Welcome to the Batman Corps.
Batman Incorporated concludes its trip to Japan with mixed results and a weak finish. Japan now has its own Batman, and if this is any indication of how the rest of Bruce Wayne's global outreach is going to go, I am not sure I want to stay on this ride.
Grant Morrison presents a strong and interesting character (or characters) in that of Mr. Unknown. It is a different take on the usual mentor/apprentice working relationship that we usual see in DC Comics, and it is a shame that we had to come in on the very end of that relationship. The concept, the name and the visual design of Mr. Unknown are all very well done and make for a great contribution to the DC Universe. This is part of what makes the very end so utterly disappointing.
Lord Death Man, on the other hand, continues to be insufferable. Him and his unkillable power of... yoga. Yes, I know is not meant to be the full explanation for his ability, but do not even try to tell me we got a better explanation. Lord Death Man is like one of those horrible actors in a movie who can't help but chew as much scenery as possible in every scene he's in. It is just painful to read.
It is funny (not in a good way) how the issue actually points out the ridiculousness of the octopus trap Catwoman has fallen into. And then, the issue just leave it at that as if acknowledging it makes it more forgivable. That trick does not work. And yes, I do get it. It is the classic extravagant deathtrap of old meets crazy Japanese game show with allusion to hentai tentacle porn. It is all very clever but does not mean it works well in the story. And as I said about last issue, if these are the kind of cultural observations we are going to see for every country Bruce Wayne visits, this is going to get old fairly quick.
The plot itself is pretty basic and entertaining with a fun guest appearance from Shiny Happy Aquazon. It may suffer at times from Morrison's notorious overdramatic lines of dialogue, but besides for Lord Death Man, the dialogue is solid for the most part. The story is strong enough to almost overlook all its flaws. Almost.
Because then comes the very end.
This could be my own fault. I did not realize that this Batman Incorporated thing with Bruce Wayne going around recruiting other heroes to serve as Batman in their home countries was going to be so very boringly literal. I thought it was more symbolic. I thought these heroes would keep their own unique and interesting identities, or at least partially keep them with a little Bat-flair to them. I really did not think they would become boring Batman copies. My bad?
Batman Incorporated opens with a good story but fails when it comes to selling its ultimate premise. It is a solid team-up story with Japan's Mr. Unknown. It's a weak setup and indication of things to come for Bruce Wayne's whole global initiative. This seems more like the start of the Batman Corps than anything else. It reads like a potentially interesting premise that someone has just not bothered to put a lot of thought into, which is a very strange thing to say about something Morrison is behind. But the note this issue ends on, a glimpse at a once interesting character now drained of all his unique qualities, really leaves me with no other impression.