By: Grant Morrison (writer), Yanick Paquette (penciller), Michel Lacombe (inker), Nathan Fairbairn (colorist)

The Story: I’m afraid a bat’s too big to be caught in your web, Dr. Dedalus!

The Review: In talking about Batman Incorporated, plenty of people have made references to the James Bond quality of the series’ adventures.  The comparison has only become even more fitting as the storyline continues to veer Batman away from his private-eye roots and into the depths of international espionage and spy-work.  His trail of clues has expanded from the streets of Gotham to the countries of the world—the ultimate mystery for the ultimate detective.

And for the ultimate mystery-writer in comics: Morrison is all about weaving layers of secrets and lies, misdirecting you from one thing, only to have you come back to it eventually and discover it’s another thing altogether.  His meticulous plotting can be a frustrating kind of thrill: you have to work just as hard as the characters involved to piece out the answers, because Morrison is not the kind of writer who’s willing to let you into his master plan in any direct way.

In that regard, you can consider central antagonist Dr. Dedalus an analogue to Morrison himself.  It’s very easy for writers to give their villains master plans, but very difficult to execute these plans as such.  You’re set up to believe Batman’s appearance on the Falklands will nip Dedalus’ mission before it even begins, but in fact, you discover Dedalus has planned it so Batman’s appearance tips over the first in a long line of dominoes leading to civilization’s destruction.

Morrison effectively sells Dedalus as both a master spy (six codenames—really?) and a proponent of chaos quite nearly on the level of the Joker.  Like his clownish counterpart, Dedalus offers some fairly twisted logic to his actions, the best example being “…a kind heart deserves the cruelest end.”  By issue’s end, you realize that like Hitler, international terrorist group Leviathan is only an enabler for Dedalus’ own far-reaching ambitions.

Therein lies the reason for Batman Inc.: Dedalus may be one man, but he’s using an organization which spans nations.  Batman’s recruiting these heroes not just to be his contemporary in their own crime-ridden worlds, but to come as close as possible for him to act in many places at once.  But that requires his recruits to have nearly the same level of nerve and competence as he does.

Certainly this issue shows just how formidable these Batmen can be.  Morrison not only give each of them a core personality, voice, and motivation, but great prowess at what they do, especially the newest Batwoman, who gets a great showing here in taking down A-list assassin Scorpiana (whose ridiculous bathing suit costume actually serves some fatal purpose).

It’s good to have Paquette and Lacombe back on board, as they give the issue an intensely dramatic look, especially with Fairbairn’s cinematic coloring.  As heavily inked and shadowed as it looks, all the details pop out clearly, and the action sequences have heart-racking amounts of energy—the best moment being the sudden, silent appearance of the Batplane and Batman’s immediate spring into the thick of the fray.  Cut to Kate Kane’s dad: “Outta.  Nowhere.”  Perfect.

Conclusion: It seems Morrison has only scratched the surface of what Batman Inc. is really going up against, as you can come back to read the issue again and again, and still find something new each time.

Grade: A

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Of course Kate calls Batman “Sir.”

– As for those of you concerned about El Gaucho’s dental well-being after Batman punched out two teeth last issue, no worries, folks—caps.