Not only have times been tough for Bruce Wayne under the guardianship of writer Grant Morrison, but what about us readers? We’ve seen Batman staked to the ground, attacked by hyperfauna, shot, burned and pronounce clinically dead for at least two minutes. And that was just during Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne. So would Mr Morrison let us take a breather from all this high tension time traveling with Batman Incorporated #1? In short, YES.
The era of Bruce franchising out the Batman brand around the world begins in Japan. From the opening page readers can deduce that a character addressed as Mr. Unknown has gotten himself into a bit of mischief and has lost his hands as a result. Turns out, Japanese super-villain Mighty Lord Death Man is to blame. Batman fans may remember this baddie from the pages of Bat-Manga! The Secret History of Batman in Japan where Lord Death Man uses a yoga technique to simulate death. In the following pages, we see a young man delivering groceries to a comic shop that also happens be the secret subterranean headquarters of Tokyo’s number one gang-buster, Mr. Unknown. Having stumbled in on the murder of Mr. Unknown, Mighty Lord Death Man’s costumed henchmen scramble to take out this interloper. In some panels reminiscent of The Karate Kid movie, the young man takes out the skeleton-costumed thugs with some timely martial arts moves. At which time he makes his escape.
We are then treated to a two-page splash of Batman and Catwoman swinging into action. The duo are teaming up to retrieve an invention by the nefarious Dr. Sivana. Bruce and Selina’s combat compatibility are on display as they successfully dispatch an invisible monster and some robot mice of unusual size. They later retire to their Tokyo hotel room to celebrate the accomplished mission. Readers get a rare glimpse of a relaxed Bruce Wayne confiding in a scantily clad Selina Kyle that the purpose of their trip to Tokyo is for him to train a Japanese Batman.
As the two costume heroes enter the comic shop from the earlier scene, Morrison throws in some levity with his foreshadowing as Catwoman expresses confusion over the popular manga tropes of young girls and tentacles. Unfortunately, Bruce is far too late to recruit Mr. Unknown to be the Batman of Tokyo. But after a couple of beautiful punch-up pages, Batman scares one of Mighty Lord Death Man’s henchmen into revealing their next target. Looks like they’re after Mr. Unknown’s body double. The same martial artist/delivery boy from earlier.
The story concludes in Jiro’s apartment. Moonlighting as Mr. Unknown’s body double, Jiro has been unexpectedly called there by his lady-friend, Misaki. Suspicious, Jiro enters the apartment with his pistol drawn. Once inside, Jiro sees Misaki bound and threatened by Mighty Lord Death Man. After the Japanese super-villain taunts the young man to break his code of honor, Jiro fires his weapon. Mighty Lord Death Man is sent reeling out the window and down to the pavement below. Things don’t look good for the skull-faced criminal as we see a pool of blood surrounding his motionless body. But heroes in the Batman universe don’t use guns. We soon learn why as Misaki reveals that the recently deceased, Mighty Lord Death Man was the only one who knew how to stop her booby-trapped chair from falling to her watery doom. Catwoman instinctively dives in after the girl despite her aversion to water. And we leave off with a spectacular page depicting Catwoman and Misaki battling a tentacle monster submerged in the Tokyo apartment below.
Yanick Paquette’s awesome draftsman talents are on full display here. I last reviewed his work on Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #3. Once again he doesn’t disappoint. He masterfully tackles the hyper-violent fight scenes with the same skill as the super-sexy Bruce/Selina hotel panels. And every appearance of Catwoman looks like an Adam Hughes cover.
I haven’t seen any solicitations for the subsequent books in this ongoing series, but I suspect Grant Morrison will continue the three-issue story arc format that worked so well in his run on Batman and Robin. And while I salivated over Yanick Paquette’s artwork in this issue, I look forward to seeing the usual stable of unbelievable talent that Morrison has earned the right to choose from. Refreshingly, Morrison has departed from the over-arching epic that dominated his previous work in Batman titles. Batman Incorporated #1 kicks off a fun and sexy Bat-book that we haven’t seen in a long time. But will definitely be enjoying until the we all eventually suffer universal heat death.
Batman Incorporated #1:
Reviewed by Hayestronaut