Oliver Davis reviews Batman, Incorporated #9…
Issue 9 opens with the funeral, placing these events before Tomasi’s brilliant ‘silent’ issue of Batman & Robin. Bruce is battered and bruised. One of his nails is black. A small detail, but somehow the most prevalent.
The burial is intercut with the immediate aftermath of Damien’s death – Batman’s fight with Talia’s monster. The beast calls Bruce “old” and “slow” and “weak”. Bruce says nothing. Instead he breaks the monster’s sword in half with his bare foot. He’s doing John McClane proud.
Nightwing’s grief is of denial and confusion. “No. No. No,” he mutters stumbling to Damien’s corpse. “This isn’t happening. He was okay, just a minute ago. What just happened?” It’s beautifully observed. Suddenly Nightwing is Dick Grayson in costume. Not an icon. Not a superhero. A grieving, hurting human being.
And then we’re back to the burial. Seen from afar, in the rain, Chris Burnham’s Alfred is so spindly that he becomes almost Burton-esque (an echo, of another man responsible for another Batman). Pennyworth had before played the role of kindly grandfather, letting Damien get away with things his father would not allow. But this time it resulted in Damien’s death. “Take a vacation,” Bruce orders a broken Pennyworth. The master-less butler. It’s heartbreaking.
Batman, Incorporated begin to plan their revenge, but they’re driven underground. Leviathan’s forces still ravage the city. Wayne Towers is in its second day of siege. TV stations declare the end of Western civilisation. Skinhead yobs armed with bats and knives chase people down the street. They wear visors with blue/red eye slits. Another echo, of another man responsible for another Batman.
Each echo makes Morrison and Burnham’s interpretation only that much louder. The sound is fuller, researched meticulously. It’s how Batman would’ve wanted it. And that beautiful hum over it all? That’s Morrison and Burnham’s addition. The frayed faces, the camp, the fact that the issue’s last exchange of dialogue is between Bruce and Damien’s pet cow.
“Bat-cow,” says Bruce, stroking its face. “Moo,” is all it manages in reply, before Bruce explodes in a scream of fury and anger and pain. How many times has it been someone else instead of him? His parents, his son, countless Robins over time.
And don’t forget the Knight. Not the dark one, the British one, of Knight and Squire, who perished at the hands of Talia’s beast in issue 7. His funeral is in procession also, his home country in a state of televised mourning. Princes Harry and William are seen sobbing in the crowd, an image that plays on another death from another time. David Cameron is seen from behind, sadly pointing out that there are no active Lazarus pits left. “Um. That may not be strictly true, Prime Minister…”
Read the small print. That isn’t just a get-out clause for the Knight. That could be for the Batman’s son himself.
Oliver Davis (@olidavis)