Review by: flapjaxx

What did the
community think?

Avg Rating: 4.4
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Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Chris Burnham
Cover by Chris Burnham

Size: 32 pages
Price: 2.99

First of all, if you think this issue had content that was “too sensitive” in light of the Aurora victims, you may as well think that the cover should be banned out of respect for people who die in fires. The allegedly offensive content has scarcely any commonalities with last month’s tragedy. I gave DC the benefit of the doubt when they said the pushback wasn’t due to scheduling, but now we find out that issues #4 and #5 have been pushed back as well, so this seems to be another case of Morrison’s Bat-comics running frustratingly slowly, even after a lot of lead-time.

I also have to point out how disappointed I was at an iFanboy’s suggestion that any retailers who didn’t hold this back are “jerks”. LCS owners had to buy this comic in advance and then voluntarily find space to store all copies of it for a month. We all know that comic series tend to sell fewer copies month in and month out — which means that fewer copies of this issue will sell through to the ever-shrinking customer base than would have sold last month. In other words, the LCS retailers (mostly small businesspeople) lost money on this while the big corporation soaked up positive media attention for being so “sensitive”, while also seamlessly obscuring the fact that Batman Incorporated was already going to be running behind schedule as of issue #4 (which was originally due out today but has been pushed back two months).

So instead of just taking DC’s word at face value, dutifully and gullibly believing that this issue was definitely “very offensive”, and following every media-directed behavior (not matter how irrational) just so long as the idea is not to “offend” anyone, maybe iFanboy could apologize to retailers for calling them “jerks”. I doubt it. Instead the next time something like this happens, maybe DC can mandate that everyone who buys their comics will have to sign a waiver promising not to commit any crimes that DC could be irrationally blamed for… and then iFanboy can post an editorial saying that the practice “sounds like a fair one”, “we can handle that”.

The actual content of the issue is, of course, excellent. This comic feels like a mash-up of old gangster movie tropes mixed with the creepy Lynch-ian surrealism that Morrison is known for. The Matches Malone character is used to great effect, and really the entire supporting cast shines. You get the distinct impression that Bruce & co. (literally, Batman and his “company”) are up against a colossal organization: they have slowly become enmeshed in a web of nefarious connections dating back to Morrison’s first work on the “Batman” title several years ago. It’s rare for contemporary comics to bring so much continuity to bear in such a tangible way.

Like no other current writer of superhero comics, Morrison’s panel-to-panel transitions and scene changes always seem to flow beautifully. This issue isn’t as much of a “channel-surfing” affair as, say, issue #2, but the reader’s attention is still driven around quite often, with a scene change usually occurring every couple of pages. And it should be noted that though Morrison dubbed his new style “channel surfing” around the time of Final Crisis, in practice it does read very much like a feature of comic books themselves rather than of television (in other words, it doesn’t seem to borrow from television in the way that “cinematic” comics borrow from movies).

Chris Burnham’s art is also very good. All the characters’ faces look so distinct and interesting. The two big bald golem-like henchmen look particularly great. As with Morrison’s multi-genre story, the art conveys a free-flowing sense of time and era, with the reader wondering “Are we in the ’70s? The ’30s? Over here it looks modern, but there is a creepy sense of nostalgia at times.” At least, that’s how I felt, and Burnham’s art really adds to the feel. When I first saw his work a few years ago in “Batman & Robin”, people were drawing comparisons to Frank Quitely. At the time, I agreed, and if Burnham’s style stayed just as it was it would have been fine. He seems to have grown into his own style more, however, and the change is a good one. Otherwise I’d have kept thinking, “Ah, this is nice but I wish it were the real Frank Quitely doing the art…”. The art does look a little scratchier in this issue, however, and I wonder if this is evidence of Burnham starting to rush a bit so as to keep up with the monthly schedule.

Regardless of all the frustrating and unnecessary controversy surrounding this issue, it remains just another example of Morrison’s Bat-saga: very, very good comic booking, far and away the most innovative of all mainstream superheroics going on today… even if it does take forever to come out.

Story: 5 - Excellent
Art: 4 - Very Good


  1. Re: Jerks. To me, it’s an issue of professionalism on the part of the retailers.

    Imagine you own a comic book store. One of your largest suppliers — a vendor that is probably responsible for 30-50% of your total business — asks you to do them a favor. They have a book that they think might come off as in bad taste or otherwise generate negative press in light of the Aurora shootings so they ask you not to sell it for a month. Since that’s a business relationship you really need to keep in good standing, I think you’d do the responsible thing for your business relationship and hold the book back. Like many retailers did.

    DC’s reasons for asking retailers to do this are immaterial — they said it was out of respect to the victims of the shooting, but I can see how some would choose to believe DC’s motives were more self-serving.

    I’ve seen the arguments about it being unfair for DC to ask retailers to sit on product they’ve paid for, making them unable to recoup their investment. Now, I’m not a retailer, but given that dozens of books are released every week, I don’t believe that withholding a single book should have a tremendous impact to the cash flow or bottom line at a properly managed store. What do these retailers do if a box of comics is damaged in shipment or gets lost in the system?

    And you mention an issue of space to stock the withheld books — unless these stores are ordering hundreds of copies (and I’m sure there are a few stores that do, but not many), I can’t see storage space being that big of a deal. Most stores have racks and/or boxes of back issues that will likely NEVER be sold. The space exists.

    What it boils down to is that one party in a long-running business relationship made an unusual but reasonable request to their business partners. And some of those partners refused to grant that reasonable request. Which is kind of a jerk move.

    Now that the book is out, I hope this whole topic goes away, because I’m tired of hearing crazy excuses for retailers that would prefer to play the victime rather than behave like professionals.

  2. In not sure if this applied to everyone but my LCS owner claimed DC offered a full refund on the purchases made for this comic since it was shipped already if the owners wished. So on that note if they really wanted to follow what dc was trying to do then they easily could have, there’s really no excuse there other then they didn’t agree with their decision in the first place.

  3. More info: According to my retailer, DC gave a credit to retailers for the books they bought back in July. So if a retailer paid for $200 worth of Batman Inc #3 on their July invoice, they’re getting $200 off their invoice this month. Which blows the “DC is sticking retailers in a tough financial situation” argument entirely out of the water.

    So any retailers who sold this early were too impatient or unwilling to give DC the benefit of the doubt and make things right. Which I would say makes them look a bit like unreasonable jerks.

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