Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham
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.
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.
Wayne 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.
Surprisingly, 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.