Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Batman Incorporated

Grant Morrison & Jim Nick Nick Davidson Batman Incorporated (2012)
Ever since Stewart Lee described him as such, I can't quite pull back from thinking of the guy as Batman the children's character, and probably because I've never really found him that interesting. Although I haven't read it in a while, I recall loving Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns in which our man is portrayed as a vicious nutcase, which seems about right. He's more or less a vicious nutcase here, but a vicious nutcase inhabiting a story which may as well be derived from the goofy 1960s television show, albeit a version of the  goofy 1960s television show without much in the way of humour.

The story is that Batman, having decided that crime is a disease and that there's only one cure and so on and so forth, trains a whole team of international Batmans so as to cure the disease of crime on a global scale. It starts well enough, and seems beautifully told regardless of whatever it is that's actually being told, and then it sort of gets lost in an undifferentiated mush of narrative and stuff you might understand if you're some kind of Batman expert, which I'm not. I'm all for showing rather than telling so as to instil a comic book with the portentous atmosphere of a Fassbinder film, but occasionally it helps to tell your audience what the fuck is happening, particularly when what you're showing is mainly ingenious plot points and obscure references to Jorge Luis Borges punctuated with scenes of Batman kicking someone's head in. It tends to give the impression that the point of this comic is principally as a vehicle for Jim Davidson's beautifully cinematic illustrations of Batman descending upon ne'er-do-wells from tree, balcony or tall building and then kicking their heads in; so it's more or less Judge Dredd, except there's a point to Judge Dredd and it's usually funnier.

Come to think of it, I very much enjoyed Keith Giffen's Batman in the old Justice League comics, but then the point of that Batman was giving the other characters something to take the piss out of.

Raving Communist that I apparently must be, the thing I took from Batman Incorporated is more or less the same thing I take from Donald Trump's presidential campaign - tough on crime but protect your investment in the causes of crime, so let's get the drug dealers and kick their heads in and shit. Chavs too - let's add them to the list whilst we're here, the greedy bag-snatching work-shy fuckers.

Conversely, I suppose you might point out that we also have a Native American Batman here - which is a nice idea - and Morrison takes the trouble to explain in the appendix how he identifies and empathises with the slow genocide of the native American because he went to a reservation and it was a lot like some parts of Glasgow.


Well, it's not so much an appendix as pages of Jim Davidson's preliminary sketches, mostly of amazing new character sensations - some of whom you'll miss if you blink whilst reading the actual comic - notarised by Morrison listing the obscure 1950s issue of Detective Comics in which they first appeared.

Also there are schoolgirls wearing stockings and suspenders, like they do. Phwoaar! Eh? Eh? They love it!

I have no idea what I've just read, but it wasn't for me.

Jim Davidson didn't really draw it by the way. I just couldn't be arsed to type out the four million names of those who did, although they all did a really tremendous job.


1 comment:

  1. Yeah, Batman Inc basically makes no sense on any level unless you've read the previous five or six years of Morrison's Batman comics, many of which are better anyway on a basic craft level, and also read some of the crossovers which distorted the story Morrison was trying to tell. I can't imagine what I'd make of it were I to try it as a thing in itself...