New 52 – Batman Inc. #5 review

This was a pretty astounding issue. Astounding. When this issue was first announced I was annoyed at the fact that we would be deviating from the central story yet again, but that turned out to not be the case. Yes, we see the possible future of what would happen if Damian became Batman, but it’s not as out of left field as issues #2 and #0 were. Damian’s 666 Batman is an important part of the Batman Incorporated story that must be told before we can move forward with the main plot. So fear not, the Batman Inc. epic didn’t come to a screeching halt this month. Instead, it delivered one of its most exciting episodes yet.

I only have two negative things to say about the book and one of those is just as much a good thing as it is bad. 1) If you haven’t read all of Grant Morrison’s run on Batman, Batman & Robin, and Batman Incorporated Vol. 1 then you will not enjoy this comic to the fullest. In fact, you also need to have a strong familiarity with several classic Batman stories as well. Besides heavily referencing the events of Batman #666, Batman #700, The Return of Bruce Wayne, and Batman R.I.P. we also get some really cool but subtle nods to Batman Year One and The Killing Joke. The Killing Joke reference, with it’s identical framing and coloring was easily my favorite. If you aren’t familiar with the Black Glove of Pre-New 52 Batman then you’re going to look at some key scenes of this comic with some confusion over “Who’s that guy? When did that happen?” However, those who are well familiar with Morrison’s run will be tickled pink. 2) There is one panel that I didn’t like. Burnham is one of my favorite artists but the page one close-up of Damian’s face is strange looking. All of his features are too concentrated in the center of a rather large head and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Little Face Mitt meme. That said, the rest of the artwork in this book is absolutely phenomenal. I’ve noticed that Burnham’s style has gotten a bit scratchier lately, a bit more less clean and that looks brilliant with the 666 timeline. There are some shots here that are really breathtaking. From The Killing Joke reference, to massive explosions, and zombie hordes rushing the asylum, this is a visually stunning and highly energetic work that you’ll want to look at again and again.

I wasn’t that big of a fan of Batman #666 but I had so much fun reading this comic that I might have to go back and give that issue another chance. The world Damian forges as Batman, if he were to become Batman, is literally hell on Earth. It’s so damn exciting that you’ll fly through these pages and want to re-read them again. I’ve already read through it twice to keep an eye out for anything I might have missed before (like the Dark Knight Returns mutant clawing over the crowd behind Flamingo). Is it a future I would want for the Batman mythology? Absolutely not

Although the idea of a city constantly under siege by Joker zombies would be pretty cool to see
. But seeing just how bad things can get if Damian were to become the Dark Knight is immensely thrilling to see. I also don’t think I would want more because I appreciate the lack of information. I like that we get to fill in a lot of the blanks ourselves and most of the time that’s usually for the best because you can think up the best possible answers for how things got so bad that suit you. As for the events that take place in the true New 52 timeline, well let’s just say issue #6 can’t get here fast enough.
However, I doubt many if any of the characters in that explosion will die. It’s hard to take death seriously in Batman Inc. after every good guy who died in Leviathan Strikes showed up again in the first issue of the New 52 series alive and well.

It’s easy to say that it’s a “What if” story and for the bulk of the comic nothing will really matter, but that’s a very pessimistic way to approach it. If you let go and have fun with the chaos that occurs in a Gotham that is truly lost without the real Batman, Bruce Wayne, then I think you’re going to absolutely love this one.

SCORE: 10/10