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BATMAN INC. 9 REVIEW – A True Requiem for a True Hero

BATMAN INC 9 CoverBATMAN INC. 9
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka – Optimous Douche, Ain’t It Cool News)

Now THIS is a Requiem. We have an honest-to-God funeral, angst, conversations about Damian, you know…all the stuff you do to honor our flesh meat once it has expired. I wasn’t sure how we would get more action than Damian’s demise last issue, the kid had more shit shot at him than Sonny Corleone in a Jersey tool booth – and that’s not even counting the brutal beat down delivered by his clone self. But through some imaginative backwards and sideways storytelling we get just as much action and as I mentioned a second ago, a book worthy of the Requiem moniker.

The more I read this title; the more I realize how truly integral Burnham has been to its success. It may seem like an obvious statement, but I disagree. Sometimes…many times in comics these days, writer or artist can go on autopilot because of the immense talent of their counterpart. Normally I give all props to Morrison, as a comic writer myself, I get that the author is usually telling the artist what needs to be drawn. Burnham goes above and beyond those brief descriptions though. Whether Bats and company are laying Damian to rest or fighting their way out of the Leviathan occupied Wayne tower, this issue is very sparse on words. Instead Burnham aptly does the heavy lifting to show the disbelief, then fear and finally the ultimate rage Damian’s death has brought to the family. The escape from the tower is equally sans dialog, but rife with action as the Bat boys leverage some VERY heavy artillery to clear out a hole and bring Damian’s body back to the cave. Also the fight scene between Bats and clone Damian had some very very clever moves.

I also loved this issue because it looks like the concept of BATMAN INC. is about to be dismantled as the Gotham PD decides to kowtow to Leviathan’s demands. I won’t rehash it here, but I’ve droned on for thousands of words in the past about my issues with Brue Wayne publically funding Batman. It’s akin to Clark Kent doing advertisements for Pearl Vision. Don’t call attention to something we have all decried in the past as a comic contrivance that would never fly in the real world. Also, we see a final toe tag being put on Great Britain’s Batman, The Knight…sorta. Knight will return and I like the direction much much better than the Eliza Doolittle tropes of yore. There was true emotional weight to Britain’s mourning.

As for the family, the relationships are more tenuous than ever before. These events compounded with Death of the Family is pushing Bruce to a brink of solitary no return. If you don’t believe me look at the interchange between Bruce and Alfred. You seriously want to give the old limey a hug after Bruce rails on him for letting Damian leave the cave.

You know who else I wanted to hug? Bat-Cow. I’ve loved the animal additions to the cave from day one. Titus became Robin’s Robin and Bat-Cow was a symbol of Damian’s desperation to live some of the magic childhood should be rife with. Finally Bat-Cow has her true moment in the sun as a final remembrance to everything Damian was before Bruce ends the issue in a barbaric yawp of emotional agony.  I will say this final panel could have used a word bubble though. Without a high level of imagination one might think Bruce is having a wicked back spasm.

Since the launch of the new 52, BATMAN INC. has been more a second issue of BATMAN & ROBIN each month. That’s a compliment. It’s also a sign of what’s to come in my opinion. Without Robin, without a huge amount of support both in story and in the real world for a publicly funded Batman and finally without Morrison, I think BATMAN INC. is bankrupt. It’s been a great ride though, and everyone involved should get their own Bat-Cow for a job very well done.

BATMAN INC 8 – The End of “Tt”morrow

BATMAN INC 8 CoverBATMAN INC. 8

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

BATMAN INC. is beyond a praise worthy book, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out what to say. Simple platitudes like great story and art have become givens at this point – Morrison and Burnham’s respective prowess is well known. Also, my other reviewer’s trick of riding the spoiler wagon had its wheels thrown off a few days before the book launched – Robin dies again, in case you lived under a stalagmite the past few weeks.

This final BATMAN INC. arc, which I will call issue 8 the climax of, has been Shakespearean in delivery (even if the following isn’t): A family blood cursed and curdled, by a mother of maniacal means. A Father seeking intimacy with a son he’s barely seen. On friendship’s throne true love doth lie, before the final sword bids a young life good-bye.

Chide the New 52 all you want, in some cases it’s deserved. What is undeniable though is the clarity and focus The New 52 brought to BATMAN INC. I have hated this series’ mantra since its inception. Pre New 52, I enjoyed the title in execution alone. The idea of Bruce Wayne publically funding Batman is the equivalent to Clark Kent becoming a spokesperson for Pearl Vision. DO NOT call attention to the white elephant in the room guys – ever. Perhaps someone woke up to this fact or maybe they read my constant barrage of articles against this path – either way – post 52 this became more about Robin and less about Batman “it’s a small world.”

BATMAN INC. has served as a wonderful compliment to Tomasi’s work in BATMAN & ROBIN. B&R focused on Damian’s redemption from little psycho killer to real boy, while BATMAN INC. would push Damian two-steps back for every one step forward on his journey to redemption. I’ve always likes Damian’s arrogance, but BATMAN INC. made us all actually see beyond the “TT” to uncover the Wayne heart of gold that is tarnished each generation by tragedy.

Despite the epic event in this issue, this is only the climax to Morrison’s DC swan song. Even though Damian has had his final wonderful moments, especially his closing exchange with Dick Grayson, we still have four more issues to see the impact of this event. And no clone impalement on a sword can thwart a publishing schedule. I will continue this journey, but with a heavy heart. Morrison has always had a reverence for comic history and BATMAN INC. is no exception. He knew even back when conceiving this character he was going to kill him. In doing so he has successfully placated and instigated modern day comic fervor in one fell swoop. We all want lasting consequences in comics except when it’s a golden calf. As sad as I am to see Damian go and as crestfallen as I am to also lose Titus and Bat-Cow in this equation, Morrison and DC played this hand quite well. Could another Damian be grown tomorrow? Yes. Should there be? Fuck no!

Burnham made me once again fall in love with the visage of Damian, something I hadn’t experienced since Frank Quitely’s rendering. Burnham is dare I say a Quitely light – cascading only slightly into realism before it gets too real and thus ugly.

Now thankfully, it wasn’t just all of us who caught wind of Damian’s death. When he picked up USA Today last Monday and learned of his demise he called together a press conference to discuss his impending fate.

damian wayneDamian Wayne, the 4th Robin, Apologizes for Forgetting to Die During “Death of the Family”

Gotham City, uhhh NY (we think) – On the steps of Wayne Industries’ headquarters in downtown Gotham today, Damian Wayne, the heir to Wayne Enterprises and sometime superhero (all the time brat), expressed his moderate sorrow for forgetting to die during the Joker’s recent slaughter spree some in the press dubbed Death of the Family.

“Tt,” Wayne said as he took the podium. He continued, “I’m not sure exactly why I’m lowering myself by justifying my existence to the troglodytes of Gotham City, but Father’s PR people said it would engender good will from the street. Tt.” At this point Wayne Industries’ director of PR, Harold Allnut, rushed the microphone and whispered in the petulant young man’s ear.

Harold_AllnutWayne continued, “Apparently I was supposed to let Pennyworth or the street urchin, Jason Todd, shiv me in the Batcave as Father danced with the devil in the pale moonlight. However, Titus needed to go out for a walk and Bat-Cow required a thorough brushing.” “Honestly if we could get better help than a waifish octogenarian, I would feel far more comfortable shuffling loose this mortal coil.”

“My plan right now is to allow my Mother to be my undoing sometime tomorrow afternoon.” Wayne said with surprising little fear or remorse.

vicki-valeSurprisingly, Gotham’s favorite son and Father of Damian, Bruce Wayne, was not present as his son announced his impending doom. Reporter Vicki Vale however was “somehow” able to issue this statement by Wayne from an undisclosed location, “Look, his (Damian) Mother and I had an affair like twenty years ago. I can’t help it the Al Guhl family has a gestation period longer than a prehistoric elephant.” Wayne brazenly continued, “I’ve had fun with the kid, but I’ve had fun with every small boy I’ve brought in my house and if Gotham is lacking in hope, it ain’t lacking in small young boys for me to live with and put in mortal danger.”

Wayne shocked the world a few years ago after return from a sojourn to a methadone clinic in Arizona when he announced that he was Gotham’s famous caped crusader Batman. Even though the announcement was merely meant to announce Wayne’s funding of the Batman, since the audience wasn’t occupied solely by Helen Keller, most put two and two together. This led to a wide depression across Gotham city for our collective mass stupidity and blindness over the years.

The conference concluded with the same little fanfare that began the event, “That is all, thank you, I guess, for your time. Tt!”

With this death of Damian Wayne, Gotham is left to wonder whether the Wayne legacy can prevail given it’s clear that God has a bigger vendetta against their survival than the Kennedy clan.

ROBIN APOLOGIZES FOR FORGETTING TO DIE

damian wayneDamian Wayne, the 4th Robin, Apologizes for Forgetting to Die During “Death of the Family”

Gotham City, uhhh NY (we think) – On the steps of Wayne Industries’ headquarters in downtown Gotham today, Damian Wayne, the heir to Wayne Enterprises and sometime superhero (all the time brat), expressed his moderate sorrow for forgetting to die during the Joker’s recent slaughter spree some in the press dubbed Death of the Family.

“Tt,” Wayne said as he took the podium. He continued, “I’m not sure exactly why I’m lowering myself by justifying my existence to the troglodytes of Gotham City, but Father’s PR people said it would engender good will from the street. Tt.” At this point Wayne Industries’ director of PR, Harold Allnut, rushed the microphone and whispered in the petulant young man’s ear.

Harold_AllnutWayne continued, “Apparently I was supposed to let Pennyworth or the street urchin, Jason Todd, shiv me in the Batcave as Father danced with the devil in the pale moonlight. However, Titus needed to go out for a walk and Bat-Cow required a thorough brushing.” “Honestly if we could get better help than a waifish octogenarian, I would feel far more comfortable shuffling loose this mortal coil.”

“My plan right now is to allow my Mother to be my undoing sometime tomorrow afternoon.” Wayne said with surprising little fear or remorse.

vicki-valeSurprisingly, Gotham’s favorite son and Father of Damian, Bruce Wayne, was not present as his son announced his impending doom. Reporter Vicki Vale however was “somehow” able to issue this statement by Wayne from an undisclosed location, “Look, his (Damian) Mother and I had an affair like twenty years ago. I can’t help it the Al Guhl family has a gestation period longer than a prehistoric elephant.” Wayne brazenly continued, “I’ve had fun with the kid, but I’ve had fun with every small boy I’ve brought in my house and if Gotham is lacking in hope, it ain’t lacking in small young boys for me to live with and put in mortal danger.”

Wayne shocked the world a few years ago after return from a sojourn to a methadone clinic in Arizona when he announced that he was Gotham’s famous caped crusader Batman. Even though the announcement was merely meant to announce Wayne’s funding of the Batman, since the audience wasn’t occupied solely by Helen Keller, most put two and two together. This led to a wide depression across Gotham city for our collective mass stupidity and blindness over the years.

The conference concluded with the same little fanfare that began the event, “That is all, thank you, I guess, for your time. Tt!”

With this death of Damian Wayne, Gotham is left to wonder whether the Wayne legacy can prevail given it’s clear that God has a bigger vendetta against their survival than the Kenendy clan.

L’il Gotham – The Cute Crusader Strikes Bwack – Dustin Nguyen Talks Shop

Lil Gotham Valentines DayTired of face lift…offs and the morbidity of comics, want to just have a little bit o’ fun with some of your favorite Gothamites? Look no further than L’il GOTHAM. Before you think this digital exclusive is just the Muppet Babying of the bat family, listen to what L’il GOTHAM artist extraordinaire, Dustin Nguyen, has to say about Holiday time inside his imagination.

Rob Patey – Optimous Douche (OD): I’ll admit, as a fully grown man the L’il GOTHAM line scared me from both peer perception and enjoyment. So I need to ask, how two other grown men would think to slather Gotham with Muppet Baby style cuteness?

Dustin Nguyen (DN): At first, it was done for fun- to take a break from the seriousness of drawing the day to day books I was working on. Then it just got addicting to see what every character might look like and act if they weren’t always so serious.

Dustin_NguyenOD: Where did the Holiday theme for each issue come from? Was it part of the initial pitch or a DC add? And what antics can we expect for Passover this year?

DN: The Holiday theme in the initial pitch we titled “ Little Gotham’s: Calender of Small Events.” It came from the idea that if we can get DC to sign off on a year-long Holiday based series… we’d get at least a year’s worth of work. Passover’s going to all bundled up with this year’s end of season special, I believe that one’s going to be a two-parter.

OD: Will future chapters be holiday themed as well, or can we expect a break from Holiday time? 

DN: Yeah definitely, since we get to do 2 chapters instead of 1 a month now, we are expanding to a few 2-parters for some stories, and as you mentioned- break away from the holiday theme and might even leave Gotham City for a bit.

OD: Both you and your writing counterpart  Derek Fridolfs work in the other stratums of the DC brand spectrum of ages. What’s it like shifting gears from one to the other, and do you ever find ideas from one feeding the others?

DN: I definitely feel the two have to co-exist, although to be honest, I am a little behind on the current timeline. Derek and I still sort of live in the BTAS world sometimes.

OD: The New 52 continuity in Gotham is pretty dark, are you guys making any of those themes a little more palatable like the Joker’s face hanging off his skull? Or do you just avoid main continuity all together? 

DN: Even though we’re part of the main DC universe, we aren’t part of the main continuity, which allows us a slight bit more freedom with our stories and costume choices.

OD: So have you guys hit every player in Gotham yet? Anyone waiting in the wings or someone you’re dying to “youth”enize?

DN: We’re pretty much open to anyone really, i prefer some of the more obscure, lesser used characters, but we always want to include some that’s more known as to not completely alienate the main audience. ah- but they all stay their own age even through my stylized versions!

Lil Gotham Valentine Special

OD: Friendship is a big part of L’IL GOTHAM as are larger panels with far easier flow. I have to assume this is because a child’s head and thus brain is so small and also have a false sense that mankind is good? Do you find any extra freedoms in these wide open panel spaces and moralistic black and white surety?

DN: That’s absolutely what it is, so we’re letting the kids enjoy it while it lasts, but around that, there’s still plenty or room to play with. Now that we’ve gotten the green-light to do more chapters, we can focus on stories that are more involved and would take a bit longer to tell.

bat cow funnyOD: What about Bat-Cow? I loooovvveee Bat-Cow!
DN: So does our editor Sarah! i believe you’ll see a guest appearance by the cow sooner than later.

OD: Can you please give us the lowdown on the impending Valentine’s issue if you would be so kind? 

DN: It’s going to be full of <3

OD: Oh come on now, you can do better than that. Who are the primary players? Perhaps a little Poison Ivy love potion?

DN: Gah! you NAILED it. Joker and the LAYDEEES in this one.

L’il GOTHAM’s Valentine special  is ready for download now. Get up on it, especially for the wee comic fans in your life.

BATMAN INCORPORATED 6 REVIEW – I’M GLAD I HELPED KILL JASON TODD

batman incorporated 6 coverBATMAN INCORPORATED 6

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

“You know what Jason Todd? I helped kill you 25 years ago. I was one of the legions who dialed 1-900-KILL-TOD and felt my parents’ wrath when the bill came so my voice could be heard. I felt a modicum of guilt for the decision and then felt the weight of that guilt subside with your return. All of my remorse went away when you found a good comic book and true direction in RED HOOD. However, after BATMAN INCORPORATED 6, I take it all back. I’m glad you died and I’m pissed you got to bang Starfire, because anyone who messes with BAT-COW will feel the wrath of Damian Wayne and Optimous Douche.”

OK, that feels better.

I chided Vol 1. Of BATMAN INCORPORATED. While I dug the idea of a bunch of Batman’s running around and once I got past the Knight & Squire issues I felt the execution was top notch, I just could not get past Bruce Wayne’s public declaration of financing BATMAN. I felt it was akin to giving Clark Kent contacts and still expecting us to buy his ruse. Essentially it opened the kimono WAY TOO far for comfort (and stretched  the believability that comic denizens are really that obtuse).

bat-cow-awesomeVol 2 though has completely shifted gears. Instead of Bruce travelling the world recruiting, all of his BATMAN’S have come back to the aerie in Gotham to battle Leviathan and their seductive mistress, Talia Al Ghul. Without the public declarations, trite cultural tropes, and Batman especially acting like an Amway salesman to get people on board, BATMAN INCORPORATED took on a persona I could get behind with the fullest of support.

The series also introduced BAT-COW, probably my favorite character of the NEW 52. I have no bovine fetish, what I adore is what BAT-COW symbolizes in my favorite Robin to date, Damian Wayne. Raised by assassins, spoiled beyond belief, and smarter than the average bear, Damian the little prick is easy to portray. And before you give me a petulant “ttt,” think about it. I’m right. For issue upon issue people wanted to beat this kid as he sassed off to Dick Grayson while Batman was on his sojourn through time. Since the return though, Robin the scared and is this issue reveals truly unwanted little boy has never been explored. Morrison rectified this with BAT-COW. In the adoption of this doe eyed creature we see the sad and all too often plight of only children befriending and anthropomorphizing animals for friendship. And it doesn’t hurt that the adoption took place in perfect juxtaposition with his killer side in BATMAN INCORPORATED 1.

Another reason I’m fully enamored with this volume, and this particular issue, is that Talia gets the best of all the worldly Bats and it’s up to the OB (original bats) to save their foreign asses. Squire, my least favorite of the international crew is hanging on the precipice of death at the end. I give a big Bally Ho to any writer that’s willing to off cockney stereotypes; with Morrison leaving DC I would pay him personally to rewrite My Fair Lady with Eliza turning to prostitution and heavy drug use at the end.

bat cow funnyIt wasn’t all shits and giggles for me this issue though. First there’s Jerk-Off Jason who takes a direct stab at BAT-COW in the Bat-Cave as the four Robin’s monitor Batman’s progress towards Talia in her abandoned warehouse maze of doom. Then there was a further blow to the fragile Robin ego. Hands down, Burnham draws my favorite version of Damian, making him look like a true little boy with a chip on his shoulder. What we hadn’t seen before in Robin though, was pain. In the past any emotional scars were firmly scabbed over with attitude. With Morrison’s words and Bunham’s art, my heart broke a little when she said the only reason for Damian was to have spare parts for Ra’s. It’s an epic blow to the little scamp that Talia then pours lemon juice on in the form of an epic cliff-hanger of danger to Damian or all of Gotham. I’m not going to say what it is, but the Judgment Scales on the cover will give you a clue and it’s a perfect swan song before Morrison he says sayonara to DC for a while.

I’ll buy anything with BAT-COW and receive a modicum of enjoyment from it, but in the hands of Master Morrison every BAT-MOMENT is Kobe instead of ground chuck including BATMAN INCORPORATED 6.

Oh, and fuck you once again Jason.