Here at POTW we make the tough decision of what to buy if you only had money for ONE book coming out that week… this is easily the best comic coming out any given Wednesday…deal with it.
This week we get the holiday gift of a guest column from one of my besties, Ramon Villalobos.
Grant Morrison started his epic Batman run in 2006 with the intention to rip apart the Batman status quo and where he planned on leaving it when he was done running rampant through the lives of Bruce Wayne and friends was anyone’s guess. It began, in earnest, with Commissioner Gordon in all his gray mustachioed glory (this was before the DC reboot Just For Men’d him back to its original Red, mind you) suffocatingly laughing as he fell to his death in a jagged, technicolor nightmarish fashion in a visual that could only be achieved by artist Andy Kubert. At the turn of a page, the reader was assaulted with a two page spread of an orgasmic looking Joker hunched over a maybe-but-probably-not dead Batman and children swinging in terror from a gimmicked Jokercopter. There was blood everywhere.
If you’ve read many Batman comics, you’d know that this is generally not how they start. Often they begin benignly with Batman brooding about how sad or mad he is about that one time when his parents were were shot to death in front of his eyes after they took they unwisely took him to a movie next to a place called “Crime Alley”. But, perhaps to spit in the face of conventions, Morrison wanted to jolt the reader immediately so that everything that followed seemed reasonable.
Where he took Batman there was all over time and space. He showed Batman at his most blissful content and utter misery. He showed Batman at his most grounded and his most spacey. He showed Batman at the end of the world and beginning of human history. By the end of that five years though, the Batman that Morrison was building towards was actually shockingly well adjusted. He wasn’t the brooding sociopath that most mainstream comics writers tend to personify him as but rather an only slightly demented family man that was hellbent on justice with a newly minted global scope and publicly acknowledged funding from the that wacky playboy Bruce Wayne. Why only protect Gotham when there are plenty of third world African countries and Native American reservations that were also fraught with wrongs just ready to be righted with bat-branded vigilante justice? He had the resources and the motor to save the world and so a worldwide network of Batman called Batman Incorporated was founded.
That was the concept behind Batman, Inc. It was a globetrotting Batman with all his shit together enough to set up Batmen in Japan, Argentina, England, France, wherever his trouble led him. Despite its planetary scale, Batman Inc. was very grounded and fresh take on a character with nearly 80 years of baggage. You see, the incredible series that was Batman, Inc. had to end to allow the culturally redefining works of Tony Daniel and David Finch to sprout from the ether with no ties to continuity and the general baggage that was really dragging them down in their previous less culturally redefining Batman series.
But wait, before Batman Inc. got cancelled, there were three(ish?) issues that were scheduled to be released by summers end when DC Comics’ creators would reboot their entire line of comics.
Which brings us, reader to Batman, Inc. and more specifically Batman Inc: Leviathan Strikes. In summation, those three(ish) where we meet a lot of bad guys hanging out all over the place in a terrorist organization known as Leviathan that Batman and his satellite Batmen are going to fight in summer box office movie fashion. Leviathan Strikes is mostly the build up to a forthcoming miniseries that will show the two forces clashing but if you’re at all a fan of good comics you will undoubtedly be interested in reading Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes.
Grant Morrison’s writing aside, the book will be drawn by two of the best and most under-appreciated artists in comics today, Cameron Stewart and Chris Burnham. Cameron Stewart’s cartoonish (cartoonish being used in the most complimentary sense) art is devoid of the super serious and pointlessly rendered trappings of modern comic art yet it manages to be more dynamic than the post Jim Lee and Ivan Reis artists that make up DC Comics’ house style. Chris Burnham on the other hand has been compared to Frank Quietly. No real need to expand on that. He’s awesome.
So yeah, you should all go out and buy Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes, it’s going to be awesome. If you needed to read all this to be convinced of that, I don’t even know what else I should say to you. Maybe, “We shouldn’t be friends any more,” or, “Were we ever really friends to begin with?” or, “You’re hurting your mother, you know that right?”
You can find more of Ramon by listening to him on the Instant Leftovers podcast, reading his comic at http://vitruvianunderground.com, or looking at his beautiful artwork at http://glantern133.deviantart.com. He also hands out insults for free on twitter: @RamonVillalobos.