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Originally I thought the better batmobile Grant’s been building was a metaphor for a new Bruce Wayne, which it is, but I didn’t give any thought to what that would mean… Probably some sort of fusion of bat and bruce after some terrible ordeal, with links to the ten eyed men exorcism and the thogal retreat, but that’s as far as it went. I just figured Grant would wrap his run after that and some other writer would immediately drag us kicking and screaming back to the land of FENESTRATE-ME-ZSASZ!

I was being stupid.

It was obvious we’d need to see the batmobile in action, the new vehicle for Bruce’s war on crime, if only because the idea contains so much story potential. In fact it probably contains more potential than any plot device so far. What batfan wouldn’t have to see where Bruce was going next, a Bruce with his shit together, utilising every weapon available to him? Because so far he’s amassed quite an arsenal: the 99 Miagani, the Club of Heroes, the extended bat-family, and… are the Outsiders still on the payroll?

See, this is where I have a problem with the internet’s constant, whining refrain of ‘unoriginality!’. Yes, we’ve read Kingdom Come and Dark Knight and we’ve seen Bruce extend his reach with mutants, robots and Red Robins, but, and this is the thing, it was only for a few bloody panels in the former and the end point for the latter. No writer yet has actually explored this idea in any detail, probably because of the inflexibility of the bat office, and, yes, because it would take big, big balls. If I was ever to interview a creator on a massive book, and was guaranteed an honest, thoughtful, non-pr driven response, the first question I would ask them would be ‘How intimidating is it?’ I think it would be terrifying, and to genuinely take the book to a new place, while finely balancing the direction with the demands the character (read: his audience and history) places on you, probably the most daunting thing of all.

And, yeah, the grittYIsts probably have a right to feel afraid, because what does Batman, Inc. promise us? A fuller absorption of characters some fans would like to keep at arms length into the main batbooks, a return of the globe trotting batman who needs to keep tabs on every area of his operation, elements of the first person shooter aesthetic(!), a full blown out of the shadows and into the light bat army (or at the very least a far less creepy, far more conspicuous operation), and the aforementioned return of bruce wayne to the equation, bringing all of his resources to bear on the bat mission. This is the worst, because the grittyists don’t like Bruce Wayne. They deny he even exists.

(And who can blame them, seeing as Batman himself seems to agree, only just now in Morrison’s run describing him as ‘..a shallow, reckless mask of a man who never grew up’. Aaah, but Batman was always going to be a bit biased, wasn’t he? An unintegrated Batman, that is.)

Anyway, just some thoughts, and I’ll leave you with one to chew on. What kind of enemies would a bat-army fight? Maybe there was something in that ‘population explosion’ business after all.

Escalation.

24 Responses to “Some jottings about Batman, Inc.”

  1. Simon Says:

    To my pointed, Kelly Jones-style ears, “Batman, Inc.” rhymes perfectly with “X-Corporation.” It’s the underground gone global.

  2. amypoodle Says:

    which i think i said.

    although it’ll be less visible. there won’t be street signs pointing to the bat office.

  3. RetroWarbird Says:

    Oh hell … here comes the Joker Corps.

    On a very primary note – I cannot wait for Batman to visit Argentina and team-up with El Gaucho. “Gaucho is a well-respected crimefighter.” “Gracias, Gaucho.”

    Christ, there are certainly enough “Bat-characters” to do this sort of Brave and Bold thing with them and not DCU Players. Not that I don’t secretly wish for Batman to team with Aquaman or Deadman here, but I doubt there’ll be room, considering the size of the Batman Brand.

    Bruce Wayne is the man with the Midas Touch.

    (It’s a shame Grant said at SDCC he loves Riddler but doesn’t think he’d be that suited to an ultimate Riddler story, because Riddler Goes International is something I’d like to see.)

  4. Munkiman Says:

    The only thing I’m not sure I like about the new direction – the ONLY thing – is the multiple Batmen. In addition to the GLC, we’ve had multiple Flashes, multiple Atoms, multiple Captain Americas. And all of this was recent. I was hoping that Morrison would avoid going with that, because it really wasn’t a great idea to begin with IMO.

    I am a little interested to see why Dick’s attitude to being Batman will change. Before, he was just filling the role, but Bruce is back and is going to be Batman again… maybe Dick is staying Batman for Damian’s benefit? Could be.

  5. RetroWarbird Says:

    Theoretically, Dick could remain as the “protector of Gotham” while Bruce goes international full-time. I imagine his old gig, juggling his “stay at home and fight crime” weekly schedule with things like the JLA and Outsiders was awfully hard.

  6. Simon Says:

    Amy–

    I didn’t mean to repeat you or step on your toes in regards to the corporate Batman theme; I was just pointing out the resonance with GM’s NXM run, which I didn’t see in the original post.

  7. Zom Says:

    Theoretically, Dick could remain as the “protector of Gotham” while Bruce goes international full-time.

    Xactly what I was thinking

  8. amypoodle Says:

    yeah. tbh, you got to expect everything to go prismatic, munki – it’s the times. the goodness of this stuff always depends on whether or not the writers up to it and if it’s a good story, so i’m not worried.

    anyway, as i said above, this is completely logical. batman commander in chief has been around for ages…unused.

  9. Bruce Martin Payne Says:

    I can only imagine that the escalation of Bat-tactics will lead to an escalation in popcrime-scale. When a fellow artist breaks new ground, his contemporaries, competitors, and imitators aren’t going to sit around on their laurels, I’d imagine.

    Bruce Wayne and Batman Inc. as Andy Warhol and the Factory, churning out crimefighting Velvet Undergrounds and justice-crusading Paul Morriseys & Joe Dallesandroes.

    And Bob Dylan is the Joker.

  10. LavenderBunny Says:

    I’m guessing ‘Inc’ will be more like a 21st century ‘Batman Family’ title than the full-on army deal being proposed here. In an odd way, hasn’t the the run so far been about friendship, as much as anything else? How Bruce, in spite of everything, needs people around him? Okay, he might change his mind for a while, and unleash his own version of the ninja man-bats on an unsuspecting planet, but isn’t the point about Morrison’s Batman that he doesn’t really do things like that? That he doesn’t ethically, drop his strides in public, as it were?

  11. amypoodle Says:

    while broadly speaking i think you may be right, i’m not sure how that gels with the fighty video game atmospherics grant discusses in his ign interview, or, well, apocalyptic (grant’s words) drama. don’t get me wrong, i don’t expect bat armies and bombed out cities every issue, however i do expect things to get very big by the end.

  12. James W Says:

    Hmmm, I might share Munki’s reservations if Dick and Bruce are both Batmans. What would work for me (and seems not-impossible) is if EVERYONE was Batman, instead of your Red Robins, your Nightwings et al. Damian can be Bat-Mite!

  13. amypoodle Says:

    i think the idea is that there’s loads of batmen (franchisement, didio’s comments about ‘more than one’ probably doesn’t simply mean two). i think.

  14. James W Says:

    That works for me, then. I think just Dick ‘n’ Bruce might seem a little too… messageboard wish-fulfilmenty.

  15. David Uzumeri Says:

    I figure Bruce will just put financial support and logistical assistance behind a lot of the international heroes and stuff. For instance, I expect this is going to be less “do you want to open up a Batman franchise in your town” and more “hey, Gaucho, do you want shitloads of infrastructure and tons of free money for you to up your game in Argentina”.

  16. David Uzumeri Says:

    PS: SO HAPPY that Gaucho’s coming back. “Brutal, amigo!”

    Also, I hope this gives li’l Ellie a good excuse to show up more often. She’s shown up twice now, so I’ve been figuring Morrison had SOME idea or use or place for her in an endgame; since she’s a receptionist at Waynecorp and trusts Batman, I could easily see Bruce bringing her on as the joint’s Girl Friday.

  17. amypoodle Says:

    that’s interesting, dave. i didn’t think of that. yeah, maybe her appearance wasn’t just a closure thing.

  18. RetroWarbird Says:

    Good writers know to show things thrice – introduce them, show them to us again, then make them make sense to the overall story on the third appearance.

    Could easily be the case with Ellie, since we’re on the 2nd Appearance (Expanding her role) already.

  19. Anonymoose. Says:

    I think Elsie’s not quite what she seems.

    And I’m definitely holding onto that ‘Population Explosion’ idea from issue #1, with the homicidal trampling clowns, and that global Joker parvo-virus referenced briefly in RIP.

  20. Anonymoose. Says:

    I guess, point being, that if Batman’s going to replicate his own meme, the Joker will very likely follow suit – Batman doing it as a corporation, the Joker doing it as a disease.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    yeah, swot i reckon.

  22. RetroWarbird Says:

    Joker’s got to get onto the “new viral wave of crime” eventually, anyway. He often holds out for originality’s sake, but if Batman’s had “replacements circling” all along here, Joker’s certainly had inspired villains showing up. Everyone in the Club of Villains is an aspect of Joker’s skill-set … the Circus of Strange are straight-up knock-offs of his gimmick, and Flamingo shares the same strange fruitcake showmanship (and a meta-reference).

    But I’m not sure where the line is – with Batman, all his “Batmen” are characters. They’re established, they’re strong enough to stand on their own. They just fall under Bruce’s “umbrella” of kicking ass his way.

    I just don’t think an army of clowns comes across as “original characters”. Joker has had large groups of henchmen before, and we’ve seen armies of faceless henches in the form of Dollotron or False Face (Current industrial metal False Faces count, but I’m really thinking original Black Mask False Face Revival with the hundreds of thieves and goons in masquerade ball masks).

    The question to ask of a showman like Joker is … do you want to tackle Batman, Inc. with an “ensemble cast” or with a few “hero” characters and a legion of nameless extras.

  23. RetroWarbird Says:

    (By “get on the new wave” eventually, I don’t mean to say Joker stays behind in the times. Hardly – we know he’s an innovator of crime. I just mean, he usually doesn’t do a personality overhaul until Batman instigates it, because his entire gimmick of being a theatrical clown hinges on his straight man, and so every change in aesthetic is meant to mock Batman. And if it doesn’t it’s a waste of his time.)

  24. Anonymous Says:

    it’s also that, in very simple terms, the joker has to change to suit whatever batbook he’s in.

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