Author: Bobby Barrett
May 23, 2013


Well, that was surprising.

BATMAN, INCORPORATED has reached its boiling point. The pieces are all coming together, the final battle is about to take place, Batman has armed himself like we've never seen before and ready to exact terrible vengeance on those who murdered his son and are holding his city hostage – FINALLY in this issue…we get a one-off story about the Batman of Japan.

That's right, kiddies, Grant Morrison is taking the month off while regular series artist Chris Burnham takes over the writing duties (with guest penciller Jorge Lucas) for "Interlude: A Bird in the Hand". This can easily come as a disappointment for fans who've been waiting on the edge of their seat for the conclusion of Morrison's story, especially with little-to-no warning from DC--so the challenge here is to look at this book for what it IS, rather than what it ISN'T. Unfortunately, what it IS, is nothing incredibly memorable.

The story centers around Jiro, the Batman of Japan whom you may remember fighting crime as "Mr. Unknown" in the first two issues of BATMAN, INC. Volume 1, as well as a brief appearance in this volume's issue #0. He has recently passed his "probationary status" for Batman, Incorporated, and is enjoying a virtual reality date with his sidekick/love interest, Canary, when news breaks of a violent crime spree in Downtown Tokyo. A group of five women on motorcycles, who could easily be mistaken for Power Ranger knockoffs (they're even called out as such), have been brutally maiming and killing civilians based on their physical appearances, targeting those with obvious "imperfections" with much scorn.

The cover of BATMAN, INC. #11

The two heroes arrive on the scene, underestimating their foes until discovering that they work for the Japanese branch of Talia al Ghul's Leviathan organization. The culprits' trail leads Jiro and Canary to the gang's hideout, where secrets are revealed, justice is dispensed, and romance can continue.

The thing that strikes me first about this issue is that it definitely reads like a one-shot. We are only given what is necessary to enjoy the story, nothing deeper. Burnham did an acceptable job telling the story, but one can imagine that if Morrison himself had written it, it would have held a bit more charm, and the mundane nature of the tale could be overlooked. Sadly, this is not quite the case.

That's not to say it's a completely wasted effort, though. This issue is deeply rooted in BATMAN, INCORPORATED backstory. "Internet 3.0" plays a fairly large role (for the first time in this second volume), and Jiro himself is actually long overdue for a follow-up…those who have been reading this title from its genesis will recall he was the first recruit by Bruce Wayne for the Batman, Inc. venture – but we've seen very little of him since, compared to the team's other recruits. With that in mind, it does seem like at least some version of this month's story needed to be told to wrap things up properly.

Jorge Lucas does a fine job here. His art style is not far removed from Chris Burnham's, somewhere right in between realism and "cartoony". This helps him get away with some of the more violent scenes, as the cartoonish influence can push the intensity of fight scenes further without repulsing the more sensitive reader. It is a practice well-used by Burnham and many other artists who have worked on this ongoing story (Frank Quitely, Cameron Stewart and Andy Clarke come to mind). If we end up seeing more of Lucas' work in other Batman titles to come, I'd be fine with that.

Ultimately, this is an issue that you'd be forgiven for skipping, nothing about it says "Must read!" Maybe time will be more kind to this one, but for now, I'm more interested in reading "Batman vs Leviathan." - Bobby Barrett


Bobby Barrett is a lifelong Batman enthusiast living in Fresno, California, with his wife and several cats.
He enjoys reading, writing, acting, and playing very loud rock music.

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