms too. ‘Of course Bruce cares about security, you idiots!’, Morrison seems to say, ‘His whole life has been founded on the consequences of a lack of it!’ Part of me can’t help speculating about Bruce’s psychology, actually – his need to place those he loves, his babies, in serious danger, so that they can survive, THEYWILL SURVIVE!!!. He’s all about the tough love that’s for sure.

Anyway, that third panel….

Firstly the argument that most criminals wouldn’t want Batman or Bruce Wayne’s attention is pretty solid, though we weren’t really worried about ‘most criminals’…..

Secondly, the detail.

So what have we got here?

That’s Elly, isn’t it, the young sex worker from earlier on in the run? Judging from the interviews I’ve listened to Burnham’s as into Grant’s Batman as any of us, which means it’s hard to tell whether or not Elly was in the script or a detail the art team added later. In some ways I want it to be the latter. Morrison often has difficulty keeping all the plates spinning and a truly collaborative artist who remembers things he forgets would be a real blessing. I swear that’s one of the reasons why Grant and Frank work so well, because they actually communicate with each other. Well, an artist in conversation with Grant’s work generally and who clearly privileges detail is the next best thing.

The image of Elly in Batman’s fortress, in ‘better, safer world’, a million miles from harm, is quite a powerful symbol. This is what Wayne’s offering now, the extension of the umbrella Elly’s sheltered under across the entire city. The good people in the city getting organised and helping each other. The bad have had it for too long.

Morrison’s Batman saga is Elly’s story too.

Now look to the right of Elly’s shoulder. What’s going on with that penny? And to the left – are those bat-storage tubes? And inside… BATSUITS? I don’t know if I’m even remotely right about this, but, man, if I am that’s too cool. The bloody Wayne Tower foyer transformed into a Batman museum! Awesome! Talk about instilling pride in the citizenry. Wayne’s not just flexing his muscles here, but saying:‘Look! He belongs to us! To YOU! Part of YOUR heritage. YOUR protector.’

Sorry, I got a bit carried away there.

Someone over at the DCU forums described Burnham’s Bruce as looking ‘like a child molestor’ and while ewwww! they sorta have a point. Because there’s something else behind that shit-eating grin, a mischieviousness, a manic glee – a menace – that’s barely contained.


So begins the lesson. Part the first: YOU CAN’T GET ONE OVER ON BATMAN. You plan on turning up at Wayne Tower guns blazing? Really. Well, mate, you’re just part of Bruce’s demonstration of bat-might.

I guess the Emoticon Gang (the Emotimen!) are an information age update of Gotham’s Kerrrrazy themed criminal outfits. I like the way the guy with the big eyes and the question mark literally has his emotions written all over his face.


That’s Alfred, sucker. Extreme Butler.


And here the subtext becomes text, all that suppressed bat-mania breaking the surface – from the close up of Bruce’s insane Galadriel eyes on page three, to the terrifying low angle shot here. Is it me or is Bruce actually scarier than his robots? Quite a feat. I was wondering when the robots would be back. I love it when a writer’s skilled enough to intuit when these kinds of questions need answering.

Of course the robots are part of Grant’s every-bat-story-ever approach, bringing Kingdom Come into the canon, or at least vigorously nodding to it.


I don’t know anything about the frame job being referred to here. What’s going on is clear, but I’m wondering if we’re dealing with plot threads from another book. That’s fine. It’s all just background noise to help sell Bruce’s cleaning house and Gordon’s quiet induction into the ranks of BI. Which is amazing. Not only is it a straight up admission of just how important Jim’s always been to the bat operation, but it allows for a lovely character moment. Look at the way Burnham’s Gordon responds with quiet pride to his shiny new badge, his gratitude at being included in the bat family (covertly, yes, but not as afterthought, and he knows it).

Man, it’s good to have an artist on this book who can do acting.

And does anything else need to be said about that final panel?

Jeez, these five pages are a million times more exciting than any other superhero book out there.


Zom says everything that needs to be said about Morrison’s approach to Tim Drake above. ‘Freight Train’ is bollocks, though. What the hell is wrong with Daniel Didio? You can just imagine Morrison showing up to the latest bat meeting and being waylaid by Didio on the way in.

‘I’s gottsta show ya my new character.’


‘My new character. He’s gots all the superpowers that ya gonna love.’

‘Well, maybe later….’

He’s called Freight Train. Youse gottsta see him against Joker!’


‘Youse gottsta see him. All bets’re off, I’m tellin’ ya!’

Since that day Morrison’s been working towards this moment, the beginning of his epic Freight Train saga, ‘HEAVY FREIGHT – BULK MATERIAL’. This is what Batman Inc’s been all about. Expect the focus to veer sharply very shortly.

To be honest, I can actually imagine a buff early nineties action movie hero being done really well. The superhero equivalent of a Van Damme, Seagal or Schwartzenegger mixed with a bit of John McClane. Lot’s of hijacking of prototype supertrains and weapons, lots of explosions. European baddies. Super mercs galore. Stupid dialogue about the protagonist being able to cook while he’s caught up in the middle of a firefight. Suddenly I kinda like Freight Train. I’d read this comic – the steroidal Image thing revisited and done really well, without going all Ennis on it.


All that in seven pages. Morrison doesn’t waste time faffing about.

Are Oracle’s pointy horns a new addition?

PAGES 8 & 9

Is this Damian’s first encounter with coffee?

It’s nice that Bruce nOds to the Joker here, just to remind us what kind of a threat he is. I think the whole Hurt mega-arc kinda proved that if the Joker’s on the loose other baddies will just end up looking like nobs. He can’t be brought into play for this story. It’s a shame in some ways because Grant never did make good on that ‘population explosion’ art show exhibit in issue two of his Batman run, which would make more sense than ever now the bat’s gone global, but I like Leviathan and co. and I think the guy’s rightfully wary of wearing the character out.

I’m sure there’s been a ton of bandwidth expended on talking about how meta this whole scene is. Although it’s probably a mistake I enjoy the way moneyrider completely contradicts himself here. Morrison quickly and economically captures the weird commotion of the internet. The lack of signal and amidst all that bellowing noise. It’s reminiscent of the strange porno/tabloid headline poetry in the Filth, the way the conversation devolves to such freewheeling nonsense by the end.

I’d probably find the ‘New World Order’ stuff funny if the wound wasn’t so raw – did anyone else feel mentally scarred after reading those Comics Alliance threads? Urgh.

You feel as though Bruce should have whole teams working this mess, pumping out bizzare nonsense 24/7. But, oh yeah, he’s got Oracle.

One thing that does make me wonder when I’ve got nothing else to do is how the federal government feels about all this. Wayne’s obviously never going to be taken to task by Gotham’s authorities, but Obama might have a problem with this Batman Inc. deal. Perhaps this’ll be Grant’s get out clause by the end, that Inc. was always going to be short lived, a golden window of opportunity for world saving designed to last only so long as it was needed before the powers that be got organised and shut it down. Then again, maybe not. Who cares? When Morrison’s gone, in all likelihood so am I.


I wonder whether the whole time jaunt ‘seems like a dream now’, or just the knowing everything bit. The point is, though, that Bruce probably knows quite a lot more about Leviathan’s plans than he’s letting on. He’s definitely going to pull some hefty info-artillery out the bag before this is over.

PAGES 11 & 12

As Zom says, Alfred’s the only guy who’s allowed to get one over on Bruce. We should take his words very seriously here.

Seeing Bruce jetsetting around is the best. Batman comics could have always had glamour in spades…. and now they do.

The panel of Nightrunner at the top of page 12 is probably my favourite in the entire book. The action. The detail. The way the supercool imagery’s plays off the dialogue: ‘So what happened next?’ Something supercool, obvs. Pure pop art. Wallpaper worthy. This is what Morrison does best, distilling a character down to his core supercoolness. What does Nightrunner do? He runs. How do we make that cool? We have him running across traffic. I know the density of the cars suggests a traffic jam, but the direction of the lines in the mise-en-scene – horizontal – and the road-as-speed-line indicates otherwise. It’s not perfectly conveyed, but I think the traffic is moving, and probably quite quickly. I’m going to talk some more about the point behind all this distilled badassery before the end of this piece, that’s for sure. It serves a purpose.

Grant probably thinks he’s being funny with the whole ‘les Stereotypes’ thing. It’s not that funny. Does make another quick, albeit oblique, nod to internet craziness, however – the furore around an OMG!!!! Muslim Batman.


Obvs ‘Nykto’ doesn’t fill Joe and the boys in on what really happened. Batman doesn’t kill, but there’s no harm in criminals thinking he does. The ‘Batman is everything you fear’ line can be taken in two ways, as a confirmation of Joe’s concerns or just a clever comment on how criminals project onto Batman.

The Leviathan gag is hilarious here. I wonder if Les Stereotypes were working for Leviathan and the kids were getting rid of the evidence, so to speak, or if it was pure dumb bad luck that human slavers ended up with a of gang seven year old killing machines in the back of their truck.

Again the economy in evidence here is just amazing: Nightrunner and Batman (who just appears out of nowhere, like a bloody nightmare (‘everything you fear’)) waylay baddies, Batman and Nightrunner shake baddies down for info, Leviathan gag and….

I thought that was Bruce’s Gotham penthouse for a minute before I realised it was Kuala Lumpur. This is probably because I think Bruce should be spending what little time he does in America in Gotham, watching over everything. In the heart of everything. This is the new Bruce. In the world. Morrison likes to literalise his metaphors. Superhero books are perfect for this.



Now I don’t know much about chinese mythology, but I’m betting Cass’s raggedy cloak is nicked from it. Burnham’s redesign is beautiful. The sort of thing an actual artist would come up with. The guy’s making an effort, he wants to be drawing this book. Thank the Lord for Burnham.

The dialogue here – all the ‘talk like business men’ stuff – shows Bruce is in the driving seat, and also why that makes Inc so effective as a crime fighting outfit, far more effective in fact than almost any other superteam. A straightahead super could punch that helicopter out of the air, but they couldn’t bring Bruce Wayne’s empire to bear on the drug lords. They don’t have the ultimate weapon: money.

That skyline!


‘Wayne’s in Kuala Lumpur, Batman’s in Hong Kong. Batman’s a girl. Then Batman’s in Melbourne, Australia.’

It seems clearer and clearer to me that Bruce is using his meeting with the Average Joe’s for myth making. He wants them to land in jail with a truckload of creepy, contradictory bat-stories in tow. This is ‘striking terror’ in operation.

More skylines!

I love the swearing in scenes. They’re the polar opposite of the scene where Hurt attempts to claim Damian’s soul at the end of Morrison’s B&R arc. Does anyone know the words?


He did what? He tatooed ‘child molestor’ on the guy’s forehead? Wow. Not sure about that. I guess the right wing vigilante bit can’t've been completely ditched then.

If we can believe what we hear.

Now, about David Zavimbi… Yes, yes Africa is a continent and a Batman of Africa is a stupid, borderline racist, idea.

Only Batwing has never been described as ‘the Batman of Africa’ in the comic. In fact no one has been alloted a title of this kind in the comic. This is the stuff of Comic’s Alliance posts and comics from the fifties. Until the dialogue straight out refers to Zavimbi in this way I’m not going to get het up about it. Is there any point mentioning that Batwing comes from that old seventies’ bat story? Probably not.

And now on to Wingman. My first instinct was ‘He’s Superman!’, but, wow oh wow, Teatime brutuality actually comes packing an argument.

What a fantastic rationale for the whole thing.

‘Wingman’…. Geddit?


‘Some say Batman died and came back as a kind of God…’

Who says? Did Bruce spread that one himself, or was it team-disinfo? Was it a loose lipped JLA member? That huge bear thing? This is probably a nod to the message boards again. There are people out there who now only refer to Batman as ‘the God’. Seriously. It’s all true, of course, Darkseid *touched* Batman and created the mythos, retroactively hijacking our entire reading experience and converting it from entertainment to legend. We talk about the reframing at the end of Return of Bruce Wayne, where the lone avenger becomes the Brave and the Bolder we see in Inc., but ROBW saw a far grander reframing than that. It was very clever indeed.

So who’s whispering ‘Hands off, Wayne!’? Why?


‘Guess it never occured to them I’d go to so much trouble just for you.’

I don’t read many other Batman books – well, apart from Snyder who is rather good – but I don’t very much that Other writers have quite such a handle on scaaary Batman. I mean, that’s about as intimidating as it gets. Someone so driven, so insanely fixated on crime that he’d go to the effort of building up a whole reputation in the crime community just to get his hands on one small time villain. Obviously Bats went to barely any trouble at all, but its the illusion that he did that counts.

Anyway, just to say this page had me giggling and mind-punching the air (I was at work when I read this issue, but I promise if I was at home it would’ve been HADOUKEN! time).


Okay, so here’s a bunch of my thoughts I’ve cut and pasted from other websites to get you up to speed on what Dedalus and Leviathan are about.

‘So Dedalus is hunting for the fifth form of matter, the prima materia of the alchemists, which has been linked to the ouroboros serpent by modern occultists and psychoanalyst Carl Jung. Morrison’s already dealt with this magic matter before in the Invisibles: the fundamental substance of the universe condensed in space time, a perfect hologram containing all the information for everything on every point of its surface – finite, but endless, like a snake eating its own tail, forever devouring and begetting. Dedalus represents the Magician from the Tarot deck, a combination of both his Marseille and Rider Waite incarnations, with his wide brimmed hat, his staff, ouroboros girdle and all the trumps arrayed in front of him – just tools in his box of tricks. By dissolving all the fundamental elements represented by the trumps within the prima materia of his soul the magician commands them and becomes ‘master of the world’.

Only Dedalus is the magician inverted, what the alchemists called a ‘puffer’, because for him this isn’t a metaphorical, internal substance, but something you can hold and hit the universe in the face with. A nasty nazi materialist, like the nasty nazi materialists in the Indiana Jones films…. and we all know what happens to them when they mess with the divine. Heads melt.’

‘It’s highly likely he *does* have altzheimer’s. Again, it’s the, err, demonic correlate of the spiritual ideal he’s seeking to attain. Quite a good horror moment in Batman Inc #5, too, the abrupt earthing of Dedalus. The man with a thousand identities devouring and begetting each other, the man transforming himself into the serpent, suddenly reduced to what really happens in the real world when the self gets lost: mental illness. Sure, it’s inverted again over the page, where the real Dedalus reasserts himself, but just for that moment it’s deeply unsettling. All the younger Grant’s spiritual aspirations and 4d love-ins crashing against the rocky shores of middle age.

Why else the obsession with evil old men (two so far – one too many for most stories), children indoctrinated into what seems to be a death cult and legacy? Age has become something Grant’s afraid of. I imagine Dedalus is bald under that hat.

Really, you want some serious underlying themes? Look no further.’

‘Further to this stuff, I think trying to identify exactly what’s happening in the digitalis scene might be barking up the wrong tree. It’s like asking if Dedalus, when he’s addressing people in his memories, is doing so aloud, blabbering at the UN agent (who by the way is a Leviathan agent) about intending to be captured, etc. We can’t know. It’s confused. The confusion may well be the point. You want to demonstrate a subjectivity that can’t tell the difference between memory, present day and fantasy? What it’s really like to be in that space? Well you put your readers in that space, just as Grant did when he had Hurt overwrite the entire bat-mythos at the beginning of Batrob 13. I’m not saying there isn’t another explanation, just that the muddle is interesting in and of itself.’

‘The dedalusalike’s mental state is interesting. This being the DCU there are a thousand different explanations as to how and why he possesses another man’s memories, but it’s telling that the discombobulated Knight at the beginning of this arc is also suffering from a collapsed sense of identity (‘Who am I now… etc.’). Perhaps the weapon used to trap Dedalus on the island resulted in this ontological short circuiting and Knight’s experiencing the feedback – if that’s the case then it was probably also deployed against the Doctor/UN agent when the time came for Dedalus to make his escape. I wonder if we’ll ever know or if Grant will get so caught up in the other cool stuff whizzing round his head that it’ll always remain a mystery.

Also, did the weapon cause the Alzheimer’s? Some studies suggest EMF bombardments can be linked to the disease and also that they can screw with one’s sense of place and being. Still wouldn’t account for the xeroxing of another man’s self, but it does sound like the sort of thing Morrison digs on and a team of superheroes employed by a government agency in a high tech s/f comic might use.’

Or maybe it was just the Hammer of Wayland Smith all along? I got a real kick out of seeing a super weapon transformed into a dirty bomb. God knows what kind of power you could unleash – nuclear weapons eat your heart out. I wonder what happens when it ‘detonates’? A brain frazzling magnetic pole shift? Scary.’

‘Perhaps Dedalus wants to see our fallen world supplanted by an incorruptible Fourth Reich without beginning or end. The Ouroboros serpent can easily map across fascist narratives about incorruptible purity and we know Dedalus is a fascist. From one point of view the serpent’s condition is akin to death – it does not recognise difference or change – so Leviathan, a cult of Kali, probably share his goals.’

‘Batman will play into the bad guys’ plans by solving the riddle of Oroboro – locating this Fifth Matter.’

‘Now for some stuff about themes. How does one survive old age, by ‘material’ solutions, a bloody minded attachment to the body (Dedalus and Leviathan) or via one’s family (Batman Inc)? Does one embrace death and accept that things change – that after Bruce comes Dick and after him Damian and… – or does one cower behind a shoring up of things, objects, like Leviathan’s brainwashed automotons, that, far from ensuring immortality, serve only to reproduce and reify our anxieties. The servants of Kali are afraid of death, they’re death fixated, in stark contrast to the members of Batman Inc who understand the alchemy of living on through others, the unbroken conversation of human relations and legacy. In the sense that he inhabits a stronger and more psychologically healthy philosophical position, Batman’s already got the baddies beat. We can expect Morrison to make much of this as the series heads towards its end.

This also feeds into a critique of Capitalism, which is another of Morrison’s stated aims for Batman Inc. Batman Incorporated is an example of a ‘good’ business where profit can be equated with helping others and the company’s gross worth with the net result of its ability to save – in our terms ‘change’ – the world. Leviathan is the ‘bad’ model, the old model, where Capitalism is a blind machine that finds its moral base only within the whim of the market and exists not for the betterment of humanity, but for the reproduction of itself and the desire to consume. It doesn’t matter where you fall on this debate, I’m just outlining the dynamic. In the end it’s down to competing products. The kids are getting hooked on Leviathan now – and notice it is largely kids – but, come on, they’ve been into the Bat-brand forever! We all prefer Brave and the Bold, basically – making friends (community), all those gadgets (possibility), all that colour, fun and life….. in stark contrast to Leviathan’s gloomy promise of uniformity and grey forever. Expect Business tactics to come into this at some point and a corresponding foregrounding of Bruce Wayne. Part of me also expects Batman Inc to extend far, far beyond its current borders. What happens when it really catches on?’

So, yeah, Leviathan is definitely the Sensei too, just even more fucked. As I said last time, the death cult thing is pure Sensei. If I’m right then Grant gets to tick all the boxes and retroactively make sense of that crappy Ra’s story.

The girl’s school in Batman Inc #9′ll be a Leviathan training camp, won’t it?

Oh yeah, and this entire page guarantees Batman in outer-space action.

PAGES 20 & 21

Where to begin at the end? The double page spread here is yet another reminder of how incredible Burnham is and how much Morrison loves and cares about writing comics. This page isn’t just about Batman being badass, it’s about comics being badass. This isn’t something that would translate to any other medium. Normally I’d complain about the visuals telling the same story as the words, but here I don’t mind at all. ‘Nyktomorph’ – night shape. In Batman Inc’s case, an answer for whatever shape the night takes, a shape-changing ‘terror made of shadows and flapping wings’. See how the fallen baddies in each panel bleed into the next, a seamless tide of bat destruction. In France the Nyktomorph kicks the ass of the anti-templars, in Haiti the bad ju ju houngans shipping kids out of the disaster zone and into captivity, in Kuala Lumpur it makes short work of the custom job clayface bodyguards and in Gotham…. This comic was never a story, you were confused. It’s an advert for Batman Inc. It answers all customer queries and demonstrates the product. That’s why it’s so compressed, that’s why everyone loves it even though its narrative free. Because it’s just superheroes being the best superheroes can be. And this is why the Inc brand will pummel Leviathan.

One thing we see very little of is superheroes actually loving what they do – pleasure’s normally reserved for villains. The hero’s always long suffering, always taking a beating before joylessly triumphing. It’s all duty, responsibility, not fun. Well Batman, always the most libidinous hero, says ‘Fuck that!’. This is what this comic is – one big ‘Fuck that!’ Go on, look at that spread again. It’s just heroes winning and winning and winning and winn…. Absolutely ecstatic. I haven’t read one review that captures why this issue is so good, but it’s right there! If this stuff doesn’t move you, you’re a cold, miserable, desexed bastard basically.

The great thing about Inc is that it makes us see Batman and his supporting cast in a new light again. It reherofies them. It’s the burst of energy after the dissolution of RIP and Final Crisis and the recombination of Return.

World, welcome to Gotham.

137 Responses to “Mindless Batchat (and Batman Inc #6 annocommentations)”

  1. Illogical Volume Says:

    Good Batchat guys, and great Batmanotations too.

    “Even if you do agree that Batman Inc is inferior product, the most you’re entitled to say is that he’s in a rut.”

    I didn’t flinch at this in the Mindless Mail, but now it’s out in the open I find “the most you’re entitled to say” to be weirdly phrased. I mean, we are obviously the MOZBATS KINGS of legend, but we’re normally a bit more subtle with our Royal decrees.

    I definitely feel the same way though – I’d love to see Morrison writing more stuff like Seaguy, The Filth, Kill Yr Boyfriend or The New Adventures of Hitler, but I don’t quite get the FATAL CAREER SPIRAL narrative that lots of my favourite bloggers (chiefly Sean Witzke and Matt Seneca) seem to be going with. There have been duff issues, for sure, but to these tired eyes they’ve never been that far away from something glorious.

  2. david brothers Says:

    Do you fellas have any thoughts on Batman Inc as a version of/take on the corporate superheroes from Wildcats 3.0? Seemed like Casey & crew were pushing toward “Superheroics are too limited, and the real power of the 21st century is money, and lots of it. So let’s get into business and run the villains out of town” but never quite got off the ground.

    Inc, on the other hand, is the same concept turned sideways–fuse branding and corporatism with capes and a bit of Blackwater and you have a force for good? Does that sound right?

    I’m running soft on Inc. It didn’t grab me from jump, and the past couple issues have just been okay. I think it’ll be a stronger work in trade, or whenever I can sit down with a chunk of them.

    Glad to see you kill the Batman of Africa noise, too. I think it all stems from a stray comment in an SDCC interview with Morrison, or something? Morrison saying “an African Batman” instead would’ve ended the conversation before it started.

  3. Botswana Beast Says:

    I think it’s absolutely fair enough to say, look, at least half of RoBW was not very good comics, and likewise both the Tan and Clarke arcs of BatRob – but, no, I just do not remotely feel that about this. What I feel is: this is the fucking shit.

    It’s difficult regarding and considering this one meganarrative, the longest of Morrison’s career btw, in discrete chunks.

  4. Botswana Beast Says:

    Do you fellas have any thoughts on Batman Inc as a version of/take on the corporate superheroes from Wildcats 3.0? Seemed like Casey & crew were pushing toward “Superheroics are too limited, and the real power of the 21st century is money, and lots of it. So let’s get into business and run the villains out of town” but never quite got off the ground.

    I’m not a JCFC guy, David, but certainly, it looked as though that was very much his intent on the abortive WildCATS relaunch with Jim Lee, so probably.

  5. Spaceguy Says:

    Burnham’s witty blocking – there’s a shot where we look over Bruce’s shoulder to see the troops ranked in front of him, only we can’t see Damien because he’s just too wee (we still see Stephanie and other shorties).

    Funnily enough Frazer Irving put a similar joke on his variant cover for the issue. Look to the right of El Gaucho. Then down a bit…

    That double page splash at the end becomes even more excellent once you notice that not only do the bad guys’ limbs flow into each other, the whole sequence can also be read as one single fight scene, which each of the Bat-people’s actions flowing into the next one’s.

  6. Zig Zag Zig Says:

    Hey Guys.

    How do you feel about the lack of dramatic irony in Morrison’s work? And especially in this latest Batman, Inc. run? This issue really seemed to preclude the very possibility of it.

    I’m with you guys in the Superman thing, but we’re probably wrong. And we’re probably wrong about the Sensei too. Although both make lots of sense.

    Glad you brought up the Filth in this conversation. “Ring around the world” gets mentioned in the eleventh or twelfth issue? Possibly the last? Two guys in the street are talking about it. For whatever that’s worth.

    I’m hoping that Morrison has a new sort of moral to offer us in BATMAN, INC. than the one that he’s sold in SEVEN SOLDIERS, THE FILTH, NEW X MEN, and BATMAN: RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE, that is, “we’ll turn it upside down and make it work!”* But that doesn’t seem likely does it? Has this repetitiveness of imagery and central theme in any way contributed to the idea that Morrison is tiring out?

    I’m not inclined to think that he has, but I’m wondering.

    Thanks again!


    *that’s pretty much a line used in two of those listed works, if I recall correctly.

  7. dylearium Says:

    “He did what? He tatooed ‘child molestor’ on the guy’s forehead?”

    I’m fairly certain this was referring to Dark Ranger, actually. The swearing in scene took place in a room with tribal tattoo designs displayed on the walls. Love how we’re provided with so much character depth in such brief snapshots. Grant does indeed “love all his little guys.”

    Exemplary work, Mindless. Thank you.

  8. SJ Says:


    Most of Morrison’s work since the Filth has been dominated by existential confrontation and that’s been present in his work since at least The Mystery Play, so I doubt that’s the case.

    I suspect the recent critical downgrading has more to do with the run’s length – it’s been going so long that it’s no longer subversive, despite being written much the same.

    The hyperbolic NEVER GOOD AGAIN statements are hysterical, though.

  9. Marc Says:

    You know, I’ll stand up for the Clarke arc in B&R (…k). Clarke’s hatching suited the vaguely historical subject matter and it was the first moment when it seemed like Morrison’s Batman run might come together into some coherent whole. (Which it would, imperfectly, in ROBW.) A light but competently executed diversion, and the final scene was a blast. Plus it had Damian’s renunciation of Talia, and plenty of the Gravedigger… yeah, I’ll defend that one without any apologies.

    Is this the first time we’ve seen the new Ranger without his mask? Interesting that he’s Aboriginal–more global diversity for Batman Inc.

    Can I take the complete radio silence on #5 as consensus that (whispers) it wasn’t all that good? Or at least, not terribly interesting and supplying no grist for the mill?

  10. InnercityGriot Says:

    Thank God for this site, there seems to be no substantive commentary on Inc. anywhere out there in the blogosphere. Nobody seems to address their OWN criticisms of the work beyond a dismissive, “meh”, that tells us nothing about why they believe it to merely be okay. I’m not an absolute apologist for Morrison’s work (the recently completed Joe the Barbarian was pretty weak, I thought), but I am so absolutely mystified by the lack of critical appreciation among otherwise intelligent comics bloggers for this run. I’m reading several of the current critical superhero darlings (Thunderbolts, Uncanny X-Force)and while good, they are NOT better by any stretch of the imagination.

    And yes, Matt Seneca’s exasperated tone regarding Morrison’s work is sort of foolish, but everyone’s entitled to be wrong once in a while.

  11. andriulli Says:

    i just went back and re-read The Return. I wanted to re-read INC up until 6 and knew it was essential if not for the art. That intro as a while while the narrator talks about the Bat. It honestly seems as if that is Morrison explaining him self as the injured back coming into poor old bruce’s life and bringing back inspiration when he was at his lowest. ties in nicely with the aging themes

  12. Zig Zag Zig Says:

    Yeah, Clarke’s arc was great stuff.

    Has Morrison been addressing existential confrontation in the same manner his entire career? I get a sense that there is a post-INVISIBLES version of existential confrontation that he’s been continuously peddling, one that took specific form during the writing of THE FILTH and NEW X MEN. “Embrace the dirt to make the flowers grow”, etc. It is part and parcel with his “stick together!” thing, appearing in ASS and SEVEN SOLDIERS.* Am I wrong about this periodization?


    *I say that it’s post-INVISIBLES, because I don’t seem to recall the theme showing up in JLA explicitly.

  13. Zom Says:

    I’m gonna stick up for “the most you’re entitled to say”. I mean, any bolder statement just wouldn’t be justified by the evidence – I don’t see how that’s a contestable point.

    Maybe the language could have been less decree-like but it was bashed off in an email that wasn’t originally intended for a non-mindless audience.

    The fact that I disagree with Matt and Sean on the status of Morrison’s career isn’t to slag off either of them. They’re the good guys.

  14. Chris Burnham Says:

    I’m absolutely honored to have you guys saying such thoughtful things about my scribbles. Thanks so much!

    What happened to the annotations to #5? Did I miss ‘em or were you too cowardly to attempt it?

  15. Botswana Beast Says:

    My feeling – and I may be wrong, therefore blah blah, sublimated expectations = disappointment, wrong disappointment – was that Batman and Robin as originally to have been a 12-13 issue run that, due to some scheduling issues, became the 16 issue run it was, and therefore was a bit saggy in places, largely the Bat-mansion arc, which I think would have originally been conjoined with ‘Batman and Robin must die!’

  16. Botswana Beast Says:

    Not cowardly… bobsy was gonna do something, we just… are intermittent.

  17. Zom Says:

    We are lazy mindless, Chris.

    Love your work, dude.

  18. bobsy Says:

    Was I? Sorry! I’m happy to accept the ‘coward’ explanation for it.

  19. Zom Says:

    Okay, you’re a coward, I’m lazy.

  20. Botswana Beast Says:

    I think, b, you said? I say a lot of things I don’t really mean, but I expect other folk are better people than me.

    also, yes, thanks for commenting Chris B, you are great, it’s a pretty stratospheric rise you’re undergoing, and you’re meeting and defeating any of my expectations on the way.

  21. The Beast Must Die Says:

    Hey Chris, if you fancy a cheeky wee interview, drop an email to [email protected]

  22. was Smitty is now J_Smitty_ Says:

    Spaceguy – That’s a great gag by Irving. Nice spot by you!

    In the original post it’s mentioned that INC. might be treated as a golden window and a reset will be inevitable. I wouldn’t be surprised if Batman’s team is to be groomed through trial to take over from Leviathan as Secret Masters of the world.

    It would fit the Ouroboros vibe wherein what Bruce’s team devours it becomes. Secondly, it would allow the Morrison “All fall down” moment where Bruce must make the choice only he can make to destroy what he has created. Who within the group would take the offer of world domination? What gut churning betrayals lurk beneath the veneer of the dazzling super team?

    My money says FR8 Train will take the sucker bet.

  23. amypoodle Says:

    ‘See how the fallen baddies in each panel bleed into the next, a seamless tide of bat destruction.’

    I talked about the panel flow.

    Yeah, InnercityGriot, aggreemence. My thing is that I read superhero comics for fun and I just don’t find many of them very fun at all. Bendis and Fraction are annoying, Brubaker’s boring, all the excitement about Cornell is just silly (so the hurganfnard meant that hooganhoompf drongle dingle-dangle, did it? And then Luthor became the shnerdanhoon? – terrible, terrible Russell T Davies era Dr. Who writing), and Hickman, who gets loads of love at the moment, can’t touch Morrison, to whom his work is massively indebted, for imagination, atmosphere, textual gameplaying, experimentation…. or fun.

    I don’t know, good people who I respect place many of these guys higher on their pull list (our Gary probably prefers FF to Inc), but *this is something I will never understand*.


    Is there a shelf life on subversion? Did the Invisibles stop being subversive when it hit the four year mark? Morrison’s taking a corporate property that has historically embodied and transmitted a great many dodgy ideas and tried to push it in a more progressive, playful and hopefully useful direction. That’s textbook subversion. It’s not rendered null and void because the writer enjoys the property enough to want to stay with it.

    I tell you what, if I had a 16 year old I’d be damn pleased if he was reading a book like Morrison’s Batman, just as I’m grateful I read Doom Patrol when I was that age. I don’t expect the book to tear down the walls of capitalist realist hypercommodity culture – introducing people to new ideas and making them think harder, and enjoy it, is enough for me.

  24. Zig Zag Zig Says:

    All fairness to SJ, I think he only meant to convey that the *feeling* of subversion may be gone due to the length of the run. Which is strange, because by your definition, the book is now (after RoBW) more subversive than ever.

    I don’t get all the hype about Hickman either. That guy has worms.

  25. Zom Says:

    Marc, I liked #5, but not enough to wanna write anything about it

  26. Phil Says:

    I was going to write a big long thing about how this is the first issue in a while that’s felt genuinely vital and new, and how it’s pretty much singlehandedly got me back on board the MozBats train when I was thinking of bailing out.

    Instead I’m just going to say how much I fucking love Chris Burnham’s expressions (the ones he draws, but I’m sure his face is also lovely). Brilliant, expressive, gorgeous stuff.

  27. amypoodle Says:

    Oh well that’s fair enough, zig zag.

    Good thing I’m not reading Batman to feel all subversive, then, innit? I’m with bobsy, basically. I don’t think Morrison’s creator owned work is necessarily any better than his corporate stuff, or vice versa. There’s good and bad bits in all of it.

  28. The Beast Must Die Says:

    The best thing about Batminge is that at the meoment it gives me the same sugary thrill as when I opened a copy odf Secret Wars as a kid, knowing next-to-nothing about who all these weird and wild characters were.


  29. SJ Says:

    I don’t think The Invisibles IS subversive any more – it’s been completely absorbed by popular culture at this point.

    And yeah, it may not be what you and I read it for, but the perceived lack of subversion is the most cogent complaint that I’ve heard.

  30. amypoodle Says:

    Seems to me to be the kind of thing people say about the Invisibles without having read it in a very long time. There’s plenty of heavy stuff in there that’s still pretty hard to convert to pure spectacle. I don’t know, there’s a pretty hefty conversation waiting in the wings here and I’m too tired to tackle it now.

    Also: I’m really not sure that the ‘lack of subversion’ argument is really an argument. I’m open to it, but I think I’ve probably read the same bloggers as you and looking back I’m not sold on there being anything substantive going on in their posts, just code for ‘Why isn’t Morrison doing creator owned work at the moment? I liked the Filth.’

  31. Zom Says:

    Having read through Amy’s Comics Journal posts I can’t help but feel that a lot of what’s really interesting about the Invisibles barely gets talked about.

  32. SJ Says:

    That’s fair enough.

  33. amypoodle Says:

    Ooo! Ooo! Just to say, Chris, man, you rock.

    I know you’re the default artist on Inc now, but are you doing the next one? Say ‘yes’.

    Oh yeah, and just tell DC you’ll be doing #9 too. Tell them I said. Tell your tired drawing hand that too.

  34. Botswana Beast Says:

    The solicits for BatmInc are the craziest bunch of lies ever, but it sez Cam Stew is drawing #9; I can’t actually tell if that cover’s his or Burnham’s, I think it’s the latter?

    I’d certs rather Chris B than Scott Clark, at this juncture, the artist for #8.

  35. amypoodle Says:

    Oh I know. I’m wondering if I’m misjudging clark though. I know he did that awful comic that one time, but apart from the horribly muscled people – something Manke’s just as guilty of and I like him – his stuff doesn’t look all that bad. Maybe? Hopefully? Man, I hope he doesn’t shit on my bat-buzz.

  36. It Burns Says:

    I don’t want to be a super-snark, or an Uber-Boner, or a Mozzy scum-dumpster, but I absolutely DO NOT understand how the Invisibles has been absorbed into popular culture. I read the thing like … 2, 3 years ago last … right when Financial Crisis was beginning to take shape in the media, right when everyone was drawing a line between those responsible and the victims, something that’s still going on today … Fuck this. Just go read Amy’s TCJ posts.

  37. It Burns Says:

    BTW, is part 3 still on the way?

  38. RetroWarbird Says:

    Aging Bats. Grant’s kitchen sink publication history timeline puts the Dark Knight Downward spiral of Bruce squarely into Mid-Life Crisis (No literally … around the middle of his life, Bruce had to deal with Moore, Miller, Starlin, Barr and CRISIS, CRISIS, CRISIS) timeframes, doesn’t it? Is this the rebound? Is Inc. the shiny sports car and the mistress? S’why restoring some of Todd’s pre-retcon stuff was important. One of the little toys that’s been misused over the years.

    Leviathan is death-obsessed. Joker either set the trend or predicted it with his Gravedigger persona. Now every supercriminal is copping the kill card voodoo.

    Sensei’s still here. Decoy Dedalus … seemed to think his daughter was still alive. We’re meant to go “aww” when we find out about the Alzheimer’s, but called into question by Bruce five seconds later, one wonders then if the decoy being mind-owned by the Real Dedalus might be hinting at something, as on the next page we see the Real Dedalus standing with Leviathan, and on the screens the circular energy oroboros pattern that the old man wanted Leviathan agents to deliver to his daughter. I’ll stage it here – Leviathan IS Kathy Kane. Kultek? Kane’s Kolossal Karnival? Themes of aging? She didn’t want Bat-Babies. Kathy Kane Kultek Kolossal Karnival Kali. Death goddesses, dances of death. Elemental death chains, five elements, five forms of matter.

    You weren’t wrong about Sensei. Sensei’s men “killed” Kathy Kane … I’ve recently reread “The Vengeance Vow” and Bruce didn’t glimpse the kill-stroke … the killer was the non-lethal Bronze Tiger … and Ra’s al Ghul and Talia walked in when Batman found the body and basically admitted straight up they were using Batman to remove the Sensei from power. If ever there was a death less likely … this isn’t the first group comparable to the League of Assassins – there was plenty of compare/contrast with Doctor Hurt’s Black Glove and the League as well. Demon Heads, daughters and clubs of villains.

  39. RetroWarbird Says:

    And Chris B. keep ‘em coming.

  40. Marc Says:

    I think we can all agree that Burnham is blowing these issues away.

    Then again, I also think we can all agree that Morrison passed up on a golden opportunity to dub Mr. Stephen Lime “the Emoti-Con.”

  41. prooker Says:

    Mindless bat annocommentations and Chris Burnham art are two things i can never get enough of.

    I don’t have much to add, but I’m almost certain that my favorite theories since the end of the first couple issues of Inc is going to come to fruition: the return of LORD DEATH MAN. FROM SPACE.

    I know Leviathan has a satellite and all but I’m hoping they just send him in another shuttle back to earth crashing right at the feet of Bats (or Jiro would probably be more appropriate), the ghoul you can’t escape even when you lock him in a vault in space.

  42. plok Says:

    Oh, I just re-read The Invisibles! And no, that thing just keeps on giving, it really does…I doubt if its subversiveness can be absorbed into popular culture (er, those are the terms we’re using? Just checking), I mean it’s certainly loaded with an unusually awesome selection of quotable lines even for Morrison, and I guess some of the conspiracy-basics are easily glommed onto and eaten up…but it really is a something-new-every-reading thing, it feels current as hell, and where there’s currency there’s always room for subversion, eh?

    I can’t go along with the “death-spiral” thing either, I just can’t get my head around how this all can be so decrepit if it’s also actually as fun as it is…wow, fun monthly comics! Fun monthly Batman comics, for Christ’s sake! I’m not sure how much justification that needs, I jumped on with BatRob and felt that little-kid rush of thinking it’s zoomy and mesmerizing and thrillingly disposable (if that makes the sense I hope it does?), and I don’t know if that feeling could be there without it also being sunk in this detail of background, history, voice, riffology…I mean say this for it, it doesn’t read like Batman pastiche, not even like inspired Batman pastiche, it reads like actual revivified BATMAN, which if you think about it is not a small accomplishment. Maybe it was always sort of a simple accomplishment, but I don’t think it’s small. I mean who else has done it?

  43. amypoodle Says:

    Was it you who came up with that theory then? I’vE taken its STRONG TRUTH for granted ever since I first heard it.

  44. amypoodle Says:

    That was meant for prooker.

  45. plok Says:

    I was confused for a minute!

  46. plok Says:

    So how is the third Invisibles piece coming along, or is it something you’d rather keep dark?

  47. plok Says:

    I’d recommend re-reading Invisibles as the Hauntology pieces come out to anybody, fantastically lucky timing by me.

  48. Zom Says:

    The third Invisi-essay should be along soon.

  49. amypoodle Says:

    Writing as we speak.

  50. plok Says:


  51. Thrills Says:

    I second that ‘hooray’! Just finished my first Invisibles reread in a few years. It really is the gift that keeps on giving.

    As is Batman at the moment. Ace Burnham art, as people have said, and that’s above and beyond the fact Morrison’s writing is so pop and fun just now. The whole thing’s a pleasure to look at and read. It feels RIGHT.

  52. amypoodle Says:

    Just so you know, a couple of paragraphs and I’m done. I’ll do them in the morning.

    After that we return to the dream factory.

  53. 4thletter! » Blog Archive » The Cipher 05/18/11: Cape Comics Are Dead Edition Says:

    [...] think that the Mindless annocommentations for Batman Inc may be more entertaining than the comic they’re [...]

  54. Papers Says:

    My one problem with this is that it feels like it ends up treading THE RETURN’s territory, only better. It reminded me of certain episodes of THE WEST WING, where the White House staff decide to pull their shit together as a group and really hammer on, with a rousing speech delivered to pep them up–to be repeated two or three episodes later. But I think that was mostly the Batcave pep talk stuff bothering me.

    Burnham’s artwork is the thrill. The non-Pacquette issues are all hitting me more than his work, like I’ve said, and I’m looking forward to the girl’s school issue.

    I seem to recall something similar to Incorporated being postulated on Barbelith, and a viral Joker craze being brought up as well–I’m glad Morrison’s holding off on that idea, though, even if this stuff all feeds into the JOKERZ from Batman Beyond.

    I’m pegging Wingman as Jason Todd, of course, but I’m not reading other Bat-titles so I don’t know if he’s being used elsewhere.

  55. Thrills Says:

    I thought ‘Jason Todd’ for Wingman as well, but then later in the issue there’s a “The Red Hood is back!” ad for another Bat-comic, so who knows? I do like the theory above where Wingman’s actually Superman, but.

  56. Botswana Beast Says:

    I think Jase the Ace is the red herring; I immediately thought of him and couldn’t think of anyone else – was like “eh, Two-Face was Gotham’s protector just prior to BatMoz, those weak Robinson issues… nah.” It’s normally the fifth thing you think of with G-Mizzo, but I think Teatime B has saved me the bother of doing #3-5.

  57. D. Druid Says:

    This is a story about Batman the Fascist and it spooked the hell out of me.

  58. amypoodle Says:

    no it’s not.

  59. D. Druid Says:

    Seriously – no one else read through this and wondered at the end of it, “what the Hell is wrong with Batman”?

  60. adam aaron Says:

    Lol D. Druid! I get it. My turn:

    Grant Morrison has clearly taken over Batman’s life. The body posture is all wrong.

  61. It Burns Says:

    I wondered what the hell is right with Bruce. Why can’t I have it?

    Then I wondered: “Who is the Indian Batman going to be?”

    and THEN, I thought: “Whoa… did this issue give me a hard-on?”

    It did.

  62. It Burns Says:

    A big fascist boner.

  63. It Burns Says:

    AND! considering there’s absolutely no Nationalist sympathy in this comic, or the fact that Bruce isn’t running a country, OR the fact that Bruce isn’t regulating an economy … to say this is a fascist comic is Ree-donkey-less.

  64. amypoodle Says:

    i think you’ll need to go into a bit more detail if you want to have this conversation, druid.

  65. Zom Says:

    It has something to do with SUPERMONEY, I suppose.

    If I had a substantive criticism of the entire run to date it might – just might – revolve around that concept.

  66. amypoodle Says:

    There’s a big difference between SUPERMONEY and fascism though.

  67. Zom Says:

    Yes there is, but it’s the only way into something mayyyyybe approaching the fascism accusation that I could think of.

  68. amypoodle Says:

    it depends how precise your definition of fascism is. I suspect all Druid means by the term is that Batman’s suddenly telling people what to do 24/7, and everywhere. And while, yeah, it’s dodge, it’s no more dodge than what he’s been doing in Gotham for the past seventy years.

    Not really fascism either.

  69. Zom Says:

    No it’s not

  70. plok Says:

    Could just be the collapse of the buffoonish Wayne persona? You could read the ineffectual secret identity as a moral restraint on the otherwise-superior individual, if you wanted to…

  71. Shameless Says:

    Not fascist at all… in fact it seems a little like my (likely ignorant and wrong) understanding of the commonwealth under a sovereign as described by Hobbes in (massive coincidence?) Leviathan

  72. amypoodle Says:


    i guess it was only a matter of time till someone turned up throwing that ‘fascist’ word around.

  73. Zom Says:

    Yes, yes, yes! why have none of us picked up on that before now!

    Well done, Shameless

  74. bobsy Says:

    When he opens the back of the truck and the bloodsoaked kids are there, their smiles seem oddly welcoming, as if when they say ‘Leviathan’ they are calling him by name…

  75. Zig Zag Zig Says:

    If gathering a group of like-minded global citizens together for the purpose of removing slave traders and mass murderers from the planet is fascism, then count me in. Otherwise, the analogy is silly.

    Perhaps SUPERMONEY and the ‘critique’ of capitalism in BATMAN, INC. is actually something to talk about though? Because it seems to me that the ‘Inc’ part of the title is window-dressing. Or, at any rate, it also isn’t a good analogy for what Bruce is up to.

  76. Zig Zag Zig Says:

    Also: Bruce is definitely Leviathan AND Dedalus. Probably he’s Wingman as well.

  77. amypoodle Says:

    no he’s not.

  78. Zig Zag Zig Says:

    Of course he’s not.

  79. Zom Says:

    Yes he is

  80. Cleaning Glove Soup Says:

    An army of soulless, unthinking, unfeeling robots built to maintain social order and keep violater’s in line at the disposal of a giant mega-corp whose funds have been hijacked and misappropriated for some shady evil nonsense in the recent past might give one the impression that Bruce is building a helluva tool to impose a fascist regime.

    I sensed the same thing Druid did. That panel with Bruce and Batbot buddies backing him up was more than potentially creepy and I think it was intentionally portrayed as such. I love Always Prepared 5 Steps Ahead of Everyone Bruce too, but Deadalus knows about Bruce’s time jaunt and it’s implied that he knows all Bruce thinks he knows too soooooooooo… Who’s more ready, MC Brucey B. or DJ Dr. D.? I kinda want Bats to be wrong a little and get knocked down a peg or two so we can see him having to rely on creative improvisation more than The Plan That Always Works.

  81. Zom Says:

    I think that’s fair enough.

  82. It Burns Says:

    Again. Not fascism. Jesus Christ.

  83. RetroWarbird Says:

    It’s Batman. He’s not fascist. He may, however, be trying to make Bruce Wayne “appear to be fascist”. As a millionaire playboy who has “always secretly financed Batman” would be a little.

    Perhaps the word from on high not to mess with Bruce Wayne was the likes of Luthor, Sivana and Co., thinking “Hold on now … armies of robots? Batman-financing or not this guy is on the fast-track to our way of thinking!”

  84. It Burns Says:

    So far in Inc. the reader has had the privilege of seeing behind the scenes of the whole operation. We know Bruce’s motives. We don’t know exactly what he saw, but we know he’s trying to protect people from Leviathan. This isn’t like watching the news and questioning a leader’s or magnate’s motives about spending billions of billions or signing ludicrous military contracts with whoever. I question my leaders all the time about this shit. I don’t know why Obama does what he does so I’m suspicious. The only thing Mozzy keeps from us are bits of info for dramatic purposes.

    And, let’s not forget:

    The theory of Bruce appearing to be going bonkers (not becoming a fascist) is a good idea, as is having a conversation about super money, but if somebody says the word fascist again I’m going to blow a hole in my ass with a revolver.

  85. dylearium Says:

    Okay, this might be a leap, but I was chewing on the mysterious Wingman i.d. and came up with the forehead-slappingly obvious Daedalus/Icarus–>Wingman train of connections.

    Not sure if there is anything to it, but it would seem remiss to have a Dedlaus allusion without some sort of analogue to Icarus.

    I’m not saying that it has to be KK1, and we know so little about Dr. D, it would seem likely that he has more offspring (he seems into franchising and all that); but I thought the glaring symbolism needed to be shared.

  86. Zom Says:

    Hmmm… seen through the lens of Morrison’s Joker there’s interesting links between a kind of narrative totalitarianism (which is a necessary component but not a sufficient description of fascism) and Batman. Everyone’s always in his box.

    Wonder if Morrison’s noticed that.

  87. It Burns Says:

    YEah, I really think that’s the discussion we need to be having. What is the position of the reader compared to the villains Batman’s targeting? What does that relationship tell us about the massive spending made public in Inc., super money and Bruce’s intentions. They do appear to be excessive and totalitarian to villains in the comic (and maybe to other characters in the future), but what the reader’s entitled to allows for a different interpretation. What does that interpretation tell us?

  88. It Burns Says:

    What does that *difference* in interpretation tell us.

  89. Jeremy Says:

    I just really hope this doesn’t end like I’m predicting it will, where Bruce gets too much power, and his friends tell him how he has too much power, and the shit backfires on him or whatever, and then its “My God, you were right chums, no one man should have all that power” and Morrison puts all the toys back in the box.

    Because that would be fucking lame.

  90. Al Ewing Says:

    In my experience it’s usually a case if Morrison saying HEY LOOK EVERYONE TOYS

  91. Al Ewing Says:

    and then I accidentally hit return in the middle of a post. And THEN the next person to come along puts the toys back into the box, at least for a generation.

  92. Al Ewing Says:

    That’s probably a terrible generalisation, mind.

  93. RetroWarbird Says:

    dylearium, it should be noted that the Batman Annual that detailed the resurrection of one Jason Todd was called “Daedelus & Icarus”.

    As for my own questioning of Bruce’s over-doing it … I do have to wonder how much of that is just because I’m a guilty-ass bastard at heart and don’t like the idea of Super-Bill Gates coming for me.

    Anyway, I’m really appreciating the little etymological jokes. Mayor Sebastian Hady = S.Hady. Emoticon-Man Stephen Lime = S.Lime.

    How’s this: Damian Wayne = D.Wayne. Dwayne being a name of Gaelic origin that means … “Little Dark One”.

  94. Jeremy Says:

    Its kinda like on his New X-men run, he goes on and on about “we gotta stop with the old ways, we gotta do new ways of mutant thinking and teaching!” but he doesn’t actually, ya know, propose any new ways of thinking and teaching. Its like going over and knocking down a sandcastle, shouting “do something new!” then walking away without any real suggestions. So Marvel retcons everything and hardcore Morrison fanatics complain they are afraid of change.

  95. hilker Says:

    All-Star Superman is Icarus with a happier ending.

  96. Thrills Says:

    I dunno, Morrison made a bunch of suggestions for new X-Men stuff in his ‘New’ run – the explosion of the mutant population, and mutant culture as the ‘cool’ thing – the whole mutants vs. humans thing as ‘youth versus age’ instead of the usual ‘mutant prejudice being clumsy and insulting stand-in for racism/homophobia’. I think the new ways of thinking were basically “let’s stop cowering in our mansion, and endlessly retreading old conflicts – let’s get out there and be pop mavericks who actively put forward our agenda for the future” (though I do realise Morrison’s run owed took a lot from past ones).

    It basically filled the X-universe with possibility, which the whole ‘house of m/decimation’ thing then took away, choosing instead to turn X-men into a dull retread of ‘No-Man’s Land’, or something. For years.

  97. Zig Zag Zig Says:

    NEW X MEN certainly *felt* like it had new ideas, didn’t it?

    I suppose the problem (if you want to call it a problem) that Jeremy points out is that Morrison’s work claims to engage with ideas but never does so in a concrete fashion. All of the intellectual content, the stuff aside from the drama, romance, and action, is communicated in catchphrases, semiotic codes based upon association, or is embedded in the form of a world-changing sigil. SUPERMONEY is a good example of this sort of thing.

    I imagine, given that BATMAN, INC. is following the exact narrative trajectory of NEW X MEN, facing fear and doubt and learning to work together in the first arc before moving to the subjects of corporatism, viruses, and betrayal in the second half, we will see many of the same things retread here. We’ll probably even end in the distant future with D.Wayne on his final adventure before everything goes Finnagain beginagain.*

    Which is perfectly fine. It’s superhero comics after all, not PBS. And this run has been nothing short of a revelation. I’ve enjoyed the vast majority of it. But I wonder if the superficiality and repetition of Morrison’s superhero stories are the reason that some people would like to see him do more stuff like THE FILTH, et al.

    S. Hady! Neat!


    *although, in fairness, BATMAN has been far more metatextual and narratively interesting than X-MEN.

  98. It Burns Says:

    Zig: At first I thought your “ZZZ” was a diss towards Warbird.

  99. Zig Zag Zig Says:

    Heh. Oops. Not my intent at all. I always like hearing from Warbird.

  100. It Burns Says:

    I thought it was funny.

  101. RetroWarbird Says:

    It’d be a fun burn! That way It Burns name coming immediately afterward would’ve been a bit expository.

  102. plok Says:

    I haven’t been anything like as consistent a reader of Morrisonian Batman as all you folks have, but for me this is le vrai superhero resurrection, all the stuff Morrison (and everybody else!) has been talking about for ages and ages — New X-Men is nothing compared to it, if only for the fact that the “everything counts” approach in Batman has actually worked. What’s here that couldn’t stick, really?

    I think New X-Men had ideas, though “Mutant Town” wasn’t necessarily its best one…the “garbage” Sentinels, the mutant teen crises, the absurdly-advanced Shi’ar superculture, Jean Grey finally having “grown in” to the Phoenix, that’s all a lot more SF-like than the X-Men have ever been…the whole “Tomorrow People” vibe, like with everything Morrison does it never uses anything but the toys that are already there, and never makes them so they can’t continue to be used by other people, there’s always a conservationist streak to his supercomics…but ideas, yeah. Mutant Town seemed off, to me, but Xavier’s having a student body of a couple hundred seemed (and it is not an expression I’m accustomed to using) right on.

    I do think the Batman stuff will be more obviously lasting, though — this run’s getting kinda definitive, isn’t it? I particularly admire how all the Brit stuff has the flavour of the 50s comics where Batman would go to another planet or back in time or whatever — not even the Justice League stuff but the World’s Finest stuff, you know?…though for me the best things of all are still a) giving Dick some circus-and-family themed villains and b) making me love that little shit Damian.

    Morrison sneaks a lot of rebuilding in under the cover of the flashier stuff, actually. Is what I tend to think.

  103. Sue Says:

    Found you guys through Brother’s site and I owe him for sending me this way. Reading this was almost as fun as reading the comic. Regarding your comment about Cass’ cape, Burham has talked about the design and what he was going for and I posted about it here.

  104. amypoodle Says:

    Yeah, although I think Dave has very different ideas from us about what constitutes a fun comic, he’s still one of the best commentators out there and we’re grateful he likes our ranting enough to link to it. Pleased you dug it too. We try to do, errr, *intelligent gushing*. There’s not enough of it in comics journalism. We love these tatty little four coloured rags, yes? Let’s take some time out to remember that.

  105. amypoodle Says:

    Sorry that ‘very different’ there was hyperbole. Just ‘different’.

  106. plok Says:

    Shoulda gone for “unusually different”!

  107. Zom Says:

    I’d go with not that different (from me)

    Nice tumblr, Sue. Added it to the blogroll.

  108. Zig Zag Zig Says:

    “We try to do, errr, *intelligent gushing*. There’s not enough of it in comics journalism.”

    This is fair.

  109. Cleaning Glove Soup Says:

    Just occured to me, Inc. is kinda Darkseid’s debased clone army converted to the light side of the force.

    Like Bruce had an epiphany “Ya know, an army of badass Batmen WOULD be the best damn army a general could muster… hmmmmmmm!”

    Oh you mythically alchemical rapscallion, you! Shit into flowers…

  110. RetroWarbird Says:

    Bruce is always taking the dark things and using them for good. He’s such a Romantic.

  111. Zig Zag Zig Says:

    This is probably already been mentioned somewhere at some time, but even ‘Gotham’s Kerrrrazy themed criminal outfits’, the pop criminals of yesteryear, have gone ‘corporate’. Bruce is finally following their lead, subverting the idea for his own ends, again turning dark into light.

    However, his army, unlike Darkseid’s cloned automatons or Joker’s terrified clowns, is composed of free-willed individuals. There is a theme and a hierarchy, and also an inner circle to Batman, Inc., but there is also room for ‘improvisation’ and difference. They’re friends and colleagues, not employees.


  112. RetroWarbird Says:

    Aye, it’s something. For a guy who uses fear as a weapon, it’s fantastic to see that Bruce’s organization is not run through fear. I hate to even bring up a Geoff Johns point-of-view, but compare to the Sinestro Corps – the entire hierarchy is fear-based. Leviathan seems the same way. “You don’t know what they do to people”.

    And here’s Bruce – a man who a while back got visited by a Sinestro Ring – his hierarchy is not fear-based. Oh, the cowardly, superstitious lot fear the hell out of him … but his allies? It’s all frienship, camaraderie and brotherhood.

    Reread some early Bruce & Dick interaction via CBR’s “10 Goofiest Moments” article and god yes, early Bruce & Dick is all brotherhood and best friends. Don’t know where the readers and fans got the idea of “father/son” relationships from. More like the “Big Brother” program, wherein the Big Brother teaches the Little Brother to beat the hell out of psychos and gangsters. Now global.

  113. Cleaning Glove Soup Says:

    Just read an old Secret Origins featuring Nightwing and there’s a little Batman Inc. style swearing in ceremony within it’s pages…highlights a lot of what RW just said above as well.

  114. Botswana Beast Says:

    Yeah, it’s like Darkseid’s proposed clone army, it’s like the 3 Ghosts of Batman, it’s the Red Hood’s business plan, all inverted; I wouldn’t want to stand in their way, which is why I signed up for Batman Inc. this very week.

  115. fcfanatic Says:

    Anyone catch Nightrunner (“the Muslim Batman of Paris”) vs. the supervillain EDL in that closing double-page spread?

  116. amypoodle Says:

    They were EDL? I thought they were some evil Knights Templar guys. France is Rennes-le-Chateau country after all.

  117. Hassu Says:

    Loving these annotations. Long time lurker etc.

    Not seen it mentioned but the Leviathan symbol is a mandala but of the more twisted kind. Wondering what kind of power it is channeling or the result of meditating upon it.

  118. amypoodle Says:

    It’s Kali Yantra and, really, there’s very little that’s twisted about it. The idea that Kali’s some kind of devil god is a hugely ignorant, incomplete western POV.

  119. Zig Zag Zig Says:

    While the Kali Yantra is not ‘twisted’, Leviathan certainly seems to be. So let’s change Hassu’s question slightly: what aspects of Kali are Leviathan embracing?

    Parvati? In that guise she might reflect the fifth essence that is oroboro. Or as Devi, the counterpart to Bruce’s reason? Or do they reflect an earlier depiction of Kali as annihilator? After all, as Wikipedia, some believe that Devi “holds both the creative and destructive power of time.”

    But, yeah, you seem to know what’s what. Fill us in.

  120. Zig Zag Zig Says:

    as Wikipedia SAYS

  121. amypoodle Says:

    They’re materialists, solely focused on her destructive aspect. And with Ouroboro factored in, eternal destruction.

  122. Hassu Says:

    What Zig Zag Zig said – this is why I lurk. Cheers

  123. based dog Says:

    I know the discussion on this topic has more or less ended, but I wanted to point out that it actually was Morrison who used the phrase, “Batman of Africa” in reference to Batwing.

    Via DC Comics’ Source blog:

    “On the way towards this ultimate confrontation, Batman and El Gaucho, Argentina’s No.1 crimebuster, face a terrifying new villain whose world-shaking masterplan stretches across 2 decades, 3 countries and 3 interlocked issues, which also feature Batwoman, a whole new team of British heroes and the debut of The Batman of Africa, in a dark and twisted super-espionage thriller.”

    While it reads like it was written by an editor to drum up interest for the upcoming arc, they attribute it to Morrison himself. So while it wasn’t in the comic, it did come from the author. Just saying.

  124. Botswana Beast Says:

    That’s true – and also David Zavimbi may well be named after a spam emailer, although Mtamba has some heritage – I’m particularly sensitive to Africa’s portrayal in mainstream media, because I am African by birth (note the name, etc.) and much as I would like to exculpate my favourite writer, I’m not 100% comfortable as yet with Batwing. I do think, judged by the comics alone, he is doing an okay job though.

    Indeed, much of the – very welcome – internationalist flavour of Batman Inc. comes from a longstanding project to reclaim formerly… blase, would perhaps be the kindest word, portrayals of these ‘Batmen of many nations’, starting back on the original Black Glove arc in Batman #667.

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    But I might see young Cupid’s fiery shaft
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    And the imperial votaress passed on, 535
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    Yet mark’d I where the bolt of Cupid fell:
    It fell upon a little western flower,
    Before milk-white, now purple with love’s wound,
    And maidens call it love-in-idleness. 540
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    Puck: I’ll put a girdle round about the earth
    In forty minutes.

  126. Shakespeare Reference Says:

    It’s also an art deco mosaic in fantastic Melbourne, Australia. Home of the Ranger.

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