Review: “Batman Incorporated” Returns To DC’s “New 52” Universe In Excellent Fashion

Also, Youngblood returns, Chew continues to amaze, and Brian Wood unleashes The Massive.

Photo Removed
Complex Original

Blank pixel used during image takedowns

Photo Removed

In a tight economy, it's not always clear what you should spend your hard-earned money on, and with comic books getting more and more expensive, your dollar doesn’t go as far at the comic shop as it did in the past. We here at Complex feel your pain, so we're providing you with a rundown of the best comics coming out on May 22, 2011.

Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)

Batman Incorporated #1

What it’s about: After Batman returned from his temporary stint in purgatory, he reorganized his Bat Family into a global crime fighting unit named Batman Incorporated. In this group, members of Bruce Wayne’s inner circle from around the world work as a costumed network of vigilantes to take down corruption on a global scale. Batman Incorporated quickly became one of the most imaginative and action-packed reads at the company, but, unfortunately, it was cancelled once DC rebooted its universe in September.

Now it’s back and writer Grant Morrison has returned to fill the Caped Crusader and his world with more surreal and unpredictable storylines. With art by Chris Burnham, the new Batman Incorporated picks up where the previous volume left off, but it’s also warm and cozy for new readers to enjoy as well. Leviathan’s plan kicks into full gear as the Ninja Man-Bats from Morrison’s earlier issues return. This, of course, is all tied into the al Ghul family and the fact that Talia al Ghul’s lovechild with Batman is the current Robin, Damian Wayne.

Obviously there's a lot to digest from the current continuity, but Morrison’s passion for Batman has been on full display since he started regularly writing the character back in 2006. Scott Snyder may be absolutely killing it on the main Batman title as of right now, but Morrison brings an entirely different voice and vision to the Dark Knight. Just be prepared for a little weirdness along the way.

The Massive #1 (Advance Review: On Sale Date 06/13)

Possible Spoilers Ahead!

What it’s about: Brian Wood is perhaps the best kept secret in comics. You won’t find his name gracing the cover of the latest mega event that promises a lot of action but little substance; instead, he has been at the forefront of socially conscious, politically sharp, and completely engaging storytelling since he broke into the business. And now that his critically acclaimed, and absolutely brilliant, Vertigo titles, DMZ and Northlanders, have wrapped up, Wood is back with his latest project, The Massive.

Taking place in a world that has been ravaged by economic and political turmoil due to intense weather changes, The Massive focuses on a group of environmental activists as they cruise the ocean trying to get to the bottom of “The Crash” that sunk the world into peril all while attempting to find the whereabouts of their sister ship, The Massive.

As opposed to the way that most movies and TV shows have done it in the past, The Massive focuses on the survivors after the world has gone to hell. The characters here are still activists fighting the good fight, but without much of a world to save, it will be fascinating to see just how long they can stay on the straight and narrow. The most interesting part of the issue is when Wood fleshes things out with flashbacks to explain the current state of the planet. It’s both heartbreaking and ominous to see what has happened to the cities and countries that stand so tall today.

The art by Kristian Donaldson perfectly suits the scripts as it brings a smooth simplicity to each panel. But there's also a generous amount of detail here that makes the interiors of the ship feel real and lived-in. We’re not going to spoil anything big here, but it’s safe to say that with Wood’s track record, this debut issue of The Massive is just a taste of what is to come. It’s an intricately crafted story that captures the mood of our current world in a way that is both ingenious and foreboding.

Chew #26

What it’s about: In what has become perhaps the best all-around comic on shelves, Chew follows the life of FDA Agent Tony Chu, who happens to be a Cibopath. A Cibopath has the ability to get a psychic reading off of whatever he/she consumes, so that means a nibble on a murder victim can tell Chu about the last moments of the victim’s life. Writer John Layman fills each issue of Chew with relentless humor and bizarre plots that dwarf the originality of any other comic. And once you add Rob Guillory’s unique and stylized art to the equation, it becomes quickly evident why Chewhas been so successful since its launch.

What to expect this month: Writer John Layman begins a brand-new story arc in this issue, titled “Space Cakes.” With Tony Chu in a coma, his sister, Toni Chu, is recruited in a scheme by her other brother, Chow Chu, to get revenge on a rival chef. Toni is a Cibovoyant, which means that she can see into someone’s future by biting them; a skill that her brother believes will help his scheme. As usual, Layman packs this issue with humor on every panel, especially in one scene when Toni bites her boyfriend in the middle of the night to see if he’s in their relationship for the long haul.

The best compliment about this issue is that it’s purely a one-off. Sure, it alludes to bigger things at the end, but it’s easy for new readers to pick up and settle into without feeling lost. After 26 issues, Layman’s humor still hasn’t run dry, and a lot of that success can be credited to artist Rob Guillory, who fills each panel with off-the-wall physical gags and grotesque facial expressions. Few books can match the raw creativity and energy in this book, and this issue further proves that Chew should be one every comic book fan’s radar.

Youngblood #71

What it’s about: When the book debuted in 1992, Youngblood was one of the first titles to come out at Image Comics. Created by Rob Liefeld, the series went on to become one of the most popular comics of the ‘90s, thanks to Liefeld’s trend-setting art at the time. But over the years, the property has become the butt of countless jokes in the comic book industry and Liefeld’s once popular art became the stuff of ridicule.

But to celebrate Image’s 20th anniversary, the company has relaunched Youngblood under its original numbering with John McLaughlin on board as the writer and Jon Malin and Liefeld working on the art.

What to expect this month: As cheesy as it may sound, this issue of Youngblood is an unabashed throwback to the ‘90s style of comics. The muscles are huge, the guns are bigger, and the breasts eclipse them all. Filled with action and one-liners, there is a satirical edge to this comic that can’t be overlooked. It’s over-the-top and it knows it. And that self-referential humor runs throughout the entire story.

It starts with a young reporter working on a story to reclaim the Youngblood’s image in a way that oddly mirrors the real life situation that the property finds itself in. They’re a joke and the world knows it, but this issue strives to set things right. The issue then quickly turns into an out-and-out superhero tale featuring a muscle-bound squad of misfits fighting an entire mall full of beautiful blonde female clones.

This issue is completely overblown and the art is pure Liefeld, but everything clicks. It works on both a nostalgic level and on a satirical level, but all that matters is that it's successful. If you didn’t like Youngblood in the ‘90s, chances are you won’t like it here. But for everyone else that is familiar with the team’s history, this is a solid love letter to one of the most controversial times in the comic book industry.

Batman: Knightfall Volume 2 - Knightquest

What it’s about: With The Dark Knight Rises just on the horizon, DC is re-releasing every Bane related storyline in its back catalogue to take advantage of director Christopher Nolan's behemoth of a film. Last month, the company reprinted the first volume of "Knightfall," the storyline that introduced most comic book readers to the hulking villain; now, the second volume is set to hit stores.

After Bane broke Bruce Wayne’s back in the first volume, a new Batman had to take over the mantle. That man was Jean-Paul Valley, the former Azrael. Unfortunately, Valley doesn’t quite follow Bruce Wayne’s code of non-lethal force and decides to build a mechanical Batsuit complete with an array of deadly weapons. As this collection moves along, the new Batman begins to become increasingly more violent and unstable, and as Gotham’s guardian, the amount of power he has is a threat to the entire city.

With a host of writers and artists involved, "Knightquest" is the story of what Batman would be like had he taken the wrong path. It’s the perfect comparative piece between Wayne’s views on peace and Valley’s totalitarian views on order and control. "Knightquest" is the second act of the larger "Knightfall" storyline, and like any great play, this is the act when everything goes straight to hell.

Any Bat fan worth their salt should be sure to snatch this collection up. Not only does it directly relate to many of the themes in The Dark Knight Rises, but it’s also a seminal part of the history of the Caped Crusader. At over 650 pages long, it’s completely packed with content that will keep you guessing with every turn of the page.

Follow @ComplexPopCult

Latest in Pop Culture