Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Batman, Inc #12

Perhaps the greatest surprise of Batman, Inc #12 is how many threads are left hanging for the series finale. This is an issue of action, with one battle fought and another set to begin, while the major themes are touched upon lightly, but perhaps with importance.

The events of the issue are straightforward: Batman, armed as a man-bat, with the Suit of Sorrows, and the power of invisibility, neutralizes Talia's man-bats with the antidote, then thoroughly bashes his genetically-engineered son, the Heretic, in battle. We see that the Heretic has a child's head on his herculean body. When the Heretic is defeated, he reports back to his mother who slays him for his failure, and goes to Wayne Manor to fight Bruce in battle.

An interlude shows Dick Grayson and Tim Drake arriving at the location where Jason Todd was a captive of Spyral, and the three former Robins find themselves not in a fight, but being told that Spyral is on Batman's side, but in perhaps the issue's biggest teaser, we are told by the Hood and the Headmistress (more clearly than ever, Kathy Kane) that the fight between Batman, Inc. and Leviathan is a minor facet of a much bigger picture, and describe Bruce Wayne's efforts in patronizing fashion.

This issue is filled with references to earlier stories, both by Morrison and his predecessors. Defeating and shaming the Heretic (now referred to, by both Talia and Bruce, directly as "Leviathan") in front of his troops is a mirror of Batman beating the Mutant leader in The Dark Knight Returns. Dick Grayson and the new Knight give the Heretic a double punch, a motif of Dick and Damian's in Batman and Robin. The Headmistress says "How you've grown" to Dick Grayson, a further clue that she is Kathy Kane, and moreover an exact quote of Doctor Hurt from Batman #678. Talia says that there are dozens more Damian clones in tanks waiting to be born, which was Darkseid's plan in cloning Bruce in Final Crisis. Talia identifies herself as Kali, Tiamet, Medusa, the wire mommy, an intriguingly direct reference to the upbringing of Professor Pyg. And finally, when Talia takes up arms to fight Bruce mano-a-mano in the Batcave, she says "To the death, my dear detective," a near quote of her father's challenge to Bruce before their desert duel back in Batman #244.

The perplexing matter is how much is left unresolved with only one issue left in Morrison's epic run. We know that plotwise, Bruce must fight this battle with Talia, then after a funeral marking a major death, will decide to end Batman, Inc, and will be charged with a crime, charges that will presumably be dealt with before Morrison's run ends.

It remains possible that the Heretic will fill the second foreshadowed grave. Even so, we need to see the aforementioned plot points play out, as well as the newly-raised tension regarding a bigger picture that will put Bruce and Talia's war in context.

In several ways, this story has subtly linked the forces of the Black Glove with those of the al-Ghuls. Talia had an agent inside the Black Glove. Her plot threatens to create the apocalypse we've seen in the future, with Doctor Hurt playing a role in that. Now, with Talia describing herself in the terms of Professor Pyg's upbringing, this raises the prospect that Talia and the Black Glove were somehow operating in parallel. Morrison has promised a coda for Doctor Hurt, and now we know that a plot involving Spyral overarches Leviathan. It seems that the events of #13 will be thematically and literally very expansive.


  1. Excellent insight. The Pyg reference surprised me. Cannot wait.

  2. I think the English Lazarus Pit plot-thread is going to be purposefully unresolved.

    That whole scene always played as a meta-commentary of Damian's death. The English prime minister's dialogue was an exact mirror of the reader's thoughts on Damian. "The Knight was extremely popular and good for England as a whole".

    The only real mystery left is this looming threat that Kathy Kane seems to be hinting at.

  3. Loved seeing Kathy Kane, especially after you called it. I cannot wait until the next issue.
    "You and I. At last." This quote from Thalia reminds me of something Dr. Hurt said to "Barbatos" at the beginning of Batman and Robin #16.
    Thalia is seen wearing what looks like Bruce's father's Bat costume, previously being sported by Dr. Hurt. I would be thrilled to see that old devil turn up next issue.

  4. Jonny, good observations with subtle Doctor Hurt references. After re-reading #10, I found one more: In #10, the Headmistress supposes that Talia has bugged Jason Todd. In #12, JT reveals that they removed one of his teeth. Putting a bug in a tooth is something that Doctor Hurt did to Bruce (he found and removed it in Batman #679).

    On one level, this looks like an overpowering number of similarities to Doctor Hurt, indicating a definite link. On the other hand, Morrison is known for repeating themes and quotes even where is no link between characters. But this number of repeated patterns is beginning to look intriguing.

  5. Im baffled at how in one issue we will get a satifying resolution. I dont put it past Morrison though, he has surprised me in bigger ways than this in the past, but I just cant see it...which excites me.

    The Kathy Kane aspect, and her referencing that basically everything we have read up to this point being a B plot for a bigger story made me think of Multiversity. Is she a parrallel universe character that will force the events of Batman Inc to spiral into the long awaited Multiversity series (not unlike how Batman RIP/B&R/RoBW spiralled in and out of Final Crisis)?

    While anything is possible in one issue when in Morrison's hands I really wish there was more story to tell becuase for a 7 year journey Im half expecting the conclusion to be anticlimactic...and that saddens me.

  6. Mac, I think the following "mysteries" are left to account for:
    1) The second grave. After #12, it seems more plausible that the Heretic be the occupant. Kathy Kane is still a solid possibility.
    2) The bigger picture (not necessarily a threat, per se; maybe a bigger battle between a bigger foe and a bigger force for justice). If there's a bigger foe, I think it has to be Ra's, Hurt, or something utterly abstract in nature, such as "evil" or Darkseid.
    2b) Has the future threat of nuclear destruction been resolved?
    2c) Was Bruce really so clueless about the existence of a bigger picture? Will Morrison belittle his hero in the last issue?
    3) How does Bruce rebound in so little time from the arrest we saw foreshadowed in #1? It could potentially happen very quickly.

  7. Great write-up as always rikdad! I too was surprised that so little happened plot wise was resolved in #12.

    Things I think need resolving:

    1) THE OROBORO What is the oroboro? It's been said to be linked to several metabombs, but it's also said to be a new source of energy.
    2) SPYRAL/KATHY KANE The link between Spyral, Talia, Netz, and Kathy Kane.
    3) COLD OPEN/TEASER Who is the second death? Kathy Kane seems likely, as does Talia. Why is Bruce arrested and how does he get out? It seems like it's probably related to Batman Inc/Talia's ultimatum to Gotham's mayor.
    4) TALIA'S MOTIVATION Does Talia's mother or past have anything to do with her current motivation? What made Talia become so evil/become such a monster (besides, obviously, her childhood)?
    5) THE BLACK GLOVE The connection between Talia and the Black Glove/Dr. Hurt.
    6) 666 FUTURE The connection between Talia and the 666 Future/Bruce's vision coming back from the future. Has 666 been eradicated all together. I remember reading that Morrison thought he might have kept Damian alive long until he was 14 years old and sold his soul to Dr. Hurt, but he never ended up doing that (obviously).
    7) TALIA'S PLOT How will Talia's plot to make Gotham commit suicide/set off the metabombs be stopped (by Kathy Kane/Batman Inc)?
    8) RA'S What is Ra's role in all this? What mistake did he reference? Was it ignoring Spyral or underestimating Batman?
    9) THE BIGGER PICTURE What is the bigger picture? What is it that Kathy Kane seems to imply Batman doesn't know, but she does. Does Batman really not know about it? Is Talia simply the big bad or is there something more? I’ve read on message boards that people think this will end up tying into Morrison’s Multiversity mini, but I don’t think that will be the case.
    10) LAZARUS PIT Why is a Lazarus pit not used to revive Damian? Will one be used to revive the Knight?
    11) DAMIAN CLONES Somewhere there may or may not be a room of Damian clones, Venture Brothers style. Will this be addressed?
    12) FUTURE OF BATMAN INC Probably will be saved for the aftermath special, but I’m wondering how Morrison will leave it.

  8. Jonny, I took another look at the suit Talia is wearing on the last page. The cowl does look rather Hurt-like, but the overall design, as best we can see it, is also a close match to the Kathy Kane batsuit, at least the version we saw in flashback in Inc, Vol 1, but not so much like the suit which we saw the imposter wear; both of these were worn by Kathy Kane over the years.

  9. darkside,
    Great summary! As I re-read Inc, I wonder if there isn't something more to be said about the Hood as well. We've seen some very mysterious twists and turns in his scenes. However, as is the case with many of the points you list, we may simply never get the answer to this. We've seen this with Morrison in the past. For example, it was never clear if Hurt specifically ordered the Waynes' murders, but suggested as a possibility almost 5 years ago. In like fashion, we should expect for certain that some of these excellent questions won't be answered in the finale.

  10. I just want to throw out the theory that Lazlo Valentin and Kathy Kane have had a past relationship and that Johnny (Son of Pyg) is the result. The connection seems obvious to me, though any deeper implications are currently lost on me. To summarize, we know that both Kathy and Lazlo worked at Spyral during the same timeframe, that Kathy had previously dated a brilliant scientist (which Lazlo seemed to have been), and that Lazlo was driven mad by Kathy's father, a known jealous figure (as seen by his successful attempts to draw Bruce and Kathy apart).

    Finally, we have that all of Johnny's appearances (all two, lol) have been heavily tied to Batwoman imagery, what with St. Hadrians, the new Batwoman, the imposter, the Batwoman costumes, and even the Batwoman utility belt items! So there seems to be a very obvious link here that is hard to ignore. What it means for the story (how can there only be a single issue left!?!?!?!?), I do not know.

  11. Nice theory machinegunegeek, I never noticed that before but I think you could be correct. Johnny also calls himself Janosz, a German boy's name, perhaps hinting at a German mother...

    How would that piece fit into this puzzle I wonder...

  12. Some more thoughts:
    Morrison said he would return Batman (to other writers) the way he found him, and during the course of his run Bruce experiences a kind of individuation that allows him to depart from the brooding character he once was. I'm thinking the event(s) that could sort of reset the traumatized Bruce would be the loss of not his Mother and Father this time, but his Son and his only true Love (is this a good way to characterize Kathy Kane?)
    Also, could the bigger threat simply be the fact that Batman and Talia's war threatens the entire world (it feels like it should be something more surprising, I admit). This could tie into some kind of big realization regarding Bruce being his own worst enemy (a theme in the run) or the folly of creating Batman Inc. or both.
    I had been looking for a more cerebral end to the run, but now it seems obvious that this is an operatic family-drama driven story at this point, and its more likely the climax will be an highly emotional one.
    Maybe you could say the earlier parts of the story were about Bruce finding himself, and the latter parts are about him losing himself?

  13. machinegungeek,

    That's excellent detective work, and sounds right, although, yes, there isn't going to be a lot of time for that to work into the story with any meaning.

    I think Morrison puts detail into his work such that the implications and possibilities of his beginnings exceeds the opportunity to let it all sort out. Some examples in this run:

    He established (even before his Batman run began) that the Knight was drug-addicted and lost his fortune and had to be found in an alley. This is exactly what Doctor Hurt did to Bruce. So I thought it was a shoe-in that we'd be told that Doctor Hurt broke the Knight as practice for Bruce. Nope, no such revelation ever came.

    As another example, I'd point to the early, RIP-era similarities between Darkseid and the Black Glove, which led to no such revelation as of the end of RIP and Final Crisis. But then, in the next year, Morrison did link them together, in a story he hadn't even thought he'd write when he began noting those similarities.

    As another, note that he thought he might have taken Damian's story far forward until Damian was 14 and sold his soul to the Devil... but that plan didn't work out so it was never used.

    So I think Morrison may plant seeds in his work that can grow into conclusions, but sometimes he leaves them out when you expect him to resolve them. An idea about his plans can be right or wrong and we never get the answer, or only much later. Maybe somewhere in Morrison's notes he has the background you suggest whether we see it in #13 or not.

  14. mr donutman, the Spyral comments imply that Talia's a problem that must be dealt with but dismiss her scope.

    It remains a little unclear what her plan is, beyond Bruce, in setting off a ring of meta-bombs around the world. OK, what's a meta-bomb? Does it still explode like a regular bomb? Is her plan to cause something like 8 to 20 9/11-sized disasters, or Hiroshima-sized disasters? Why? Just to be a terrorist? If it's to gain power, that doesn't seem effective: It's the threat of violence that gains power, not the carrying out of violence. Or is a meta-bomb something completely different?

    If you look at Morrison's previous Batman mega-stories, they've both upheld the essential supremacy of Bruce Wayne. His JLA stories have certainly emphasized that as well. Another sort of Morrison ending is that the common people have the real power, and both his first and last JLA arcs, as well as Flex Mentallo, end with the whole human race being triumphant. Other stories have ended with a classic win by the superheroes: Return of Bruce Wayne (JLA wins the fight: Bruce called the shots), Rock of Ages, DC One Million, and Action Comics 1-18.

    So what's Morrison's angle here? Will Spyral say that Bruce Wayne isn't really supreme, but then we find out that he is? Or is he saying that Bruce, though he out-schemed Darkseid, the Devil, and is the last important person in all of time, belongs in Gotham instead of globetrotting? Or is the operatic screaming match with Talia the big crescendo? It feels to me like Morrison's invested way too much in building up Bruce to let any of that deflate in the very last issue.

  15. In relation to Spyral's intentions and role in the plot, I think Kathy is primarily concerned with the acquisition of oroboro, and removing it from the clutches of a terrorist lunatic.

    Here's a passage I wrote on that DCU forum thread discussing this subject:


    Kathy's (lets just call her that for simplicity) suggestion of whatever Talia's mixed up in being bigger than Batman, and Batman Inc, was probably the most intriguing line of issue #12. I suspect Kathy might just have been talking about the oroboro here. Back in Inc #5 vol.1, oroboros allure as a game changing source of power (the key to powerful new weapons , limitless energy, potential economic and military dominance, and god knows what else this new form of matter can produce), combined with some strategic placement of it on the still controversial Falklands, almost led to the outbreak of world war 3. In short, the worlds most powerful nations all wanted a piece of it, and undercover U.N intelligence agents spent years trying to steal its secrets from Netz, Kathy's (alleged) father (god I loved that character!).

    Spyral (a U.N super-spy agency) could very well be trying to ensure that oroboro doesn't wind up in the wrong hands (anyone's but their own :wink: ). If the rumors Netz spun about oroboro are indeed true and not just fabrications used to control and manipulate his enemies (again, what a character!!), then oroboro could shift the global balance of power, and besides, it wouldn't really make sense for the U.N to invest such an effort into acquiring oroboro, only to give up when Talia (who has often spoken about using it to hold the world to ransom) claimed it.

    The meta-bomb on the Falklands (that never actually got a chance to detonate), and the lightning in issue #12 are for me the strongest indicators so far that oroboro is actually a real thing.

    The higher power that Kathy wants to deal with this situation is likely her own Spyral organization, and of course the U.N.


    Machinegungeek's Johnny Valentine theory adds another interesting element into the mix. It may or may not turn out to be correct, but it did make me consider the possibility of Spyral double agents within Leviathan.

    Kathy received word of Otto Netz's fate very quickly indeed in Inc vol.1, it could almost be likened to how quickly Talia received word of Batman's burial in R.I.P......through her mole in the Black Glove.


  17. Just came here to link that too. Really interesting that he would say that but I like his reasoning.

    1. Sorry to beat you to it Bones. Your comments in previous posts have been very thoughtful.

      After enjoying a mentally balanced Batman in Morrison's hands, I'm sad to read that interview. In my humble opinion this direction of a bleak Batman that DC feels it has to go is a regression. I hope that Morrison's work gets more readers and people see that Batman can be something more than a brutish, sentimental loner.

    2. After reading many of the comments on the CBR thread about that interview, I have to retract some of my pessimism about the end of #13.

  18. Will people hate it? Can't say now, but people have had mixed reactions to some of Morrison's work before. Certainly some people hated Final Crisis. Some people hated RIP.

    The solicit says that Batman "loses everything." The Spyral comments indicate not that Batman will be defeated but that he will be belittled, his war framed as just a battle in a larger war that hardly involves him. One of the most ominous signs for him is the failure of the Batman robots that were supposed to be everywhere.

    How bleak it is, we'll have to see. The aforementioned items for sure. What else in plot or in tone... I don't see how to guess further.

    1. The bats in issue #12 were much more formidable against the man-of-bats than the robots a couple issues ago. Morrison could possibly be communicating to us that even with cutting-edge technology it's not just the presentation of the idea but rather its' execution. The robots could have had something up their sleeve if Grant chose to do so but instead allowed the robots to be pummeled. Also, in issue #12 the charge of the bats is juxtaposed by an upgraded batman wielding cutting-edge stuff; interesting to ponder.

  19. Is Morrison making an homage to Scott Snyder's tic of starting an issue off with an anecdote? Either way, it's well done in the preview:

  20. The language is very fine, and it speaks of a man who's let things get out of control, who needs to be understood. Morrison started his run with Jim Gordon on panel. Now he's the one speaking as the last issue begins.

    The scene with Gordon and Wayne must follow the conclusion of what's happening with Talia. Of course, it also buzzes with the possibility that Gordon might obtain open knowledge that Bruce Wayne is Batman, which has been a tantalizing secret since the first six pages, since Detective #27.

    This also has plenty of similarity with Dark Knight Rises.