Overview: Batman Incorporated #9 continues Ed Brisson’s “Joker, Incorporated” story arc. It’s The Joker, so expect some twists and turns.
Please Note: This comic book review may contain spoilers.
Since kicking off his run on Batman, Incorporated, Writer Ed Brisson has truly written a nice story about Batman, Inc. without actually including Batman in the adventure. In fact, Batman hasn’t been seen with the team since he named Ghost-Maker the new leader back in the Batman 2022 Annual #1. And yet, I have been pleasantly surprised with the story Brisson presents each month. Last month began a new arc, “Joker Incorporated,” the idea, while wild in thought, is actually a noble idea — the idea that if Batman can have a team of Bat Men, then why not his arch-nemesis?
Batman, Incorporated #9 picks back up from issue #8 in Argentina, where Tap Dance Man, the Joker of Argentina, is unsure as to how he wants to kill the hostages in front of him. However, not to be outdone in his sadistic nature, The Joker kills not only the hostages in Argentina, but also Tap Dance Man. It’s truly vintage Joker. As the story lays out, Joker, as always, has an ulterior motive in his scheme. Yes, he has his own international crew of clowns to do his evil bidding. In many ways, however, they are pawns in a bigger plan. He wants Batman Inc. to break its most sacred rule — the one rule Batman requires of everyone who teams with him — to never take a life.
Each member of Joker Incorporated has a device implanted in them. It’s similar to the one that killed Tap Dance Man and the hostages in Argentina. However, there’s only one way to deactivate the trigger. Batman Inc. has to kill the member of Joker Inc. It’s not the first time we’ve seen something like this. In the past, The Joker attempted to push Batman to take a life. While it has never worked, Brisson presents an interesting approach — push colleagues to make that decision. What makes this especially interesting, however, is Ghost-Maker’s history. He has no problem taking a life. He refuses to do so initially only because of a promise he made to Batman. Brisson plays on this perfectly.
The Joker’s scheme breaks the team apart, sending them to various parts of the world. Each group from Batman Inc. deals with a different clown. However, they’re oblivious to the plan at play. Only Ghost-Maker and El Gaucho know Joker’s ultimate goal.
Much like previous arcs, Brisson’s storytelling allows the reader to what’s going on all over. Despite there being a central story, readers still maintain the ability to see what the different team members are doing. This is great as it allows each member to have their place in the spotlight. However, there is one problem that I continue to have. The international team is all we see. As the annual ended, we were introduced to other members who would remain local. I was extremely hopeful we would have seen more of the former Badhnisian police detective Cayha. She donned the Abyss costume, and Batman seemingly made her a member of the team. However, there has been no mention of her since.
Despite this one quip, Brisson’s stories with the team have been really good. It continues with this issue as Ghost-Maker and El Gaucho attempt to make their way to Australia, only to find that Dark Ranger and Wingman have already encountered Corvus Cawl, the Joker of Australia. There is indeed struggle as Ghost-Maker tells them that they have to throw everything they have lived by and kill the villain to save everyone. Wingman is game to complete the needed task. However, the former Scout resists this and holds his partner back. This dilemma, unfortunately, is all the time Cawl needs as his stabs Wingman with a sword. Does Wingman survive?
This issue leaves a lot to look forward to as the arc continues. Without a doubt, the angle most interesting is the budding romance between Knight and Gray Wolf. While you won’t see it in this issue, the events in Batman, Incorporated #8 truly show that there is something there. Will Brisson allow that story to gain traction, or is it as doomed as Bruce and Selina? We also need to contend with the dilemma with Raven Red, as he remains at home with his dad, Man-of-Bats, after he was shot. Jiro and Clownhunter pursue the shooter, Dusty Bronco (by the way, all of these clowns’ names thus far are totally out there). Dusty, however, is only interested in a revenge brouhaha with the young Raven Red.
One can enjoy a story far better when the art complements the writing well. For Batman Incorporated, this has been the good of John Timms. He has done a spectacular providing art on this series. I say this as someone who has not always been a fan of Timms’ work. But it really looks nice. Kudos go to the colors from Rex Lokus as well. The palette used to put this issue together are superb. The vividness of the colors, even in scenes that seem set at night, are quite beautiful. I am definitely a fan.
At only two issues in, this arc is an easy jumping-on point for those who may not have been following the series. Consider me shocked that Brisson and Timms continue to kill it on this title in all the right places.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with a copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic and help support TBU in the process. Purchase this issue digitally on Comixology through Amazon. You can also get a physical copy of the title through Things From Another World.