Superhero Economics 101, Franchising and Global Branding Top The Wednesday Run – December 21, 2011

If there’s only one reason to head over to the local comic book store during this week’s mad Christmas rush, Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes is it. Why? ‘Cos the world has been waiting, like, forever, for it, that’s why!

Well, maybe not forever, but the world has been waiting for this release since this past summer, anyway. That’s when the regular, monthly, Batman Inc. series abruptly ended with issue #8. The comic, you see, was behind schedule and DC was embarking on this whole “New 52” initiative wherein they’d restart their entire comic book franchise with new first issues. We’ve talked about that decision relentlessly here at Biff Bam Pop! Instead of the quite new Batman Inc. bucking or going along with that decision, the editors decided that they’d compile the last 80 pages of the story arc into a one-shot, call it Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes, and release it in time for Christmas.

It’s a long, sordid storyline that goes back over five years, however. Here, let me catch you up, but beware – there are some, let’s call them “historic”, spoilers below:

Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes
Written by: Grant Morrison
Illustrated by: Chris Burnham and Cameron Stewart
DC Comics

In 2006, in the pages of the regular, monthly Batman comic (compiled in the hardcover Batman and Son), also written by Morrison, Bruce Wayne discovers he has a son. He battles against a strange cabal that know all of his secrets and nearly succeed in destroying the hero (compiled in the hardcovers Batman: The Black Glove and Batman: R.I.P.). In the 2008-2009 series Final Crisis, also written by Morrison, Batman seemingly dies at the hands of the evil Darkseid, but is, instead, thrown back in time wherein he tries to make his way back to the present day world. In his absence, Dick Grayson, once the original Robin, now the hero known as Nightwing, takes up the Batman mantle with Wayne’s young son as the new Robin. The new Batman and Robin monthly series was written by Morrison for its first 16 issues, with the continuing storyline collected in three very excellent hardcover volumes: Batman and Robin: Batman Reborn, Batman and Robin: Batman vs. Robin and Batman and Robin: Batman Must Die.

During this time, Bruce Wayne, the original Batman, is trying to make his way back to the present and his involvement in various historical incidents, of course, manifest themselves in present day continuity, tipping off Grayson to Bruce Wayne’s existence, somewhere in the world’s past. Batman didn’t die at the hands of Darkseid, after all! Morrison wrote the 6-issue mini-series (also recently compiled in a hardcover), Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, detailing these various historic adventures.

Of course, our original hero eventually returns with knowledge of a global, but hidden, criminal organization that had, up to now, gone unnoticed by earth’s heroes. To fight this sect of evil, known as “Leviathan”, a global heroic presence would be required – hence the franchising of the Batman legacy across the world: Batman becomes an “incorporated” entity with representation in Argentina, Japan, England and Congo among many other countries!

Yeah, it’s wild, and grand and it’s crazy. It’s something that only Grant Morrison could dream up. But it’s also a hell of a lot of fun and reminds me of the comics I used to read when I was but a pre-teen!

Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes, ties up remaining loose plot threads – all in advance of a new, monthly, Batman: Leviathan series starting early next year!

So, make the run today, and take your final superhero economics exam before the holidays hit. The course under Professor Morrison has been one outlandish and enjoyable ride. And don’t forget to put the credit on your latest resume revision. It’ll be sure to raise the eyebrow of any potential comic book-centric employer!

Every Wednesday, JP makes the after-work run to his local downtown comic book shop. Comics arrive on Wednesdays you see and JP, fearful that the latest issue will sell out, rushes out to purchase his copy. This regular, weekly column will highlight a particularly interesting release, written in short order, of course, because JP has to get his – before someone else does!

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