This past Wednesday saw the return of something I didn't expect to see quite so soon or even ever again--the pre-reboot DC Universe. DC Comics released Batman, Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes! #1 by writer Grant Morrison, artists Cameron Stewart and Chris Burnham, and colorist Nathan Fairbairn, which collects what would have been issues #9 and #10 of the well-regarded series.
"See the last hurrah of Stephanie Brown as Batgirl, in a sinister school for suicide spy girls! Find out what caused the Batman and Robin team to split! And witness the unmasking of Leviathan in a shocking final page twist that sets up 2012’s Batman: Leviathan, the epic concluding act of a Batman story six years in the making!" Morrison said on DC's The Source blog. While you can never say never when it comes to comics, this could be the final glimpse into the DCU of old.
So what are folks saying about the big finale? Here's a sampling of opinions on the comic:
Chad Nevett, Comic Book Resources: "Ostensibly Batman, Incorporated issues #9 and #10, Batman, Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes! #1 ends the first ‘season’ of the title and sets the stage for next year’s return and conclusion to Grant Morrison’s tenure on the Batbooks. The wait for this comic may have been long, but with Cameron Stewart and Chris Burnham providing the art, it was well worth it. Morrison delivers both an entertaining ‘done in one’ style adventure spotlighting Stephanie Brown and an ambitious issue that pushes the story about as far as it can go before it breaks. It ends with the big reveal of who is behind Leviathan, the criminal organization that Batman has created Batman, Incorporated to fight. It’s the sort of issue that arrives just in time to remind critics that, maybe, they left Batman, Incorporated off their top ten of 2011 lists and that, obviously, was a mistake."
Erik Norris, IGN: "It's no secret that it's been a really long time since the last issue of Batman, Inc. shipped. Therefore, it's very easy to forget what's happened in the series up to when Leviathan Strikes! #1 takes place. That's why, in rare fashion, I'm going to recommend you flip to the back of the issue first to read the 8-page recap that covers the formation of Batman, Inc. and the pertinent information from the entire series up until this point (just don't mistakenly see the final page reveal!). Honestly, if I'd known this was included, I would have done the same and the book would have made a lot more sense during my first read-through. This recap also does a marvelous job pointing out all the bread crumbs Morrison has thrown on the ground over the course of Batman, Inc., stretching as far back as Batman R.I.P."
Colin Bell, Newsarama: "Jam-packed with rug-pulls, betrayals, allegiances and big Bat-ideas, it’s a dizzying, giddy rollercoaster that demands the reader’s attention, and rewards those that keep up. The way the story zips around puts me in mind of the raised stakes of the ending stages of Morrison’s run on New X-Men, and indeed one part of this story seems to echo a beat from that work to the point where it’s nearly a cut and paste job. That said, you get the feeling that Morrison has been champing at the bit to let rip with Leviathan’s grand plans, and it’s an infectious enthusiasm permeates Burnham’s art and leaps off the page. Special mention must go to Nathan Fairbairn, whose use of color veers from tastefully subdued and foreboding in Stewart’s portion, to lurid pop in Burnham’s, and really enhances the read."
Minhquan Nguyen, Weekly Comic Book Review: "Stewart’s light, easy style makes a perfect fit for Steph Brown as Batgirl, especially since he can draw young girls who look like young girls and not try-outs for Teen Maxim. He adds in all sorts of cool, funny details (e.g. rhinestone-studded pistols, sub-headmistresses wearing outer corsets) that definitely mesh with Steph’s quirky world. As for Burnham, you have to respect the guy; he probably tore his hair out trying to translate Morrison’s loaded script into coherent visuals, and for the most part, he succeeds. Fairbairn offers sympathetic coloring work for both artists."