“Batman: The Return”, One Shot: Planet Gotham (Batman: The Return #1)

A bit of a short post today, though since I found out I have an ear infection earlier this morning, and that I should stay away from headphones – which means I won’t be able to listen to any audio on my computer at all since I have no working speakers for the thing, thus meaning no video games – I’ll probably be doing quite a bit more reading this week than usual, and will probably have the first post or two about Batman Incorporated up later on. But that would probably be a good idea even if I didn’t have an infection because this short story does a lot of foreshadowing for what we can expect to find within the last three books of this run and little else.

Not that that’s a bad thing or anything – being a shot one tale, it would be pretty silly to hold it to high expectations. It reads like a vague prologue of what’s to come. To start, we see Batman gather his closest friends – Dick and Damian, of course; Oracle / Barbara Gordon; Red Robin / Tim Drake; and Batgirl, apparently one Stephanie Brown in her last appearance as the character before Gail Simone gave Barbara the ability to walk again, returning her to the role as the crimefighter in the New 52 –  in the Batcave for “assignments” that he’s going to give them individually. We’re only really given hints as to what Barbara and Stephanie will be getting up to, however. The former will be Bruce’s “ghost in the machine” for Waynetech’s new Internet 3.0. What does that mean? Well, she’s handed a sketch of her “avatar”, based on the design of Batgirl, vehicle and all, so I’m picturing some kind of Tron-like cyber fighting going on, which could be quite interesting, and I could certainly see how cyber policing could be handy when taking the concept of Batman worldwide. On the other hand, Stephanie’s task is to enroll in a  finishing school (a kind of posh school, or so I imagine, where young women are taught nonsense like social skills and how to be properly sophisticated) in England of all things, and I have no idea how that could possibly be important in any way.

What will Tim be doing? Who knows. As far as I can tell, he’ll be sticking around Gotham like Dick and Damian. Incidentally, if you were wondering what was going to happen to them with Bruce back in the picture, the answer’s nothing – they’ll still be acting as Batman and Robin, which is kinda neat because they’re so bloody awesome together. Hell, even Bruce points out that Gordon and his officers like them more, which is all, of course, in Dick’s beaming smiles. Anyway, before we’re told they’ll be sticking together, Bruce actually takes Damian out with him in new jet pack outfits. They’re investigating the grounds of bio-experiments that an apparent terrorist called Sheikh Farouk is financing and, sure enough, they come across some fella calling himself Traktir, the Vampire Man. Or Bruce does, I should say, fighting off the mutant-looking guy by himself as Damian does his own thing. A good thing he does, though, because the person or thing that he finds, dressed like Batman but with a turban, tells the kid that he already knows him, but Damian himself won’t know whoever he is until a day that “has yet to come”. Hmm. One thing I couldn’t help but notice – and why I said this could be a “thing” – is that its hands resemble that of Talia’s man-bats. Why would a random man-bat know Damian? Well, one possible explanation is that it’s a modified clone of Damian’s and I do like that idea. In keeping with my belief that Damian’s going to die by the end of the run, it would be highly appropriate if he were killed by what’s technically a brother or, in another light, himself. Curious stuff.

The good news is that Damian plants a bug – the kind that listens, not tracks – on this curious fellow, so hopefully that’s an indication that we’ll be getting answers quickly in Batman Incorporated. One thing that is clear is that he’s an agent of Leviathan, supposedly our new villain. Now, I was of the opinion that Talia would be the baddie for the last few books, yet in the final scene of this story we see the Sheikh being killed by his own son, who has apparently been brainwashed by the mastermind behind this Leviathan. Only trouble is, we see a glimpse of this villainous villain on a screen and he or it resembles Traktir, and not obviously Talia. So, in other words, I have no idea what to expect any more. But I would be highly surprised if she weren’t some part of it. Last we saw her, before Batman and Robin, she was attacking Jezebel Jet, so I’m sure she must have a surprise or two in store for Bruce, y’know, as a “Nice to see you again, beloved” kinda deal.

If not, things will surely be coming to a boiling point between the two one way or another, Bruce commenting to Alfred that she can’t be exactly chuffed with Damian for choosing the side of good. Indeed, though Bruce quite angrily says that he would never work with Damian as Batman, he does seem quite taken aback by how much the kid’s changed and the good job he’s doing, especially seeing as the last he saw him was either sometime between Batman R.I.P. and Final Crisis or before that where he was, for lack of better words, a little shit. So maybe now is his chance to act as a father, which would be nice to see for as long as it lasts before Damian’s killed off. Family as theme seems like it has the potential to play an even bigger role than before too when you think about it. We see Bruce gather the Bat-family near the start and, at the end, he and Alfred talk about new beginnings, which Batman Incorporated will be.

Other than all that, there’s nothing else to say, really. The issue kicks off with the by now all too familiar scene of the bat crashing through a window and Bruce ringing a bell but, interestingly enough, it’s shown from the bat’s perspective as it seeks shelter that night after being hurt, and ends with the line, “And so was born this weird figure of the dark!”, a reference to ye Batman stories of old and how they’d often call Batman “this weird that”, something I drew attention to in a post about The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told way back now. Otherwise, the only other things to note are that Bruce has a world trip planned, probably how we’ll start things off in Batman Incorporated, and also requires Catwoman’s help to “steal a superweapon from the lair of a criminal mastermind”, presumably this new Leviathan, so that should be interesting.

So on to Batman Incorporated’s first book we go, after which we will only have two more to read to sadly end this run. Until then.


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