A broken spy disaster

As some comics readers will surely say, DC was juggling a lot of things in Batman’s orbit. The characters and concepts associated with Bruce Wayne have continued to grow, and in the hands of the right creative team, these elements can blend together into potent potpourri. this week Batman Incorporated #1 aims to be the latest comic book to do so, introducing a new global spy adventure to many new and old heroes who look like Batman – and thus become too crowded for their own good as a result. Batman Incorporated #1 is a deceptive game, but it alienates the margins of the biggest Batman legend, which is hardly saved by its cast of characters and some aesthetic choices.

Batman Incorporated #1 Follows Ghost-Maker and the rest of the team on a trot adventure around the world with disastrous consequences. As the team struggles to destroy every Lexcorp laboratory created to create new Bat Guardians, they realize that a mysterious force is trying to do the same – while targeting some mentors who were trained by Ghost-Maker and Batman in their youth.

If this description is not clear, this is the new era Batman Incorporated Weaves in an eclectic array of DC legends, from past incarnations of the title, to stray parts of the era of Batman’s Rebirth, to his training days in Batman: The Knight. As a result, it appears that the mileage of individual readers will vary greatly, especially since the problem does not go to great lengths to attract readers to speed. Text boxes citing books and other issues are used without rhyme or reason, while characters are awkwardly named only by heavy interchange of dialogue. If you’ve been someone who’s clearly been following the ins and outs of every Batman-and-Batman-adjacent comic over the past 15 years, you’ll be glad you’re not pandering. If you aren’t (which the vast majority of readers probably do), you’ll be left wanting more context.

Beneath Ed Bryson’s script, there are indications of clever dynamics among the chaos – the Black Mist and Knight enjoy tackling the lack of women on the team, and there’s novelty to seeing Clownhunter interact with a larger group of Bat-inspired heroes. The whole concept of destroying Lexcorp’s labs, and some of the characters’ journeys in the woods, feels like sending into some underrated DC arcs from the past. But when the crux of the issue is basically excerpts from the team’s trading banter as they investigate around the world, it takes more effort to invest, and to consider the group as a real team. Similarly, the narrative decision to continue the clues Batman: The Knight Convincing, but the scorched-earth nature of some of the murdered guides makes the book feel more closed and disoriented than it needs to.

Where this trick works is in the art of John Timms, who manages to find a coherent style for the combination of elements within the case. Timms’ presentation of different superhero costumes is enough for the mix of house style and signature graphic, and there are some smart decisions made in terms of painting framing and focus. Given the fact that the vast majority of these characters wear masks on all or most of their faces, it’s impressive that some of the necessary touches of emotion still convey so well. The color work of Rex Lokus is a dynamic complement to everything – the use of blues and reds with core colors was particularly inspired. Clayton Cowles’ lettering is excellent as ever, especially accentuating the dialogue’s keywords, or adding extra weirdness to Clownhunter’s speech bubbles.

for better or for worse, Batman Incorporated #1 He’s nowhere near as accessible as a comic book could be – but there are just enough items to save him from being an absolute washout. The first issue takes up a lot of real estate introducing its various characters and concepts, but its frantic way of doing so ignores key elements in the process. That’s not to say that this new era of Batman Incorporated can’t grow into something epic, its kinetic art and character set have potential, but this first release isn’t guaranteed.

Posted by DC Comics

on me October 11 2022

written by Ed Bryson

art through John Thames

Colors Rex Locus

Messages by Clayton Cowles

cover by John Thames



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