Batman Incorporated #1 represents another starting point for a series that began in one continuity and will finish in another. The plot has become very focused, discarding the complicated layers of complexity of the previous issues in favor of tight drama.
While there is no lack of subplots running around, the majority of the space in this book is devoted to the main plot. It seems as though everything of consequence has carried over from events of the pre-New 52 DCU, but elements from the New 52 have also been included into the continuity of this story. Still, the focus on the plot means that this is not primarily a celebration of continuity. The story is told for its own sake.
And the way in which the story is told is top notch. Chris Burnham’s art with Nathan Fairbairn’s colors wavers between realism and expressiveness with aplomb. The kinetics of every scene flow without hesitation. At the same time, every detail is meticulously included in a story where details are everything. The layouts of each page are carefully constructed, ranging from simple grid designs to multitudes of panels and insets to panels incorporated into the background. The ease with which the art shifts between modes facilitates the shifts between moods. Even from one panel to the next, the tone of the story sometimes shifts from epic and earth-shattering to silly humor. It works because of the brilliance of the art.
The suspense in this story is not whether or not the gunshot victim of the issue is alive. The real treat will be discovering how Batman has faked the death of another member of Batman Inc. But the plot has so many layers and twists that perhaps somebody has actually died. The double- and triple-crosses have been so frequent that the reader will suspend disbelief for absolutely anything that happens. So many characters have been presumed dead only to reappear later that it would actually be surprising if the death of this issue were real. But perhaps that is exactly why Grant Morrison will make it so.
Batman Incorporated is the best Batman series on the shelves right now. Every single issue has been highly rewarded and as the second arc kicks off, it cannot be missed.