New 52 – Batman Inc. #9 review

Batman Inc 9

I’m writing this as I pack for my trip to New York so forgive me for being brief, but Batman Inc. #9 was a bit of a cluster***k of ideas. We’re constantly weaving in and out between scenes that happen immediately after Damian’s death, his funeral, the Knight’s funeral, Jason Todd’s capture, and a couple of days after the assault on Wayne Tower. There’s an awful lot of jumping around and it’s not handled very well at all. I like a good non-linear narrative as much as the next guy but when a 20 page story like this hops around this much we have problems.

Heretic is fighting Batman in the lobby, then we cut to him on the roof, then we cut to him back in the lobby throwing Batman out in the street. Beryl was just crying in the street over Knight’s body but then we see her in England watching television and THEN we see her back in Gotham with the rest of the crew. When is all of this happening?
Will everybody be more forgiving about it because Grant Morrison’s name is on it? Absolutely. I’ll even admit that that’s what I’m going to do. There’s a strong chance this could all make perfect sense and flow really well in the eventual trade paperback, but as of now this wasn’t a very satisfying read on its own.

The biggest highlight of the whole issue for me is Damian’s funeral. I think the book is worth buying for that reason alone because it’s the one major piece that’s been missing from all this month’s Requiem tie-ins. As for the rest of it? Yeah… there are some good things here and there but we never focus on them long enough to get invested in the moment, especially the bits with Jason which only took a single panel– his scene didn’t fit with the book at all but was just there as a reminder for us all to not forget about what’s happening with his character. In fact, the issue seemed hellbent on making sure everyone in the cast had an appearance of some kind. Tim and Dick have their moments and we also encounter several Batman Inc. members

Burnham’s art seems to suffer a bit from the hurried pace as well. There are a handful of really wonderfully structured panels that should be quite iconic but those images don’t look polished enough. A bit muddled, really as though he was drawing the book at a hurried pace.

I imagine many readers will find the book’s final page to be beautiful or the Batman equivalent of Darth Vader screaming “Nooooo!!!”
I really like the cover, though.

Look, could I have read this issue a bit too fast since I’m packing for a flight (going to the DC Comics offices, stay tuned about that) at the same time? Yeah. There’s a chance of that. But for right now, after a single read through, I found it to be a single issue that tried to do way, way too much. Batman’s confrontation with Heretic alone should’ve been given more pages and bigger panels. No other fight has had as much emotional weight for the Caped Crusader in years and it’s probably THE most emotional fight that Dick Grayson has ever had in his entire history when you think about it yet this scene is being confined to minuscule frames that are frequently interrupted by television footage of the Knight’s funeral or a Mayoral address. The same goes for Damian’s funeral. Those are the best scenes in the book, but there could have been more.  We’re at a pivotal point in this epic and I felt the narrative needed more focus.

Everything could play out wonderfully in a trade but as a single issue, Batman Inc. #9 tried to do too much in too few pages and became a bit of a mess. Is it an important read for a Batman fan right now? Ehh…what with every other Batman title apparently taking place long after Batman Inc.’s story ends the consequences shown in this comic don’t really resonate like they should.

Batman is now a wanted man in Gotham and Jason Todd has been captured? We’ve already seen that Jason Todd gets his face melted off by Joker, but then he heals after all this in Red Hood #18 and Batman’s relationship with the city seemed fine in Detective comics #18. Instead of having a crossover for Death of the Family, maybe the giant war happening in Batman Inc. should’ve been driving things in the Batman universe instead
It’s good to see the funeral scene though. I’d give it a 6 or 6.5 but it’s a book that everyone who reads this article is going to buy regardless so I guess the number rating means less than ever this time around.

SCORE: 6.5/10