Alas, the evil prodigal son has Ghost-Maker and Batman Inc. where he wants them. However, the team are no closer to giving Phantom-One and his band of Batman-rejects the reckoning they deserve.
Last issue I coined “Vengeance Incorporated” to describe Phantom-One’s gang of failed Luthor’s Batmen. In truth, while nameless, the group of murderers see themselves as heroes. In fact, the amateurs make a point to delicately imprison Batman Inc. The prison itself seemed to be an expensive, but poorly made cube of red glass. Regardless of it’s makeup, it didn’t take very much for Batman Inc. to escape from. Whatever bond tying Vengeance Inc. together is surprisingly based on tragedies caused by Ghost-Maker’s teachers. Coincidentally, the noble Gray Wolf was originally their potential recruits with a similar backstory.
After negotiations go sour, both factions break out into a fight. The pacing and momentum of the paneling is pretty useful. Each panel tilts and sways with their actions. In addition, some panels sway with Wingman’s drugged state. There is even a big thirteen panel grid depicting a fight with step by step detail. I will note that Batman Inc. seems way better at fighting than Vengeance Inc. Yes, the crew fights with powered gimmicks like electricity or flamethrowers, but still seem wet behind the ears. Strangely, it calls into question how they managed to defeat the masters who trained Batman. Even still, readers discover these idiots had no idea Batman was a former student in the first place.
The final battle between Ghost-Maker and Phantom-One comes in the form of a dilemma. Phantom-One arms Clownhunter with the truth and expects him to execute his boss. The poetry isn’t enough to convince Clownhunter and forces Phantom-One to face him in mortal combat. Unfortunately for them, Ghost-Maker evens his handicap. Curiously, Khoa also isn’t quick to believe killing him is the answer. While most discussions about Ghost-Maker surround him being a murderer, Batman’s influence has unexpectedly changed his outlook. Brisson examines the hypocrisy of killing other murdering vigilantes while trying to keep the moral high ground. As long as Ghost-Maker upholds Batman belief in second chances, he can’t fight Vengeance Inc. by the usual method.
When this series began, I hoped there was room for Batman Inc. to seize a second opportunity for Batman-style stories outside of Gotham. Sadly, I don’t believe this first arc took advantage of the chance. On one hand, Ghost-Maker comes out of things with a rough, but more defined trajectory. He understands he is unworthy of a second chance, but has learned to give them. On the other hand, I think a large portion of the team never get to do much. Clownhunter plays a huge part in the end, despite not getting very much set up during the run. Vengeance Inc. comes out of things looking like well funded imposters or better worse successful numbskulls.
- You still have hope for the future of Batman Inc.
- You want to see Ghost-Maker humbled at all costs.
- Keeping up with current Bat-books.
Phantom-One is a brat with a dumb name and an even sillier gang of friends. For a book called Batman Incorporated, readers rarely get a chance to get to know them better. As a Ghost-Maker comic, it does succeed in giving Khoa some much needed self-awareness. Even though my overall hopes for the book haven’t come through, there is a lot to salvage. The art is fine in this particular issue, and the team came out more bonded in the end. I honestly didn’t have much of a good time through a majority of the books, but the finale feels like growth. Then again, it’s hard to keep optimistic knowing that Brisson is following this up with a bunch of clowns.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.