Batman Inc. #1 – DC Comics
Writer – Grant Morrison
Art – Yanick Paquette
…are just some of the words that I’d use to describe Batman Inc. #1 by superstar writer Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette.
Let’s be clear about this. This is a brand new story, a rebirth. Batman has come through the emotional, spiritual and physical wringer of time travelling arc of The Return of Bruce Wayne and has been re-incarnated, re-imagined, re-defined as a zealous missionary, intent on spreading his dark silhouette over the entire world. This is corporate Batman. This is Batman Inc.
First stop – Japan.
Batman takes his round the world road show to Tokyo, Japan, intent on recruiting Mr Unknown (the Japanese analogue of The Question) to be his Asian counterpart. He won’t be known as The Batman, but he’ll carry the corporate flag. Mr Unknown has been fighting his nemesis Lord Death Man who actually kills Mr Unknown in the opening pages as he enacts his master plan to destroy all of Japan’s superheroes. With Mr Unknown now out of the picture Batman has to enlist and train Mr Unknown’s sidekick, known as The Body Double. Tossed into this grand melange is the slinky, morally ambiguous Catwoman.
Morrison has re-invigorated the Batman franchise with the launch of Batman Inc. Gone is the heaviness of The Return of Bruce Wayne and in comes a breezy, comical freshness that really is a breath of fresh air. The interplay between Bruce and Salina is both witty and humorous; some cracking one-liners are tossed into the mix between them, heightening the tension and playfulness between the characters. Add in a campy, comical villain in the great tradition of the Adam West era and end with a cliff-hanger worthy of Ian Fleming and you get a bouncy, jaunty superhero lark that is a world away from the morbid, serious industry standard that comic books have tended to follow since Frank Miller revolutionised comics way back in the late 80’s, ironically, as the writer of Batman. Perhaps this is why Grant picked the neon haze of Tokyo, Japan as a metaphor for the tonal shift away from the darker, moodier, grittier stories of Gotham to the brighter, more colourful escapades of this arc? It’s a welcome change and a reminder that comics are supposed to be FUN!
Yanick Paquette is the regular artist on Batman Inc. and it brings stability to the title that The Return of Bruce Wayne tended to lack. Paquette was the best artist to have worked on The Return of Bruce Wayne and covered art duties on the best issues of that arc. His pencils and inks are solid, sometimes a little too thick, but always engage the eye. His attention to detail in his layouts and backgrounds is truly impressive and it’s no surprise to see that Morrison picked Yanick to deliver the consistent high standard that he provided in The Return of Bruce Wayne.
A bright, colourful and refreshing Batman story. The Bat has stepped from the shadows into the neon-lights of Japan. And it is most welcome indeed.
Rating – 9/10 maniacal villains.