STORY: Grant Morrison
ART: Chris Burnham
After last month’s twisting, turning first issue of Batman Incorporated, Grant Morrison takes a hard left turn and gives us the abridged history of Talia al Ghul and how her dysfunctional family dynamic with her father, Ra’s, and her son, Damian, leads to the forceful coupe of her father’s empire. While the story is well told, and Chris Burnham’s art continues to be one of the best reasons to read this book, Batman Incorporated #2 feels like Batman and Robin 1.5 instead of a series about Batman’s international operatives, who never show up in this issue at all.
Knowing Grant Morrison, Talia’s reinvention as the Gorgon (I assume) makes sense after a history lesson about Talia’s childhood living with Ra’s al Ghul, a life filled with sadness, terror, disappointment, and secrets. Morrison shows us how Talia never felt complete without a mother, leading to uncomfortable confrontations with her father throughout her young life, a time period reflected in Bruce and Damian’s relationship, trading the super-villain-ness with hero stuffs. Batman himself only appears in a few panels, and only in flashbacks to demonstrate Talia’s continued presence in the Dark Knight’s life and how Ra’s influenced the entire relationship.
As a competent Batman story incorporating multiple elements from the Caped Crusader’s past, Batman Incorporated is doing a fantastic job building up to a greater goal, but as a title aimed at making comic books easier to pick up for new readers, it fails. Giving character history isn’t a crime, but doing so in the second issue of an already complex series isn’t the right way to go about it. Granted, this issue as a history lesson does give readers some context as to who exactly Damian Wayne is, but I really feel like changing the tone and focus of the series so soon after beginning the series will throw new readers off before they’re willing to take the time to commit a rather obscure character’s history to their comic knowledge.