I've been enjoying Grant Morrison's BATMAN INCORPORATED but there has been a feeling of the story dragging a little. Part could be the fact that the story essentially started before the New 52. Recently a certain key event happened in issue #8 and the next two issues still didn't fully resolve it.
Even though this issue adds to the prolonging of the story, it was a welcomed interlude. There have been questioning over the decision for "Batman Incorporated." Throughout these past issues, we haven't really seen too much of the other members, which seemed to be the whole point of the concept when it was first introduced. The series felt like yet another BATMAN comic with just a little more mention of having Wayne Enterprise backing it all.
There have been some interesting members of Batman INC introduced and some we just haven't been able to get a grasp on. This issue takes the time to return to Japan and see what Jiro is up (first seen in the first issue of the first volume of BATMAN INCORPORATED). While briefly seen in BATMAN INCORPORATED #0 (co-written by Chris Burnham), we get to finally see him in action, on his own (sort of).
Burnham gives us a different type of Batman INC story. That's a good thing. You can feel that Burnham was definitely going for a different type of story. It's possible that some might not 'get' what is being achieved here but the nods to the Japanese pop culture fits nicely with some of the aspects Morrison touched on with Super Young Team in FINAL CRISIS. It does interrupt a heavy story taking place in the series but there is something about seeing other areas of the DC Universe. Some of the scenes and actions are borderline absurd but, again, that's the point. There were many moments I had a big grin on my face.
Jorge Lucas' art has a slightly gritty feel and simply captures what we can assume was the essence in Burnham's script. This may not be the BATMAN INC story everyone is looking for but it is more of what I'd like to see, rather than just focus on Batman.
While the story had a fun feeling to it, it is a departure from the main story. There's likely to be a good reason this issue was needed but there's no reason to dwell on that. It's unfortunate that it does have to happen in the middle of a big battle. This is something that would be perfect for the BATMAN INC special or if it was decided the series should shift its focus on different characters in different arcs. It may not fit in with the overall Batman vs. Leviathan story but it was still a fun read.
Whether you're loving Morrison's run or waiting for it to end, this issue does what we should have seen earlier, a spotlight on other Batman Incorporated characters. Chris Burnham takes over the writing duties and shows us what Jiro, the Batman of Japan is doing these days. It's a great departure from the ongoing (and slightly morbid) story dealing with Batman vs. Talia. Burnham and Jorge Lucas give a fun look at what's going on in Japan. With characters like Lady Tiger Fist and killer female biker gangs, this issue definitely fits into Morrison's world. It'd be great to see the series focus on the various different Batman Incorporated members since we don't get to see much of them. This may not be your typical BATMAN INCORPORATED story but, in my book, that's a really good thing. Hopefully we'll see more of Burnham's writing in the future.