If Batman Inc. was a movie, issue #0 is the scene where that group you met in the first 45 minutes comes together to combat their foe. Batman goes on a literal world tour to gather his Batmen of many nations. There are a few fresh faces we haven’t seen before, and everyone we’ve already met returns. This issue feels like Bruce’s final move before he begins his offensive against Leviathan. Bruce’s recruiting trip provides plenty of opportunity for encounters with super-villains from around the world. This issue is fast, and well paced. With so many characters to touch base with, Morrison still finds time to highlight favorites, as well as refresh our memories on events that took place in his original Batman run.
Frequent Morrison collaborator Frazer Irving takes on art duties for Batman Inc.’s zero issue. Irving is no stranger to Batman, having done several issues of Morrison’s Batman and Robin. I feel his work on this issue is superior to his previous work on the character. Irving’s style is digital pencils and paint washes, and he tweaks his color palate to fit the part of the world Batman is in. He sets the tone for each scene beautifully. Some scenes feature odd color patterns, like peach or lime green, and Irving likes to throw around lots of purple. The few panels that are black and white are sublime. I have to give panel of the book first panel of the story; it’s 2/3 of the page and immediately grabs your attention.
Morrison uses the bell from Year One as a metaphor for how Batman operates. In that story, Bruce rang the bell and Alfred came to save his life. Once again, it is time for Bruce to ring the bell. Only this time he is calling his allies to his aid to fight the evil that has emerged. Batman’s secret weapon is that he is never alone.
After getting things on order in Gotham, Bruce takes off on a series of adventures, hopping from country to country gathering his team. Some old faces like El Gaucho only get one page, while Knight, Squire, and Dark Ranger get considerably more. I’m looking forward to seeing more or the Russian Batman. It is fun imagining the possibilities if Morrison is manoeuvring his story to have a group of over a dozen foreign Batmen fighting in the same place.
Readers who have been on board since Morrison first began his Batman run will be pleased to see that Grant is making sure none off his work is getting retconned away. Issue zero contains several references to his Club of Heroes arc, and the issue actually opens in a flashback shortly after Mayhew’s island exploded. Morrison has been writing one long Batman story since he started on the book. Elements from his very first arc are coming back to have effects in Batman Inc. The momentum that has been building stalls slightly. Though Leviathan is mentioned, we get no update on their actual plan, nor do we see them in action. I did appreciate that Grant managed to put one of his pre-New 52 creations in this issue. I won’t say who, but I was really hoping someone would establish that they survived the reboot. Grant’s story seems primed to explode with action. Bruce is ready and has all his pieces in place. All that is left is for someone to make the first move, and then watch Morrison’s epic run on Batman come to a (hopefully satisfying) conclusion.
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