Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Batman Incorporated:  Leviathan Strikes!:  It's kind of hard to know where to start in reviewing this "issue."  First, it's pretty clear that the two "chapters" of this book were intended to be future issues of "Batman Incorporated," though it's unclear whether Morrison would've intended for them to be the next two sequentially, #9 and #10, or dragged out the mystery of Leviathan a little longer.  At any rate, the DC reboot forced his hand, and we get this issue as an attempt to wrap up loose ends before we get the DCnU version of "Batman Incorporated" at some point in 2012.

The first chapter is actually one of Morrison's better (read:  coherent) stories in the run.  We discover why Batman sent Stephanie Brown to a boarding school in England, learning that the school was churning out brainwashed teenage assassins feverishly loyal to Leviathan.  It strikes a similar theme as the Batwing story in "Batman Incorporated" #5 and the Man of Bats story in "Batman Incorporated" #7, showing how Leviathan isn't all international espionage but reaches into local communities to spread its destabilizing poison.

The second chapter is one of Morrison's traditional (read:  incoherent) stories.  Bruce, Dick, Tim, and Damian are aboard the Leviathan ship, and Bruce is tricked into (allegedly) entering the same room over and over again, confronted by Dr. Netz (aka Dr. Dedalus) each time.  Morrison seems to want us to believe that Netz is somehow altering time to make it happen, with one of the boys warning Bruce not to enter the room given "what happened last time!"  But, it seems more obvious that Bruce's sensation of entering the room repeatedly was due to the mind-eroding gas that Netz used to disorient him.

It's actually this part of the story where Morrison falls into his usual traps, mistaking "confusing" for "interesting."  If you really examine the events in this section, you realize that they're all basically irrelevant to the overall plot.  Netz simply taunts Bruce here, not actually doing anything other than possibly collecting some information from Bruce while he's under the influence of the gas (even though I'm pretty sure Leviathan could've gotten that information on its own).  We do get a variety of Batman Incorporated operatives in danger.  Dark Ranger and Nightrunner are turned into Leviathan drones set against Bruce, Dick, Tim, and Damian and Batwing, Knight, and the Outsiders are seemingly killed by Leviathan agents.  But, does it really matter when we know that, in the DCnU, at the very least Batwing survives?  We also get Bruce having to save the world from Netz's "meta-bombs."  But, did anyone really believe Bruce wasn't going to be able to disable them in time?  At the end of the day, this chapter mostly entails Netz vamping for time, something Bruce himself states, saying, "Netz was misdirection, to waste our resources on the eve of war."  Essentially, I just paid $6.99 for stalling?  Also, why?  Would Netz really willingly give up his life (assuming he did actually die) just for Leviathan to test Batman?  It seems a stretch. 

Speaking of Leviathan, Morrison, as usual, throws us a lot of curve balls along the road to revealing her identity.  For example, he reveals, seemingly, that Kathy Kane is still alive, and throws suspicion on her that she is Leviathan.  (Bruce himself would later mention her as a potential suspect.)  Resurrecting Kathy and making her a bad guy would've been a brilliant Morrison move.  He had cast some intrigue on her in issues #3-#5, implying a more involved back story than we previously understood.  Given that her death is shrouded in a mystery thanks to a variety of reboots (and less definitive than Jason Todd's) it would've been fairly easy to find a reasonable excuse for why she's still alive.  Instead, though, Morrison goes for the more, to me, surprisingly obvious choice of Talia al Ghul.  Is it really all that shocking that Talia al Ghul runs a world-wide terrorist organization given that she, you know, normally runs a world-wide terrorist organization?  I mean, I guess it's a question of Leviathan's intent, something we still don't know, and how it differs from the League of Assassins'.  But, at the end of the day, I just didn't find this reveal to be all that interesting.  It simply sets up yet another "Batman versus [fill in the blank] al Ghul" story.  Will Morrison's take on it be interesting?  Maybe.  Was it worth an entire series?  Probably not.

At this stage, I have to say, Morrison once again gives us a fairly ho-hum reveal when it comes to a super-villian.  I mean, for all the drama of the Black Glove, we discovered it was some crazed former movie star that might have know Bruce's parents.  For all the mystery of Leviathan, our main tension comes from which one of Bruce's ex-girlfriends (two of whom -- Jezebel Jet and Talia al Ghul -- were already involved in large criminal conspiracies) hated him enough to go to war with him.  Morrison is often called a genius, but I just don't see it.  I don't see how, once you strip away the intentional confusion, he's doing anything more interesting than your average Batman author.  If you dig the al Ghuls, I'd say you should definitely subscribe to this title when it re-appears in the DCnU.  But, otherwise, I just don't think it's worth your time.


  1. Awesome review, JW. You hit the nail RIGHT on the head when it comes to my problem with like 85% of Grant Morrison's work, and like 98.8% of his Batman work... Morrison seems to think confusing = incredibly interesting! When instead confusing = incredibly frustrating, for me at least. I don't want to have to read a comic book 5 times in one sitting to try to decode the hidden messages inside of the hidden messages so many of Morrison's Batman works have consisted of. Or lay out Morrison's entire Batman run when reading a new Morrison Bat story, since I'd inevitably have to reference back to a single panel from 4 years ago to understand what happened in his current story. I have to admit that while I WAS tempted to give this comic a read, I'm glad I didn't bother picking it up. It sounds like more of the same. On that note, I definitely will be giving the relaunched Batman Inc. a pass when it finally comes out.

    Oh, and btw, this line: "Is it really all that shocking that Talia al Ghul runs a world-wide terrorist organization given that she, you know, normally runs a world-wide terrorist organization?" got quite a chuckle out of me. It's funny 'cause it's true!

  2. I'm not sure if the final reveal has to be shocking, at least for me, the interesting of Morrison work in Batman is that force you to turn on in detective mode when you are reading, I'm not a good one (I always miss all my predictions) but I have some good time with my comic readers friends trying to decipher all the crazy stuff Morrison put there. And that means that the money I invest in those book gave me more entertainment. I'm not considering him a genius for doing that all the time And I would prefer more stories as the first part of this issue than the crazy stuff But at least I found a way to enjoy his other crazy stuff too.

    " mean, for all the drama of the Black Glove, we discovered it was some crazed former movie star that might have know Bruce's parents"

    Have you read The return of Bruce Wayne?

  3. X: I think particularly given the reboot, you were safe in giving it a pass. The only thing (and Alien might have more insight into this one than I do) that this issue seemed to do was reveal that Talia is Leviathan. That's not a lot for $6.99!

    Alien: I did read "Return of Bruce Wayne," but, at the end of the day, I wasn't totally sure where we stood with Mangrove Pierce/Dr. Hurt. I'd love to hear your thoughts, as our resident Morrison decipher-er!

    I do actually like certain Morrison stories for just the reasons you state here, that they become fun detective stories. (My mind was blown by "Batman and Robin Must Die!" in "Batman and Robin.") But, most of the time, I usually wind up just confused rather than fascinated. I'm glad other people really enjoy him, though!

  4. "But, most of the time, I usually wind up just confused rather than fascinated"

    Yeah, I totally understand your feeling, hell I was learning English (still learning) when started reading his work on Batman.
    But I took those books as a challenge and most of the times know that I going to have to re-read almost the entire run anyways, and there is the other thing I like is that each time I re-read I wind up like I reed a different issue, so the money I put there is still giving me satisfactions.

    Yes the big reveal was Talia being Leviathan, I could ad the bounty over Damian head, and the Fact that Kathy Kane is alive and working with Talia (or something).
    Would be interesting to know why she is working against Bruce now.

    Lets see, if I can find A logical explanation with my English skills for the Mangrove Pierce/Simon Hurt thing.

    Simon Hurts is in fact one of Bruce ancestors from the 17th casually named Thomas Wayne, He made a pact with the devil and gained immortality, or extended life.
    That is the simple explanation.

    The confusing one is that when Thomas Wayne practiced the ritual to call the Demon, the hyper-adapter (A creature sent by Darksaid to follow Bruce trough time) appeared and corrupted him with the Omega radiation. That also made him insanely crazy, some century's after he appeared at Wayne manor asking for Thomas and Martha help they help him sending him to the Woodland asylum subscribing him as their son Thomas Wayne Jr but apparently he later escape and, how he says in R.I.P. "skinned Mangrove Pierce alive and wore him to Mayhew's party", That party is in the Return of Bruce Wayne #5 when he try to call the demon again, Filming all the scene with an actress posing as Martha killing Thomas Wayne(Bruce in disguise) in a satanic ritual that film or photographs are later used in Batman RIP to claim that Martha was into drugs an satanic orgies.
    After that events he became Dr. Hurt and was involved in the program to create a replacement for Batman, being able to study Bruce psychology when he accepted to collaborate with the program there he gave Batman a post hypnotic trigger connected with the frase Zur-En-Arr.
    Then he join the Black Glove and decides to target Batman.

    ..Dont know if I typed something understandable but I putted my effort in it.

  5. OK, I saw this today..LOL

    What were we talking about? LOL

    and What the hell were they taking when decided to dedicate a Con to the crazy -Bald?

  6. Thanks, Alien! As X has said, I'm totally going to you first on all my Morrison translations! I had actually forgotten about the events of "The Return of Bruce Wayne," with the actress playing Martha, etc. Thomas Wayne/Simon Hurt appears in the Wild West issue, right? It's after he made withe deal with the Devil for immortality, but while he's still trying to see inside the box/casket? Am I remembering that right? Did we ever find out why he wanted to get inside the box/casket?

    I loved the Gutters strip. I imagine a Morrisoncon actually being held at, like, a high-school football game, except no one would know!

  7. Yep The Wild western Wayne is Thomas "Simon Hurt" Wayne, not sure if that was after or before he encounter the Hyper adapter (cant remember now)Jugging by his obsession with the content of the casket I will say that before.

    The casket had Bruce's personal notebook with his annotations. He gave it to Jack Valor in the pirates issue and jack Valor delivery it to the The Van Derm Family later (the descendant of the Denmark painter from issue two).
    Bruce told something to Jack Valor that he added to the diary but we don't know what.

    Some of the Van Derm Family marriage with a Miagani descendant of Anthro, Man and Boy from issue 1 and for that reason Catherine Van Derm has the pearl Necklace (we don't see it cuz the art of issue 4 was awful) and knew the whistling dialect of the Miagami.