Sunday, October 2

Batman, Incorporated #8 (Oct 2011)

“Nightmares in Numberland”

Bat-Tron! That's essentially what this issue is as Bruce Wayne Batman and Oracle defend the new Internet 3.0 from digital takeover. “Internet 3.0 access comes installed with free Batman, Incorporated anti-viral software,” Bruce tells his assembled investors as a hellish commando group takes their avatars hostage in the virtual world. And in zooms a very Batgirl-looking Oracle on a Tron-Batcycle.  By the end, of course, Batman and Oracle's avatars have defeated the Trojan horse introduced by one of the investors, and the experiences they have undergone along the way have made the others even more enthusiastic about the new technology. Along the way, this issue has some really interesting art – the real world scenes (of which there are not many) are themselves CGI with almost photo realism, while the virtual world is rendered in a way that is reminiscent but not slavish to the style of Tron.

A couple of notes: First, it's interesting to see Batman, present in the virtual world as Bruce as well, admit to Oracle that “Talking to myself is … disorienting. … It's hard to maintain control of two avatars at once ….” Too often he's portrayed as too much in control. On the same page there is a continuity note as well, referring to another story that I'm not sure now we will ever be seeing in full. 'Way back in Batman: The Return, I think, Stephanie Brown Batgirl was informed she would have sent on a mission to the UK, and we later got to see her arrive in London and have a short, separate adventure with The Squire in Batgirl #22 before meeting up with Batman himself for final orders, apparently, with the note that the story would be continued in Batman, Incorporated #9. In the next issue of her own title, Steph is back in Gotham for the beginning of the closing two issue arc, having returned from England to find her fanboy stalker superhero wannabe Grey Ghost dead. Since then, however, it's been revealed that this issue #8 is the last of this series, which will be continued in a special to be published in December – Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes #1 (scroll down about one-quarter), which description doesn't seem to gee-haw even with this issue's tag-line, “This Fall, Batman and Batgirl Enter … The School of Night!” That description could follow up Oracle's comment, “I keep getting e-mails from Batgirl. … You were right about the Finishing School for Evil in England,” but I don't get the feeling that's what the Leviathan story is about. And it is my understanding, perhaps erroneous, that there will be no “echoes” of the old DCU after August.  Remember, I'm quite a ways behind in reading and blogging.  I have read – again, somewhere that I'm not sure – that “Spoiler,” Steph's pre-Batgirl identity, will be part of the Leviathan story, which I hope implies that Steph will be part of the DCnU. 
Cover for Leviathan Strikes #1
But note that the cover solicitation for Leviathan Strikes has Bruce in his Batman, Incorporated costume with the yellow oval chest symbol, despite the fact that in all other images from the DCnU he is back in the plain black bat emblem, so maybe the resolution to the Leviathan saga is pre-DCnU. I'm not sure what to make of all this – other than that yes, this issue was delayed for some time coming out, and takes place probably back just after Batgirl #22 …. Guess we'll just have to wait and see. Grant Morrison does tend to be allowed to play his own tune in large part – and generally his work is good enough (i.e., sells enough) to justify that.

Cheers! – and thanks for reading.

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