‘Batman, Inc.’ #1: Mr. Unknown is Dead [Annotations]
Batman Annotations Day continues here at ComicsAlliance with a look at Batman, Inc. #1 by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette. In this issue: Catwoman, secret projects by Dr. Sivana, the Batman of Japan and the triumphant DC Universe debut of Lord Death Man.
Page 1: Lord Death Man and the soon-to-be-dead original Mr. Unknown, as the latter gets his hands burned off with nitrohydrochloric acid. Mr. Unknown is a Batmanesque Japanese crimefighter, and this is his first appearance.
Page 2: This is Lord Death Man. He’s from Jiro Kuwata’s Batman manga, recently reprinted in a big, handsome volume where Chip Kidd put his name on the cover in huge letters. His gimmick is basically that he uses yoga techniques to fake his own death, and then claims to be a Lord of Death. Now, all the Kali stuff in Leviathan’s logo is related to the yogic tradition, so it’s fully possible that Morrison’s using that as a link here and L.D.M. is connected to the entire Leviathan criminal conspiracy.
Page 3: Apparently, Mr. Unknown’s front is an all-purpose nerd emporium in some place I assume isn’t Akhiabara since there aren’t fifty other nerd emporiums on the street.
Pages 6-7: Is it just me, or does this one-line/splash-page combination remind anyone else of the first page of New X-Men #114 when Morrison started off that run? Either way, we’re about to be treated to the first real use of Catwoman in Morrison’s run.
Page 8: Now, what did Sivana invent? If the mastermind behind Leviathan IS in fact Libra, then it makes sense that Sivana would be working on something that could hurt or counteract him, since he spent 90% of his scenes in Final Crisis being the Secret Society Peanut Gallery with Lex Luthor.
Page 10: I’ve got no idea what Selina’s singing here; Google’s giving me nothin’. Commenters, I call on the power of crowdsourcing.
Page 12: The Elva Barr pseudonym was first used by Catwoman in Batman #15. The Poseidon Crown Jewels don’t seem to be anything that actually exists; I assume they’re related to the DCU Atlantis.
Page 13: Another clue that Bruce is getting his new drive from something he saw while traveling through, or outside, time. He’s back with new purpose, like the Hanged Man. As well as a continually charged sex life, apparently – hairy-chested love god, indeed.
Page 15: I have to admit, this is a pretty great setup for the last-page gag – So far, Inc. is the most overtly funny of Morrison’s Bat-books so far. I also love Bruce’s insane assumption that Mr. Unknown will be totally happy his secret identity was figured out.
Page 19: The kid, or body double, they’re mentioning is the kid we saw walking in in the opening sequence and barely escaping Lord Death Man’s goons. We’ll meet him on the next page — I’m not sure exactly how Mr. Unknown used him as a body double. Maybe to create the illusion of being in two places at once, or to throw suspicion off of his secret identity? I’m sure we’ll find out more next month.
Page 20: His first name, Jiro, is almost definitely a tribute to Batman mangaka Jiro Kuwata, who effectively created Lord Death Man by adapting a way less bizarre American Batman story. Of course, his girlfriend (I assume) only called him since she’s in an insane Lord Death Man deathtrap.
Page 21: Jiro’s last name, Osamu, is almost definitely a tribute to God of Manga Osamu Tezuka. Much like with Batman, for Lord Death Man, much of the victory is in the preparation — mined carpets, for instance.
Page 22: I highly doubt this is actually the end of Lord Death Man – we’ll probably see him use some crazy trick soon that links him with the main Leviathan plotline. In any case, the trap door falls open…
Page 23: The text on this page is almost definitely a deliberate tribute to the cliffhangers on the ’60s Batman TV show. Frankly, I’m surprised Morrison didn’t break this out for Batman and Robin. Not only does this page pay off on the water comment earlier…
Page 24: …but this final page pays off on Catwoman’s reaction to the tentacle hentai in the shop, as now she’s stuck in what’s probably her worst nightmare situation. Bruce is gonna owe her a lot more swanky hotel rooms after this.