There is something to be said about good filler issues and there is MORE to be said about GREAT filler issues…..
I have been enjoying this book immensely over the course of the last year and change and while this issue takes a break after the tremendously good “Death of the Family” tie in issues i still found myself enjoying this quite a bit. Characters experiencing nightmares or spending an issue entirely in a dream is no strange thing in comics but so few are the stories that matter, have an impact or simply get it right.
The issue starts off the way most issues end…… at the end of a nightly patrol around Gotham. Bruce and Damian have returned to the cave and ebgin to ready themselves for bed as Alfred picks up after them. There is a small moment that lasts a few panels where Damian puts one hand in his boot and on on Bruce’s boot and stomps them together to compare sizes. Honestly it seems like nothing but its small touch i enjoyed as child did this and i have seen other kids doing this it’s odd but i love it when comics include small tidbits like these. So after a montage of Bruce, Damian and Alfred prepping for bed they drift off. After the confrontation with the Joker at the end of Batman #17, Alfred, Damian and Bruce have trouble sleeping and thus begin having nightmares (i mean c’mon it’s the damn Joker!). Damian dreams himself up in the submarine from issue zero, friends, mentors and enemies appear chained up in the water, their lifeless bodies floating (this is Talia, Nightwing, Red hood, Joker and Nobody). A twin Damian appears and they hold Bruce’s head in a cowl while one convinces the other that they are a Wayne before an Al Ghul, then his dream ends as a drowning Alfred bangs on the glass and Damian screams. He wakes up to another nightmare in which he follows a robin (the bird) until told by Alfred that Bruce calls for him he then rushes to Bruce’s chambers (while riding on Titus’s back) and finds Bruce being eaten by what appears to be a large Bat. Damian awakens himself to reality as we move on to Alfred’s dream. We find Alfred mixing up memories as he recalls Thomas and Martha Wayne’s final night just before they head out and observes a young Bruce putting on the pearl necklace on Martha. Happy memories are interrupted as he hears screaming and heads down to the Bat cave where he spots the Joker standing over the entire Bat family as he laughs whilst beating them. Alfred proceeds to shoot the Joker’s head off with a shotgun!. Alfred then awakens but then calmly lays himself back to sleep with a smile. Lastly we see Bruce’s dream which echoes back to issue #1 of Batman and Robin where he folds a boat out of paper and sends it afloat in the sewers of Crime Alley except here Damian is replaced by Thomas and Martha Wayne. A wave of water pushes them off into the stream and Bruce attempts to retrieve his parents and get them on board his now hugs boat but fails. We see Batman’s rogues gallery chanting “Get the Bat” as he fends them off until a Joker styled whale leaps out of the water and swallows the boat leaving Batman to drown. Through the water he sees Damian as he reaches to grab his hand pull him out. They both smile and Bruce wakes up. Bruce checks on Damian and tucks him in further as Damian smiles and dreams up a more positive dream. A montage, showing a nights shift come sup and father and son look out into the sunrise as Batman tells Robin that he’s dreaming to which Damian responds that this is the first dream in which he doesn’t want to wake up from. END.
This was an issue with very little dialogue but a very visual one at that. Every panel tells a small snippet that adds up and really makes this a visual love note to the Damian Wayne character. This coupled with the recent annual issue have made me appreciate further the work put into this book every month. If you are a fan of Robin and the new dynamic between father and son this is an issue you’d want. While the last two Death of the Family tie ins were fantastic in action and story this one is more of a filler issue to sort of let us catch our breaths and i thoroughly enjoyed it. Often you see one off issues after the end of a major arc in comics and they really seem like the writer has exhausted himself on the previous stories but not here. Tomasi gives us a decent story but Patrick Gleason knocks it out of the park in these panels that show the fondness of this issue and tells us a story of a father and son who have finally come full circle to love one another. Little dialogue is needed with art like this. As a film major i was always taught “show don’t tell” and this issue gives that phrase a worthy example and reminds us how much of a visual medium comic’s really are, otherwise we’d be reading plain out books. On a sadder note this issue really seems tribute like and gets me even more anxious to see the outcome of Batman Inc#8 and the rumors surrounding Damian’s role in it as well as the solicitations for this book past March and those of other Bat family books (i’m looking at you World’s Finest). I have followed Batman Inc. for some time but have not enjoyed it as much as i’d like to. But if there is anything this week’s reading of the Walking dead has taught me it’s that solicitations can be damn right cruel teases and nothing more.
Final Grade: 8/10