Saturday, May 28, 2011

31 Days of Comics #28

Batman Incorporated #6
By Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham

Apart from the venerable 2000ad, this was the only new comic I got this week, so this is all I’ve got to talk about.

I get one comic, and it’s a bung one. Four random pages are the victims of an unfortunate print error, and have been cut slightly shorter, with no binding to the rest of the comic. The pages fell out when I opened up to read it for the first time, and it took me a while to figure out where they went in the story. I’m still not sure I got it right.

It doesn’t really matter, because I’m fairly certain I didn’t miss any pages and I’ve always had an inexpicable fondness for bung comic books. And besides, re-inserting random cut-up pages into the narrative of an individual comic book is just the sort of non-linear thinking that Morrison is going for in Batman Incorporated.

It’s been an oddly soul-less comic so far, especially when there was so much naked sentimentality in his Batman and Robin stories, but Batman Incorporated is starting to find its groove, especially now that Chris Burnham is on art duties. Yankick Paquette is a fine artist, but his superhero work can often feel flat, while Burnham’s line is open and wild.

He sometimes wears the Quitely influence a little bit too obviously, but if you’re going to emulate somebody, you could do a whole lot worse. (I certainly never minded it when Steve Rude got his Kirby on.) It’s not as sharp as Quitely, but Burnham shows a willingness to mess with the movement on the page, and uses body language to stage action sequences in remarkably inventive ways.

Burnham will undoubtedly sort his own style out and shows real promise, if that detail doesn’t wear him down first. Alex Ronald was one of the first real artists to follow the same path Quitely was travelling, especially when he was following Frank on Missionary Man, but was just starting to find his own real voice when he went off to do CG illustrating and modelling for the past decade. (Although a tiny bit of googling reveals something about some kind of vampire Nazi she-bitch comic for Waster.)

Morrison’s skipping style of storytelling means those munted pages could go anywhere, but it also allows Morrison to get a lot of information across in a very small space. By the end of issue six, he has his army of Batmen in place, ready to fight a noble war against the big next menace.

Batman will win that fight, because that’s what Batman does, but the real threat is his own bat-hubris. He has created an organisation more powerful than any nation, with nobody to answer to. It’s all bound to end in tears.

I really hope it doesn’t, because we’ve all read that story a million times before. It really would be nice to have a large benevolent organisation that doesn’t automatically self-corrupt in some way.

It would be nice to have something new and interesting happen in a Batman comic.

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