"It all makes sense in the end!"
So says Writer Grant Morrison at the end of his production notes in BATMAN, INCORPORATED: THE DELUXE EDITION, and it's hard to argue with the man. His lengthy run on BATMAN has been exciting, frustrating, awe-inspiring, impenetrable, infuriating, and sometimes plain old bad, but I'll be damned if everything (And I mean everything...) that he's done to date didn't start to gel and make an awesome kind of sense in this, his final pre-"New 52" Batman adventure.
Upon returning from being lost in time, Bruce Wayne realized that he could not, and should not, consider his war on crime to be a one man affair. Utilizing all of his wealth and power to form "Batman, Incorporated", Wayne sets out to franchise the Batman identity, training and equipping crimefighters around the world to take up the mantle of the bat to fight injustice in their neck of the woods.
I was expecting this volume to be more of a "How he did it" kind of affair, but Morrison plunges us right into the thick of things, centering instead on Wayne's adventures fighting alongside a few of his new recruits. While seemingly self-contained, they are, of course, part of a much larger whole, all of which builds to a humongous fight/reveal that has me eager to jump into the next volume. (Although the next volume somehow takes all of this pre-"New 52" continuity, and sets it squarely in the rebooted DC Universe...I sincerely hope that doesn't ruin the conclusion for me.....)
There are tons of mad ideas at work here (I especially enjoyed the trapdoor in an apartment that dropped it's victim into the flooded apartment below, which, of course, had a giant squid in it.) I'm tempted to attribute this to Morrison being some kind of crazed genius, but it's probably all of the drugs. (Allegedly.) I was saddened by this volume's near complete lack of Damian Wayne who is quickly becoming my favorite character ever, but it was made up for by an abundance of Stephanie Brown, A.K.A. Batgirl, who has a long stint in the spotlight towards the end of the book. I can see how she has become such a fan-favorite, and I'm saddened by the fact that she's no longer a part of the DC Universe.
BATMAN, INCORPORATED: THE DELUXE EDITION is a massive book, and collects BATMAN, INCORPORATED issues 1-8, and the BATMAN , INCORPORATED: LEVIATHAN STRIKES! one-shot, and contains all covers and variants, a sketch gallery, and a lengthy commentary section by Grant Morrison. Highly recommended.