Page 45 Review by Stephen
You heard the rumour the Dark Knight has become a kind of God?
Hes only a man. Let him build his army. We are ready for war are we not?
The first 500 are in place. Each trained to imitate the actions of a virus. Infiltrate. Contaminate. Destroy.
Following directly on from BATMAN & ROBIN VOL 3 at the end of which Bruce Wayne returns, summons his cohorts and declares war on crime financially, internationally and technologically, this substantial, oversized hardcover reprints the entire first series of BATMAN INCORPORATED including its climax, the LEVIATHAN STRIKES one-shot.
Grant has weaved an enormously dense and complex tale in this worldwide saga taking in Africa, Argentina, Australia, Paris and Japan. Old allies in the Batman family reaffirm their allegiance; others have their faith sorely tested; and new ones are recruited all around the globe. The plan is to be everywhere at once. But all the while Batman knows hes not the only hunter, for the great beast called Leviathan, with its multitude of fiercely cunning killers, has its eyes set on world domination and settling one particularly personal score. Over and over again, its strike and counter strike on both sides as each army attempts to pre-empt the other.
It kicks off in seriously old-school fashion with giant robot rats and the first of so many increasingly ingenious death traps as Bruce hires Selina Kyle to slink alongside him and burgle a criminal mastermind. Then its on to Japan to find and train a new Batman but the man hes set his sights on is dead, his hands and face melted away by nitro-hydrochloric acid by Lord Death Man, a sadist in a skeletal Halloween costume who seems one step ahead of everyone including the boy who escaped him earlier. Maybe Batman will have to settle for a Japanese Robin. You know, if Catwoman survives the giant, carnivorous octopus!
I love the way Grant threads each climax through with teasers for next issue. Thankfully theyre all still here. Never seen it done quite like that before and it works like a dream.
My favourite sequence, though, is the attack on the internet which is, lets face it, the frontier so many criminals have now set their sights. Bruce Waynes scientists have developed Internet 3.0 a virtual version of most major business cities of the world in mind-boggling detail. He and his investors are admiring it from within. Suddenly theyre assaulted by malware, a zombie virus in the form of cadaverous avatars smashing through the virtual pane glass windows, armed to their skeletal hilts. But wait until you see Batman Incorporateds anti-viral software!
Im scanning for a signature, but its polymorphic. And there should be a mutation engine somewhere to make all this work, but I havent found it yet. All I know is somebody brought the engine through my firewalls. Which means one of your investors is a Trojan Horse
and we need to test the system. But you knew that, didnt you?
It climaxes with two final chapters, the first following one of Batman's many minions to girls' school where it's all a bit MORNING GLORIES, a control cult of mass indoctrination training and supplying spy girls to whoever can afford them which is just where Leviathan wants them. Your master of secret ceremonies is a chip off the old block, but which tree he fell from I will leave you to discover yourselves. The second chapter takes no prisoners at all well, except two Batmen and both Robins in the labyrinth of Doctor Dedalus as Grant Morrison puts them and indeed you through the disorientating ringer with much misdirection before Bruce finally figures it all out. Uh oh! I promise you, when the true identity of Leviathan is finally revealed, it all makes perfect sense.
The book features a superb set of artists including Chris Burnham doing a fine impression of Frank Quitely, while Scott Clark with Dave Beatty on the virtual reality chapter will dazzle your eyeballs for daze. There are pages of preliminary sketches in the back along with a guide by Grant Morrison just in case you lost track of things the first time round and want to go back with hindsight and new set of clues.
"We take our memories for granted, never imagining the day must come when they, too, will walk out on us, one by one, like the lovers and friends we never truly appreciated until we are alone."
Now there's a frightening thought. I can already see my memories waving good-bye from here.