This is one of those reviews where I know that what I write definitely isn’t going to affect anyone’s decision. If you’ve been following this story from as far back as the Batman & Son days or as recently as the death of that son then you’re definitely going to buy this comic no matter what. Instead, this is one of those essays where I say what I feel and then we discuss how much you agree or disagree. So let’s get on with it!
Most of my recommendation for Batman, Inc. #13 has to do with how important it is to a much larger story rather than it’s own quality being all that spectacular. If there was any comic that deserved an extra-sized finale it was this, but oddly enough it’s a standard-sized book and I found it to be a really unsatisfying ending. Whether or not those extra pages would’ve made it better is debatable, though. After Morrison said he thought readers might hate it and Burnham telling me that one of the marketing guys at DC teared up while reading it, well, I expected a lot more. Sure, there are things in this issue that I really didn’t like but I’m not up-in-arms (it’s not like Batman ever calls Alfred “Penny-One”). And i have no idea what about this comic would make someone cry. No idea at all. It’s the finale to a 7 year long epic and it didn’t feel like it. I don’t think it went out with a bang. It wasn’t the inspirational triumph or heartbreaking defeat that would have suited such an enormous story that painstakingly paid tribute to every era of Batman history. Heck, the epilogue didn’t help with the feeling either because if anything it teased an even greater story to come but will never be (at least not by Morrison nor under the title “Batman Incorporated”).
I like the infinity cover by Burnham, I like the conversation with Gordon in the opening pages (especially the brief nod to Leslie Thompkins), and there were some really cool-looking pages throughout
And if you do choose to look back, you’ll notice there are a number of inconsistencies in both this New 52 run and this issue itself both in characterization and art. For instance, on the very first page you’ll see a flashback to issue #1 of the New 52 series where Gordon arrests Bruce Wayne. However, if you flip back to your copy of issue #1 you’ll see that there’s a pretty drastic difference in the way Bruce is drawn. Here he is shown to have all kinds of bruises, knots, and battle-scars but in issue #1 he looks fine. Will Burnham go back and change that when a deluxe edition comes around? He stated in his interview with me that he would be redrawing all of the fill-in artwork from recent comics so maybe he’ll make the appropriate alterations between issue #1 and #13 as well. Something more nitpicky than that (and these are all available as free preview images so I see no problem with going into a bit of detail) is when Gordon is interrogating Bruce and the coffee table fluctuates in size from panel-to-panel. It’s most noticeable between the first and last panels of page 2. As for problems with the characterization, that’s all on Batman and I’ll have to throw that into some spoiler tags.
And a big problem that I had with basically everything post-Damian’s death is that the passage of time has been unclear. Batman Incorporated’s assault on the Ouroborous weapon felt like it took minutes to complete a global attack. And then there’s the matter of the group planning the attack at the same time Talia was finishing off the Heretic. Then she hopped in a helicopter to Wayne Manor and Batman was already back in the batcave.
I didn’t find it to be a fitting end to such a daring and experimental saga. It didn’t satisfy me in any way, really, and there were actually a couple of things that made me mad. And most of my appreciation for it comes mostly from how much I wanted it to be good! I needed it to be good. When I first started this review I had the comic at a 7.5 and I gradually brought the score down to a 6 by the time I was done writing and truthfully that still feels like it’s being too generous. There’s some really amazing artwork (I love the ouroborous 2-page spread– the second good ouroborous-themed page we’ve seen in a Batman book this month) and I liked the exchange between Bruce and Gordon but the rest of it just wasn’t compelling enough. I guess you could say it was the ending we needed right now, but not the one we deserved. I can’t help but feel that the series “jumped the shark” after Damian died.