Ghost-Maker’s Batman Inc. is a disaster spiraling out of control. The simple mission of tracking down a murderer has turned into an international mess. While readers get a reveal of the killer’s origin and motives, Ghost-Maker and his team fruitlessly scramble to keep up.
Firstly, this issue focuses on who Phantom-One is and why he wants to kill all his teachers. Sometime before Tim Drake, Ghost-Maker adopts the son of a pair of villains he kills, and trains him to spite Batman for Jason’s death. Despite his training, he disappoints Minkhoa in the field and Ghost-Maker abandons him. However, Clownhunter mildly suspects there is more to the story than that. In my opinion, both Phantom-One’s name and motive are ridiculous. Moreover, his unoriginal story fuels more reasons to hate Ghost-Maker.
Secondly, Ed Brisson is doing a terrible job of making Ghost-Maker likeable. Although he does his best to get Sky-Spider some help, Ghost-Maker acts like a sociopath to get it. While I don’t mind his sociopathic schtick, threatening a man to help you while you steal from his fridge doesn’t help his appeal. Though it is a shame that weird Aloe drink isn’t real product placement. It is genuinely interesting to see a whole group of Shanghai based supporting characters including The Batman of China. In a story doing everything it can to character assassinate the lead, I would have hoped for more subversion, but Minkhoa looks worse and worse.
After several “Batman-Inc wannabes” show up, Batman Inc. completely fail to accomplish their mission. The colorful cast introduced last issue finally state their intentions. Luthor’s failed Bat-Men end up arguing with the actual Batman Inc. member about Ghost-Maker and morality. Despite proudly standing behind Batman’s golden rule, the team unfortunately look like hypocrites for backing Ghost-Maker. It doesn’t help that most of the characters in the story either hate Khoa or want to call Batman as things get worse. In addition, my suspicions about Black Mist are starting to bear more fruit. My running theory is that Phantom-One has already recruited all of these generic heroes with terrible names to his side, and wants Batman Inc. to join him.
John Timms does a fine job illustrating this multi-continental adventure. These exotic settings and cityscapes would look amazing on camera if this were a live action film. There is even a cool panel of Phantom-One on a helipad that I liked. While I was wrong about the identities of Luthor’s Bat-Men in my last review, at least I nailed down their aesthetic comparisons. That’s why I feel comfortable saying Timms’ Phantom-One is nearly one to one with the Jason Fabok version of Scorn. Phantom-One’s uniform looks like a bleached Robin costume with red streaks in his cloak. Timms also designs costumes for Palladium and supervillain duo Mr. and Mrs. Menace. Although they dress like basic jobbers to prop up Ghost-Maker’s rogues gallery, their appearance takes away from his critique of Batman’s colorful crusade. At least Clownhunter seems to appear way better without his goofy mask.
- Ghost-Maker’s Batman team is growing on you.
- You ever wanted to know what Ghost-Maker would do with a sidekick.
- You hate Ghost-Maker and revel in his misery.
This issue of Batman Incorporated is the weakest by far. The framing device involves the antagonist telling a very unsympathetic sob story to a captive, while our heroes try and fail at defending themselves and others. Readers can easily agree with the villain that Ghost-Maker is a problem by his actions in this issue alone. The team are several steps behind whatever is going on and they really want to tap out and call Batman. This book should do a better job at making the team feel as if they can do what Batman expects of them. It is still a fun book with a large looming scale and decent layout, but the story itself is failing to hook me in now that the mystery is over.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.