Batman Incorporated #5

A friend of mine was recently talking about "Batman Incorporated," having just read the first two issues. He'd liked them, but he noted that it wasn't quite clicking for him yet. I wish I'd seen the current issue of the series before having that conversation, because now that the Argentina leg of the trip is up, the book has kicked into high gear.

It helps that we're starting to see a Grant Morrison style plot start to unwind itself, courtesy the enigma of Dr. Dedalus. Imprisoned in a lighthouse on the Falkland Islands at the start of "Batman Incorporated," the story comes full circle in this final installment as Batman, Batwoman, El Goucho, and the Hood prepare to break into the lighthouse prison themselves. Except, of course, not everything is quite as it seems.

One of the things I love about Morrison's script here is that he's not afraid to set up crazy, beautiful ideas (such as the true nature of Dr. Dedalus's labyrinth) and then in the blink of an eye dismantle them. It's as if Morrison is handing his readers an answer, then snatching it back and saying, "Just wait, I have something even bigger planned for you next." As this storyline has progressed, Morrison's swerved it back and forth almost gleefully; central villains are suddenly downgraded and new bad guys pushed to the center, the additional mystery of Kathy Kane is added to the puzzle, and the scope of Batman's mission has blossomed. "Batman Incorporated" has transformed from a simple "Batman in different countries" concept to Batman fighting a worldwide menace in the form of Leviathan, even as we still try and figure out just who or what Leviathan is. Not all writers could tackle a story where the true villain is still an utter mystery this far in, but for now I'm intrigued on where Morrison is heading.

Yanick Paquette is back this month, and it's nice to see Morrison writing to Paquette's strengths. The flashbacks of Dr. Dedalus through the ages, with the intricate backgrounds and settings, work because of Paquette's effortless shifting from one era to the next, evoking a different feel in each panel. And considering it's just a solitary lighthouse, Dr. Dedalus' prison feels remarkably creepy every time it appears. It helps that Paquette's good with characters, too, of course. His rendition of Batwoman is sexy without needing to show flesh, and still comes across as immensely dangerous when the fight scene begins. She's a great counterpart to the deliberately crass-looking Scorpiana; Batwoman's disdain for her outfit wouldn't drip quite so much content if Paquette hadn't pushed it up to ridiculousness.

What is Dr. Dedalus' plan? Who or what is Leviathan? We get some hints here, but it feels like we're just at the tip of the iceberg. Here's to "Batman Incorporated" #6 taking us one step further into the labyrinth.

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