After a lengthy absence, and a universe-wide reboot, Grant Morrison’s “Batman Incorporated” is back this Wednesday, featuring the new adventures of the Dark Knight and his International De-Knights (not their actual name). But with the last issue of the title hitting seven months ago, you could be forgiven for forgetting exactly what’s going on. So, here’s the rundown:
To simplify the back-back story as much as possible. Bruce Wayne died, and when he came back to life he realized the main reason was he had friends. Well, also a never-ending battle against crime, but despite thinking himself a loner, he’s never really been alone. So he stepped in front of the whole world and said, “I am Batman.” Actually, no he didn’t, though you would have been excused for thinking that, as what he actually said was that he, Bruce Wayne, financed Batman... And he was taking the brand global.
Over the next ten issues, Batman recruited new Batmen in Japan, Africa, and Europe, having adventures with each of his new team-mates battling the evil organization Leviathan. Making things more difficult was that Leviathan, with few exceptions, was using brainwashed children to do their dirty work, often sending them to fight to their deaths.
Who was Leviathan? And more importantly, who was their leader?
We wouldn’t find out until the very end of the “Leviathan Strikes” over-sized one-shot that came out in October, but to cut to the chase: the evil mastermind is Talia al Ghul, the daughter of the sort of deceased Ra’s al Ghul, and more importantly, the mother of Batman’s child, Damian Wayne... Who was now his Robin.
So a few things became clear in retrospect once that was revealed, specifically that Talia felt that since Batman had decided to put their child in extreme danger on the side of good, she would put every other child in the world in danger on the side of bad, and then let Batman decide who he felt was more important: his own kid, or everyone else’s kid.
That’s where we left things off, and that’s the most crucial bit of info, as picking up this week, Talia has put a price on Damian’s head, and every killer everywhere is looking to collect it. But there’s a few other items that might be of note:
- Batman has Batmen everywhere... The gearing up of Batman, Inc. was to prepare for the global fight against Leviathan, so you have to imagine good ol’ Bruce has prepared for even this eventuality.
- Killed in the process was Jezebel Jet, former girlfriend of Bruce, and also secretly a tool of the villainous Black Hand... Or was she? Well, we saw her head, separated from her body, but still.
- Batwing, the Batman of Africa, had his own New 52 series, so we know that he’s around in the new continuity.
- Not quite so clear are Black Bat (formerly Batgirl Cassandra Cain), Spoiler/Batgirl (Stephanie Brown), or any of the other Batman Inc. members like El Gaucho from Argentina, or Nightrunner from France. None of them have shown up in the New 52, so who knows if they survived the universe purge or not?
- Similarly, there were a few villains thrown into the mix, including Lord Death Man, an unkillable assassin last seen rocketing into space; and Doctor Daedelus, a master manipulator killed in the last issue by Damian - though they were all hepped up on hallucinatory drugs at the time, so again, who knows?
The bigger question marks that make it hard to prep for this issue:
1) What has the New 52 wrought? We just touched on this a bit, but considering almost all continuity has changed in the DCU, who knows what remains and what’s gone? Particularly as Grant Morrison has shown a distinct lack of caring about what’s non-canon in the past?
2) What about Batman? Not the character, but the title. Not even by default, but by popularity, critical, and fan acclaim, Scott Snyder’s Batman title has taken control of the spine of the Bat-Universe for the past year or so. Before that, Morrison was the one pushing things along while everyone else tried to keep up... Will Batman Inc. be responding to what goes on in Snyder’s book? Or will we get two conflicting continuities?
Regardless, particularly with artist Chris Burnham on board for the long haul, this should be as fun, and trippy as anything Morrison has done. We’re excited to sign back on for another fiscal year.