Provided that it still concludes with #12 as planned, "Batman Incorporated" #7 has the series entering its second half, and Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham have kicked everything into high gear. Even as the series gleefully ignores the rest of the line and does its own thing, even the most continuity-bound readers will have to admit that this book is crazy fun.
What's nice is that Grant Morrison used the first half of this series of "Batman Incorporated" to set up everything that happens in "Batman Incorporated" #7. Talia al Ghul's organization of Leviathan is rapidly enveloping Gotham City, and as each trap is sprung, the overwhelming pervasiveness of the group is revealed to both Batman as well as the reader. This is how a story about an evil mastermind should play out; earlier issues like "Batman Incorporated" #3 are paid off here as the cover image of the children rising up is expanded into a larger, creepy scene. As each brainwashed group is triggered and begins to chant, "Leviathan rises!" readers are reminded just how many different things have been seen in Leviathan's hand up until this point. For now, Talia's group is actually hitting the level of dangerousness that we've been promised by Morrison.
The general in-story idea behind the Batman Incorporated brand hasn't been forgotten either, as Batman's army continues to tangle with Leviathan here. It's fun to see them struggle; after being shown why these characters are all strong enough to get added to the team, seeing them unable to score an easy victory ratchets up the tension quickly. The best, though, is Morrison's creation of Damian Wayne. His frustration for being holed up comes across clearly, and Morrison continues to be the best person to write the character; he's snide and arrogant, but he's also brilliant and effective. He should be annoying, but instead it's hard to keep from cheering him on.
Burnham's art looks fantastic this month, as always. I love how he draws the people in "Batman Incorporated" #7, but it's a lot of the smaller details that are a good reminder of why Burnham's become such a major talent so quickly. Just look at the pattern of raindrops hitting the water's surface as the safe plunges into the water; it's not a simple set of circles applied over and over again, but instead a perfectly random set of concentric circles where Burnham took the time to make it look unique. When we see Batman inside the safe, Burnham makes the cramped close walls feel oppressive thanks to the folded up form of Batman pushing against them. Add in the tilt of the safe compared to the panel borders on the page, and it feels dangerous and wonderfully off-kilter instead of boring or cliche. Jason Masters pitches in for three pages and it's to his credit that I didn't notice the first time around; his style is very similar to Burnham's here, and I'd definitely like to see more of his art down the line.
It's hard to believe that "Batman Incorporated" #7 marks the beginning of the end, but at the same time this issue has been so much fun that it's hard to end up sad about the prospect. Morrison and Burnham continue to deliver a beautifully written and drawn comic in the form of "Batman Incorporated." It's also a reminder that you don't need a big event to draw readers into a non-central "Batman" comic, just good storytelling. Thanks to Morrison and Burnham, I'll stick around until the bitter end.