Jul 27, 2016
The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 518: Batman, Inc. #5, May 2011
A few weeks back I reviewed MangaMan as part of my weekly graphic novels. There's a fairly vibrant conversation to be had about the cross-pollination of North American comics and manga. But every now and again a writer comes along who tries to perform a similar feat with comics of a different cultural background. Because they're written in English, and, quite often, by the same group of people, British comics can often seem very similar to their North American counterparts. But they're not. I haven't quite been able to put my finger on the exact differences, but they're there. Morrison has done this previously in the first volume of The Invisibles, and the Edginton/Adlard written The Establishment does something similar. With the introduction of The Hood, a British super secret agent, Batman, Inc. takes on something of a (not-so) United Kingdom cast.
There's a couple of really great moments in this comic. First, Morrison and company poke at the still-festering wound of the Falkland Islands war in the early 80s. There was certainly something very "last gasp-y" about this "war," the final throes of a prime minister who wanted to return to the British Empire. The more I think about it, the more Trump-y Thatcher's Britain seems. The other good bit is when Batwoman meets Bruce for the first time, having only had the pleasure of meeting Dick and Damian earlier. She treats him like a revered general, calls him "Sir." It's a nice touch. Kate Kane's cleaving to the military side of life is a fantastic part of her character. That she can believe in it so whole-heartedly and disagree with it fundamentally all at the same time speaks to the facility of the creators involved in her stories. I really ought to pick those up again...
Batwoman does offer us a great focal moment in this comic as well when she ponders aloud "How many twists and turns can one case take?" - Morrison is plying something common in his writing here by not giving us every single piece of story and evidence - we have to trust that there are detectives who are far more intelligent than we, or at least far better at what they do, and we're simply along for the exciting bits of the ride.
And what a ride. Onward!