“Batman Incorporated”, Volume 1, Chapters 7 & 8: Medicine Soldiers and Nightmares In Numberland (Batman Incorporated #7 & 8)

Alright, welcome back. We’re combining these two stories into the one post, even though they stand alone and I had said I would give them individual posts, simply because there it turns out that there’s very little to say about the first and I’m not wanting to bother going all in depth about the second. Besides, there’s only the one big revelation in both. In the first issue, for example, the lone new thing we learn is that this the whole mind controlling of Leviathan can be used as an untraceable chemical agent. In this case, it was in wafers, appropriately tying into the whole Batman as a god thing that’s been going on lately. On the contrary to what I suggested as appearing to be the case in my last post, we also see that this mind control agent affects adults as well as children right enough, so it’s not only the kids being used as involuntary soldiers. But that’s literally all we learn, believe it or not.

It’s a bit of an unusual issue, Medicine Soldiers, focusing almost entirely on the relationship between Man-of-Bats and Red Raven. Hell, Batman isn’t even there to recruit them unlike a lot of the last issues, telling Raven that their refusal to join and insistence that he and his father can handle things themselves is what he “hoped to hear”. See, one of the interesting things we learn from this issue is that the area they’re located in is stricken with poverty and some of the United States’ crappiest statistics for everything you can imagine, the duo starting the issue by visiting people’s homes to check in on them, as well as hand them free medicine and food to get by. Indeed, as Raven says at the end of the issue, if Batman were to supply them with anything, “[his father’s] gonna give back to the people”. So the other cool thing about these two is that they’re a reflection of Bruce’s own philanthropist side, the difference being that helping other people in this way is what really matters to them. It even turns out that when he’s not out as Man-of-Bats, Bill’s a doctor at his town’s only hospital, very much like Thomas Wayne was.

Though it may seem like a fairly simple chapter then, it’s actually quite a nice one too in a happy sort of way. We’ve seen the Knight and Beryl rear their heads most of all out of the Club of Heroes, so it’s nice to give these guys the spotlight for a whole issue because it turns out that they’re like a shining light in all the terrible stuff that’s been happening lately. That isn’t to say it’s an issue not without a dark side – after all, there’s global domination using kids going on here. But what might surprise you is that it’s one of the most violent issues in the whole run, though I think this is due in part to how well Chris Burnham depicts it. If the page of Raven giving his father blood was overleaf instead of opposite the one where the former character had been shot in the back, and the latter was rapidly bleeding out, I honestly would have thought that Morrison was going to brutally kill them off to drive home how powerful Leviathan is, especially since the detail with which Burnham drew Man-of-Bats getting stabbed is so good that it actually looks painful, all happening on a piece of paper or not. But in a twist that I didn’t expect, the two characters are rescued by the residents we’ve seen them helping, which I think sums up how optimistically this chapter stands amongst the rest in regards to the future of the world. A very uplifting and fun issue, this.

If that issue were a little strange, however, then Nightmares in Numberland is even more unusual, if only because of the art style used. It’s all by a guy called Scott Clark, and it’s completely digital, but the same CGI kind we last saw used all the way back in The clown at Midnight. That was more like a short story with some drawings, however, whereas this is all comic and I bet there were a lot of people who hated the look of this. As you might expect from the title and art style, this is a story set inside Internet 3.0, where a virtual reality meeting between Bruce and his investors is attacked by a virus, meaning the avatar of Oracle, operating elsewhere, must fight back. That Bruce has a Batman avatar help out seemed a little unnecessary, and I think it would’ve been better if Barbara were just given the spotlight, but at least it’s funny to see Bruce constantly die and respawn as he also tries to control the avatar of himself at the meeting.

The surprise of this story comes at the end. The investor who had caused the virus, attempting to steal the board member’s money, was passing his own money through a little place called Mtamba in Africa, the root of Leviathan and – wouldn’t you know? – Jezebel Jet. This issue also sets up the next at one point. In my next post we’ll be looking at the final story of this book, the special issue, Leviathan Strikes!, in which we’ll see Batgirl infiltrate a school. It’s funny to think that that didn’t make a whole lot of sense back in Batman: The Return, but the assumption is now that the school’s being used to train Leviathan operatives. Going from the title, though, and the possibility of Jezebel Jet’s involvement, however much I doubt it (yep, I’m still sticking with Talia being the mastermind of all this), I’m sure we’ll be seeing a reveal as to who’s running Leviathan as well, meaning I suppose that Bruce will be heading back to Africa to confront who he probably believes to be Jet. That’s a post I should be able to fit in today, and then we’re done with this book.

I know I’ve said very little about this last issue, but it might surprise you to learn that it does have a ridiculous amount of depth to it, which I think is a bit of shame if people did, as I suspect, frown at the art style, quickly read it and move on. But I’m not going to bother talking about all that stuff, I’m afraid, as none of it’s particularly relevant to the future as far as I can see, and I would rather just move on than spend quite a while writing up an analysis of this whole thing. That said, if you are curious, I did find this rather amazing post that just goes to show you how much detail writers like Morrison put into even the apparently least significant of issues. You’ll no doubt have noticed some of the things listed in that post as you read the story, but I’d be surprised if you saw it all. Certainly not me anyway, who probably didn’t notice even half of the little things. Anyway, our next and final post for this part of Batman Incorporated should be a little longer, so see you then.

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