Not only do I approve of the Batman Incorporated Special but I wouldn’t mind seeing this turn into an annual or semiannual thing.
Much like Batman: Black & White or Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Batman Incorporated Special is an anthology that features the works of multiple different writers and artists only instead of getting a different take on the Caped Crusader we’re seeing the agents of Batman Incorporated one last time (or at least for a good long while). If you were afraid that only Grant Morrison could handle these colorful characters then let me tell you that there’s no reason to fear, they’re in good hands.
Never the End
by Declan Shavley, Jordie Bellaire, & Dezi Sienty
This serves as a bookend and a reason to have this anthology in the first place. Batman is sitting at the batcomputer clicking through various Batman Inc. casefiles and as he sorts through them we as the readers watch the stories unfold. It’s a really brilliant way to go about it and it’s really well drawn, but so is everything in this book. Batman Inc. Special would be worth checking out for the art alone.
Batman Japan in Rending Machine!
by Chris Burnham, Nathan Fairbairn, Dave McCaig, & Dave Sharpe
The most ridiculous award has to go to Jiro’s adventure. Chris Burnham topped the Batman Japan story done in issue #11 by reining in the adolescent humor (I recall someone’s vagina being compared to the Doctor Who Tardis in that story) and going for more outlandish and kind of gross visuals. It’s pretty wild, fast-paced action that starts with Jiro discovering a severed hand in a vending machine and ends with Batman Japan and Canary fighting an evil surgeon who is… well, his name is Doctor Inside-Out so let your imagination run wild with that. The sense that Burnham gets a real kick out of writing Jiro’s world is undeniable and the way things get cut so short on the final page makes it clear that he could’ve kept going and going and going. It’s disgusting, it’s cartoony, it’s weird, it’s funny, it’s… it’s pretty true to Morrison’s original Batman Inc. run.
The Knight in Without You
by Joe Keatinge, Emanuel Simeoni, Brett Smith, & Carlos M. Mangual
This story tried to be the most sentimental, but came a bit short in my opinion due to some continuity problems and an odd choice in having Squire wear her domino mask even when walking about as a civilian. It’s a tale about the days after Knight was killed by The Heretic and it shows us how Squire coped with the loss of her crime-fighting partner. It’s a good concept, but it doesn’t match up with how Squire took up the mantle of Knight and appeared back in the pages of Batman Inc. Here she talks about how Incorporated was disbanded before she even put on the Knight attire. And I really found the domino mask distracting and quite odd. Still, the pencils and colors were very rich and I was happy to see that the tale did get involved in all of the over-the-top action with its hard-to-forget final page.
Brave with Raven Red
by Nathan Fairbairn, John Paul Leon, & Carlos M. Mangual
At first I was disappointed to find that Man-of-Bats wasn’t getting his own story and we were instead getting his son/side-kick Raven Red, but that feeling soon faded away and Brave became my favorite short-story in this entire collection. It’s beautifully drawn and colored, actually had me laughing out loud at one point, and was surprisingly poignant. And Fairbairn’s use of nonlinear storytelling in such a short 8 page story was perfectly executed.
Nightrunner, Dark Ranger, and El Gaucho in The Danger of La Muerte En Vida!
by Mike Raicht, John Stainisci, Art Lyon, & Taylor Esposito
Brave might be my favorite overall and Burnham’s Batman Japan was definitely the most over-the-top of the bunch, but Raicht’s story was far and away the most fun in my opinion. I would totally read an ongoing series about these three guys getting into trouble and partying with El Gaucho. These characters prove to have surprisingly great chemistry and it actually makes getting into super hero adventures look like a good time, something that’s lacking in many modern comic books. They are heroes who love what they do and have a great time doing it! The story is about a city that’s been driven mad by a hypnotic sound-wave that a super villain has created. The only reason that our heroes didn’t feel the effect is because they were too busy hanging out at a noisy club to hear the sound and now it’s up to them to find the source of it all and save the city.
The Battlin’ Bovine Bat-Cow in Cowardly Lot
(get it, “COWardly Lot”? I missed that at first glance)
by Dan Didio, Ethan Van Sciver, Hi-Fi, and Sal Cipriano
I found the cape to be a bit much and Batcow’s plan for saving the kidnapped child could’ve actually done more harm than good to the baby but… wow. I’m seriously talking about a story about a Bat-Cow intervening in a high-speed police chase. Yes, it’s that goofy and yes it’s pretty cute. I enjoyed it. Ethan Van Sciver is a great artist who draws a pretty damn good cow. I also loved that this short story was mostly silent except for one word: moo. Yeah, yeah I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing this be an annual or semiannual comic. I can already see the next Bat-Cow adventure being titled some variation on a pun for “Utter.”
If you liked these characters in Morrison’s run then you’ll love this comic. However, if you hated these characters, then you won’t want to buy it.
- You loved the Pre-New 52 run of Batman Incorporated found in the Batman Inc. Vol. 1 Deluxe Edition *A must-read if you fall into that category
- You love variety! Not only will you get a different cast of characters in each tale collected in this special but you’ll be sampling the works of different creators. Take a chance and try out some different writers and artists takes on these rarely-seen characters
- You have the cash. It’s a $5 dollar comic
Wildly fun and with a high re-read value. No, there isn’t anything essential to the Batman Incorporated story found here. Some tales could take place before or after issue #13, but it really doesn’t matter. This is just about having a good time with some of the most odd and campy characters to be introduced (or re-introduced) to the Batman mythology in the past 10 years. Yes, it’s a little pricey but I think it’s worth it. I had a great time. It’s both well written and beautifully drawn and has enough variety to keep you entertained all the way through.