Batman Incorporated 7

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing the Batman Incorporated 7, originally released January 30th, 2013.

Patrick: If the last issue of Batman Incorporated was a little heavy on the heady themes and explicit symbolism (it was), then issue 7 is the antidote. The issue starts with Batman in free fall, then zips ably through surprise reveals, heartwrenching goodbyes, booby-traps  and betrayals. As Talia calls the members of Leviathan into action — be they security guards or children — it’s immediately clear that The Plan is in motion, and Damian is uniquely positioned to put a stop to his mother’s attacks and save his father.

From inside the Batcave, Damian observes as all the pieces of Talia’s plan fall into place. With Batman in custody, and Batman Incorporated barely pulling itself together following the explosion at their rendezvous point. Traktir and Spidra discover the “birthplace of the Beast” which is code for the rotting whale carcass that horrible Batman-esque solider sprung forth from. Y’see, that’s a Damian back-up — when Talia was making heirs to the Wayne-Al Guhl empires, she made a duplicate of Damian and stuck him inside the belly of a whale. As the rest of the Bat-family scuttles around the city, generally falling into Talia’s traps, Damian patiently tames his cat, has a quiet dinner with Alfred and then SPRINGS INTO ACTION. Good thing too — Batman’s been put in safe and thrown into a swimming pool. Classic cliffhanger. (Also, what Batman wouldn’t give to be Calvin Rose at this point, amirite?)

I wanna start with the awesome reveal that the muscle-bound baddie they’ve been losing to is actually Damian’s souped-up twin brother, birthed from a whale. First of all, that’s an impressively gross image. But most importantly, it let’s Damian  firmly pick a side in this whole duality-of-Damian thing. There’s always a back-and-forth with him about what he values and how he operates — usually boiled down to the simple “to kill or not to kill?” question. But now that there’s effectively and Evil Damian running around, it’s like our Less-Evil Damian can really step up and just be a straight hero. There’s also something incredibly cool about leaving the rest of the Bat-family out of Damian’s plans — you’ll notice that Damian doesn’t even want to deal with Wing Man:

Damian doesn't eat chicken, but he recognizes that his kitty might want someYou deal with Todd.” I love it. Again this is such a strong example of Damian embracing his own brand of heroism. Yes, he’s going to go out dressed in the Robin costume, but he’s not going to be flying Bat colors — he’s representing his own values. That’s positively thrilling to see.

Another panel that represents this idea pretty clearly is a magical marriage of text and an image that seem unrelated on the surface. As Damian explains to Alfred that there’s no way that conventional Bat-tactics will be able to defeat Talia, we get a quiet image of Damian’s menagerie.

Titus, Bat-Cow and Alfred Pennyworth (the cat)

Damian’s language here is perfect: “My mother is far more dangerous than Catwoman or the Joker or any of those idiots.” Now, never mind that we’ve seen Damian eat his words after under valuing the threat presented by Joker, he’s got a totally valid point. Talia may be able to hold Bruce’s nuts in a vice by threatening Gotham City, but Damian knows the whole fucking world is at stake here, so he can take different steps in order to foil her. So what’s with the animals? Why, they’re the other thing that Damian uniquely values. There’s nothing of Bruce in those creatures and Damian’s ability to tame these animals seem to be inherent — I’m guessing neither the League of Assassins or Batman have very comprehensive “How to train your cats” courses.

Chris Burnham’s art continues to be phenomenal in this issue. I tell ya what, when we started reading this series, I thought that it was quirky art, not without its charms, but also not without its flaws. But now I’m aboslutely enamored with the way he draws this world – particularly the surely expression he always slaps on Damian’s face. Also, Burnham sees fit to show us the Damian Twin popping out of the whale and it is somehow every bit as gross as I was imagining.

Like Jonah only not at all

Gross.

Anyway, I am very excited to see this thing kick into high, purposeful gear. This must be that legendary Morrison-payoff I’ve been hearing so much about. Drew, as my spirit guide through the end of the Great Batman Epic, are you relieved to see some of the rubber bands break in a flurry of snappin’ action? Also, I totally neglected to mention poor, poor Squire. Knight’s death might not have had the emotional impact on me that I know it would have if I’d been reading this from the beginning, but there’s no denying the power of that sequence. And then Gordon’s just got to go about his business, telling his officers they’re going to have to “alert the authorities in England.” That’s cold, Jim. Cold but efficient.
Drew: It’s funny just how cold Gordon is there. Like, sure, his city is coming down around him, but you know he would be an absolute mess if it was Batman who had died. Cyril and Beryl have always been the most up-beat members of Batman Incorporated, essentially a manifestation of Batman’s silver-age optimism, so it’s especially hard to watch that end. I know it means more to someone who knows them well, but I think Burnham does a bang-up job making that devastation clear to everyone.

Squire and Nightwing

It’s just brutal. On the bright side, Beryl’s recovery has the potential to be very exciting. On the one hand, it could be an opportunity for Morrison to deliver on the relationship with Ranger he implied in the zero issue (and she could really use the emotional support right about now), and on the other, we may see her don the Knight armor before long. Cyril himself served as Squire to his father’s Knight, and I can think of no better way to honor his legacy than to have Beryl continue that tradition.

The other bits of this narrative are falling into place in surprising, yet somehow inevitable, ways. My favorite development has to be Hood’s betrayal. That character is essentially an amalgamation of every spy cliche ever, so it only makes sense that he would be a double agent. Moreover, the fact that Jason would be betrayed by a man in a red hood with fluid allegiances is very fitting. Jason has been much more of a villian in Morrison’s epic that he’s been treated in the New 52 (to the point that I’m not sure Damian is just being dismissive when he doesn’t want to talk to him — Jason did try to kill him a few times), so it may make sense for him to get some comeuppance here. I certainly wasn’t expecting it, but like I said, things somehow feel inevitable.

Another great example is the Damian clone development. This series (and epic in general) have all been about Batman replicas, from the members of Batman Incorporated to the man bat ninjas Talia has used as henchmen since the beginning to the very buildings of Gotham:

"Did he say 'uh-oh'?"

We’ve long known that Talia’s number 1 goon looks like a Batman clone, but learning that he is quite literally a Damian clone is a twist I didn’t see coming (even if Morrison laid out all the clues for us ahead of time). I think there’s room for some good debate as to whether Damian himself represents a Bruce replica, but I think we can all agree that Damian fighting his own clone is an exciting prospect.

The return of the whale carcass and Damian’s flight suit from Leviathan Strikes! gives this issue the sense that we’re starting to close this chapter rather authoritatively, but Morisson is just starting to hint at coming full circle on earlier developments. We’ve spent so much time thinking about Otto Netz and the oroboro , it’s easy to forget that much of the epic passed without any mention of such things. For me, it was fun to see the return of simple motifs like the red and black checkerboard.

Batman R.I.P.

Juxtaposed with the image of Bruce slowly running out of air in a confined space, I can’t help but be reminded of Batman R.I.P.

It was an exciting, propulsive issue, and seems to be setting the stage for truly bringing this epic full-circle. I have no idea how that might look, but I have every bit of faith in Morrison to make it satisfying. That can be a tall order for a story that has spanned so many years, but with all the parts in motion, it’s clear we’re headed for something BIG. This is going to be good!

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

27 comments on “Batman Incorporated 7

  1. We neglected to mention Nathan Fairbairn’s colors, which are gorgeous as ever. As much as I loved Fairbairn’s work on Swamp Thing, he really sings when paired with Burnham.

    • Yep, this. Also, how awesome is it that Brian Woods’ all-female X-Men team is still just called X-Men and represents one of the 2 flagship X-Men titles

    • Oh, that’s just one of those startling images that closes issues – you know, like how Batman 14 ended with all of the Batfamilies heads on spikes. HEADS ON SPIKES.

      What do you think that’s teasing?

      • I have been proclaiming for a while that I expect Damian to be killed off in Batman Inc #8; my suspicious is based on the solicits for next month’s Bat-family books nearly all mentioning a tragedy in the Bat-family. At first this would indicate some big repurcussion of Death Of The Family except that World’s Finest’s solicit also mentions the tragedy and that’s a big tipoff because Damian is the only member of the Bat-family that has ever featured in the book or that Huntress has even met at all (she still hasn’t even met Earth-0’s Batman)

        • The Solicit for Batman Inc. 8 does claim “Everything Grant Morrison has been planning since the start of BATMAN, INCORPORATED leads to this stunning issue!”

          But on the other hand, he just plays such a big role in Batman and Robin…

          NEW THEORY: Joker as Alfred’s head on the platter. Alfred the Cat.

        • Yeah, I’ve heard that too but I don’t really buy it. You don’t set up a fierce female punker character with a fearless penchant for jumping into action to have her take over the butler’s duties 😛

        • Yeah – right? I wanna see her in a rough ‘n’ tumble position.

          Though, it might be interesting to see how Bruce’s life changes when we doesn’t have a Butler to take care of him. Down an Alfred is shitty from a tactical position, but down a Butler? What would he eat?

        • I feel like this could be equally setting her up to be the next Robin. That said, I get the impression that Snyder has had this story in his head for a long time, and the notion that it requires an event coincidental in Morrison’s epic just seems unlikely. IF Damian dies (and I maintain that’s a big “if”), I don’t think it could really have anything to do with Death of the Family.

        • I don’t suspect there’d be anything coincidental with DoTF either except for the publication timeframe. DoTF will be ending the same month as Batman Inc #8 and Snyder had enough forewarner from editorial and Morrison to seed Harper Row, he stuck in that #12 between arcs when he had the opportunity to do so before DoTF and will pick back up with her immediately out of necessity to keep Batman & Robin on publication schedule after a Damien aftermath, funeral, or reflection issue. This theory of mine is really elaborate, lol

        • I’m still confused about how the platter reveal will go down. Joker is shown at the end of all the Bat books to be holding a bloody platter in front of everyone, but will he just reveal it to the characters one at a time? Or is he just placing the platters down in front of them so he can get back to Batman? Will he then have some goons open the platters for the other bat members? LOGISTICS IS HARD.

        • Teen Titans 16 shows him holding two platters, presumably one for Jason and one for Tim. I suspect that there is a different platter for each member of the Bat-family, but since they’re all in different rooms, he’s just doing it in whatever order he damn well pleases.

        • I hadn’t even contemplated that. I guess I was giving it a pass on the basis of comic book logic for dramatic effect, but the logistics do seem purposeful and worth consideration. Essentially Joker may have a different suprise for each member?

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