If the first volume of Batman Incorporated exploded out of the gloom and propelled the character back towards life, then the second iteration of this latest re-branding was a far different proposition.

Every stage of Morrison’s Batman has followed a similar trajectory, starting off light-hearted and energetic before eventually plunging right back into the overarching mega-plot, and with it, the grand absence that unifies the whole run:

In the previous two iterations this has entailed an increase of complexity, either in the form of the deconstructionist absurdity of Batman RIP or in the twinned conclusions to Batman and Robin and The Return of Bruce Wayne.   Batman Incorporated 2.0 represents a different approach.  This final flourish of Batman comics represents the ultimate reduction of all that had come before, with the stresses of the plot compressing these twelve issues down to the barest element as it plays out to its logical conclusion: a man in a cape punching people in the face forever.

Not coincidentally, Batminge 2.0 is also the most impressively sustained run of Batman comics Morrison has ever scripted, a relentlessly focused fight comic that flies by in a brutalised pop art haze, a triumph that succeeds by trusting Chris Burnham‘s ability to record the impact of seven years worth of dense plotting on human bodies:

 

I thought the traumatic babyface visuals from issue #12 were going to be definitive representations of what Morrison and Burnham were up to here, but the more I think about it the more convinced I am that the moment in the above panel where Batman hits the cave floor like a splat of blank ink is the key image of this final collapse.

In the last issue of Morrison’s Action Comics run the villain (a five-dimensional imp called Vyndktvx) attacked the fundamental idea of Superman (the fifth dimension being “imagination”, as established in an earlier issue of Morrison’s Batman run), and I think there’s something similar going on here.   The big difference being that where Kal-El ended up enlisting the reader in his delusion, asking them all to say their names backwards in order to save the save the day, Batman’s final triumph here is presented as a flat event, as nothing more or less than a particularly artful splash of ink on the page of yet another Batman comic, with the promise of plenty more yet to come:

6 Responses to “Bat-(Panel)Madness: Sticking the Landing”

  1. jameswheeler Says:

    It makes for a neat recapitulation of Final Crisis, Batman ink. More please!

  2. Illogical Volume Says:

    TruFax.

    I love this ending, it’s such a weird, flattened out recapitulation of Batman’s triumphs in the earlier parts of Morrison’s run (including FC), “BATMAN AND ROBIN WILL NEVER DIE!” drained of it seemingly boundless promise, reframed as a sentence that will never be truly be “up”, as a sign of a Bedford Falls state of mind that can never quite be escaped, even if it does just about keep Pottersville at bay.

    There’s more coming, presuming that we can keep out heads out of our respective Batcaves for the next few weeks…

  3. RetroWarbird Says:

    Batman is Sisyphus and Gotham City is already his personal Hell.

    But Sisyphus won the Red Queen’s Race.

  4. RetroWarbird Says:

    Or rather, NEVER loses it.

  5. Louie Zahl Says:

    Since the Invisibles wank-athon Ole Grant has probably had more people confess their solitary carnal behaviors to him than any other person in history, “I slapped it good Moz, just like you said…but nothing happened.”

    I wonder if the end of his Batman tenure finally allows him to empathize with their sad disillusioned pain.

  6. PapaPopGuru Says:

    I think it took an enormous amount of restraint for Morrison to blow our minds with the last 12 issues of the run.
    With the volume of Incorporated, we saw a chaotic, masterful vibrancy in his storytelling. The attack at Decompression, where every issue introduced a new (usually arcane) concept and made it accessible to new readers (like myself). Leviathan Strikes! remains the high benchmark in single issue comics in that sense.
    So, to see Grant so… Inhibited in the last few issues was definitely a bit of a gut punch. We got hints of his remaining flourishing intellectualism and vigour in a few issues. 2, 5, 6 and 10 certainly contain elements of grandiose abstractions and world-building.
    But the last few issues left the world smaller than it was before. The Batmen of All Nations, Hurt, Darksied’s plot, and even Leviathan will be relegated to a box with the words: “GRANT MORRISON’S, DO NOT TOUCH” stamped on it. The verve we got of “Batman as anything we damn well want”, where readers were honest-to-god detectives being tutored in his footsteps, are dead.
    Batman may never die, but A Batman who exists in a world outside of his own head, could never be allowed to live.

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