Oliver Davis reviews Batman Incorporated #6…
The first panel of Batman Incorporated #6 seems lifted from a hard-boiled detective thriller. Bruce Wayne steers the Batmobile with one hand, an electric shaver trimming his stubble in the other. At the end of the sublime #5, a group of Batman Inc. operatives were blown up in a booby trapped explosion. It is to this that Bruce now speeds, not some presentation before the board.
“…I take it you won’t be home for breakfast, Master Bruce?” comes Alfred’s voice in the car. “Brunch,” replies Bruce, his eyebrows pressing into his nose. Those working for him could be dead, and he’s just decided to give his son back to his megalomaniac mother. Yet he shaves and arranges mealtime with matter-of-fact clarity. Bruce’s brain operates on a higher plain to everyone else’s. Some use acid to access that dormant 80% of the mind. Bruce uses the death of his parents.
But now Bruce is a parent. He’s a dad. His own father used philanthropy to aid Gotham. Bruce uses violence and fear, and he’s backed into a position by Talia where he has to choose between Damien and Gotham. Save your son, or save your city. Under the Batman’s mask, Bruce is a Clint Eastwood slab of marble. In this first panel, he’s mortal. He’s shaving and thinking about breakfast. He’s a dad.
While Bruce works his way through a Wayne-constructed tower block for the poor, which Talia has re-appropriated as a henchman-filled assault course with the injured members of Batman Inc. at its end, Damien is confined to the Batcave. Dick, Alfred and the recently reintroduced Jason keep him company as they listen to Bruce and Talia attempt to one-up each other in the building across Gotham. Damien’s expressions as he listens to his parents fight are heartbreaking, particularly when Alfred gifts him a stray cat, or when Talia asks Bruce, “I don’t want the boy. Do you?”
The art in this issue is far more subtle than that in #5. Chris Burnham contains all the action within their panels, whereas in previous issues, frames blended into one another in a dovetail of colours. It isn’t until the final page where reality disintegrates, just as it did in #5 when Bruce decided to give Damien back to his mother. At the end of #6, Bruce is thrown through a window by Talia’s super-Bat, the shattered fragments of glass each depicting a different cliffhanger like some grotesque church window. Gordon looks up, the children of Gotham run mad with Leviathan, and Bruce falls.
And falls, and falls.
Oliver Davis (@olidavis)