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.