We’ve come to the end of Grant Morrison’s seven-year run on Batman with Batman Incorporated #13.
Will the grand finale hit like a stomach punt or leave us feeling empowered, elated, and strangely sated?
Batman Incorporated #13 (DC Comics)
We begin with hardboiled narration from Commissioner Gordon. Seems he’s got some questioning for one bruised and battered Bruce Wayne. You know, “Where were you on the night of January the 16th?”, “Who done it?” and of course: “How the hell does he get out of this one?”
“Bruce, you got some ‘splainin’ to do.”
Thus Bruce recounts Batman’s final battle with Talia al Ghul. Batman’s final battle with Leviathan. Batman’s final battle?
There are times when Chris Burnham’s art style wears on me and in a spasm of “grass is greener” syndrome, I wonder how Morrison’s final vision might have appeared under the pencil strokes of a Greg Capullo or a Mikel Janin. Then Burnham lays shit like this on on me, with the sword blades themselves forming the panel framework:
And I realize why he’s that dude. Beautiful, beautiful stuff.
There are a few more visual eyegasms of this ilk interspersed throughout Batman Incorporated #13, (the symbolic and recurring use of Ouroboros, “the snake that swallows its own tail and thus has no terminus” being my favorite.)
Sure, the ending is going to piss plenty of fans right the hell off, just as Morrison predicted. Some might call it cynical. Others pompous or pretentious or cliched. But what were you expecting? Batman is a character born from tragedy and perpetually fueled by it. His idea of a happy ending or an ending at all is vastly different from what you and I would consider one. The issue will make us think about how we perceive Batman and what he stands for, and there’s something to be said about a story that can put you into such a state of reflection and damn near cognitive dissonance.
Well that’s just plain hurtful.
Also, it will make us run back and dig out previous issues to see which subtle hints, which symbolic images and foreshadowing we missed the first time around in Grant’s Batman Inc. run; or as he puts it himself:
There’s a lot of stuff in there that people could spend a lot of time looking at. In the way that the Superman stuff I’ve done is emotional and physical, Batman has been intellectual. It’s been about puzzles and weird storytelling tricks and doing stuff that doesn’t normally get done, that even I don’t normally do. Because of that weird intricate coursework puzzle nature of it all, a lot of people still haven’t figured out all the stuff in there. It’ll keep people talking for a long time.”
I’ll miss Morrison’s Batman work. His stuff is right up there with the best. At the time of this writing, I might even consider it the best. He paid homage to the great stories of the past (and in this issue, stories to come), infused them with a flavor all his own, and now, did what he set out to do — started his take on the character, finished it, and left upon the mythos an indelible mark all his own.
Thank you Grant.
- Impressive, creative artwork from Chris Burnham.
- Grant Morrison’s take on Batman has come full circle.
- Fun, thought provoking issue.
- We don’t get any more of Morrison’s take on Batman.
- Ending that will be very polarizing between fans.
Is It Good?
This is the kind of comicbook that makes you proud to be a fan; makes you apathetic to the derisions of those uninitiated to your hobby because — who gives a damn? What you just read was truly laudable. A story resonant and thoroughly felt. One of mythic quality. One that you’ll read again and again to further scrutinize, to more deeply possess, and most importantly — enjoy anew.