After an encounter with Ghost-Maker’s ex-sidekick leaves them shaken, Batman Inc. flies to Gotham to do Batman a solid. However, Professor Pyg’s rampage could be a more complex nightmare waiting to happen!
Clownhunter may not have killed Ghost-Maker for Phantom-One, but he hasn’t forgotten the events of the previous issue. While he hasn’t left the team, he returns to his original costume and refuses to be alone with Ghost-Maker. Despite Ghost-Maker respecting his space, their distance affects him on an emotional level. Of course this leads to a CW’s Flash-esque hallway chat between Minkhoa and El Gaucho. Up until this point, Ghost-Maker read more cold sociopath than sympathetic neurodivergent. Barring Clownhunter, I like how willing the group is to set aside their distrust in hope for common ground. Although none of the “moody tweens” need to be on the team in the first place.
Outside of Clownhunter, Raven Red leads the point-of-view for this arc. Despite missing his mentor Man-Of-Bats, Raven Red is warming up to his role on the team. Raven Red is clearly craving a sense of belonging and family. It is a welcome change of pace from solely feeling like a Ghost-Maker book. The team splits up and tracks down practical leads and persons of interest in Blüdhaven. Unfortunately, nearly none of the “Haven” kids take kindly to police or masked hero interrogation after the events of Nightwing #93. What really stands out to me is how “relatable” Clownhunter believes he is over Ghost-Maker. While in reality, he is incapable of seeing how his own reputation makes people feel.
In terms of the mission itself, Ghost-Maker buried the lede. The team arrives in Gotham under the pretense of finding out what set a pervert like Professor Pyg off. Pyg goes around Gotham collecting notable supervillains like infinity stones to torture them for information. Unbelievably, Pyg manages to capture Riddler, Killers Croc and Moth, Mad Hatter, Clayface, and more as if he was a huge threat. In reality, the whole mission is a snipe hunt and yet another test of Batman Inc’s capabilities. This easily backfires for me as a clever move. If a team of international crimefighters can’t track down teenage carjackers, then I don’t know what the point of the team is at all.
I love flipping through Bandini’s artwork and the powerful variant covers. The cold open with Riddler is actually pretty tense and well staged. Pyg feels sufficiently scary and his crazed look supports his unhinged dialogue. There’s some clever paneling with some overlap, creative framing, lighting, effects, and soft focus. Ghost-Maker and the rest of the cast look really textured, but sometimes rubbery smooth. An odd flaw to the paneling choices is some very unnecessary beheading. If we follow the story sequentially from panel to panel, it has the uneasy feeling of a camera panning out of focus. Also, I noticed there were no onomatopoeia lettering in the book at all. To be honest, you don’t need any, but readers may feel its absence.
Here’s my biggest problem. Firstly, Batman Incorporated brings the team to Gotham under the conceit that Batman “needs” their help with Professor Pyg. Not only do I dislike dragging an international agency to the over policed Gotham City, but even if Batman did need help, he’d call the immediate family. Even for comic books, that’s a pretty steep leap in logic. Secondly, Professor Pyg is not the guy you send such an international agency to find and can’t imagine him as this big a-list threat. Admittedly, I can understand attempting to use Gotham to put Clownhunter and Ghost-Maker in a specific narrative jeopardy. However, dragging the rest of the team along makes them feel excluded again. I know the overarching idea is to integrate these characters, but I would prefer to exploring new places with the entire squad.
- Following Batman Inc. every issue until now!
- You’re a sucker for procedural television.
- You are a fan or critic Ghost-Maker and Clownhunter. (You will be fed regardless!)
Batman Incorporated leaves its first arc stronger than it began. Although it has many cons in the setup, the book has made a pleasing shift to lean into its strengths. Brisson and Bandini are confidently leading the team into the next arc with a better look, rhythm, and mystery for readers. No, sending numerous international crime fighters to find Professor Pyg in Gotham and Blüdhaven is not clever at all. However, I think the overall treatment of the cast and story is a stand out improvement worthy of encouragement. I hope that the next issue can continue down a good path, and not just exaggerate how dangerous Professor Pyg can be.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.