This is, most likely, the final issue of “Batman Incorporated” before it returns next year with a mini-series to wrap everything up. (More on that later, though.) And if so, it’s a real shame, because “Batman Incorporated” #8 is by far the weakest issue of the series to date.
The idea behind the issue isn’t a bad one: Bruce Wayne unveils a new virtual world of the Internet 3.0, only to get attacked by malware that he and Oracle need to fight off. There are some fun ideas behind it, like Bruce having to control both the Bruce Wayne avatar and the Batman avatar simultaneously (“Talking to myself is… disorienting.”), or Oracle getting to be the super-badass within the world of Internet 3.0.
But in many ways, this issue feels like it’s really written to serve as a showcase for Scott Clark and Dave Beatty’s art, which gives everything a glossy computer sheen. And like most comics designed to look like they were created by a computer (Morrison even cheekily names one of the chapters “Digital Justice”), it looks clumsy and overly processed.
Under the “make it look virtual” process, Clark’s art ends up coming across much more stiff and posed than I’m used to seeing from him. It might be a deliberate attempt on his and Beatty’s part, but it doesn’t stop the fact that it still is garish and hard on the eyes. It’s frustrating because there are scenes that come across as almost muddy and hard to make out; Batman rescuing the investor falling down the elevator shaft, for instance, loses all detail and energy. Instead it’s a series of black blobs surrounded by more black blobs. This is an issue that relied too much on the art to grab the reader, but when the technique behind the art is less than appealing, that’s a poor tactic.
While there’s a connection to the overall plotline involving Leviathan (as well as an update on another character that I’ll bet almost everyone forgot about from Morrison’s “Batman” run), “Batman Incorporated” #8 feels forgettable. Even more frustrating, the hints about what was planned for #9 (Batgirl versus a “finishing school for evil”) will presumably go nowhere until the return of the series next year, despite the next-issue blurb at this issue’s ending. (Although with the relaunch about to occur, there’s always the possibility that both it and the planned “Batman Incorporated” #10 will get scrapped entirely; only time will tell.) As a result, it’s a weak temporary conclusion to a series that up until now has been exciting and energetic. Everyone involved with this comic has done better in the past, alas. I don’t expect this series to just be a three-star comic, and I suspect none of its other fans do, either.