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.

Click here to explore the limits of… THE INK!

Batman Incorporated Volume 2 #6

January 24th, 2013

Script by Grant Morrison. Art by Chris Burnham and Nathan Fairbairn. DC Comics.

NO JOKER.

[The term 'Batman' here simultaneously refers both to both the well known character/intellectual property featured in a variety of widely distributed cultural products that bear his brand, and to those products themselves.]

Will he make an agreement with you for you to take him as your slave for life?

Indigo Batman: Leviathan Prime

February 6th, 2012

1. Endtroducing

Flashback to 2011 and the world is ending. Again. The signs are easy to interpret now, when they require any interpreting at all: a news anchor blathers away on TV,  building up so much expectation that the large hadron collider, suffering from a fit of performance anxiety, unravels and takes reality with it; meanwhile, under the sea in a parallel Earth, an archaic supervillain announces that he has “hung a deadly necklace of deadly meta-bombs around the world like precious pearls; on the internet, or rather in a dated parody of cyberspace that resembles nothing so much as X-Box live for “edgy” business folk, a rapidly mutating program tries to take over everything.

Responses to this are equally typical: standing in a futile crowd beside a fatbalding awkwardman, a disinterested woman holds up a sign informing everyone that “THE END is NIGH!; a bloodied hero crawls forward, trying to save the world again, knowing that all he has to do is push a button, but that even this might be to much for him now; elsewhere, tough men decide to make tough decisions with predictable results.

I’m talking about Batman Incorporated and Indigo Prime here, because they were the two garish fantasies that played best for my (semi-informed, heavily solipsistic) sense of panic throughout 2011, that end of season finale of a year.

After all, if you feel like everything’s falling apart, sometimes it helps to be able dress these feelings up in twisted words and garish costumes instead of focusing on the garbled socio-economic truth.

Spacetime becomes jelly.

The walls of reality buckle and fold.

Higher Dimensions intrude into the supersymmetry.

Dark Matter condenses as worlds collide.

Mmmmm, yeah, that’s the stuff.

Come down with me.

Um….

For some reason, probably because I found the Chief Man of Bats issue so meh and the following one bloody awful, and because I was in the Isle of Man, I didn’t pick up this, ahem, *special* (way to throw a cover together, DC art Dept!) when it came out a couple of weeks back, but I’m pleased I have now because this book’s back on track in a big way. We all moan about the Big Two, but DC aren’t stupid enough to completely overhaul one of their most popular titles, and, as with Snyder’s book, now that we know Batman Inc will stay pretty much on point after the reboot, I’m prepared to invest myself again.

Now that I know I won’t get hu….

DIDN’T THIS HAPPEN LAST TIME?

For some reason, probably because I found the Chief Man of Bats issue so meh and the following one bloody awful, and because I was in the Isle of Man, I didn’t pick up this, ahem, *special* (way to throw a cover together, DC art dept!) when it came out a couple of weeks back, but I’m pleased I have now because this book’s back on track in a big way. We all moan about the Big Two, but DC aren’t stupid enough to completely overhaul one of their most popular titles, and, as with Snyder’s book, now that we know Batman Inc will stay pretty much on point after the reboot, I’m prepared to invest myself again.

Now that I know I won’t get hurt.

Sniff.

As was somewhat unsurprising, the second part of this story really divided fans. You know my take on this by now. There are problems with Grant’s writing, sure. I know all about them. I’ve been reading him since Zenith. But they have nothing to do with the writer being on bad drugs. If people want a more traditional take, they can read Snyder. If they want a more colourful one that’s not afraid to push the boat out, then Morrison’s the man for them. If you belong to the former group, you should know now that what you’re about to read is going to take it for granted that experimentation in comic books should be the norm rather than the exception. There certainly won’t be any time wasted on justifying such an approach.

So: annocommentations annocommence!

Batman sixty-seven

May 9th, 2011

A bit battered, spine ripped right off, but still – 44 years of existence, mine for a mere seventy-five pee.

Batman Annual 1967.

671w

It’s all reprint, but the cover looks like original art commissioned in the UK – check the oddly Blyton-esque Robin, a schoolkid larking about like he’s in an infinitely cosy boys comic of the day, or an underage soldier, meat for the melodrama of a WWII book. Check Batman, smiley of face and cheeky of chin, with a prop-forward’s physique.

Let’s look at that again…

04_brucejones_madhouse_96_1974_04_demon1

Before we get into this.

Zom constantly upbraids me for caring about such things, but I’m just too irritated by the internet’s monthly refrain of  ‘it was too all over the place’, often followed by ‘it was too hard to understand’ not to have a moan. It’s almost the stock criticism of Morrison these days and it’s simply a question of who will be uttering it this time around. One month someone over here is complaining that the writing is too ‘scattershot’ and dense while over here someone else is defending the comic as a shining example of Morrison at his most accessible, and the next the roles are reversed, a tango unto death. I say balls! to this and hereby usher in the long overdue Age of The Three Rereads. From now on no one is allowed to utter the words ‘hard to follow’, ‘confusing’, ‘unrelated plots’ or the like without having read the comic three times. We all know it takes a while for the massive info-dump to settle, so it’s only fair we behave accordingly and give the comic room to breathe after a breathless first hit. Obviously this rule doesn’t apply if you’re a casual reader, but critics owe it to themselves and their readership. My general feeling is that the tonal shifting and fizzing ideas add to the reading experience, creating contrasts, generating depth and a sense of length and substance. And isn’t this super important in the case of a twenty page comic (not that this one is, mind)? It’s not density and narrative commotion I’m concerned about, but slightness, and although you can’t fashion positives out of negatives it’s hugely refreshing for me that Morrison’s books never suffer from this problem.

Sure, it’s not as simple and streamlined as Inc’s first two issues, but just to be clear, this comic, inspite of some of the negative press out there, isn’t very hard to understand and will be remembered fondly. I’d hate to be a critic of DC comics generally, I really would. There really is no comparison between a book like this and most of the crap that gets produced. The measure of its goodness is completely different and an undifferentiated grading system that doesn’t take this into account is just nonsense.

So there.

bobsy: My own and only objection to how Batman Incorporated is proceeding, amidst so far a hat-trick of rapid high impact 21st century superhero comics, is the slight familiarity of the beats as the overarching story begins to emerge. Though it wasn’t to be expected, more refreshing and radical than those ominous bell-notes as the latest cosmic conspiracy begins to emerge from the murk would be a comic that stands entirely on its own, 22 or whatever pages of unencumbered violence and costumes, a purity of blank abstracted spectacle that doesn’t even pretend to that common fallacy: that a wider world exists beyond the totality of its stapled covers.

Minor quibble best dispensed with early. This was a fun issue, and in the so-far absence of Annotations Goddess Uzi Mary, la belle annotateur sans merci, a few pages in particular require a closer look.

page-1

Click to find out why three pages of BatMinc3 are better than six issues of Knight & Squire

In which I throw up some random, barely organised/edited thoughts about a couple of comics I think you might’ve read.