Updates From The Batcave: Batman Inc. #4, The Dark Knight #2, and more!

Mark it down, folks. This isn’t the biggest week ever in quantity, but it’s worth taking note, if for no other reason than the fact that the infrequently seen Batman Incorporated is shipping alongside the even more rarely seen (only once, as a matter of fact) The Dark Knight. It’s almost a certainty that you won’t see this combination a month from now.

Batman Incorporated #4

Last month, Grant Morrison did what Grant Morrison does: took disparate Silver Age elements, the majority of which are goofy to say the least (plot details from a parrot? A femme fatale wearing a giant scorpion mask, complete with a tail and stinger hanging from the top? A criminal mastermind in a luchadore mask?), and combined them with some James Bond-esque stylings (from the in media res opening to the inexplicable-but-awesome tango sequence)…and it all kind of worked, inexplicably. With Bruce Wayne visiting Argentina on a Batman Inc. mission, Batman teamed up with Gaucho to solve a case of three missing children. However, they were betrayed in the issue’s closing pages, left in a death trap where the two of them are about to be forced to fight to the death, battering each other with electrified gloves.

This month takes a step back a bit. The arrival of Batwoman (Kate Kane) leads to a flashback sequence involving the original Batwoman (Kathy Kane). The artwork, originally promised to be Yanick Paquette again, has instead been delivered by the newly-exclusive Chris Burnham…and that is just fine.

It would be nice if Batwoman #1 were shipping this month, as it was supposed to, as this issue was quite openly intended to dovetail with that it…but we can’t have everything and instead of enjoying two gorgeous visual feasts full of weird ideas together, Batman fans will have to content themselves with just this one for now (and Batwoman when it ships…whenever the hell that is).

Batman: The Dark Knight #2

You could certainly be forgiven for not really remembering what is going on in this book. #1 shipped on December 29. With March drawing to a close, DC is not exactly inspiring high hopes for the book getting back on track anytime soon, despite solicitations to the contrary, by only shipping one issue in the intervening three months.

All the same, here we are. Luckily, the recap is pretty simple.

Despite turning control of Gotham City over to Dick Grayson, Bruce Wayne has stuck around his hometown. A figure from his childhood, the petulant but mesmerizing Dawn Golden, has gone missing under mysterious circumstances. Unsurprisingly, Batman has tasked himself with solving the crime before he can depart for his work at Batman Inc.

Last month, Batman began digging for clues and unearthed a connection to Killer Croc. He found Croc strung out on street-grade venom, a substance he was able to afford by allegedly selling Dawn Golden to a small-time hood…who then happened to wash up (dead, obviously) on Gotham’s shores. When the issue drew to a close, Batman had found Dawn’s jewelry, but was also cornered by Penguin and a group of his gun-toting goons.

There are interesting parallels between this book and the now-famous “Hush” story arc. They both featured A-list artists who specialize in highly detailed visuals and they both were stories of Batman running the gauntlet of his villains. They also both began with Batman chasing down Killer Croc as the result of a kidnapping, which makes “Golden Dawn” feel more than a little derivative. However, most tellingly is the fact that in the absence of a superstar artist, there’s very little of substance to recommend in either book. “Hush” was quite a bit of fun, but it certainly wasn’t the most tightly crafted narrative ever produced in the medium of comics; it had a cursory story with some memorable moments, but it was really carried solely by the strength of its visuals and the selling power of an artist’s name.

So far, The Dark Knight is attempting to do the same thing, but to be successful at that, the book has to actually…y’know…ship. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait three months to see another issue…but don’t hold your breath.

Batman: Streets of Gotham #21

Well, it’s finally over. What began as a perfectly serviceable book is being taken out behind the shed and unceremoniously shot…and even that analogy is inaccurate, as it suggests that Streets of Gotham is going out with a bang and not a whimper.

As has been stated before, the book’s lack of success is certainly not for a lack of quality talent attached to it: Paul Dini simply gets Batman and Dustin Nguyen is a great artist. But at the end of the day, Dini’s big plotline (the current “House of Hush” arc) feels out of place in the current atmosphere of the Bat-Universe and it’s hard to take seriously ad blurbs full of such hyperbole when the story hasn’t seemed to be of any great import so far…and a book’s cancellation rarely bodes well for its continued relevance.

Here’s hoping Dini gets back to what made him so universally well-regarded in the first place: timeless stories that dwell on the essential nature of Batman as a character, not “everything you know is wrong/nothing will ever be the same” let-downs that so many comic fans are weary of anyway.

Aside from Superman/Batman #82, this is the entire shiplist for Batman-related titles this week; there isn’t even a collected edition release this go-round.

Next week keeps roughly the same pace, quantity-wise, with Detective Comics #875, Gotham City Sirens #21 (which, despite repeated rumors to the contrary, continues to be solicited and published), and Teen Titans #93. See you then.

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