Oliver Davis reviews Batman, Incorporated #12...
"Leviathan and the Heretic are on the ropes...could Batman be on the verge of avenging all he’s lost?"
THE FINAL BATTLE BEGINS, reads the caption on the front cover. It could just as easily say: FINALLY, THE BATTLE BEGINS.
It's been over two months since the cliffhanger of #10, where Batman had injected himself with the Man-Bat serum and encased his new, monstrous form within an enormous robotic suit. Issue 11 was a filler written by Batman, Incorporated's resident artist, Chris Burnham, that followed parallel events in Japan. Still, good things come to those who wait.
The opening sequence dives right back into the Man-Bat Batman hurtling towards Leviathan's army, a sky of actual bats at his heel. WHY CAN'T HE ADMIT DEFEAT? ponders Talia. WHY WON'T HE STOP? Those two lines, almost spoken only to herself, epitomizes how most of Batman's foes must feel. Jeez, this guy is bloody relentless.
The issue opens with an eleven-page fight, almost half the book. Burnham's artwork masterfully complements Grant Morrison's writing. Each page is divided into shard-like panels, a persistent motif throughout this run, of Batman and Talia's epic war shattering reality itself. Once the battle slows in pace, the panels return to boxed-in rectangles.
The fight is between Batman and the...thing that killed his son, Damien. Each punch is calculated (THIS SUIT'S MADE OF A META-MATERIAL WITH A NEGATIVE REFRACTIVE INDEX) and accompanied with an emotional weight (YOUR FIGUREHEAD. JUST ANOTHER THUG BAWLING FOR HIS MOMMY). But it's the Heretic's final reveal, of a bald, blinded, baby-headed man beneath the armour that provides the most devastating blow. Talia's monster was a Batman clone grown from a test-tube, just like Damien.
The main event for issue 13, the title's concluding book, will be Batman vs Talia, live from the Batcave, Gotham City. Unlucky for some. Particularly those who never want Morrison and Burnham's run to end.
Oliver Davis is one of Flickering Myth's co-editors. You can follow him on Twitter @OliDavis.