Batman Incorporated #13

While the talent and shipping schedule have kept this title slightly off-center from all of the "main" action in the Batman corner of the DC Universe, Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham provide some course correction in "Batman Incorporated" #13 while continuing their over-the-top, borderline-zany adventures of everyone's favorite Dark Knight Detective. True, events in this book have carried outward, but rarely have events from other Bat-books drifted into "Batman Incorporated." Morrison corrects some of that while planting plenty of new seeds for future Bat-creators as he makes his self-proclaimed exodus from superhero comic book work (except for his pending "Wonder Woman Earth One" story).

Mention is made of "Year Zero." Graves are exhumed. Ultimatums are put on hold. It all occurs around and through the actions of Commissioner James Gordon, left to interrogate Bruce Wayne during the terror state Gotham City has sunk to in the wake of Talia's attacks. With more than enough to draw from in his years of writing Batman, Morrison plays the part of a master horticulturalist. He prunes just enough to plant a forest for the next generation of Batman writer and thereby re-establishes the roots of Batman's greatest challenge while adding fertilizer to the story of the Dark Knight and his city. Morrison narrates the transitions of this issue through the words of Jim Gordon, adding an everyman point of view to the wild adventures as Batman and Talia square off one final time.

This might be the first time I've ever seen two letterers on a twenty-four-page, single-story comic, but Steve Wands and Travis Lanham hold "Batman Incorporated" #13 together quite nicely, with no visible shift of quality slip on the lettering front. Burnham's art, with Nathan Fairbairn's vibrant color work, delivers a gritty Gotham City that is nearly tangible. In the early going of this issue, Burnham dives so deep as to illustrate the pores on Gordon's nose as he questions one of his oldest comrades in the war against crime. Burnham excels at grunge, grit and texture, so much so that the action sequences during the actual fight between Batman and Talia seem hurried and incomplete. The artist's storytelling is clear and his characters distinct as they march through a finale with notable twists and turns.

At the end of "Batman Incorporated" #13, the gauntlet is thrown down, not just within the story as Ra's al Ghul begins to plot and scheme, but from Morrison as well. The long-time writer added depth and diversity to the world of Batman while refreshing some older concepts and fan-favorite notions. Now, however, Morrison is walking away, leaving the life he has nourished in the care of others to continue to nurture and grow. The clippings Morrison shows are intriguing and it will be interesting to see the blossoms those pieces produce in the future. Appropriately enough, Morrison leaves his superhero work behind as quietly as he entered into it. There's no fanfare to declare his departure. There is no text page or behind-the-scenes script reveal. Morrison just leaves on a high note, giving readers one more enjoyable Batman story on his way out the door.

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