August 15th, 2013
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: