This first issue opens with a startling scene of Bruce Wayne standing at his parents’ graves in the rain, remorsefully telling Alfred that he is retiring as Batman and shutting his entire organization down. Just then, Commissioner Gordon and his men arrive to arrest him.
The scene then jumps backward one month, so Batman and Robin chasing a crook wearing a goat mask into a slaughterhouse (literally). The goat masked man has accomplices there, as the workers don similar masks and join the fray.
This scene is inter-cut with another of several crime bosses dining at a table with new foe Leviathan, who, like many before him, intends to take over crime in Gotham.
Robin takes down one of the goat men, but doesn’t realize someone has taken aim at him from outside of the window he is in front of. Had he not grabbed the goat man by the collar and jerked him up to his face, he’d have been shot dead! Instead the goat crook is killed. Robin is too stunned to react, as Batman tackles him before a second shot can strike him. The would-be assassin, called Goat Boy, flees. He is a cab driver, so he knows Gotham’s streets by heart and he even knows Batman’s patterns. Batman doesn’t follow him, however. He investigates the slaughter house and spies a brand on the cows there, an upside down star, “The two-horned star. The devil star.” Robin saves a cow from slaughter and declares himself a vegetarian and dubs the cow “Bat-Cow.” Through his inner monologue, we learn that Goat Boy was attempting to kill Robin to collect a bounty on his head, placed by Leviathan, in order to gain the money to raise his son and keep him from going into the foster care system.
SPOILERS from here.
Back at Leviathan’s dinner, one of the Brothers Grimm has doubts about the new crime boss’ ability. He gets nervous and says he wishes his brother was there. “He’s got all the brains.” Leviathan informs him that he just ate his brother. “Brains, too.” He is then dragged out by two giant Man-Bats. (Men-Bat?)
Batman lectures Robin on killing, but Robin defends his actions. They capture a truckload of the “Devil star” beef. Batman quizzes Robin on the “Demon Star” which Robin knows is another name for Algol, a star in the Perseus constellation. He then realizes, “In Arabic… Al Ghul” just as the body of the Brother Grimm lands at their feet. Batman mutters, “Looks like your mother is trying to get my attention again.”
So what makes this “Batman Incorporated” and not “Batman and Robin?” The next scene, where we finally catch up to some of Batman’s allies. It’s a strange scene in which a man enters a fetish shop in San Francisco, asks for his “Perv Suit” and then enters a fitting room, which leads to a secret passage. He emerges as The Hood and greets Batwing, who calls them the “Dead Heroes Club” along with Freght Train, Halo and Looker from The Outsiders and El Gaucho, with whom The Hood doesn’t appear to get along. They each discuss how they “died” with Batwing explains, “So Leviathan thinks we’re all dead, which gives us the advantage we are going to need.” El Gaucho and The Hood almost come to blows, before The Knight enters and takes charge.
Back in Gotham, Batman and Robin take on some Mutants that are stealing more of the possibly tainted meat. Robin does most of the butt kicking, not realizing that Goat Boy once more has him in his crosshairs… that is until Batman confronts him.
The scene cuts again. Goatboy, beated and blindfolded is brought before Leviathan. He tells Leviathan that he killed Robin, but now Batman is after him. He even has pictures to prove it.
This issue was very well written, although sometimes the dialogue had a slightly off pattern to it. The pacing and scene jumps were something of a challenge, but they were well done and flowed more smoothly upon re-reading. Chris Burnham’s art was just excellent! Very detailed, smooth with a few nifty innovations, like a backwards sound effect during the fight with the goat men, and the scene where Robin fights the pack of Mutants is rendered in such a manner that the panels form an exclamation point! Very clever!
As I said before, it took a while to get to the “Incorporated” part of this book. I forgot I was even reading “Inc.” and thought I was reading “Batman and Robin.” I’m hoping Batman’s allies get more to do next issue, because otherwise that makes this “just another Batman book” and he’s already got four.
But all in all, a satisfying first entry in this series! Looking forward to more!
BATMAN INCORPORATED #1
Written by Grant Morrison
Art and Cover by Chris Burnham with Nathan Fairbairn