The only real flaw to this issue is that, despite being seven issues in, we still have very little knowledge of what the broader picture is with Grant Morrison's run.

rating: 4.5

Written by Grant Morrison , Pencils by Chris BurnhamPublished by DC Comics In Comic Stores Now!Batman Incorporated is an odd little beast. Spinning out from the loose ends of Grant Morrison€™s epic run, it was largely assumed that this would be the flagship book in the Batman universe. However, it€™s absence from DC€™s upcoming relaunch of all its books is worrying. While it€™s still scheduled to return late in 2012 for a 12 issue run that will wrap things up, one can€™t help get the feeling that Morrison€™s epic is getting cut short, if not altogether sidelined, in favour of returning Batman to his (more accessible) roots. Sure, Morrison€™s take on the Caped Crusader has proved alienating to some due to how much it defies convention, but it never fails to amaze, providing a take on the Dark Knight that is truly original and comparable to nothing else in the character€™s history. I€™ve been following his bizarre fusion of genres since it began over five years ago, from the discovery of an unknown son, to apparent deaths and time travelling antics. Sure, it€™s been crazy as hell, but it€™s also been as smart as Bruce himself. This latest issue moves the spotlight onto Man-of-Bats and his sidekick, Raven, exploring how the Batman concept would work within a poverty-stricken world that is more plagued by social issues than costumed villains. In one scene, Bruce is left in awe by Man-of-Bats€™ Batcave, a makeshift barn conversion full of homemade contraptions. €œIt doesn€™t have to take millions,€ Bruce realises, before adding, €œThe idea works. Batman on a budget.€ The scene exemplifies the series as whole, examining how Batman would function when placed in an entirely different set of circumstances. So far we€™ve had the Batman of Japan, the South American Batman, an African Batman and now a Native American Batman, allowing Morrison to explore the effects that geographic location, culture, economy and even politics would have had on the Batman concept had it been created by anyone other than a Gotham billionaire. Those put off by the inherent goofiness of some of these characters are entirely missing the point; we€™re in firm satire territory here, with Morrison pushing everything to the extreme in order to show just how far the Batman concept can stretch before it breaks. In doing so he essentially highlights what it is that has made the character endure for so long, resulting in an unparalleled deconstruction of the Batman legend. Chris Burnham€™s pencils are, in a word, stunning. They are reminiscent of Frank Quitely, yet without the feeling that he is directly trying to impersonate. They add to Morrison€™s off-beat script wonderfully, complimenting it in every way. Some readers will undoubtedly be put off by his idiosyncratic style but, for my money, few other artists are able to evoke a sense of tone or character as effectively. The only real flaw to this issue is that, despite being seven issues in, we still have very little knowledge of what the broader picture is, with Morrison seeming much more concerned with endlessly flipping the Batman concept on its head rather than furthering the overall plot. With only a few issues left before the series goes on a long (and unwanted) hiatus, he€™ll have to seriously ramp up the main plot if he wants to hold onto readers.

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