- Cover & Art by Patrick Gleason
- Written by Peter Tomasi
- Inks by Mick Gray & Mark Irwin
- Colours by John Kalisz
BEWARE OF SPOILERS
Finally we have reached the final stage of grief: acceptance.
After several months of trial and error partnerships with other characters from the Bat-world we finally fall to Nightwing to complete Bruce’s journey through the grief of losing Damien.
The cover to this issue, although brilliant, is perhaps a little misleading. There were those convinced that this cover would signal the return of Damian from a lazarus pit experience to pick up the mantle of Robin once more. That may still happen somewhere down the line but for the time being he remains still dead.
The premise of this issue is by far the best of the ‘Batman & _______’ series so far. Bruce, still wracked with guilt, has retreated into the Bat-computer and sits repeating the scene of Damian’s death over and over searching for a way to have kept him alive.
A desperate Alfred calls Dick back from Chicago to drag him out in to the real world again. There’s a small spat between Alfred and Bruce for the revolving door of sidekicks who have been to try and break him out of his mood. But knowing Bruce as he does Dick flips the situation on his head and joins in on the simulation to try and help.
A bloody battle ensues for the next few pages until eventually the pair save Damian from death. Bruce crouches near to the young boy and says a final farewell before the best twist to this series for some time.
Alfred enters the machine after Bruce and Dick leave and replays his own events from that evening ending with him breaking down and blaming himself for Damian’s death.
The issue ends on a cathartic emotional moment for Bruce and Alfred and the cycle of grief is completed.
This issue is outstanding. I can’t say much more than that. The tales of grief have been testing at times but as a reader I felt an emotional release akin to that of Bruce when he is finally able to let go of his feelings.
Tomasi has written a brilliant ending to this arc which plays far more on the emotional impact of loss for Bruce and Alfred than any issue leading up to this. There is a fair amount of violence in this issue but it’s entirely dwarfed touching character moments, the emotional maturity of this story is unparalleled.
This is the kind of story that I would proudly show to any friend who doesn’t read comics to show that it’s not for kids and it’s not just about violence.
The character of Damian may have annoyed many readers but I challenge anybody to not feel pangs of guilt about the loss of the character.
The artwork in this issue compliments the story perfectly, the fight scenes are frenetic and put the page to extreme use with various different out-of-the-box layouts. The dark hues of the cave scenes are balanced perfectly with the angry reds and fiery oranges of the simulation.
There’s a complexity to the scenery that Gleason drawns which brings a gritty reality to this issue yet his character expressions have a simplicity that means there can be no confusion about the emotions the characters are feeling. He has been the perfect partner for Tomasi on this arc and I commend their work together highly.
You may ave missed the death of Damian in ‘Batman Inc.’ or been put off by some shaky issues during the stages of grief but this is one issue of ‘Batman & _______’ that you cannot miss out on.