“Batman Incorporated”, Volume 2, Chapter 6: Garland of Skulls (Batman Incorporated #6)

Damnit, Morrison…goddamnit. Any reader of this blog will know that pretty much every post I write contains spoilers – the warning’s right there in the sub-heading – but, for a change, I’m going to start with one rather tha include it somewhere in the body of text. Poor Cyril is dead right enough. It was looking like some of the characters might pull through, especially since his last act was to resuscitate Beryl, but then Damian’s clone comes along and snaps his fucking neck. It truly is the end days for this run when you kill one of the most fleshed out secondary characters. Seeing as the issue also ends with Bruce being thrown out of a top story window, as Gordon and his boys look on, and are attacked themselves by Leviathan’s child soldiers, the fate of other characters is also up in the air, so to speak.

So, yeah, this is a very short post, probably one of the most short on the blog. There’s just not a lot else to say other than “Oh, shit”. Although it starts off with some humour – Batman quipping, “I don’t like jokes” to the disbelieving Gordon; Jason Todd suggesting they eat Bat-Cow, whom he dubs Bat-Steak; Damian seeing “potential” in his new cat; and Bat-Cow making a well-timed “moo” – once we get halfway, it dives off into its set-up for the finale, which isn’t exactly looking to be happy. Hell, Damian’s cat isn’t much for humour at all when you think about it – if you couldn’t guess, he names it Alfred, like the cat he has in the future, this perhaps actually being a subtle hint that one part of his future is still close: his death.

Indeed, the boy seems quite insistent on saving the day alongside some other members of the Bat-family that listen in on Talia and Bruce’s conversation. But I suppose he has the strongest motive to act since the ultimatum that Talia delivers to Bruce – after saying that she doesn’t want Damian, and rhetorically asking if he would take him, which we know he won’t – is this: “Gotham. Or Damian. Whichever you choose, the other dies”. For some reason, I didn’t expect such a decision to be made that could lead to Damian’s death – well, that’s if the kid doesn’t march towards it himself in one of the next several issues – but I think we can all agree that what Bruce would choose is his city, as sad as it is. At least it would fit in with the tragedy angle that Morrison seems to be aiming for.

That’s actually an interesting thing that I might as well use up some space to talk about. Oddly enough, this run began by depicting Batman as the man who thinks of everything, but this current series has shown that he isn’t so perfect after all, it ironically being a character he paid very little attention to that has come closest to defeating him. It’s not exactly a huge coincidence that it’s another of the evil women that Bruce falls in love with that bests him. At one point in this issue, for instance, Talia actually interrupts herself to ask if Bruce ever loved her, to which he responds with a very curious line: “The devil’s daughter. You were everything I ever dreamed about”. How backwards thinking is that? Of course, they have particularly sombre backgrounds of growing up in common, but it’s again Bruce acknowledging, like he did with Jezebel, that it’s the bad women he falls in love with most easily. Back then I never thought to ask why this is the case, focusing instead on how obvious it really is, but: why? Is it the excitement of knowing they could turn on him at any second? The challenge? Like I’ve seen suggested in a few stories, does he believe that he’s a bad person himself deep down and sees a connection there? It’s certainly a complicated little thing, that’s for sure, and I do wish that it were explored a lot more.

Since that’s all I have to say, I suppose one final thing to point out is that we finally discover that this is the issue where Chris Burnham will be drawing several pages of his own for the upcoming Absolute edition of the series. It’s quite strange that he couldn’t fit these in, but midway through the issue another artist steps in for all of three pages. Yeah, I imagined it would be a bit more, but oh well. It’ll be nice to see his version of the scene once this new edition’s released at the end of the year, though, seeing as it’s the one where Talia tries to force Bruce into making a choice between Gotham City and Damian. Which I guess is a choice he may have an answer to as early as the next issue. See you then, with only six chapters to go before this run is finally over.

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