I'm no fan of Grant Morrison, especially on Batman. But I will always thank him for bringing the "product" of Son of the Demon into mainstream continuity in the form of Damian Wayne, which has led to a Batman/Robin relationship unlike any that preceded it. Rather than purity of Dick Grayson and Tim Drake, or the loose cannon that was Jason Todd, Batman now has a partner with training and devotion that equals his own, but few of the principles that keep Batman from crossing the ultimate line into naked vengeance. (See this earlier post for father and son's discussion of killing from Peter Tomasi's Batman and Robin.)
Batman Incorporated #1, written by Morrison and illustrated by the incomparable Chris Burnham, continues the Leviathan storyline from the pre-relaunch title, but seems just as much like Morrison's own work on Batman and Robin (when Grayson wore the cowl). And it was fun! If I found Morrison's work in the Batverse very up-and-down before the relaunch, it seems like a breath of fresh air now. His "technicolor" vision of Batman is more than welcome, not so much within the current Bat-titles, but more against the backdrop of the New 52 as a whole, which is distinctly lacking in fun.
Don't get me wrong, I love what Snyder and Capullo have been doing on Batman, beating down Batman until he just can't take any more--and then he still comes back, because he's Batman. (Can't get enouh of that kind of story, sincerely.) And Tomasi's Batman and Robin has been a quality title, but Daniels' Detective Comics has been pedestrian at best, and the less said about Batman: The Dark Knight, the better. None of the other Bat-titles excite me either; as much as I wanted to enjoy Batwing, Batgirl, and Batwoman, they all leave me cold.
But Batman Incorporated #1, now this is fun. More details after the jump--and there may be spoilers.
We start with an intensely bloody fight in a meat-processing plant; those with sensitive stomachs, look away. (Let's just say it's fitting that I'm listening to the new Cattle Decapitation album while writing this post.) Damian, of all people, sees the symbolism of this, and in the process christens the latest addition to the Bat-family, in a panel that I'm certain is destined to become a classic.
After this bloody awful battle, Morrison nicely references Damian's killing of Nobody in Batman and Robin, and father and son once again discuss approved Bat-methods. Damian tells Dad he doesn't know why he didn't stay dead--this book would make a great Father's Day gift, kids!--and Bruce deftly changes the topic, praising his son for the work he did while he was "returning." Then we get a magnificent explanation of Damian's lack of moral compass:
Couldn't have said it better myself (though I've tried).
Intermingled with all of this is a view from the perspective of a killer-for-hire (who ends up doing better than he just have imagined), a meeting at "Batcave West" that fits the title of the book (but had me scratching my head at a couple details), and a dinner meeting hosted by Leviathan, featuring the ninja man-bats from the beginning of Morrison's run. Batman and Robin's reaction when they realize the person behind the mess at the meat plant is priceless:
Morrison and Burnham work together amazingly well to keep this book lighthearted and jovial while at the same time often brutal. Their depiction of Damian is nothing short of perfect; just look at this scene of Robin dispatching a gaggle of thugs (a "thuggle"?).
A lot happens in this issue, and the ending is shocking (if anything in comics can shock anymore) and effective. Above all, this comic was genuinely enjoyable, probably the most enjoyable single issue of a DC New 52 comic I've read.
And it was written by Grant Morrison. Wow.