Grant Morrison’s big epic starts an epic wrap up here. Boy have the stakes never been higher in any other Batman stories of recent memory. It seems like along with the Batman and Red Robin issue this month, the Bat titles are truly the few “WTF” certified worthy covers. Not only do both books reveal an absurd notion but they also deliver on making it believable within the context of the story. Who will survive the man or the bat?…….
Obviously it is an answer that warrants another few issues before answering. Regardless, this issue seems to begin giving us an idea that Morrison’s Batgod is more than just little pissed over what Leviathan has done. The ending may leave some puzzled, angry, or even confused as it is something that may be out of character for the old caped crusader.
Batman meets with Azrael (marking his first appearance in TheNew52) he explains the recent events and how he needs to borrow the suit of sorrows off of him for his battle against Leviathan. Azrael agrees, Gotham appears to now view Batman and Batman inc as an unwanted menace and threat. This is largely due to Talia blackmailing the Mayor into doing her bidding. Nightwing and Red Robin keep the fight going as they believe Bruce to have gone off on his own to cope with Damian’s death. Knight (now Beryll) finds Jason Todd and he reveals that he knows who his captor is, it seems Jason was unwillingly Talia’s tracking device via a literal tracking device implanted in his tooth. Talia has the men who shot Damian executed by the Heretic himself. This ruthless act and Talia’s scolding by way of Ras has me convinced that she is not as cold as she wants people to think. Ras in the beginning of the story reminds her that she has overlooked one detail regarding her darling detective but he refused to answer what it is, he chooses instead to laugh as Talia angrily walks away. Heretic grows anxious to become Batman and even goes as far as to threaten Talia who then reminds him to not call her mother and begins to shock him with some sort of device that seems to have been implanted into his spine. Bruce in the mean while seems to have tracked down Kirk Langstrom who insists to the GCPD that he is merely producing an antidote for the man bat serum and nothing more, Batman appears to take the antidote and runs away from the pursuing cops. We then see Bruce injecting himself with an unknown serum while in the suit of sorrows, the imagery here reminds us of Year One as Bruce sits in his father’s chair and gazes out to the reader. At the end of the issue Talia announces her victory to Gotham, or so that is what she intends before being interrupted by a disturbing sight in the sky. Batman flies toward Leviathan now turned into a Man-Bat like creature but fully armored. Talia appears shocked at the turn of events and perhaps now Batman can take the upper hand.
There is a reason the term Bat-God is used to identify Batman during Morrison’s run. It seems Bruce always had some sort of solution for any problem and we are reminded of that here. Just as Nightwing reminds Red Robin about how this type of Bruce Wayne makes a dangerous Batman so too are we reminded of that in the end. This is a grieving father who has had enough of Talia’s obsessive tantrum and is willing now to do anything to take down the woman who had her own son killed. To Bruce it seems there are no boundaries besides killing here. To have taken the serum required a lot out of Bruce the man behind the cowl. But when we see exactly what has transpired in his life thus far it is not hard to imagine why he chose to do this. Damian Wayne was after all his young son, the smallest of his children and arguably the most loyal to him. To have taken away a man’s son warrants some intense response. But nevertheless we are reminded that this isn’t merely fueled by the death of Damian but by the threat that Leviathan poses. Moving forward after this point i accept many “out of character” moments from Bruce including the one in Batman and Red Robin #19 as i make the argument that his son is dead, yes but it’s not the death but rather the way it happened that upsets him the most. He lost a son who endured a hard life and was widely misunderstood, somebody who finally began to find his footing and then selflessly sacrificed himself because he believed in doing good over what he was created to do. To Bruce it doesn’t seem fair that somebody like that would die such a horrible death. What is truly saddening i think is that while Bruce wasn’t around to hear Damian cry out for him, Talia did. She did nothing, Bruce knows that much and she is as good as dead to him now. The possibility of the young boy seeing his family together is completely torn to shreds and now all Bruce can do is try his best to deliver justice on the organization responsible for his death. Even victory now, will not be enough for the Batman.
FINAL GRADE: 9/10