Aug 1, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 523: Batman Incorporated #1, July 2012

That "The New 52" up in the corner there is a mark of shame to so many people. It's a testament to Grant Morrison's importance as a creator that his Bat-continuity was allowed to continue it's existence into the revised DCU, and though Dick Grayson has gone back to being Nightwing, his time as a partner to Damian is mentioned. And here's where the New 52 gets weird. Because all of that stuff that happened to Bruce in order for all of this to happen still happened, right? He still slept with Talia, Damian was still born, Dick was Robin, and then Nightwing, and then Batman, and now Nightwing again. But Barbara Gordon was not shot in the spine by The Joker? And Stephanie Brown's role in yesterday's comic is completely removed from continuity? How long has Bruce been Batman for in the new continuity, 5 years? But Damian is, what? Eleven?

And those aren't even the most egregious errors that the New 52 produced. There seems to be in comics these days a propensity for the quick fix. As, sadly, there appears to be in most things. But for a move like the New 52 to have any weight, there needs to be a long plan, like a 10 year plan, something that gives direction and structure to such a chaotic and paradigm-shifting event. We can only hope that someone at DC has put a lot more thought into Rebirth.

The best thing to do for this series is ignore the fact that it's happening in a new continuity, and just read it as a continuation of the previous story. Burnham's art allows for a nice continuity, and there's enough nods to the previous bits of Morrison's Bat-run that it almost feels like this is a story that, like the small caption in yesterday's comic states, takes place before the events of Flashpoint and the New 52. Things start to come into focus, and it's interesting to see how Morrison's run has gone from story about Father, Mother, and Son to huge, time-spanning cosmic wars and events, right back to the family tales. There's even after the family bits earlier, globe-trotting adventure, similar to what happens in the first volume of Batman, Inc. This provides a neat arc from the intimate to the cosmic and back, and adds for us another level of the idea of the arc in serialized comics storytelling. It's great to see Bruce and Damian working together and actually working together, even with the shocking conclusion of this issue. And there's some really lovely moments. Talia's Bat-Men drop a reluctant criminal partner from a great height right in front of the Dynamic Duo, and Bruce notes that Damian's mother is trying to get his attention again - after which the two share a rather comical look. And the fate of the Outsiders, last seen about to be blown up on Leviathan's satellite, is revealed in a callback to one of Morrison's best-known DCU runs, JLA. But did Morrison's JLA actually happen in the New 52? No one knows. So let's continue under the aegis of this being a tale of the pre-Flashpoint universe. I'm not sure why they didn't just market it that way.


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