...and falls. And falls. Until Batman is snatched from his descent, and out of the panel, by some winged beast. Only one wing is visible, but that feathered skin, those tattered jeans - it can only be one of Talia's Man-Bats.
Batman works best when in the shadows, out-of-sight, playing with an overactive imagination. His power is in his concealment, like the half-light of an old John Alton noir. The mind fills the darkness for you...yet in issue seven, Batman's absence is a weakness. After Talia's henchman steals Bruce from the sky, he isn't seen until the book's very end, and does not speak for its entirety.
To fill in those that haven't been listening: Talia al Ghul is the mother of Bruce's son, Damien. She's taken over Gotham with mind-control. Not all of Gotham. Just a person here and there. Enough to topple the city with a command. And they all obey Leviathan. They all obey Talia.
As does her most recent creation, a beast of a man wrapped in a desert-cloak like some al-Qaeda insurgent. His mindlessness, his force-of-nature stamina recall the monsters in Garth Ennis' gore-fest, Stitched. A mask covers his head entire, a deep red visor its only portal to the world. Even Bane was allowed eyes. The contrast of technology and feudal-desert attire is unsettling; the ease with which he lifts a safe containing Bruce inside, even more so.
Reading the issue again, as Grant Morrison almost commands with his confusing narratives, these non-subtleties become increasingly menacing, making more sense with each glance. Morrison has a tendency to only passingly mention fascinating back-stories which could be issues, or even arcs, in themselves. If this were Geoff Johns, they certainly would be. In issue seven, the briefly mentioned backstory concerns the origins of this monster - the rotting carcass of a whale left to fester in a dried out bio-factory tank in Yemen (yet another al-Qaeda nod); "the birthplace of the beast. The mother of the fatherless." Morrison's words and Chris Burnham's imagery are almost Lovecraftian in their horror.
Belly of the Whale. The pile of flesh and bones lends the book its title.
And also from it, Leviathan rises. And Batman falls. And drowns.
Oliver Davis (@olidavis)