Batman, Inc. #2

Picking up where the first issue left off, "Batman, Inc." #2 is just as fast-paced and energetic as the debut. With his chosen recruit for the position of Batman of Japan dead, Batman finds himself tasked with the job of stopping Lord Death Man from killing more people as Mr. Unknown's replacement/protege tries to prove himself worthy of taking up the mantle of the Bat. Plus, Catwoman has her own agenda as always and I'm betting it involves something shiny. This issue is a highly entertaining romp with good guys being good guys and a villain that luxuriates in villainy. "Batman, Inc." is just flat-out good comics.

The issue begins with a giant octopus and Lord Death Men's henchmen still posing a lingering threat as Jiro Osamu, the protege of the late Mr. Unknown, fights side by side with Batman and Catwoman to stop the bad guys and save his girlfriend. That's all before being promptly dumped by his girlfriend and rejected by Batman when it comes to the offer he was planning to extend to Mr. Unknown to be the Batman of Japan. Since Jiro has been Mr. Unknown for the most part for a long time, his mentor too old to do the physical parts of the job, he seems like the natural choice, but his use of guns makes Batman reject him. That only spurs him on to prove himself more.

While the action is fast and fierce, and the pacing is brisk, what stands out in this issue is Morrison's continued ability to create a sense of a larger story and world from a few lines. The way Jiro speaks of Mr. Unknown or how Lord Death Man glorifies in wanton death and destruction give the idea of their pasts and that we and Batman have stepped into their stories. It's a brief intersection of two paths.

Yanick Paquette's art helps create the impression of this larger world. The new characters all have such a strong, set look and way of moving that they don't seem like they're new. Jiro especially seems so fully realized that it's hard to believe that this is only his second comic book appearance.

Once the issue gets moving, it's balls to the wall, non-stop, done with quick cuts and a breakneck pace. The occasional glimpses of Lord Death Man driving his car to a museum to kill Aquazon help move things along and Paquette's rendition of the car flying through the air, heading for the window of an apartment is amazing. Just the right amount of tilt and sense that gravity is going to bring it down soon. But, then that panels leads into a page of Jiro putting on his Mr. Unknown costume before the car crashes into the apartment on the page after that is masterful. The anticipation is raised more.

As far as an introduction to the Batman, Incorporated concept goes, this opening two-parter is very strong: a new hero that readers can get behind, a villain that's bad for the sake of being bad, plus some fun interplay between Batman and Catwoman. Morrison and Paquette get it all right.

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