Credit where credit is due: the idea of a Lakota Batman? It sounds a little silly, and potentially cringe-worthy. But Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham continue to impress on “Batman Incorporated,” and this issue starring Man-of-Bats and Raven is no exception.
One of the things I like about “Batman Incorporated” is that Morrison is doing more than just tossing characters into a variation of a Bat-suit and then having them being a carbon copy of Batman. Man-of-Bats is in many ways a true hero of his people, going door-to-door to see how they’re doing, worrying about the little things, operating in broad daylight to help his fellow Lakota. He’s more than just a down-to-earth Batman, he’s someone who rolls his sleeves up and makes due with what little he’s got.
I know that Batwing is the character who’s getting his own upcoming series, but I’d read a Man-of-Bats series if it was written by Morrison. Watching him interact with his increasingly disillusioned son (pushed into the sidekick role of Raven), getting told off by his boss at the hospital for drawing attention to himself as Man-of-Bats, and his never-giving-up attitude? It’s enthralling. This might be a superhero that advertises tours of his not-remotely-secret lair, but he’s more real and interesting than most regular characters starring in comics.
As for the plot itself? It feels a little more tangential than previous issues when it comes to tying into the Leviathan storyline, but this is such a good issue otherwise that I just can’t complain. We are seeing more and more just how Leviathan has its fingers (or should that be tentacles?) in everything, and its reach and methods are growing increasingly impressive. As a Morrison villain goes, it’s working out quite well.
Burnham has seized “Batman Incorporated” and made it his own. As much as I enjoyed Yanick Paquette’s art on the early issues, I’m thrilled that Burnham is going to be drawing next year’s follow-up series. Burnham reminds me of frequent Morrison collaborator Frank Quitely with the way that he exhibits body language on the page: very strong and powerful looking while still having a great deal of subtlety and precision in the movements. There’s a lot of detail in the pages, too. Man-of-Bats’ lair, for example, looks amazing. From the Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling, to the individual test tubes on the tables, there’s so much going on here that it’s hard to not get drawn in to each page. And when the big attack on Man-of-Bats finally happens, it feels remarkably brutal and dangerous, thanks to Burnham’s art. He’s a real find, and he just keeps getting better.
Please, DC, please? A Man-of-Bats mini-series once “Batman Incorporated” is over? Based on this issue alone, I’d be down for it and then some. This is great stuff.