Thursday, June 28, 2012

Batman Inc. #2

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham
Company: DC Comics

An important issue not only for the story that Grant Morrison has been telling from the moment he took over the Batman franchise, this issue also proves that the single issue story is alive and well. I'm seeing that somewhat forgotten style more and more often these days and I'm quite pleased by it. That's not to say that this doesn't continue the story of Leviathan versus Batman and his team of dead soldiers, because it does so in a big way. What it means is that this has a blast coming from both barrels. From cover to cover there is a story, and interesting one at that, being told.

The story in question is the all important roller coaster ride of Talia Al Ghul's life.

Origin stories are typical in comics. They run the gamut of being either good or bad. Very rarely do they fall into middle ground. Grant Morrison does origin stories in ways that boggle the mind. In All Star Superman he covered Superman's origin in a single page. This origin for Talia is a bit on the longer side but the feeling that it evokes is the same. It's grand. There's no better word for it. A panel that sees Ras Al Ghul hold up his daughter, Lion King style, over the precipice of the world...That single panel sums up so much about both of the characters and the comic itself. The Al Ghul's are entitled and vicious and those sentiments are splashed in every panel that they eye can see.

As for story progression, while it's limited in forward movement, this sees the past five years, everything from Batman & Son, Grant Morrison's first foray with his Black Glove and Damian arcs, from Talia's perspective. Not only that, but we see bits and pieces about Talia, things that we knew nothing about, come to light. The framework of it all, a back and forth time jaunt that sees all of these things spliced together with a conversation taking place in the present between Father and Daughter is masterful. It's a meeting of the minds, a chess game of monumental proportions, and the calm before the storm.

The only off moments were the reminders of how Damian came to pass, a fling one night that took place during the Son of a Demon story. Having that Batman decked out in the New 52 gear is strange and if you consider the timeline that we're presented with, it doesn't quite shake out. A part of me is glad that it's still in continuity, but it's a little shaky.

Chris Burnham's art is testament to the Gods of Amazing. He and Morrison work hand in hand so well. It's almost as if they read each other's minds and are able to distill their essence in the shapes and characters on the page. The way that Burnham draws Talia, all haughty and sinister while at the same time capturing the grandness of Ras as he lords over all on his red throne. It's not just the way he has his characters move either, though they tend to move so fluidly and organically, it's more that he takes everything so seriously. The copious amounts of backgrounds and the sheer number of locales that occur in this comic are all flawless. He handles everything from expensive mountain castles in the Himalayas to Gypsy tents to lush parties to desert dunes. Burnham kicks ass and continues to cement his place in the pantheon of kick ass artists.

So yes, this is the most important comic Talia Al Ghul will ever have. It's a great issue, one that connects the dots and puts an exclamation point as a new chapter to Grant Morrison's opus begins. Your move, Detective, indeed.

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