Ever since Batman Inc. returned, someone has been hunting down each one of Batman and Ghost-Maker’s former teachers! While the evidence points a finger at Ghost-Maker, several other suspicious players begin to make their moves.
The Man He Used To Be
Ed Brisson makes use of Ghost-Maker’s newly fleshed out backstory in Chip Zdarsky’s Batman: The Knight to inform his story. In The Knight, Bruce and “Anton” train with several masters who inspire their modern day personae. More than that, it shows how the murderer “Anton” turned into the mercenary Minkhoa “Ghost-Maker” Khan. Although Minkhoa insists his kills are in self defense, he establishes a reputation as a killer of his one time criminal masters. In present day, Ghost-Maker has fully rehabilitated and seeks to prove himself to Batman, but his past deeds continue to haunt him.
Batman Inc. #2 opens with the high-flying return of the Sky Spider of Shanghai. Sky Spider and many of the remaining masters on the hitlist must have a group chat warning them about Ghost-Maker. Unsurprisingly, none of them have any doubts about Minhkhoa somehow being responsible. Their paranoia manifests in various preemptive measures taken against the members of Batman Inc. sent to protect them. On one hand, the masters being able to fend off Batman’s contemporaries helps to sell their expertise, but it also makes our team look ineffective. At the same time, whomever is actually killing them comes out of this looking tougher than them all.
Despite getting a close look at the possible “big bad,” readers get an eyeful of more mysterious new characters. The members of Batman Inc. seemingly receive aid at multiple junctures from three new Bat-themed rogues. One of them dresses in a bubblegum pink design reminiscent of Spoiler or Kitrina “Cat-Girl” Falcone. I’m not saying it is her behind the cowl, but I wouldn’t rule it out either. Another bushy bearded bat-person emerges to rescue Grey Wolf and Jiro from the blonde bearded master of traps. I’m not saying they are the same person, but they suspiciously favor each other. Regardless, something about his orange jumpsuit feels like a Sabretooth or Wolverine costume. Lastly, a darkly dressed assailant with sparkling gauntlets creeps up on El Gaucho just as he uncovers a clue. When in doubt, put the creepy new character in a big duster.
While there was little time to declare allegiances, my instinct says John Timm’s new flashy characters are here to help. In contrast, the man that captures Clownhunter is obviously trouble. The villain quotes enough features of Ghost-Maker’s costume design to conclude direct influence. Furthermore, their wild claims align with the evidence left at the crime scene found by Black Mist. However, the crime scenes present the idea that the killer is not only associated with Ghost-Maker, but the killer needs to be someone trained by the dead teachers as well.
Ghost-Making The Cut
The series can count its characterizations among the positives of the story’s direction. Each character feels honest and often times vulnerable. Whether through the trusting nature of The Knight or the forgiving heart of Grey Wolf; Batman Inc. seems to have no lack of empathy apart from their sociopathic leader. Even still, Ghost-Maker’s pleads with Sky Spider to take his help despite his faux stoicism. The uphill battle is for Minkhoa going forward is to somehow win over his teammates and the hearts of skeptical readers at the same time.
Everything is still very pleasing layout wise. The momentum of the action and flashy settings is most likely enough to forgive the not-so-impressive facial renders. The key flaw in the faces seems to be a “same-ness” or lack of definition. There are some wonky perspective issues plaguing the book here and there, but I think most readers will be too busy following the mystery or the action to care.
- You are a fan/hater of Ghost-Maker.
- You have been waiting for more Batman Inc.
- Looking for an unexpected follow-up to Zdarsky’s Batman: The Knight.
Simply put, the book has decent artwork and a popcorn movie level who-dun-it going for it. I think Brisson and the creative team are doing a good job giving Ghost-Maker some more depth, while putting together a strangely wholesome team. I am weary about the influx of new Bat-characters, but I will hold judgement until more information surfaces. This is not yet the kind of book that will change minds about Minkhoa, but it is turning out to be a fun attempt.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.