“Death ends a life, not a relationship.” ― Mitch Albom, Tuesdays With Morrie
In Batman Incorporated #9 we’re reminded of this once more and finally witness the fallout of Damian Wayne’s death through the eyes of the Batman scribe that conceived it all — Grant Morrison. Is it Good?
Batman Incorporated #9 (DC Comics)
The book opens with a battered looking Bruce and Bat-family pallbearing the late Robin to his (probably not final) resting place. One hell of a story to tell the neighbors I’m sure, but we need to remember Batman’s had as much practice with alibis as roundhouse kicks in his vaunted tenure, so he’ll be alright.
Scenes of Batman and Dick battling the Heretic punctuate the funeral procession. Yes, Heretic survived and is just a shade below Rocky Balboa, a T-800, and the Undertaker circa 1990 combined in terms of how much damage he can shrug off. Dude’s a beast. Although his trash talking could use a little work:
Bane called. He wants his anatomically based insults… back.
We are given a little more behind the Heretic’s mindset, as well as his relationship to Talia:
I’m still not too keen on anything clone related (I have Spider-Man and the Star Wars prequels to thank for that); Heretic still comes off as one-dimensional and easily manipulated (he does have the mindset of a two-year old after all) even with some characterization thrown his way in this issue — notwithstanding, the nature of his existence fits perfectly with the sort of villain Thalia has become. His eventual death (if that happens) may not be as crucial as everyone demands, either. As Morrison has said, Heretic isn’t the only one:
There’s a bunch of them, and they’re all at different stages of development. So yes, he was always going to be a replacement for Damian because she has access to Batman’s DNA, and she’s creating these alternate Batmen. So she’s this woman who’d fallen in love with this man, and now she’s trying to create all these kids in his image so she can control them even if she can’t him. But instead it’s all going wrong; because she’s a super-villain, because she was raised badly herself, she just doesn’t know how to do it. She runs a criminal empire, slavery, drug-running, and we must never forget that she’s not a good person. She can’t escape her heritage, the shadow of her father. Unfortunately she’s stuck with that. So her story is about family and how they can mess you up so bad.
Burnham does a bang up job expressing emotion through action; the fight scenes are as fluid and impressively choreographed as they come. We know that Batman usually holds back during his scuffles because he can mash most of his enemies in two, so when you see him finally go gorilla it’s all the more satisfying and momentous. Dick and Tim each bring their unique skillsets to the battle as well. (Dick’s reactions to Damian’s death are especially charged with emotion.)
What sets Morrison’s writing technique apart from those on the other Bat-titles regarding the fallout of Damian’s death is that we’re granted each character’s bereavement straight-up — no bells and whistles attached. Morrison’s stance comes off as less cloying and less self-indulgent. Not that the impressive pathos of the silent Batman and Robin issue by Tomasi is somehow diminished by this; rather, one perspective complements the other — I’m thankful for both.
Another discrepancy is the way in which Morrison portrays the repercussions in terms of Batman’s social circle, so to speak. Whenever there is an unexpected death in a family there is the chance for unforeseen rifts to be formed. That is, not everyone is cool with what has happened or each other as a result. This exchange between Bruce and Alfred exemplifies this:
If those two crazy kids can’t get along… what hope do we have?
Another Cormac McCarthy quote, just because they fit so damn well with the theme at hand and Batman’s world at the moment:
He said that those who have endured some misfortune will always be set apart but that it is just that misfortune which is their gift and which is their strength.”
If that’s the case, Batman sure has received plenty of “gifts” in his lifetime. Time will tell if these latest events truly make him stronger or carry him to his breaking point.
- Fluid, emotive art by Burnham.
- Finally get to see Morrison’s spin on the aftermath of Damian’s death.
- This issue is mostly set-up for what’s to come.
Is It Good?
This was a strong issue and Morrison continues to impress with his story structure and understanding of the characters. We’re being set up for an absolutely epic and crucial battle between Batman Inc. and Leviathan. That being said, this issue was exactly that: set-up for what’s to come. If you’ve been digging the whole storyline as much as I have, then by all means give the issue a purchase; the issue was necessary to somewhat expedite the story but not integral as a stand-alone issue as there’s surely bigger and better to come in terms of resolution.